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In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, renowned Christian minister, professor, and author of The Cost of Discipleship recounts his unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. Giving practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups, Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Ch In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, renowned Christian minister, professor, and author of The Cost of Discipleship recounts his unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. Giving practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups, Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Christian fellowship.


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In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, renowned Christian minister, professor, and author of The Cost of Discipleship recounts his unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. Giving practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups, Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Ch In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, renowned Christian minister, professor, and author of The Cost of Discipleship recounts his unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. Giving practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups, Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Christian fellowship.

30 review for Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevan

    Whenever I read how-to books, I "skip to end" the consider the actual bio of the person. Does the person have a life narrative I admire? Would I actually want to be like them? If so, perhaps I'll take their advice. So here's Bonhoeffer. Nazi-resister, Gandhi liaison, secret super spy pastor. An amazing spirit, executed in a concentration camp, after laying a foundation for modern hearts to follow Christ. What a dude. I want to be like him, but maybe not in the exact manner he lays out here. This Whenever I read how-to books, I "skip to end" the consider the actual bio of the person. Does the person have a life narrative I admire? Would I actually want to be like them? If so, perhaps I'll take their advice. So here's Bonhoeffer. Nazi-resister, Gandhi liaison, secret super spy pastor. An amazing spirit, executed in a concentration camp, after laying a foundation for modern hearts to follow Christ. What a dude. I want to be like him, but maybe not in the exact manner he lays out here. This book is essentially "German engineering for Christian communities." A theologically-rooted how-to manual for living life with other Christians, following a very precise order. What would happen if you applied principles of theology AND utter efficiency to living life together? This book. It is highly prescriptive and slightly antiquated, with many many "musts" and "shoulds." But in Bonhoeffer's words, "It's not legalism, it's fidelity and orderliness." The passages on doing the "day with others" and "the day alone" give me pause: the schedule seems indeed a product of the 30s-50s, Germany, from a male perspective; lots of time for Orderly Pursuit of Structured Things (reading scripture, singing hymns, praying together, etc.), and it makes me evaluate my own chaotic household of boisterous kids, and I wonder where Bonhoeffer would find room for Playing Loudly With Preschoolers. I don't mean that dismissively: I think I could defend my schedule a little better against the chaos of the day in order to make time for meditation and solitude, and how I might invite my immediate family into more structured aspects of faith. Right now, Bonhoeffer's crew we ain't. The section on ministry is gorgeous. With its emphasis on listening, service, meekness, holding one's tongue, it calls people towards quite a powerful, quiet life of love. The passage on confessing was unexpectedly beautiful, and something I'll keep thinking about. This book has a few rough patches: the page where he rants about how NOT to do unison singing is quirky and adorable (those pesky basses and altos, always showing off their "astonishing range").

