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on 10 June 2016
Doing Christian community well is difficult, for where people are involved, people will get hurt. In this book, Bonhoeffer explores the importance of Christian community, what one such community looks like, and the challenges it will face.

With only five chapters, this book about Christian community is short, but Bonhoeffer is incisive in his observations, being firm, yet gentle as he identifies potential pitfalls and offers prescriptions.

In chapter 1, he writes about the necessity of community and defines the term. He writes that ‘our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us’ (p. 25). He also helpfully addresses the issue of Christians having an ideal of what a Christian brotherhood should look like, saying its inevitable ugliness and messiness is a place for God’s grace to be displayed. After all, ‘Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realise; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate’ (p. 30).

Chapters 2 and 3 talks about communal and individual living. Chapter 2 is a series of prescriptions on the activities a Christian fellowship should do in order to grow as a community. Chapter 3 addresses the importance of individual time alone with God.

In chapter 4, he writes about ministries that are important for a local group of Christians. These are very helpful because Bonhoeffer places a great focus on personal humility and other-person-centredness. Chapter 5 ends the book with a call for the importance of confession of sin to one another.

Bonhoeffer writes with a loving tone. His voice is that of a pastor who cares greatly for God’s people. The book is no academic treatise; it is a ‘this-worldly’ exploration of what it means to be part of a Christian community. I really recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn how to live with other Christians together, better.
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on 4 June 2017
Great addition to Bonhoeffer collection
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on 7 March 2015
Life wrecking and changing ..... That is all
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on 30 October 2014
Geared to Christians who live in monastic communities rather than in 'real-world' social faith-based communities, such as church congregations. Uncompromising in a rather narrow-minded sort of way. Not what I had hoped for and of limited relevance.
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on 5 October 2013
Life Together


This has been my "introductory" book to the wonderful writings of this saint, this mystic Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It made a radical change in my spiritual life, specifically it lit up my soul's hidden and unknown yearning for the fellowship of believers on Sunday, the communion of saints, the beautiful and divine liturgy (aka worship service) - something that my beloved Baptist parents criticized, since it was a book other than the Holy Writ that created in me this yearning. For too many years I dabbled in man's philosophies, being next to "the Way," ... at one point believing in Christian spirituality, but not in "organized religion." Brother Dietrich, this saint clarified for me, elucidated, explained and imprinted on my heart the importance of "Sanctorum Communio" - the fellowship of beliviers, the communion of saints. ("Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works)" is the title of his PhD dissertation which he finished at 21; see book by Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1998).

I recently purchased this book for a coworker (Christian brother, who goes to church once in a while) and wrote him "May you always see the church as the Sanctorum Communion, the communion of saints, the ekklesia of God, where we draw strength from one another's company as we worship the Holy Trinity."


This translation is not the most faithful the original language (German). "Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 5)" offers a better English translation, plus the added bonus of the editors notes with regards to the history and language terms used by Bonhoeffer - not to mention one of his other writings (on the Psalms).


The 6th of 8 children intellectual German turn-of-the-20th-century family, Lutheran theologian, a pastor, a renewed child of God, a pacifist, a collaborator, A martyr for Christ at the hands of the Nazis. Today he is remembered, as an inspiration for Christians and non-Christians - a testament to the power of the Gospel lived out in every stage and trial of life. Up there with C.S. Lewis, he seems to be one of the most widely read and known modern Christian writer. For me, he is my favorite theologian (a pragmatist at heart). One whose love to pastor the local parish and lead youth groups did hinder him from contemplatively writing about his struggles and God's "costly Grace" (to use one of his expressions).


I think THE KEY to understanding and getting more out of this book (and some of the advice that Bonhoeffer offers - section about music), is to know that Bonhoeffer WROTE THIS BOOK IN 1 DAY, in Berlin at his parents house after the Finkenwalde seminary of the Confessing Church had been discovere by the Gestapo and as a consequence of the experienced gained being a professor, teacher, and fellow believer in that isolated community.


1) Community

2) The Day with Others

3) The Day Alone

4) The Ministry

5) Confession and Communion

Chapter 5) is the chapter that I learned the most from since in my Baptist upbringing experience in the church, there was not theological concept of Confession - in contrary to the NT evidence, and Communion was nothing seen as deep as Bonhoeffer explains).


* Do you have a yearning to spend time in the house of God (Psalm 118:24), to be a living stone in the holy temple of God (1 Peter 2:4), to be a "sinner and saint" (using Martin Luther's terminology) as Christ feeds you and you edify your fellow brothers and sisters in "Word and Sacrament" (Lutheran theological phrase) ?

* Do you find church boring, devoid of spirit ?

* Do you seek more from your local church ?

As an answer, I can only say this "Do not ask what the Church can do for you, but ask, plead, contemplate, on what you thru Christ can do for His local church!"

I highly recommend this book for anyone who faces lethargy, disinterest, non-commitment to be actively involved in a local church and thus participate in the Church of God.
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on 22 July 2015
This is a very short book, running to a little under 100 pages in the edition I read, made up of 5 chapters. From the off, as with The Cost of Discipleship and much of the later parts Letters and Papers from Prison, Bonhoeffer metaphorically picks up the reader by the lapels and gives them a firm shake. One of the difficulties with reading Bonhoeffer is that he writes quite concisely. Each sentence packs a lot into it, but it is also of such a quality that one cannot help but be drawn in. You keep reading and want to keep reading, but at the same time you want to stop and ponder the points made. So even though it’s relatively brief, I had to force myself to take longer over reading it than I normally would.

