The Church is the Church Only When…

ImageGreat piece below by 20th century pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It was part of the outline of a book he wanted to write; he was killed by the Nazis before it was complete. To read more, check out the pieces here on pages 14-16.

The church is the church only when it exists for others. To make a start, it should give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling.

The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others. In particular, our own church will have to take the field against the vices of hubris, power-worship, envy, and humbug, as the roots of all evil. It will have to speak of moderation, purity, trust, loyalty, constancy, patience, discipline, humility, contentment, and modesty.

It must not under-estimate the importance of human example (which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus and is so important in Paul’s teaching); it is not abstract argument, but example, that gives its word emphasis and power. (I hope to take up later this subject of ‘example’ and its place in the New Testament; it is something that we have almost entirely forgotten.)

Further: the question of revising the creeds (the Apostles’ Creed); revision of Christian apologetics; reform of the training for the ministry and the pattern of clerical life. 

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