Truly Human Sanctification

Sanctification is not the process of becoming more angelic, or even more godly, in some abstract or spiritualized way. What it means to be renewed after the image of Christ, the Firstfruits of resurrected humanity, is only to become human as God originally intended. The ascended Son sends forth his Spirit to renew believers in his glorious human likeness. Sanctification, then, is not mimicry. Not mere imitation of Christ, as though Christian life is external to, and apart from Christ. Such “life” consists in aping rituals and righteous deeds, and is really animated death.

Nor is spirituality a progressive negation of humanity, as if our goal were to “doff this mortal coil” by rejecting corporeality and all its scandalous sensuality. The life working within believers is a resurrecting life. A life that preserves and fulfills humanity, rather than destroying it. At creation, God pronounced humanity “very good.” The Father looks upon his Son dressed in human nature, and again says, “I am well pleased.” In Christ, the divine re-affirms the human forever.

We experience sanctification, then, as participation in Christ's life. The same energies working in the truly human Jesus now vitalize us, so that we are able to commune with God and love our neighbors. Sap courses from the root to the stem. The resurrection life of the immortal Son is likewise communicated to every believing branch by the Spirit. What this means is that holiness is to be experienced humanly. Not ceasing to live as humans, but desisting from that which tends to death. The aim is human life flourishing under the aegis of the Triune presence. Glorification or “divinization”, as early Christians sometimes called it, is not exchanging the human for the divine, but the divine ushering humanity into fullest communion. A communion which, by virtue of its invincible vitality, realizes every relationship in perfect love.