The Gospel as Participation in the Divine Nature
If St. Peter believed that we inherit eternal life by the extrinsic imputation of an alien righteousness received through the exercise of a passive and non-contributory faith alone, the concomitant good works of which play no causal role in our final salvation, then for some reason he failed to mention it.
If, however, he believed that the way to be granted entrance into Christ’s eternal kingdom is by the indwelling Spirit making us partakers of God’s very nature, such that we can add to our faith the love of God and neighbor by which the law is fulfilled, then call me cray-cray, but it seems to me he’d say something like this:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he 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. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:3-11).
Some noteworthy points:
1. The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.
2. Peter’s list of virtues that must be “added to faith” — culminating in love — is similar to Paul’s insistence that what avails for justification is “faith working through love,” and James’s teaching that we are “not justified by faith alone,” but by faith and Spirit-wrought works. Indeed, sola fide could not be more roundly denied than it is in these passages.
3. The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.”
4. The connection between “practicing these qualities” and being “richly granted entrance into the eternal kingdom” is conditional (as seen from the phrase “if you do… then you will be granted”), and corresponds to Paul’s formula already considered: “If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.”
So yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the actual words Peter wrote correspond pretty closely to the gospel he believed. . . .