A while back I was working through a set of Bible studies on basic Christian doctrines. And I remember scratching my head when the authors noted that ‘for many Christians belief in the resurrection has become an appendix to their theological thinking … that we can omit without disturbing the logic of our gospel’ (The Blueprint, p 63).
What baffled me was that I don’t think I’d ever actually encountered anyone who openly denied the resurrection.
But things have recently started falling into place. I’ve noticed — and this has been brought into particularly sharp focus by spending a week with budding healthcare chaplains — that while the resurrection is usually front and centre in evangelical confession it’s often distinctly missing from evangelical piety.
I’ve a feeling that this reflects our difficulty integrating it into our ‘operational’ theology. In short, we’re a bit fuzzy on where the resurrection fits into the logic of the gospel. And this, I submit, is linked to an even deeper uncertainty — about where Israel fits into the logic of the gospel.
O’Donovan highlights this connection when he comments on just such an (apparent) lack in Resurrection and Moral Order at the opening of The Desire of the Nations (pp 19-20):
What follows … goes back before the starting-point of that earlier book, so that the moment of resurrection does not appear like an isolated meteor from the sky but as the climax of a history of the divine rule…
The deep logic of the resurrection is to be found in the fact that the moment that vindicates the created order is ‘the climax of the history of divine rule’ — the vindication of God Himself in the vindication of His Messiah, Israel’s inclusive representative — and thus of His fundamental commitment to good of His creation.