Review: “Life Together”

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together. Translated by John W. Doberstein. London, UK: SCM, 1954.

Rating: ★★★★
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Bonhoeffer’s classic, Life Together presents us with a vision of community that is completely Christ-centred.  As the basis of his theories, he draws a stark distinction between the true Christian community, which is instituted and sustained by God, and our selfish human attempts to (unsuccessfully) reproduce it by our own hand.

Of particular interest and encouragement is the ‘liturgy,’ of sorts, that he describes in Chapter 2.  It is intended to guide the Christian in matters of individual and communal worship.  He addresses the practice of praying the Psalms, the daily reading the Scriptures, hymn-singing in families, prayer (both private and public), and table fellowship, set within the structure of morning, midday, and evening devotions.

For Bonhoeffer, healthy participation as an individual within the Christian community requires a commitment to one’s personal faith in solitude.  This is expressed through silence, prayer, the reading of Scripture, and meditation.  Further, it is on this foundation of personal commitment that ministry within the body can take place; leaders and members alike must recognize their equal standing with one another and before God.  Doing “life together” is predicated upon utter humility, expressed in the relations between members of the community.  The model Bonhoeffer condones is very much a picture of “the priesthood of all believers.”

Lastly, he encourages every believer to practice confession, as an essential element of one’s life as part of the Christian community.  Without it, one remains deceived and reliant on self-forgiveness, rather than God’s forgiveness.  The words of Christ in John 20:23 are spoken to each member of the body—in him, we have the authority to steward God’s forgiveness to one another.  Let us do so humbly and frequently!

Cite this post
Author: Grottenberg, Samuel P.
Date published: October 10, 2015
Last modified: March 8, 2017
Review: “Life Together”

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