Wednesday 23 July 2008

Bonhoeffer on the space of the church

Well, I finally decided to bite the bullet and update my library with the new edition of Bonhoeffer’s works. So I’ve now got a pile of these lovely volumes on my desk, and I’m gradually working my way down the stack. I must say, I’m very impressed with this edition, and with the new English translations. It’s an editorial achievement of enormous scope and astonishing exactitude, and the publishers have produced the series beautifully. Right now, I’m reading Bonhoeffer’s magnificent Ethics – so here’s an excerpt from the opening section:

“When God in Jesus Christ claims space in the world – even space in a stable because ‘there was no other place in the inn’ – God embraces the whole reality of the world in this narrow space and reveals its ultimate foundation. So also the church of Jesus Christ is the place [Ort] – that is, the space [Raum] – in the world where the reign of Jesus Christ over the whole world is to be demonstrated and proclaimed. This space of the church does not, therefore, exist just for itself, but its existence is already always something that reaches far beyond it…. The space of the church is not there in order to fight with the world for a piece of its territory, but precisely to testify to the world that it is still the world, namely, the world that is loved and reconciled by God. It is not true that the church intends to or must spread its space out over the space of the world. It desires no more space than its needs to serve the world with its witness to Jesus Christ and to the world’s reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ” (pp. 63-64).


Anonymous said...

I wonder whether anyone is blogging from the International Bonhoeffer Congress in the Czech Republic this year. It would be interesting to know how many attendees there are and what's happening.


Andrew Smith said...

Enjoy the read, Ben. I have a couple of the volumes (Sanctorum Communio, Act and Being) and they occupy a special place on the shelf, to make appearance in one or two essays. I should really take the time to read them again simply for the sake of reading them.

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