This is Bonhoeffer’s classic work on the Christian community, and it’s easy to see why it’s a classic. He encourages us to live out the type of intimacy that our unity in Christ enables. Read this. You won’t be sorry.
If you’d like to purchase the book, you can do so here.
Here are 10 of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!
1. Page 18
So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in invisible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. 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.
2. Page 23
All we can say, therefore, is: the community of Christians springs solely from the Biblical and Reformation message of the justification of man through grace alone; this alone is the basis of the longing of Christians for one another.
3. Page 27
Every human wish and 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.
4. Page 29
A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.
5. Page 35
What love is, only Christ tells in his Word. Contrary to all my own opinions and convictions, Jesus Christ will tell me what love toward the brethren really is. Therefore, spiritual love is bound solely to the Word of Jesus Christ.
6. Page 47
Christian prayer takes its stand on the solid ground of the revealed Word and has nothing to do with vague, self-seeking vagaries.
7. Page 54-55
We must learn to know the Scriptures again, as the Reformers and our fathers knew them. We must not grudge the time and the work that it takes…But one who will not learn to handle the Bible for himself is not an evangelical Christian.
8. Page 74
It is perilous for the Christian to lie down to sleep with an unreconciled heart. Therefore, it is well that there be a special place for the prayer of brotherly forgiveness in every evening’s devotion. That reconciliation be made and fellowship be established anew.
9. Page 86
A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.
10. Page 91
Self-justification and judging others go together, as justification by grace and serving others go together.
Not self-justification, which means the use of domination and force, but justification by grace, and therefore service, should govern the Christian community.
Reproof is unavoidable. God’s Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin. The practice of discipline in the congregation begins with the smallest circles. Where defection from God’s Word in doctrine or life imperils the family fellowship and with tithe whole congregation, the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured. Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns one another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate that the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.
What happened to us in baptism is bestowed upon as anew in confession. We are delivered out of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. That is joyful news. Confession is the renewal of the joy of baptism.
Worldly wisdom know what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of men. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this.