Bonhoeffer on the Church

[This is one of my favorite readings from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, from October 23:]

It is not we who build.  [Christ] builds the church.  No man builds the church but Christ alone.  Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it.  We must confess–he builds.  We must proclaim–he builds.  We must pray to him–that he may build. 

We do not know his plan.  We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down.  It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction.  It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down. 

It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me.  Do not meddle in what is my province.  Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough.  But do it well.  Pay no heed to views and opinions.  Don’t ask for judgments.  Don’t always be calculating what will happen.  Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge!  Church, stay a church!  But church, confess, confess, confess!  Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are.  Christ builds.  [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, No Rusty Swords, (Treasury of Daily Prayer, 840-841)]

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One response to “Bonhoeffer on the Church

  • Dwight McMurrin

    What amazes me about these words of Bonhoeffer uttered in the ’30s in another place and setting are just as pungent and necessary today. Thank you for bringing them forth. And thank God for one who stood.

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