…Luke’s theological move requires us to reverse the customary thought patterns about Jesus and Caesar in NT scholarship…Jesus does not challenge Caesar’s status as Lord, as if Jesus were somehow originally subordinate to Caesar in the order of being. The thought—at least in its Lukan form—is rather much more radical and striking: because of the nature of his claims, it is Caesar who is the rival; and what he rivals is the Lordship of God in the person of Jesus Christ…
From the perspective of the Graeco-Roman world, therefore, things are indeed upside down: Jesus’s lordship is primary—ontologically and, hence, politically—not Caesar’s."
Paul saw that underneath all the dismaying problems of the Corinthians lay one massive theological fallacy: they denied the resurrection of the dead. And by doing that, they denied the importance of the world that God created. They denied—whether they meant to or not—that these flawed bodies of ours are loved by God and will be redeemed. And therefore—whether they meant to or not—they denied that what we do with these bodies is of ultimate significance in God’s eyes. So they lapsed into confusion, both moral and theological.
These are sobering observations for a Christian church that all too often denies the resurrection in one way or another… [W]e find forms of otherworldly pietism that dream warmly of “going to heaven” but ignore the resurrection of the body—and thereby ignore the challenge of the gospel to the world we inhabit: such pietism falls unwittingly into the heresy that Justin Martyr decried as a “godless, impious” betrayal of the faith. It would not be difficult to document the various moral failings that follow from each of these errors.
In such a situation, Paul’s treatment of the resurrection of the dead presents the church with a compelling word that needs to be heard again and again. It is no accident that his teachings on the cross (1:18-2:16) and resurrection (15:1-58) stand like bookends—or sentinels—at beginning and end of the body of his letter to the Corinthians. These are the fundamental themes of the gospel story. All our theology and practice must find its place within the world framed by these truths."
The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us. The heart of the tree remains the same, however many rings are added to it; and a man cannot leave his heart behind by running hard with his legs. In the core of all culture are the things that may be said, in every sense, to be learned by the heart.
But my biggest problem starts on Easter Monday. I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week, which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday… and then, after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration….
In particular, if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast again — well, of course. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time; sometimes the ground ivy may need serious digging before you can get it out. That’s Lent for you. But you don’t want simply to turn the garden back into a neat bed of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds and to plant out a few cuttings. If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving. You may be able to do it only for six weeks, just as you may be able to go without beer or tobacco only for the six weeks of Lent. But if you really make a start on it, it might give you a sniff of new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures you never dreamed of. It might bring something of Easter into your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about."