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    1/11/09 I just reread this book for another class. I think it's my fourth reading now. All I want to add is that this book gets better each time. I'm amazed by Bonhoeffer's insight and the understanding of God that informs the whole work. It's small but packed with import. You'd think I would have learned its lessons in the first three readings, but I again found myself deeply challenged about my own behavior in Christian community. This one is worth coming back to again and again. ------ 4/1/07 I 1/11/09 I just reread this book for another class. I think it's my fourth reading now. All I want to add is that this book gets better each time. I'm amazed by Bonhoeffer's insight and the understanding of God that informs the whole work. It's small but packed with import. You'd think I would have learned its lessons in the first three readings, but I again found myself deeply challenged about my own behavior in Christian community. This one is worth coming back to again and again. ------ 4/1/07 I re-read this book for the class I took on Bonhoeffer and found it even more enjoyable this time than the first couple of times. Bonhoeffer has some great practical advice about living in Christian community, as well as some challenging theological perspectives. It's easy to see the influences of Anglican monasticism on his view of communal life, which was particularly unique in protestant Germany at the time he wrote the book. The book is short and comprised of five chapters. Some of Bonhoeffer's insights are more helpful than others: his musings about the nature of community, confession, forgiveness, bearing, serving, etc. are all priceless. His thoughts on how prayer and worship ought to be conducted are interesting, but seem less universal. Even so, I highly recommend this challenging and thought-provoking book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Published in 1939, two years after The Cost of Discipleship, this book shares the basic theological underpinnings of the earlier one, and is written in the same style --which is to say, earnest, serious, and academic-intellectual. The editors of the Afterword, interestingly, assert that here Bonhoeffer avoided "an academic style of language and a scholarly form of argumentation" to speak more directly to lay readers; and to be sure, this book originally didn't have the elaborate footnotes that c Published in 1939, two years after The Cost of Discipleship, this book shares the basic theological underpinnings of the earlier one, and is written in the same style --which is to say, earnest, serious, and academic-intellectual. The editors of the Afterword, interestingly, assert that here Bonhoeffer avoided "an academic style of language and a scholarly form of argumentation" to speak more directly to lay readers; and to be sure, this book originally didn't have the elaborate footnotes that characterize academic writing. (Those are supplied, however, in the edition I read, part of Fortress Press' multi-volume translation of Bonhoeffer's collected writings!) One can also recognize that the style is not the extremely dry, jargon-laden style used for, say, a doctoral dissertation (something Bonhoeffer had also written earlier). But the reading level is still college-level, and the structure of the thought complex; Bonhoeffer presupposes that his readers understand the meaning of big words and grasp theological concepts. I've recommended it for college-educated Christians (as in the earlier book, the author here is addressing the faith community, and it's not a book nonbelievers would be drawn to read). For those who are up for the intellectually challenging nature of the read --I didn't find it dry, but I did find it demanding, and sometimes had to read slowly, or reread sentences, in order to grasp the thought; so it's not a "quick read," even though it's relatively short-- however, it's a rewarding one. In the earlier book, Bonhoeffer had discussed the nature of the Christian church as the Body of Christ in the world, organically united with him and with each other in service to God. Here, he lays out in more practical, nuts-and-bolts fashion a blueprint for what common life in this God-created fellowship should be like for Christians privileged to share the same roof. (This is patterned directly on the kind of life he and his students shared in the Confessing Church's underground seminary at Finkenwalde in 1935-37.) Unlike some Christian sects such as the Hutterites and the Bruderhof, he's not arguing that life under a common roof is a mandate for all Christians, nor setting forth a legalistic demand for common ownership of all money and property as a Biblical mandate (although he takes it for granted that Christians share with others in need). So the kind of daily routine he sets forth here is not a directly transferable manual for how the average Christian congregation made up of multiple family households could or should be expected to operate. (He notes himself that the forms of community life in, for instance, households with children will vary from those in a seminary.) But it does give principles for common life that are applicable wherever Christians gather together. Specifically, he considers it important to both start and conclude the day with common worship: Scripture reading, worship in song, and prayer. Bonhoeffer gave a very high place to the use of the book of Psalms in prayer, and one of his more interesting (at least, to me) thoughts, based on the fact that Jesus quoted from Psalms on the cross, is the idea that the entire book is best seen as Christ's own prayers, which we can pray with him because of our union with him in salvation. (In this light, the imprecatory Psalms make sense; we ask with Christ that God's wrath against sinners be vented in the cross, which then becomes the basis for grace and forgiveness.) Much of the day is spent in work, and maybe even in work where we can't be with our fellow Christians; but we're sustained through it by the consciousness that we are part of Christ's body, sharing in his work. He also gives a high place to the observance of the Lord's Supper (and appreciates common meals with other Christians generally). Another insight that was a key take-away for me here was the value of verbal confession of our shortcomings to a fellow believer, who expresses God's forgiveness to us. That makes the reality of confession and forgiveness tangible to us in a way that silent confession to God alone often does not. (That's an idea expressed in several places in the New Testament; but it's one that, in my reading of the latter, I'd always tended to unconsciously gloss over.) Above all, the author constantly stresses the central fact that the bond of Christian unity is created solely by God through Christ and kept alive and healthy by the love that only God's Spirit provides; it is not something we can psych up ourselves, but is a gift of God's free grace on which we must depend. This edition has an Afterword, translated from the German edition of Bonhoeffer's collected works that served as the basis for this English-language one, that helpfully sets the book in its historical, biographical and theological context. I particularly appreciated the editors' demonstration of the essential unity of Bonhoeffer's theology throughout his life, although he certainly grew and matured in insight over time; and also their perceptive understanding of his distinction between true Christianity and "religion." (A statement I heard in college, to the effect that "religion is mankind's attempt to reach God [by our own efforts], Christianity is God's effort to reach mankind," isn't a Bonhoeffer quote; but it's an idea he would have heartily endorsed!) Although I came to my reading of Bonhoeffer this month with a vague memory of having read something by him in my early 20s, I had no memory of what I'd read then. All of this material was as new to me as if I'd never read it before, and indeed I'm not sure that I ever did; but I'm glad to have read it now. Some of the ideas expressed here, such as the role of verbal confession, I intend to put into practice in my own life. I won't adopt all of his advice for the daily routine (being tone deaf, for instance, I don't get much out of hymn singing); but I think this is an important book for both congregational life and the home life of a Christian couple or family. And I certainly think modern-day Christian seminary and college life would benefit as well by putting similar ideas into practice!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    I rarely give five stars to anything, but this book definitely deserves it. An excellent look at Christian community and the Christian life, this is full of thoughts that everyone who follows the Way needs to hear. Mr. Bonhoeffer may be long gone from this world, but his words still impact lives; they sure did mine!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    What an unexpected power punch! I should have expected it from Bonhoeffer after The Cost of Discipleship but this book looked so innocently short. He packs a lot into his 100+ pages. I was surprised by how much I didn't immediately agree with, but whether I agreed or not I was challenged throughout. Anyway, I think Jeremiah's review says it best so go check his review out. I couldn't say it better. What an unexpected power punch! I should have expected it from Bonhoeffer after The Cost of Discipleship but this book looked so innocently short. He packs a lot into his 100+ pages. I was surprised by how much I didn't immediately agree with, but whether I agreed or not I was challenged throughout. Anyway, I think Jeremiah's review says it best so go check his review out. I couldn't say it better.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ginger

