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Showing posts from August, 2014

Holding one's tongue, practicing meekness

For other posts in this series on the book Life Together, click a number: 12345, 6, 89.

In chapter 4, Bonhoeffer addresses the topic of ministry within Christian community. He begins by noting an evil that quickly arises in community: a spirit of competitive, self-justifying judgmentalism. It arose early on among Jesus' own disciples: "There arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be the greatest" (Luke 9:46). Because this spirit quickly destroys fellowship, "It is vitally necessary that every Christian community... face this dangerous enemy squarely, and eradicate it (p90). But how? Bonhoeffer suggests several remedies, all related to spiritual disciplines that help us minister (serve) in truly Christ-like ways. We'll cover two of these disciplines this time and more later.

1. The discipline of holding one's tongue
According to Bonhoeffer, an important and effective antidote for the insidious poison of self-justifying judgmentalism is t…

Solitude and silence

For other posts in this series on the book Life Together, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 789.

So far, Bonhoeffer has emphasized the corporate practice of the spiritual disciplines. Now he addresses our time alone:
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.... But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.... If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.... Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone, and only in aloneness do we …

Trinitarian theology---Calvinist or Arminian?

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Unfortunately, some try to force-fit Trinitarian theology into the continuum that exists between Calvinism  and Arminianism. Doing so overlooks (or at least oversimplifies) the history of Christian theology, which goes back to the Apostles and from there flows in multiple streams, including Orthodox streams in the East; and Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, Episcopal and other streams in the West.

Contrary to common misunderstandings held by some (many?) Western Protestants, Calvinism and Arminianism are not the only theological "games in town." Trying to locate Trinitarian theology within the continuum between those dueling theologies is like trying to force the proverbial square peg into a round hole. The result, often, is badly misinformed criticism of Trinitarian theology.

In a recent post on The Gospel Coalition (TGC) blog, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) professor Douglas Sweeney showed how trying to fit Lutheran theology into the Calvinist-Arminian c…

Spiritual disciplines together

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For other posts in this series on the book Life Together, click a number: 123, 4, 6789.


Last time in this series reviewing Life Together, we noted Bonhoeffer's exhortation for churches to practice together the spiritual disciplines. He mentioned first praying the psalms together. Now we'll look at his emphasis on the communal practices of Scripture reading, hymn singing, praying and partaking of the Lord's Supper. In these ways, the community of believers, by the Spirit, share together in their Lord's love and life.

Reading Scripture together
According to Bonhoeffer, "Holy Scripture...is God's revealed Word." He regards this Word as an integrated whole, comprised of both Old and New Testaments. The Word is connected by "inner relationships...of promise and fulfillment, sacrifice and law, law and gospel, cross and resurrection, faith and obedience, having and hoping," through which, through the Spirit, we are given "the full witness …