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Abstract

Some contemporary Baptists (Medley and Kharlamov) argue that the conservative Baptists in North America need to incorporate the concept of deification into their traditional soteriology because they failed to present the continual and transforming nature of salvation. However, many leading conservative Baptist systematicians (Garrett, Erickson, Demarest, and Keathley) demonstrate their concern about a possible pantheistic connotation of the doctrine of deification. Unlike the conservative Baptists, I argue for the necessity of working with the concept of deification in the traditional Baptist soteriology. The concept of deification is not something foreign to the Baptist tradition because Keach, Gill, Spurgeon, and Maclaren already demonstrated the patristic exchange formula ‘God became man so that man may become like God’. They considered the hypostatic union of two natures in Christ as the source and model of becoming like God or Christ, the true Image of God. Christians are called to be united with the glorified humanity of Christ by their adopted sonship and participation in the divine nature. Christification speaks of the real transformation of Christians in terms of a change in the mode of existence, not in nature. The four Baptists taught that Christian could participate in the communicable attributes of God, but not in the essence or incommunicable attributes of God. Therefore, Christification never produces another God-Man. Conservative Baptists do not have to compromise their traditional commitment to sola scriptura and the forensic nature of justification in their employment of the theme of deification. This paper concludes with four suggestions for contemporary Baptist discussions on deification.