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Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community Paperback – May 26, 2009
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"When I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, some words Gorky used of Tolstoy come into my mind--'Look what a wonderful man is living on the earth.'" -- Malcolm Muggeridge, author of Jesus
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Sanctorum Communio - the "Communion of Saints" - a devotional par excellence
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.
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.