He opens with a chapter on christian community where the key point is that this is life lived in Jesus, not just a life lived unto Jesus. So we are reminded of the participation we have in all aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry. This is further expanded on later on and remains a running theme throughout the book. Bonhoeffer is keen to stress the difference between the christian community, what it means to be Church, from what it means to be any other gathering of people. In so doing, he is a strong advocate of community bound by spirit and has fairly short shrift for those who would try to view church community as any kind of social or anthropological construct.

Following up on this quite general opening, he moves onto some specifics when he writes about the day spent with others. Here, he is very family focused, almost to the extent of being assumptive that a christian’s life will be within a family, and that that family will have a fairly rigid routine. While I would recognise the great value that there can be in routine I am sceptical about when a routine becomes a rule or goes even further and becomes a ritual. Nonconformists, myself included, will sometimes speak of a dichotomy between a living faith and a dead religion. What we mean by this is not that anything that could be spoken of as religious is inherently bad, but it is where the ceremonial has taken over and things are done for the sake of doing them. As one anglo-catholic friend of mine puts it, “You’ve got to have the dressing up, the chanting, the smells and bells. Otherwise it’s just not proper religion”. Now Bonhoeffer doesn’t go to that conservative extreme, but he is quite prescriptive.

He stresses the use of Psalms in worship, though he gets a bit tangled up at times. It’s noticeable that he takes a very “high” view of scripture – higher than mine, though I hope to have a piece written on this fairly soon. While he doesn’t venture into talking about inerrancy, one gets the impression that, were the question put to him, it’s a view that he might well endorse.

From the day with others he goes on to speak of the day alone. This is much more akin to the world I live in. Though he doesn’t make a huge about-turn from the previous chapter; it’s much more a continuation, noting that families are separated from one another by their work for most of the day. The main thing I got out of this chapter was the need for faithfulness in all that we do and what is meant by the phrase “pray without ceasing” – something I try to do in my work, but freely admit that I often fail in it. Although Bonhoeffer doesn’t speak of balance per se, there is a sense here that that is what he aiming for. Or maybe it’s rather that he is giving a model for a well-rounded, complete christian life.

The penultimate chapter is simply entitled ‘Ministry’. I had feared that this was just for those in church leadership roles and would have nothing for people like me whose employment is found in the secular arena, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this fear was unfounded. In fact, I could hardly have been more wrong. What Bonhoeffer does is to look at various ways in which members of a community can minister to one another. Though brief, it is a marvelous exposition of the Petrine principle of the priesthood of all believers. There is no restriction based on whether someone is ordained or not. The ministries he goes into include holding one’s tongue, meekness, listening, helpfulness, bearing with one another, proclaiming and authority. Without recapitulating the whole thing here, I found it refreshingly challenging, like a cold, strong wind on a hilltop shortly before the break of spring.

The book culminates with a chapter mostly about confession. Here, as throughout, Bonhoeffer remains faithfully reformed. He opposes the idea of one person bearing the load of hearing the confessions of a whole congregation, but rather that that whole congregation should listen, on a small scale, to the confessions of one another. Though he doesn’t use the modern term “accountability partner” it is a concept which fits snugly within Bonhoeffer’s view of church. All this is to prepare for what Bonhoeffer sees as the culmination, the ultimate expression of church: communion. He doesn’t go into the theology of communion so doesn’t state here whether he takes a functionalist or symbolic view.

It is a truly beautiful vision of church that Bonhoeffer presents here and one that many christians possibly ache for, even if their expression of that vision isn’t worded quite so eloquently. I would reiterate my point that it is possibly a bit prescriptive and my take would be that each church community may find their own tweaks to this model which are more helpful than a one size-fits-all approach. An interesting point to note is that the model is seemingly only very loosely based on a biblical model. While Bonhoeffer takes a high view of scripture, this isn’t an exegesis, but any biblical backup is rather piecemeal. I get the impression that much is borne out of experience, but his own background is well disguised in the writing. He doesn’t say what he has tried and found helpful or unhelpful. Instead, I may try that myself as I would encourage you to read Bonhoeffer, consider his wisdom and perhaps try a renewed expression of christian community.
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on 27 March 2015
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on 5 September 2013
This was a gift for someone else and not me, so I cannot tell you what it was like. the person I got it for was very pleased.
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on 5 October 2004
Satan is the accuser, the Bible says. But Christ, with the Spirit, intercedes for us, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:26 "with sighs too deep for words".
A beautiful book, my copy freely given me by a Lutheran pastor who shared my love for Bonhoeffer. I wanted to lead a Bible study, he said if he ever led one he would use this book!
I first heard of Bonhoeffer from someone at my church. I discovered Bonhoeffer for myself when I watched the documentary Hanged on a Twisted Cross, the life and times of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I highly, highly recommend.
The parts of the book which spoke to me most were the sections in chapter 1 entitled through and in Jesus Christ and in chapter 3, the section on intercession. Here are some excerpts I love:
"A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner......Intercession means no more than to bring our brother into the presence of God, to see him under the cross of Jesus as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace....His need and his sin become so heavy and oppressive that we feel them as our own, and we can do nothing else but pray: Lord, do Thou, Thou alone, deal with him according to Thy severity and Thy goodness."
I do believe Bonhoeffer has " the mind of Christ" on that one.
Beautiful, beautiful book.
P.S. I challenge you to examine and compare the lives of Noah, Daniel, and Job to find out what was so pleasing to God about them. How do their lives reflect Christ's and what about everyone else's?!!! Please see Ezekiel 14:14-23. So I leave you with some homework, I just couldn't resist!
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on 26 September 2013
This is a great book by the renown Bonhoeffer! It's important to remember that the practices that Bonhoeffer discusses are very important to Christian discipleship, however, this book was written to a very different culture than that of 21st century Britain. There are creative ways the same practices can be applied today! I hope that is fair and helps...
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