Michael Barbar over at The Sacred Page has been talking about the role of the resurrection in our salvation. He give Aquinas’ five arguments, and then muses:
Catholics and Protestants talk past each other on a regular basis. Believe me, I know–I’ve spent much of my academic career studying as a Catholic at non-Catholic institutions. I’ve done so as an undergraduate and then as a Ph.D. student.
Why do Catholics and Protestants talk past each other? I believe one of the main reasons is that Catholics and Protestants have differing views on the role of the resurrection. To Catholic theologians, the traditional Reformed approach to salvation which especially focuses on Christ’s death as a “substitution” for our death (penal substitution theory), doesn’t seem to leave much room for the Resurrection in the work of redemption. Indeed, the famous Protestant theologian Karl Barth seemed to limit the significance of the Resurrection to a “verdict” affirming Christ’s work.
In fact, Catholic theology–particularly, soteriology, that is, the theology of Christ’s work of salvation–has always stressed the role of the Resurrection. Let’s return to Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas writes:
“Two things concur in the justification of souls, namely, forgiveness of sin and newness of life through grace. Consequently, as to efficacy, which comes of the Divine power, the Passion as well as the Resurrection of Christ is the cause of justification as to both the above. But as to exemplarity, properly speaking Christ’s Passion and death are the cause of the forgiveness of guilt, by which forgiveness we die unto sin: whereas Christ’s Resurrection is the cause of newness of life, which comes through grace or justice: consequently, the Apostle says (Romans 4:25) that ‘He was delivered up,’ i.e. to death, ‘for our sins,’ i.e. to take them away, ‘and rose again for our justification.’ But Christ’s Passion was also a meritorious cause. . .” (Summa Theologiae III, q. 56, art. 2, ad 4; emphasis added).
This two-fold description of the work of salvation is also found in what I consider to be the greatest contemporary theological treatise, the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“The Paschal mystery has two aspects:  by his death, Christ liberates us from sin;  by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, ‘so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life’ [citing Rom 6:4; cf. 4:25]. Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace [citing Eph 2:4-5; 1 Pet 1:3]. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ’s brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: “Go and tell my brethren” [Mt 28:10; Jn 20:17.]. We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection” [no. 654; emphasis added].
One of my favorite books on the Resurrection is probably written by the late 20th century Catholic theologian, F. X. Durrwell, entitled appropriately enough, The Resurrection. Durrwell was a brilliant theologian whose approach to theology was thoroughly biblical; his work is far too often overlooked. He does a great job emphasizing the role the role of the resurrection in salvation. The following is from his book (pages 28-29, 31, 32).
There’s so much more I’d like to say, but for now, Durrwell will have to suffice. . .