Having followed some of the forum discussions for some time now, I think that my key concern is that the ‘Future of the People of God’ conference should highlight the place of the resurrection of Jesus in its debate/thinking/discussion.
Much has been made recently of the suffering of Jesus - most probably prompted by Mel Gibson’s film, and the forum dicussions demonstrate people’s ongoing concern about the theology of the atonement in the emerging church debate.
However, we need to emphasise the reality that the gospel and the Christian faith - according to St. Paul - stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus. The first disciples proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus as ‘the’ event that has changed the world. The Lordship of Jesus - and his messiahship and divinity, are proclaimed on the basis of the resurrection.
I recently heard a leading figure in the Evangelical Alliance address a conference on the key issues that unite evangelicals today. Not one mention was made of the resurrection! This may be typical of evangelicaism today (or may not). Perhaps for too long we have emphasised the cross, sin, atonement to the exclusion of the resurrection.
Understanding the resurrection seems to have formed the backbone of the mission of the New Testament Church. Every time they declared Jesus as God, Lord or Christ they were proclaiming that He had been raised from the dead. NTW clearly demonstrates in ‘the Resurrection of the Son of God’ the primary role that the resurrection held for the New Testament writers and early believers.
Why so little discussion today? What difference would it make to the gospel we proclaim if we took a leaf out of the Apostles’ book and insisted in proclaiming the resurrection as the central plank of ‘the gospel’?