Today we have guest post from one of my favorite people and theologians…I am proud to say that Bonhoeffer is providing us with a guest post! Bonhoeffer is by far one of my favorite authors and has taught me more about “the church” and living practically than almost any other author. Starting at the end of the month, I am going to start reading Ethics by Bonhoeffer with some friends back in the states. (Feel free to join us and also expect to see some more guest posts by him!) Ethics is considered by Bonhoeffer to be his life work and sadly was not completed due to his imprisonment and execution. However, he had been working on it for sometime and so we do have a number of manuscripts and writings. The book Ethics is essentially a compilation of his manuscripts and writings put together by by his best friend Eberhard Bethge and was originally published in 1949.
Here is a short bit of what Bonhoeffer says about the nature of the Church…(it’s worth the read…trust me!)
“And, so, too, the church of Jesus Christ is the place, in other words the space in the world, at which the reign of Jesus Christ over the whole world is evidenced and proclaimed. This space of the church, then, is not something which exists on its own account. It is from the outset something which reaches out far beyond itself, for indeed it is not the space of some kind of cultural association such as would have to fight for its own survival in the world but it is the place where testimony is given to the foundation of all reality in Jesus Christ. The church is the place where testimony and serious thought are given to God’s reconciliation of the world with God in Christ, to God’s having so loved the world that God gave God’s Son for its sake. The space of the church is not there in order to try to deprive the world of a piece of its territory, but precisely in order to prove to the world that it is still the world, the world which is loved by God and reconciled with God. The church has neither the wish nor the obligation to extend it space to cover the space of the world. It asks for no more space than it needs for the purpose of serving the world by bearing witness to Jesus Christ and to the reconciliation of the world with God through him. The only way in which the church can defend its own territory is by fighting not for itself but for the salvation of the world. Otherwise the church becomes a ‘religious society’ which fights in its own interest and thereby ceases at once to be the church of God and of the world. And so the first demand which is made of those who belong to God’s church is not that they should be something in themselves, not that they should, for example, set up some religious organization or that they should lead lives of piety, but that they shall be witness to Jesus Christ before the world.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer Ethics