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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Church, World and Religion

The Bonhoeffer daily reader, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: I Want to Live These Days with You in its readings in June focuses on the Unity of the Church - interestingly many of the extracts deal with a theology of the relationship of the church and world and why it is not all about individual religious experience and meeting the spiritual needs of humans as consumers.

Bonhoeffer deconstruct's a Christendom mentality that is committed to top down institutional power and forces our attention back again and again to Jesus Christ as the key to our practice of community witness and humanity.

June 13:
When God in Jesus Christ claims space in the world - even if only in a stable "because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7) - then at the same time God summarizes in this small space the whole reality of the world and reveals its ultimate foundation. So also the church of Jesus Christ is the place - that is the space - in the world in which the lordship of Jesus Christ is witnessed and proclaimed over all the world ...

The space of the church is not there to make a piece of the world controversial. but precisely to attest to the world that it remains the world, specifically the world loved and reconciled by God. The church does not desire more space than it needs in order to serve the world with its witness to Jesus Christ and to the world's reconciliation with God through Christ. Also the church can defend its own space only by fighting not for it but for the salvation of the world. Otherwise the church becomes the "society of religion" that fights for its own cause and thereby ceases to be the church of God in the world. The first instruction to those who belong to the church is not, therefore, to do something for themselves - say create a religious organisation, or lead a pious life - but be witnesses of Jesus Christ to the world.

June 15:
The church is the humanity that was incarnate, condemned and raised to new life in Christ. Thus to begin with it has essentially nothing at all to do with the so-0called religious functions of human beings; it has to do rather with the whole of human kind in its existence in the world and in all its relationships.
What the church is all about is not religion but the form of Christ and Christ taking shape among a group of human beings.

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