Having just finished teaching a course on 1 Corinthians, I want to propose the following synopsis of its theology.
1. The church is determined by Christ’s salvific cross and resurrection, which “bookend” the letter (1:18-25; chap. 15). Those who misunderstand either or both of these determining realities are inevitably headed for trouble.
2. The cross is the definitive revelation of God and of the divine attributes, and the paradigm of a life of others-regarding love, normative both for apostles and for all.
3. The past resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of those in Christ constitute the basis of countercultural embodied existence in the present and hope for future embodied existence “face to face” with God, free of Sin and Death.
4. Thus life in Christ is one of “bifocality”: living in the overlap of the ages by looking back to Christ’s cross and resurrection and ahead to the parousia, general resurrection, judgment, and eternal life. Individual and corporate life and decision making are guided above all by this bifocal dynamic. The celebration of the Lord’s supper is the regular corporate expression of this dynamic.
5. As the body of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit on earth, the church is a diverse, countercultural community marked especially by others-regarding love, concern for the weaker and poorer members, interdependence, unity in diversity, and the active ministry of all members.
6. The church is part of the one people of God and the one story of God in human history to which the Scriptures of Israel bear witness.
7. Life in Christ takes the human body seriously as the temple of the Holy Spirit, too, honoring that reality through such activities as appropriate sexual conduct and concrete expressions of care for the less fortunate.