    SO convicting! If the church truly looked like this, the world would have no choice but to look and see what this was all about. My pastor said a few weeks ago in Sunday service that we come together not as a judge on "The Voice," deciding whether to turn around because we like the music or the person beside us or the sermon. For some reason that has stuck so closely with me for weeks now and has freed me tremendously. I think somewhere along the way I exchanged discernment (a good and necessary SO convicting! If the church truly looked like this, the world would have no choice but to look and see what this was all about. My pastor said a few weeks ago in Sunday service that we come together not as a judge on "The Voice," deciding whether to turn around because we like the music or the person beside us or the sermon. For some reason that has stuck so closely with me for weeks now and has freed me tremendously. I think somewhere along the way I exchanged discernment (a good and necessary thing) for judgment, constantly trying to discern if this music or if this method was following after God as closely as it ought to be. He reminded me that that's not my job. I'm not the head of the church and so while I don't accept just anything, the Holy Spirit is my filter. Life Together cemented so many of those things about my role in the body. I might need to reread this each time I've become part of a new fellowship. Because this book is so practically helpful, it would look different in every community. Because of my husband's job in the Navy, we move around a good bit and it was so fun to look at Life Together through the lens of every church we've been a part of and see the strengths of each congregation. This would also be an excellent read for any head of a body - whether that's a small family unit of marriage and family, a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, the head of a ministry team. One of the richest books I've read in a long time. I will certainly return to this again and again.

  7. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    In Life Together Bonhoeffer gives us penetrating definitions of human and spiritual love, just as he outlined the distinction between cheap and costly grace in The Cost of Discipleship. Listening to him give specific after specific, you get the decided impression he has lived the experience of which writes. Well could I get lost in his requirements, for often have I strayed down the paths of human love not realizing what a poor substitute it was for the real thing—not speaking for anyone but mys In Life Together Bonhoeffer gives us penetrating definitions of human and spiritual love, just as he outlined the distinction between cheap and costly grace in The Cost of Discipleship. Listening to him give specific after specific, you get the decided impression he has lived the experience of which writes. Well could I get lost in his requirements, for often have I strayed down the paths of human love not realizing what a poor substitute it was for the real thing—not speaking for anyone but myself. And Bonhoeffer doesn’t seem to be ‘judging the other’ so much as speaking to the self: this is what you must do to love spiritually and not as a mere human. His concern is with the giving of love, not the being loved, so much the preoccupation of today. He goes on to describe Christian communal prayer, ministry, reading of Scripture, proclaiming, meditation, and individual prayer, concluding with one of the best rationales of one-on-one confession I’ve yet heard. Not so good as the The Cost of Discipleship, but certainly a Christian mainstay and well worth reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brice Karickhoff

    This was one of my favorite Christian books I have ever read! It was basically an overview of living the Christian life, particularly in Christian community. I have never read Bonhoeffer before, and I just couldn’t believe how well he meshed a heavenly perspective with earthly pragmatism. In spiritual books of any sort, even outside of Christian writing, authors always seem to struggle with this balance. Some books seem to compromise on truths from God, and others assert those truths in such a l This was one of my favorite Christian books I have ever read! It was basically an overview of living the Christian life, particularly in Christian community. I have never read Bonhoeffer before, and I just couldn’t believe how well he meshed a heavenly perspective with earthly pragmatism. In spiritual books of any sort, even outside of Christian writing, authors always seem to struggle with this balance. Some books seem to compromise on truths from God, and others assert those truths in such a lofty way that they feel removed from everyday life. With Bonhoeffer this is not the case, he just nailed it! I particularly would encourage people early in college to read this book! It bluntly stated some very important lessons that my roommates and I took 3 long years to figure out the hard way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Seth Comfort

