As in Catholicism, the very heart of Eastern Orthodoxy is the call to become gods through Church ritual and good works. Orthodox theologian Daniel B. Clendenin explains that in Orthodox theology, “Deification…is the ultimate purpose of God’s creation.” He quotes Orthodox saints to the effect that we “become god through union with God by faith.” These “saints” further declare that “The ‘science of stillness,’ contemplation, and the interiorization of prayer through constant invocation of the name of Jesus are also of chief importance [in reaching godhood].” We must also “participate faithfully in the sacraments.” Moreover, “Keeping the commandments of God is indispensable: ‘In the end they make a man god…the deification’ for which we were created.”
Deification is a lengthy process in which the Church and its priesthood are absolutely essential. Salvation by grace through faith is vigorously opposed. Showing Roman Catholicism’s agreement on this point with Eastern Orthodoxy, Pope John Paul II, in his celebrated book Crossing the Threshold of Hope (highly acclaimed by evangelical leaders), explains that “salvation and divinization” are the “ultimate purpose” of man’s life. “With God, man ‘creates’ the world; with God, man ‘creates’ his personal salvation. The divinization of man comes from God.”
Campus Crusade for Christ has long accepted Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as true Christianity. A former staff member who became an Orthodox priest testifies, “During my two-and-a-half years on staff [at Crusade headquarters]…I fully participated in the nearby Greek Orthodox parish, Saint Prophet Elias…. Campus Crusade encouraged my active participation….” Frank Schaeffer (son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer) dedicates the story of his conversion to Orthodoxy to several former Campus Crusade staff members who are now Orthodox priests and who introduced him to the Orthodox Church.
Schaeffer makes it abundantly clear that the evangelical faith in which his famous parents raised him had to be renounced as a false religion in order for him to embrace the Catholic/Orthodox faith. He now calls being “born again” the Protestant’s “meaningless…magical instantaneous ‘silver bullet’ solution to sin.” He says we are not saved by “believing that Christ died on the cross for us [but] by struggling to become like Christ…. We are gradually saved as we are deified.”