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  • 20: Partakers of the Divine Nature
  • 20: Partakers of the Divine Nature

    A code Dan Brown left on the dust jacket of his wildly successful book, The Da Vinci Code, hints that his next book will focus on Free Masonry. In preparation, we can focus some of our thinking on Masonry’s “Royal Secret,” as it is called by Albert Pike, a universally–recognized spokesman for Masonry. The “royal secret” of this influential secret society is this: “we are partakers of the divine nature.”

    This Masonic “secret” is a direct quote from 2 Peter 1:4, which reads: “[God] has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

    This is the last of the three New Testament texts people use to claim biblical support for a monistic understanding of Christianity. (See Newsletters 13 and 15). Albert Pike interprets this verse to mean that in our deepest nature, we are divine sparks that have emanated from and will return to God. But is this what the Apostle Peter means? This phrase–partakers of the divine nature–is most unusual and is found nowhere else in the Bible. Since we have no other uses on which to lean in understanding its meaning, the apostle’s argument and the context in which he uses it is of utmost importance. It must be placed in the context of Peter’s entire thought.

    Does Peter’s thought lend itself to a pagan or monistic understanding of this phrase? Let’s compare Peter’s system of thought to a monistic system:

    • Monists have no category for sin. Peter says that believers are cleansed from…former sins (v. 9).
    • Monists believe that divine humans save themselves. Peter teaches that believers are saved by the [alien] righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (v.1).
    • Monists rely on the great myths of human spirituality and reject the Bible. Peter rejects myths in favor of eyewitness testimony to an historical event (v. 16) and in favor of the more sure prophetic word of Scripture (v. 19 and 21).
    • Monists do not believe in a final judgment. Peter says evil people are being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly (3:7).

    If Peter understood us to be an emanation of the divine, he would not deny all the consequences of such thought in the rest of his epistle. In other words, not one statement in the entire epistle either prepares for or develops from this supposedly monistic idea in 2 Peter 2:4. As to the phrase itself, Peter uses the term koinonos, from which we get koinonia, “fellowship.” It is sometimes translated as “participation.” A parallel phrase in Paul speaks of “fellowship with/in the Spirit (Phil 2:1). Peter is not saying that “our nature becomes divine nature,” but that we have fellowship with the divine reality, an entirely biblical notion–see 1 John 1:3 and 1 Peter 5:1.

    The Freemason interpretation of Peter’s phrase is similar to that taken by the ancient Gnostics. According to The Gospel of Truth 18:30–33, knowing oneself is to discover in oneself “the incomprehensible, inconceivable…Father, the perfect one…” As one modern Gnostic, Harold Bloom, says: “I am uncreated, as old as God.” In Gnosticism, the kingdom notion has been turned into a symbol of pure spirituality. In other words, believers who have “received the kingdom” are those who have received the knowledge of their original higher selves that existed in God before the mistake of the creation of the physical cosmos. Jesus comes to remind them of their “heavenly origin.”

    The Kingdom in 2 Peter is quite different. The fellowship proposed includes the promise of our coming future state, not a description of our present, innate nature. Becoming partakers of the divine nature is the result of a gracious act of God in history, removing us from the corruption of this present world (v.4) and fitting us for transformed fellowship with God in the world to come. This state goes beyond anything we can imagine, what Peter calls the new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (3:13). Believers are promised an entrance into the eternal kingdom (v. 11), which will be a face–to–face meeting with God in his Majestic Glory (v. 17). Just as in marriage, where two individuals keep their own identities and yet “become one flesh,” so, as believers, we await the marriage supper of the Lamb where personal communion with our Maker and Redeemer will be our joy for all eternity–though God will maintain his identity as the transcendent divine Creator and we will maintain ours as his transformed dependent creatures.