    In my book club, we finished reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a fantastic book that I will probably return to and read again (hopefully each year). It is a short read, my version has 147 pages, but it is filled with wisdom and biblical truth's. The book is about living life together in Christian community. The chapters breakdown the different aspects of life together. The book starts with an introduction that gives a background on Bonhoeffer and his life. He was born in 1906 an In my book club, we finished reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a fantastic book that I will probably return to and read again (hopefully each year). It is a short read, my version has 147 pages, but it is filled with wisdom and biblical truth's. The book is about living life together in Christian community. The chapters breakdown the different aspects of life together. The book starts with an introduction that gives a background on Bonhoeffer and his life. He was born in 1906 and was martyred at the hands of the Gestapo in 1945. It is amazing, to me, to know that he wrote this book while living in a concentration camp, yet he writes with a peace that can only come from God. Chapter 1: Community - talks about the importance of the Christian community and how it is not only an essential but a tremendous blessing to our lives. He explores how we should serve one another as Christ served the church and how it is only because of Christ's love that we can love our neighbor. Chapter 2: The Day with Others - this chapter lays out, almost hour by hour, what a typical day could/should look like in a Christian community. He talks about prayer life in the morning and evening. He also address the importance of reading Scripture on a daily basis. He doesn't forget the fact that people have to work too. He says we all need to work and do the job God has set before us. I love this part, he says "Without the burden and labor of the day, prayer is not prayer, and without prayer work is not work." It's like prayer gets us through the work day and work makes our prayer life significant. Chapter 3: The Day Alone - this chapter addresses silence and solitude. Bonhoeffer explains how even when we live in community, we still need times of solitude, prayer, silence, meditation and intercession. He hits on this but at the end of the chapter he again reminds us that we are apart of the body and that after a time alone, we should again be joined in community. Chapter 4: Ministry - this chapter is about the ministry of serving each other. I learned a lot in the chapter as he talks about the ministry of holding one's tongue, the ministry of meekness, of listening, of helpfulness, of bearing, of proclaiming and of authority. He address these in the context of sharing our lives with each other. Chapter 5: Confession and Communion - this chapter is just what the title explains, confessing to one another and then celebrating communion. Overall, this book is a great read and I would highly recommend it. He definitely challenged my thinking of community and how I can serve those around me. Bonhoeffer writes with such wisdom but also with humility. He really addresses how important it is to live in community. A final quote "In a Christian community everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Chappell

    Read 2013-2014 Technically, my third time reading this book. First time solo; second with wife; third with community group. Friends, I cannot overstate how good this book is. My marginal notes exponentially increase with every read. If you haven't read this classic on Christian community, please read it this year. I can think of few other books that will be a help in marriage, humble you in relationships, increase your love for the church and your appreciation of the grace of community like Bonho Read 2013-2014 Technically, my third time reading this book. First time solo; second with wife; third with community group. Friends, I cannot overstate how good this book is. My marginal notes exponentially increase with every read. If you haven't read this classic on Christian community, please read it this year. I can think of few other books that will be a help in marriage, humble you in relationships, increase your love for the church and your appreciation of the grace of community like Bonhoeffer's short, but epic, reflection. So, so good. Read 2012: Most likely this will be my favorite book of 2012. So rich. Chapter 1: Community the Word of God, the gospel, grounds community and creates it. The gospel takes us out of ourselves and points us to the other in Jesus Christ. Chapter 2: the Day with Others How to do, lead, participate, and enjoy family/community worship in the AM and PM. It should consist of reading, singing, praying. Chapter 3: the Day Alone The importance of silence and solitude, as well as private meditation. Chapter 4: Ministry Official word ministry most important. However, we all have ministry of holding our tongue, meekness, listening, helping, bearing, and proclaiming to and for the other. Ministry of authority comes through service. Chapter 5: Confession & Communion The importance and benefit of private confession of sin, especially before Lord's Supper. What I'd really like to do is assign this as reading for anyone who was engaged, thinking about starting small groups, needed encouragement, tips, or grounds for family worship, wanted to find out how to do private devotions. Recording all the gems of quotes in this book would take way too long.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    1. There is value in disillusionment with fellow Christians so to avoid seeing fellowship as an "extraordinary social experience." 2. "God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man." 3. "The Psalter is the vicarious prayer of Christ for His church...the new Humanity of Christ, the Body continues to pray His prayer...that is why the prayer of the Psalms belongs...to the fellowship." 4. "Only in the infiniteness of [Scripture's] inner r 1. There is value in disillusionment with fellow Christians so to avoid seeing fellowship as an "extraordinary social experience." 2. "God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man." 3. "The Psalter is the vicarious prayer of Christ for His church...the new Humanity of Christ, the Body continues to pray His prayer...that is why the prayer of the Psalms belongs...to the fellowship." 4. "Only in the infiniteness of [Scripture's] inner relationships, in the connection of Old and New Testaments...will the full witness to Jesus Christ the Lord be perceived." 5. The Ministry Chapter, first two sections: "The Ministry of Holding One's Tongue" and "The Ministry of Meekness." This is what I like to call, conviction. Ouch!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Courter

