Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Together | Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together, shares a great view the community of saints.

In the first chapter, Bonhoeffer explains that to focus on God and meditate on his Word is the best way to be able to learn what spiritual love and fellowship really are. To focus on Christ and to really know Christ is the best way to be able to know one another.

This is a great idea, but the concept is kind of confusing. In our focus on worship, we must constantly remember Martin Luther's warning in The Judgment of Martin Luther on Monastic Vows. Luther stresses that we must not ignore the vocations we have to serve those around us due to our piety. There has to be a balance and understanding between worshiping God through praises and devotion and worshiping him through our vocations.

But, still, as Bonhoeffer stresses, it is impossible for us, sinful human beings, to truly even understand anything without sin corrupting us. This is why we must be careful not to fall into the traps of bad philosophy and be free to be skeptical of any work besides the divine Word of God (mainly, the Bible).

Here are some quotes from (Chapter One) Community:

"'The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?' (Luther)." p 17-18.

"Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians.... Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible fellowship is a blessing." p 18.

"It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day. It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God.... Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God's grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren." p 20.

"We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts." p 29.

"Christian community is like the Christian's sanctification.... What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God." p 30.

(Remember these next quotes as you think about worship wars/ how to worship.)

"Christian brotherhood is threatened most often at the very start by the greatest danger of all, the danger of being poisoned at its root, the danger of confusing Christian brotherhood with some wishful idea of religious fellowship, of confounding the natural desire of the devout heart for community with the spiritual reality of Christian brotherhood. In Christian brotherhood everything depends upon its being clear right from the beginning, first, that Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality. Second, that Christian brotherhood is a spiritual and not a psychic reality." p 26.

"The serious Christian... is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be... But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams." p 26.

"When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first." p 30.

"He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.... The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly.... He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself." p 28.

"Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body... we enter into that common life not as demanders [like above] but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us." p 28.

"Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate." 30.

"By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world." p 27. (This reminds me of Pascal who stressed that our ontology (belief that we exist) is dependent on trusting God.)

"Neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together--the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ." p 28.

"Jesus Christ alone is our unity." p 39.

"'He is our peace,' says Paul of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:14). Without Christ there is discord between God and man and between man and man. Christ became the Mediator and made peace with God and among men. Without Christ we should not know God, we could not call upon Him, nor come to Him. But without Christ we also would not know our brother, nor could we come to him. The way is blocked by our own ego." p 23. (Blaise Pascal also writes in Pascal's Pens√©es, "It [Scripture] says, on the contrary, that God is a hidden God, and that, since the corruption of nature, He has left men in a darkness from which they can escape only through Jesus Christ, without whom all communion with God is cut off." p 61.)

"The Christian lives wholly by the truth of God's Word in Jesus Christ. If somebody asks him, Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him salvation and righteousness." p 22.

"Because Christian community is founded solely on Jesus Christ, it is a spiritual and not a psychic reality.... The basis of all spiritual reality is the clear, manifest Word of God in Jesus Christ. The basis of all human reality is the dark, turbid urges and desires of the human mind. The basis of the community of the Spirit is truth; the basis of human community of spirit is desire. The essence of the community of the Spirit is light.... The essence of human community of spirit is darkness." p 31.

"Human love can never understand spiritual love, for spiritual love is from above; it is something completely strange, new, and incomprehensible to all earthly love." p 35.

"The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ. p 38. (Remember, he said this during the horrible segregation of the holocaust.)

Chapter <Intro-2-3-4/5->

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