Later, it took Christians seven hundred years to decide what they meant when they said that Jesus was the Son of God. By this time, Christianity was no longer a Jewish faith and Greek speakers did not understand these Jewish terms correctly, so many people were confused.
Eventually the East and West evolved two entirely different notions of Jesus. In the West, Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury evolved one notion of Jesus during the eleventh century. The sin of Adam had been so great that only a God could atone for it; but because God was just, he knew that a man, who was responsible, had to atone. Hence God decided to become human and died to save the world. The Greek Orthodox did not like this idea, because they felt that it made God weigh things up like a human being; it was too anthropomorphic: God transcends this type of limited human thinking. And there is also something abhorrent about God sending his son to die a horrible death as a human sacrifice ~ I think.
So the Greek Orthodox, who don’t really believe in the Original Sin theory, evolved a more Buddhist notion of Jesus. The idea was first stated by Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662). He did not believe that Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins. This would have happened even if Adam had not sinned. Jesus was the first fully deified human being; he surrendered to God so completely that the divine infused his entire being, through and through, in the process of theosis (“deification”). And we can all be like him; we can all be deified too if we give up our egotism and greed ~ even in this life.
It is similar to the Buddhist notion of Siddhatta Gotama, the Buddha. He was the first fully enlightened human being in our historical era; he is so closely identified with Nirvana that when we look at him ~ composed, peaceful, in control, compassionate ~ we see what the inexpressible Nirvana can be in human terms. And we all have the capacity to achieve Nirvana ourselves -- even in this life.
- Karen Armstrong, in her contribution to the Washington Post's discussion On Faith.
Theosis, meaning deification or divinization, is the process of man becoming holy and being united with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in the resurrection. Theosis is the understanding that humans from the beginning are made to share in the life of the Trinity. Therefore, we are saved from sin for participation in the life of the Trinity, which is life-giving and therefore eternal.
Definition from OrthodoxWiki.