    What an amazing little book. I believe every Christian should read this at least once if not every year. It is definitely a must read. "A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, What an amazing little book. I believe every Christian should read this at least once if not every year. It is definitely a must read. "A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. . . To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in His mercy." - p. 86

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah Lorrig

    This book is amazingly insightful. It carefully walks the line between "get your like in order" and "God's love is all you need." In other words, it balances truth and love. You have to be willing to get past some of his particular "this is the way it ought to be done" type phrases and understand them to be not legalistic commands, but rather advice for ways that the important principle can be applied. In all, the book was powerfully convicting, inspiring, and written. If this book is not on you This book is amazingly insightful. It carefully walks the line between "get your like in order" and "God's love is all you need." In other words, it balances truth and love. You have to be willing to get past some of his particular "this is the way it ought to be done" type phrases and understand them to be not legalistic commands, but rather advice for ways that the important principle can be applied. In all, the book was powerfully convicting, inspiring, and written. If this book is not on your to read list, it should be. And if it is in your list, it should be moved to the top.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andy Hickman

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'Life Together' (London: SCM Press, 1962) - - - A bold and penetrating book challenging Christians to the life of community, which is to say, a life of Cross-centred living. - - - Chapters: 1.Community. 2.The Day with Others. 3.The Day Alone. 4.Ministry. 5.Confession and Communion. - - - Memorable quotes include: Ch.1 - Community. "It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us..." "On Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'Life Together' (London: SCM Press, 1962) - - - A bold and penetrating book challenging Christians to the life of community, which is to say, a life of Cross-centred living. - - - Chapters: 1.Community. 2.The Day with Others. 3.The Day Alone. 4.Ministry. 5.Confession and Communion. - - - Memorable quotes include: Ch.1 - Community. "It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us..." "One who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood. He is looking for some extraordinary social experience which he has not found elsewhere; he is bringing muddled and impure desires into Christian brotherhood. ...Christian brotherhood is threatened most often at the very start by the greatest danger of all, the danger of being poisoned at its root, the danger of confusing Christian brotherhood with some wishful idea of religious fellowship, of confounding the natural desire of the devout heart for community with the spiritual reality of Christian brotherhood." (p16) "Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a 'wish/dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams...” (p16) By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream... A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish/dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even thought his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. (p17) God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary idea of community demands that it be realized by God, by other, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself." (p17-18) - - - - Ch.2 - The Day with Others. “The Fellowship of the Table” “Ever since Jesus Christ sat at table with his disciples, the table fellowship of his community has been blessed by his presence.” (p56) “The Scriptures speak of three kinds of table fellowship that Jesus keeps with his own: daily fellowship at table, the table fellowship of the Lord;s Supper, and the final table fellowship in the kingdom of God.” (p56) “The fellowship of the table teaches Christians that here they still eat the perishable bread of the earthly pilgrimage. But if they share this bread with one another, they shall also one day receive the imperishable bread together in the Father's house. 'Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15). (p59) - - - Ch.3 - The Day Alone. “Solitude and Silence” “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. … Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.” (p67) - - - “But perhaps we do not think enough about the fact that no Christian community ever comes together without this argument appearing as a seed of discord.” (p93) - - - Ch.5 – Confession and Communion. “The day of the Lord’s Supper is an occasion of joy for the Christian community. Reconciled in their hearts with God and the brethren, the congregation receives the gift of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and, receiving that, it receives forgiveness, new life, and salvation. It is given new fellowship with God and men. The fellowship of the Lord’s Supper is the superlative fulfillment of Christian fellowship. As the members of the congregation are united in body and blood at the table of the Lord so will they be together in eternity. Here the community has reached its goal. Here the joy in Christ and his community is complete. The life of Christians together under the Word has reached its perfection in the sacrament.” (p112) - - -

