Richard Hays on the centrality of the resurrection for Christian faith:
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.
Hays, First Corinthians, pp. 277-278 (emphases added).