Yesterday was Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s birthday. For many years I have made it a habit to try to read Life Together once a year.
Bonhoeffer is a hero. He is not a hero because of his theological orthodoxy–he wasn’t completely orthodox in all areas. He is hero because he stood for truth and Christ when others would not. His book on Christian fellowship (Life Together) is a masterpiece of pastoral-theological reflection and challenges much of the over-glamorized and shallow offerings of almost anything written since on the subject.
So, in honor of Bonhoeffer, some of the choicest quotes from his book: [All quotes are from the Harper Collins edition of 1954 which has been reprinted almost every year since.]
“So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of his foes.” ( p. 17)
“When God was merciful, when He revealed Jesus Christ to us as our Brother, when He won our hearts by His love, this was the beginning of our instruction in divine love. When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren. When we received forgiveness instead of judgment, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren.” (p. 24f)
“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)
“Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. 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. … God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious.” (p. 27)
Note: the Harper Collins Edition has no Scripture or person index. I have hunted down all the references and allusion in the book. For those who may be interested, I have prepared two indices for this edition. They can be printed off and taped into the back of the book very easily. Contact me by e-mail and I will gladly send it to you for free. (Marty@radicalCHURCHplanting.com)