Under the influence of the Christian ecumenical movement, there has been a tendancy to reread the Western theological tradition through the lens of the Eastern idea of deification. The studies of the theology of John Calvin, who is a leading figure in the Reformation tradition, cannot avoid such a tendency, either. Not a few scholars have affirmed Calvin's doctrine of deification, in a way, akin to the Eastern doctrine of deification, by rereading him from the perspective of the Eastern Orthodoxy. However, with the objection to this interpretation by those who deny the presence of the idea of deification in Calvin, the question of deification in Calvin's theology has been a grave issue of an ongoing debate among Calvin scholars.
The current debate on the question of deification in Calvin shows that the following three issues form the frame of reference for reasoning the question: Calvin's understanding of the communication of properties between Christ's two natures in the hypostatic union, the nature of his notion of union with Christ, and his idea of the nature of the salvific gift.
The observations of Calvin's ideas about the three issues render incapacitate any attempt to find the idea of deification as participation in the intrinsic divine life in his theology. Calvin's rejection of the direct communication of properties from Christ's divinity to His humanity renders impossible the deification of Christ's humanity, which is marked as the basis of our deification by the interpreters who endorse his doctrine of deification as in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Calvin's idea of the spiritual and personal union with Christ, in which the ontological distinctiveness between Christ and us is guaranteed, disapproves the idea that the intrinsic divine life flows to us through the channel of Christ's humanity in our union with Him. Therefore it can be reasonably concluded that as far as deification is construed as the believers' participation in the intrinsic divine life, mediated by Christ's humanity in their union with Christ, it is hard to hold that Calvin teaches deification.