Is becoming like God the point? Or, when Irenaeus meets Zizek

I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember a Zizekian “completion” of Irenaeus’ famous statement,

God made himself man, that man might become God.

I have been trying to remember its exact form, and (mainly) where I read it. I finally got there/found it. (It was in fact in Other by Kester Brewin – who was quoting Slavoj Zizek from The Monstrosity of Christ.)

The Irenaean idea is centred on the interplay between incarnation, redemption and deification. Zizek notes that the standard Christian thought process focuses on thinking that,

Christ’s sacrifice provides only a precondition for the ultimate goal, which is the deification of humanity.

The completion of Irenaeus’ statement comes as Zizek states that he finds this Orthodox belief lacking – as it has, for Zizek, missed the point of the incarnation. Zizek finishes Irenaeus’ statement thusly,

God made himself man, that man might become God who made himself man.

Christologically speaking it should be considered a mistake to miss this radical aspect of the incarnation. In the incarnation God identified Godself uniquely (and permanently) with humanity – as Jürgen Moltmann has noted “the risen Christ is and remains the crucified Christ,” who is and remains God enfleshed.

If this is missed then the incarnation fails to interact meaningfully with redemption and deification. One is left to wonder if those years, all those people, those scars, and that cry – “My God, why have you forsaken me?” – have actually left an impression on God?

For as Kester Brewin remarks insightfully, this incarnation-redemption-deification process and our desire to repair God’s image in us

is a task that makes us simultaneously both more God-like and more human.

The incarnation communicates that God values humanity, and that redemption is rooted in a duality of making us at once more us-like and more God-like – because God has permanently identified Godself with humanity, and made space for it in the divine-being through the incarnation-crucifixion-resurrection defined Christ event.

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