Joseph's Smith's teaching that humans have the potential to become like God has frequently aroused cries of blasphemy in anti-Mormon circles, perhaps most famously in the unseemly film The Godmakers. Latter-day Saints have long maintained that the doctrine of deification is not only thoroughly Christian, but is an idea which can be found in some of the earliest Christian writings. Our third installment in the Occasional Papers examines this issue by comparing and contrasting LDS and Roman Catholic views on the venerable doctrine of theosis, or divinization.
This monograph is a slightly revised edition of Joseph Vajda's master's thesis completed at the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1998. Fr. Vajda is Roman Catholic Dominican monk currently assigned as Assistant Director of the Campus Ministry of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle. As a non–Latter-day Saint, Fr. Vajda brings an interesting perspective to this topic, including a useful elucidation of the similarities and differences between LDS teachings on exaltation and Roman Catholic and other early Christian traditions. We are grateful that he has given us permission to publish his thesis, and look forward to continuing dialogue on this important and fascinating subject.
I would like to thank the Executive Assistant of the FARMS Occasional Papers, Sharon Nielson, for her patient assistance in preparing this manuscript for publication. Likewise, thanks are due to Jacob D. Rawlins, Alison Coutts, and the editorial staff of FARMS, and to Daniel C. Peterson for bringing this manuscript to my attention.
William J. Hamblin
Editor, FARMS Occasional Papers