I hope you had a joyous and peaceful Feast of the Nativity!
Thank you for your comments. Let me try to clarify my position, because it appears you misunderstood me. You said, “Frankly, I have never seen the Fathers teach that theosis means anything like what you are saying.” Please read my statement again, and tell me how this contradicts the teaching of the Fathers:
“We should all be striving to return to the state of perfection that Adam and Eve experienced prior to the fall. We should endeavor by grace to conform all of our desires, impulses, proclivities, tastes, thoughts, words, and actions to the image and likeness of God that we were originally created to be.”
You wrote, "The Holy Ones not only identify with their former sins, but also with those for whom they care, even the entire world." I agree completely, but I also believe the Fathers would agree with what I said:
"Even though we always acknowledge our sinfulness, we do not proclaim our sinfulness as something divinely created. Instead we recognize sin as an aberration resulting from the fall, and strive to avail ourselves of the Christian graces that enable us to fight and conquer it."
You wrote: "It is important to never stop identifying with your previous sins, because you are but one misstep from being cast back into them by temptation. If you are sober or chaste or clean from them even for a moment, it is truly a miracle from God, to who is due all the praise! The addict lives moment to moment in that connection, which is renounced when he decides he has been 'cured' of his passion and thus is no longer 'as one who is thus afflicted.'"
Again, I completely agree with you that we should never stop identifying with our previous sins. There is no sin or perversion under the sun of which I am not capable of committing. Until God removes me from this temporal world, I shall never consider myself “cured” of the potential to sin. But by the power of the Cross and the Sacramental graces of the Church, we have been given the divinely granted opportunity to transcend sin and be remade in the very likeness of God. That is why I said that even though we confess and acknowledge our sinfulness, we should not resign ourselves to sinning for the rest of our lives. In other words, we should hope in the Cross and avail ourselves of the divine graces that will enable us to fight the passions so that we might experience God in fullness.
You state, “Theosis is not an escape from ourselves, but the transformation of the sinful self into a repentant sinner.” I agree with you again.
You write, “God is not ashamed of our sins. He understands what they are: our destructive and weird way of dealing with His abscence from our consciousness. This is why He embraces us sinners while we are in our sins and patiently leads us out of active sin. He is not afraid of our fallenness, so why should we be?” I agree that God is not ashamed of our sins, but certainly we should be ashamed of them. God is not pleased with our sins; and because of His great love for us, He grieves over our sins which hinder us from experiencing Him more intimately and more fully. Sin is not God’s problem, it is ours. Therefore, although God is not afraid of our “fallenness,” we would be foolish to wallow in our fallen condition and not avail ourselves of the grace that makes it possible to rise to eternal life.
Regarding Father Seraphim Rose, you write: “Fr. Seraphim would have had a very rough time identifying as a repentant homosexual in the church community and society of his time. If you had been around 70 years ago, the same would be true for alcoholics and addicts. He could not talk about it because there were so few real Christians around (the same is true today) and it was far less stylish than it is now to discuss homosexuality and addiction. So, I think using him as an example is a poor one. Our society is so weird that I think there is probably more shame in being a chronic masturbater than a repetitive sodomite. In his time, both were socially unacceptable.” Here I must respectfully disagree with you. Father Seraphim Rose was certainly not one to shy away from controversial subjects. Many people today castigate him for his politically incorrect views. So I find it a very implausible argument that he refused to identify himself as a homosexual merely because of the cultural climate of his times. I also think it is a dangerous presumption to state whether or not there were few or many “true Christians” then or now. Let us not forget that God had to inform Elijah that there were 7,000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.
“By identifying with our sinfullness, we are not saying it comes from God, but rather that we have a continuous need for His presence and healing. It permits us to continue to repent, even when we have lived a pure and chaste life. It becomes the means of our repentance and the path of our compassion for others.” Well said Father. In all of our efforts to promote righteousness and truth, we should never lose sight of Christian compassion. All of us are equally in need of the mercy and grace of Our Lord. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Thank you for the good discussion, and I apologize if my words were unclear before.
Peace to you.