“Salvation itself is not the end or telos of human existence; it is merely the ‘negative’ aspect that achieves liberation from the consequences of sin and death. The true meaning of God’s work in Christ can only be seen in the ongoing process that leads from initial salvation, through sanctification, and on to a ‘deification by grace’ of the human person. Divine participation in human existence opens the way for human participation in the life of God.
[As St. Athanasius wrote it: “God became man in order that man might become God.” The incarnation makes deification possible. Christmas, the feast of the incarnation, is not the goal of God for the world, but rather finds its fulfillment in our participation in the divine life.]
If the telos or ultimate end of our existence were less than a total sharing in triune life – if we were called, for example, to mere ‘fellowship’ with God through justification, or even to eternal enjoyment of the ‘beatific vision’ – then it would have been theoretically possible for God to work out our salvation without resorting to a true incarnation which required that the eternal divine Logos accept death in his assumed humanity. Full ontological participation of God in human life is necessary if human persons are to know the same quality and degree of participation in divine life.” (John Breck, The Sacred Gift of Life, p 38)