John Calvin devoted two sections of The Institutes of the Christian Religion to the resurrection of Jesus - Book II:XVI:13 & 14. A whole chapter is given to the resurrection of the body, Book III:XXV. But many standard Reformed Systematic Theologies pay little attention to the meaning and significance of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. I've done a bit of statistical analysis:
Louis Berkhof gives 32 pages to discussing the atonement, but only 3 to the resurrection of Christ. (Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth Trust, p. 367-399 - atonement, p. 346-349 - resurrection). Robert Reymond (A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Nelson, 1998) is a little more generous with 11 pages on the resurrection of the Son of God (p. 565-575). But Reymond is more concerned to defend the historicity of the resurrection event than to unpack its theological significance in these pages. By way of contrast, 79 pages are devoted specifically to Christ's cross work (623-702). To be fair to Reymond, we also should take into consideration that he engages in some in-depth exegesis of key resurrection texts - Romans 1:1&4 and 1 Timothy 3:16 under the heading of God as Trinity.
In terms of subject order, most Reformed Dogmatics move from a consideration of the atonement straight into a discussion of the application of the work of redemption. It is almost as if the resurrection of Christ has little theological value in its own right, or that redemption could be applied apart from Christ having been raised from the dead. Berkhof would deny this saying,
What is more important, the resurrection enters as a constitutive element into the very essence of the work of redemption, and therefore the gospel. It is one of the great foundation stones of the Church of God. The atoning work of Christ, if it was to be effective at all, had to terminate not in death, but in life. (p. 349.)
But the theologian does not develop his point any further.
This is not to say that Reformed Theology has altogether failed to give serious attention to the resurrection of Christ. Geerhardus Vos, the father of Reformed Biblical Theology, broke new ground in his The Pauline Eschatology (1930 available in P&R 1986 reprint). Vos' s key thesis is that eschatology is not just about the last things. The whole of Paul's theology is eschatologically orientated. Much of the book is devoted to unpacking the theological significance of Christ's resurrection, including ground-breaking exegesis of Romans 1:3&4. Of the book's 374 pages, 89 are directly related to discussion the resurrection of Christ.
Herman Ridderbos too gives full weight to the importance of Christ's resurrection saying, "Paul mentions the resurrection as the great central redemptive fact". He reflects further,
Christ's death, as that is developed by by apostle in a great variety of ways, is never for an instant detached from this eschatological gospel of the resurrection. (Paul - An Outline of his Theology, Eerdmans, 1997 reprint, p. 55)
Richard Gaffin acknowledges that he stands on the shoulders of Vos and Ridderbos, the twin giants of Reformed resurrection dogmatics in his study Resurrection and Redemption (P&R, 1987 second edition). Gaffin writes in his conclusion,
We have found that the resurrection is Christ is the pivotal factor in the whole of the apostle's soteriological teaching. Not only is the resurrection (as it is constitutive of the ascension and heavenly session) the climax of the redemptive history of Christ; it is also that from which the individual believer's experience of redemption derives in its specific and distinguishing character and in all aspects of its inexhaustible fullness. (p. 135.)
The centrality of the cross is not displaced by this renewed appreciation of the importance of Jesus' resurrection. Both the death and resurrection of Christ take centre stage in the drama of redemption. Reformed Dogmatics needs to take this into account. The resurrection of Jesus is full of rich theological significance. The event contributes to our understanding of Christ as the Son of God, the Last Adam and the Lord of the universe. Believers are united to Christ in his death and resurrection. His resurrection as well as the cross is the basis of our justification and sanctification. Our future resurrection hope and the renewal of the cosmos are grounded in the fact that "the Lord is risen indeed!" Reformed Dogmatics should not continue to move from discussion of the cross directly to consideration of the application of redemption. I propose that a better and more Biblical ordering of subjects would be: The Cross of Jesus / The Resurrection of Jesus / The Application of Redemption. The resurrection of Christ is a key act in the theo-drama. It is not a minor scene that deserves but scant attention.
See the resurrection label below for other posts on this subject