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Keywords:

  • atomism;
  • soteriology;
  • incarnation;
  • sacrifice;
  • divinisation

Abstract

By ‘atomism’ I mean the idea, applicable in various fields, that explanation proceeds from small to large and part to whole. A theological atomist would see the salvation of mankind as the sum of the salvations of individuals and try to understand the Incarnation, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension as successive episodes each making its own separate contribution. I argue that we are essentially social beings, and infer that God can communicate with us, and we can be united with him, only as forming a society. More controversially, I suggest that the Son of God became incarnate primarily in a society, and saved it by turning it into a single supernatural organism, living with divine life.