A Little Bit of Bonhoeffer

It would be an abject failure on my part to speak about Christian community without referencing Bonhoeffer. A mighty mind and a champion of community, he is a skilled guide for us. These passages come from his brief, but profound book Life Together. Written in 1938, it was translated into English in 1954 and published by HarperCollins.

On the relationship between the Word and community:

God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure. (pg.23)

On the necessity of knowing Christ:

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. Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother. (pg.23)

And …

We who live in fellowship with him (Jesus) will one day be with him in eternal fellowship. He who looks upon his brother should know that he will be eternally united with him in Jesus Christ. Christian community means community through and in Jesus Christ. (pg.24)

Community is a human desire and a divine accomplishment. Let us look to God as we draw closer to one another.


6 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Bonhoeffer

    • He did. When he was training seminarians he insisted that their academic studies be accompanied by community experience. This was quite a shift for German students, but the benefits were enormous.

  1. Can community be achieved between people of different faiths? How do people transcend their differences without having Christ in common?

    • A great question. Certainly, there are some tight groups of people who are devoted to each other with no thought of Christ. But their relationships are a shadow of what is possible when the Spirit quickens the souls of participants. Apart from Christ they lack the power or purpose of true community.

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