“When He Shall Appear”1
Self-Deification and Eden
When the serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, he declared that “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). In the Genesis story Eve and Adam believed these words and therefore ate the fruit. Soon thereafter God himself is said to have appeared, cursed Creation, and expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Self-Deification and the Flood
The Genesis story says that ten generations later the “sons of God” cohabited with “the daughters of men,” and “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6:2, 5). In this situation God is said to have appeared to Noah and prepared him and his offspring for a global flood that destroyed virtually all the existing Creation (Genesis 7:4-7).
Self-Deification and Babel
The Genesis story says that in another ten generations the descendants of Noah decided to build “a tower [Tower of Babel], whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). This again was a determined effort of mankind to achieve divinity. Terah, who was the tenth generation, allegedly helped Nimrod build the tower. In response God scattered humanity “abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9). Shortly thereafter God appeared to Terah’s son, Abram (Abraham), and greatly blessed him (Genesis 12:2, 3).
Self-Deification and the Exodus
Many years later Abraham’s grandson, Jacob (Israel), married two wives, and together with their maids they had twelve sons. The youngest son, Joseph, was despised by his brothers, who finally sent him to Egypt. There Joseph eventually became a ruler over Egypt. Then, because of a famine in the land of Israel, Joseph’s father, brothers and all their family journeyed to the land of Goshen, in Egypt. Soon they “were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7).
But when Joseph died, a new king (Pharaoh), who believed in his own divinity, enslaved the Israelites and “afflicted them” (Exodus 1:12). Pharaoh further told the Hebrew midwives to kill every newborn son. But Amram, of the tribe of Levi, and his wife, Jochebed, had a son and hid him in the bulrushes in the river Nile. There the daughter of Pharaoh found him, adopted him, and gave him the name, Moses.
Years later Moses escaped from Egypt and lived in the land of Midian. There he served as a shepherd for his father-in-law, Jethro. One day in the desert, while watching the sheep, Moses saw a bush in flames but not consumed. Approaching the bush, Moses heard the voice of God saying, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God instructed Moses to approach Pharaoh and tell him to “Let my people go” (Exodus 5:1). In the subsequent Exodus, God then liberated his people from the enslavement of the one who claimed his own divinity.
Self-Deification and the Incarnation
Further examples of God’s intervention to deliver humanity from pretentious divine oppression could be given. But the primary and supreme example is the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ, who was born, lived, ministered, suffered, died and rose again to redeem mankind and all Creation from the bondage of the pretended divinity of priests, Roman Caesars, and all others who claimed deification.2
Self-Deification and the Parousia
Now, for nearly 2,000 years, mankind has lived in a world in which the assumed deification of man is lurking just below the surface of social consciousness. Many Christians have adopted Athanasius’ creed, which declares that “God became man, that man might become God.”3 Eastern Orthodox Christianity has long concurred by proclaiming the ultimate “deification” of man.4,5 Gnosticism also has emerged, claiming that the true God was imprisoned in Creation, and only true “knowledge” can liberate “god” through the destruction of Creation.6 For the Gnostics the One-and-Only God is not their ultimate “Otherness” but, rather, their ultimate “Oneness” (self-deification).
These views are now capturing the common mind and are being generally accepted. It can therefore be anticipated that God soon will again appear (Greek parousia or Second Coming) for the final deliverance of mankind from the delusion of self-deification. In this appearance he will raise the dead (Matthew 25:31, 32; John 12:32; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17), convene the judgment (John 5:22, 27; 12:31; Hebrews 12:23), and transform Creation for eternity (2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:13; 1 John 3:2).
Let us then appeal to the One-and-Only True God to appear and intervene as he has done in the past. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)!
- 1 John 2:28. (go back)
- Spencer Cole, Cicero and the Rise of Deification at Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2014). (go back)
- See biblethumpingliberal.com/2011/10/28/god-became-man-that-man-might-become-god/. (go back)
- See Georgios Mantzaridis, The Deification of Man (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984). (go back)
- See Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997). (go back)
- See Alassstair H. B. Logan, Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996). (go back)