Question from Brad Jersak:
If I hear the Early Church Fathers correctly:
The telos of Deity was to become human (a transfigured human by nature) without surrendering his deity.
The telos of humanity was to become divine (a transfigured human by grace) without surrendering our humanity.
“God became man so that man might become gods,” as written by St. Athanasius in the context of the Arian controversy, but also found in several fathers – Sts. Basil of Caesarea and Irenaeus most prominent among them.
There’s a paradox though, and your observation, “without surrendering our humanity,” touches on it: when we consider the kenotic (self-emptying) maneuver of the Logos incarnate, it is precisely our humanity (if embraced properly and attentively) that reveals the extent to which we have “partaken of the divine nature” (2 Pt. 4:1). This is to say, when the pre-existent Logos took on the flesh of the Theotokos, he revealed the divine virtues that are intrinsic to him—humility and love—but that are contextualized in time and space within a postlapsarian world, i.e., translated as mercy in a postlapsarian world that now needs mercy, compassion in a postlapsarian world that now needs compassion, patience in a postlapsarian world that now requires patience, peace in a postlapsarian world that now needs peace, etc. This is co-suffering love, but a love that can only be expressed quintessentially when God and we embrace his and our humanity.