Fortress Press

Reclaiming Participation: Christ as God's Life for All

Reclaiming Participation

Christ as God's Life for All

Cynthia Peters Anderson (Author)


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In an era that oscillates regularly between nihilism and the erosion of moral vision, on the one hand, and pseudo-gnostic myths of self-apotheosis on the other, the classical Christian claim of human participation in the divine as the story of the transformation of human life in its physical, moral, spiritual, and eschatological dimensions takes on radical, counter-cultural color. It is an affirmation that offers hope and meaning for humanity secured by God’s participation in human life through Jesus Christ. The christological ground of this claim is crucial to secure and animate the argument of this text. The author performs, in this, a retrieval of the christological vision of the unification of the divine and the human in the single subject of Jesus Christ as the programmatic center point of human transformation and participation, articulated particularly by Cyril of Alexandria.

The patristic pattern is used as a lens through which to examine and assess modern iterations—those of Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In this, the author provides a critical updating of this vital classical theme, annotating a vision of divine life opened up for created participation that can foster hope in the climes of contemporary life.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451478174
  • eBook ISBN 9781451489569
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 224
  • Publication Date November 1, 2014


1. Deification in the Early Church and Cyril of Alexandria
2. Barth: Elected for Covenant-Partnership with God
3. Balthasar: The Christological Analogy of Being
4. Realizing the Promise: Barth’s and Balthasar’s Conceptions of Participation in the Life of God
5. Reclaiming God’s Vision for Human Life


"Cynthia Peters Anderson has written a remarkable, timely book because she is so unconcerned to be timely. By mediating and evaluating Barth and Balthasar's soteriology through Cyril of Alexandria, she demonstrates the importance of deification and participation in God for navigating modern and post-modern theological abandonments of the christological analogy of being. The final chapter, "Reclaiming God’s Vision for Human Life," proves the point. Her work will benefit not only Barth and Balthasar studies but also anyone committed to theological substance and its place in the church and the world."
—D. Stephen Long
Marquette University

"In this ambitious and carefully honed study, Cynthia Peters Anderson places Cyril of Alexandria’s single-subject Christology into critical and constructive dialogue with Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar, noting their similarities and differences while appreciating Barth but agreeing more with Balthasar. Readers certainly will learn a great deal about how these three important theologians think about nature, grace, deification, the imago dei, analogy, justification, and sanctification, as well as the relationship between the immanent and economic Trinity. This thoughtful book surely will challenge readers to think through their understanding of Christology and soteriology once again."
—Paul D. Molnar
St. John’s University, Queens, New York
"The alternative between the worldview of many educated people and the Christian worldview could hardly be more striking: eternal annihilation and nothingness, versus everlasting adoption into the very life of the triune God. Yet, how should Christians conceive of the latter? In this penetrating study whose pastoral implications are enormous, Cynthia Peters Anderson employs the Christology of Cyril of Alexandria as a benchmark for evaluating Barth and Balthasar’s visions of filial adoption. Inclining toward Balthasar’s approach but valuing Barth as well, she demonstrates the fruitfulness of contemporary ressourcement: through her teaching, we discover how much Cyril still has to teach."
—Matthew Levering
Mundelein Seminary

"It is often said that we live in a time of ‘ecumenical winter.’ That may well be so, but no one seems to have told Cynthia Peters Anderson. Her careful reading of Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar helps us see better why participation in God is at the heart of the gospel. Informed by a christological passion rare in contemporary theology, this book will be of interest to Christians of all traditions. An important and much-needed work."
—Joseph L. Mangina
Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"In recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis by Western theologians on deification and human participation in the divine life; yet, very few have brought a synthesis so rich and elegant as is found in this volume. Cynthia Peters Anderson’s facility with both ancient and modern sources provides for a much-needed dialectic that will help scholars, students, and even laypeople appreciate the richness of the Christian faith and the rootedness of the promise of theosis. By going beyond the polymorphic divisions of East and West, patristic and modern, systematic and historical, Cynthia Peters Anderson invites us to see anew the relationship between nature, grace, reconciliation, and redemption, and to recognize Christ as the center of and font of both human and cosmic participation in the divine. This book will be an essential partner in the discussion for years to come."
—George Kalantzis
Wheaton College