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peter Jones

    Bonhoeffer reminds me of C.S. Lewis in that there are things I wish he had said, but didn't and at times things I wish he hadn't said, but did. However, there is so much wisdom, so many paragraphs that bring us back to the essentials of Christian community, such a great understanding of human nature and sin, that Life Together was well worth the read. Several parts greatly impressed me. First, his discussion of Christian community as a grace and work of Christ was excellent. Second, his section o Bonhoeffer reminds me of C.S. Lewis in that there are things I wish he had said, but didn't and at times things I wish he hadn't said, but did. However, there is so much wisdom, so many paragraphs that bring us back to the essentials of Christian community, such a great understanding of human nature and sin, that Life Together was well worth the read. Several parts greatly impressed me. First, his discussion of Christian community as a grace and work of Christ was excellent. Second, his section on common prayer/worship changed the way I did my family worship and gave numerous reasons on why the Psalms are central to all worship. Third, his focus on listening before proclaiming was a good reminder for those of us proclaim for a our vocation. But it is a good reminder for all Christians. We cannot truly bring the word to people if we do not listen to them. Our applications will fall short. Finally, he really pushes confessing our sins to one another. This is a much neglected Christian discipline.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bliss

    Really, really good stuff here. At times it was a little over my head and I wished he'd had some more specific instructions regarding some issues and situations, and at other times I was like, whoa, way too specific! But for the most part, it was just solid theology about how Christians should be living with and supporting each other.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Uri Brito

    A remarkable journey through life in the community, its necessity, and its supreme need for the individual. I will re-read this book next year.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ross Blocher

    Life Together is a short work by Dietrich Bonhoeffer sharing his thoughts on how Christians should function as a community. As a former Christian, I am not the target audience, but I was interested in hearing some of Bonhoeffer's writings more directly (though still in translation from the orginal German) after reading a biography of his life (review here). Life Together was published in 1939, right as World War II was getting started and Bonhoeffer had already begun speaking out against the Thi Life Together is a short work by Dietrich Bonhoeffer sharing his thoughts on how Christians should function as a community. As a former Christian, I am not the target audience, but I was interested in hearing some of Bonhoeffer's writings more directly (though still in translation from the orginal German) after reading a biography of his life (review here). Life Together was published in 1939, right as World War II was getting started and Bonhoeffer had already begun speaking out against the Third Reich. The context of Bonhoeffer's life is interesting, and summarized at the beginning of this edition, but mostly irrelevant to the content of the book itself. Bonhoeffer starts by reassuring his readers that it's okay when they find themselves in a hostile environment - in fact, that's the best way to be a Christian! Of course, if you live in an accepting climate, that's great, too: just be thankful if that's the case. He then talks about how all aspects of Christian life should exist in relation to Jesus Christ himself - all judging, mediating, direction giving, discipline and so forth should come from Christ. That would be great, of course: if only Jesus existed and was noticeably active in church life. Since He's not [this being my commentary, of course], Bonhoeffer has to work backwards from reality and offer general guidelines that have no real basis other than his own opinion, and have no teeth because they are enforced by... Jesus. At the same time, he criticizes anyone who would try to impose his own vision for what the church should be. Again, this makes it really hard to know where to turn for specifics when things go wrong, as they inevitably do. There are no guidelines for dealing with substantive issues. I kept wondering how Bonhoeffer would handle a clergy member who had abused children - I get the impression that he would pray, "lovingly" and "gently" rebuke the offender, and then hope Jesus would make everything right. In all things, God is given credit when things go right, and not to be blamed when things go wrong. He states this with remarkable clarity: "We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily." We next learn that Christians are to be thankful in all circumstances, especially pastors: they shouldn't gripe about their congregants' peccadilloes. You can sense here (and throughout) Bonhoeffer airing his own particular annoyances, and voicing his preferences as authoritative, scripture-induced directives. One of my favorite examples of this was when he chastised people who sang too low, or too loud, or too ostentatiously, for drawing attention to themselves and abusing their "privilege" to sing with the church body. He clearly had strong thoughts on singing, and I can just picture him glancing about peevishly during hymns. He next ventures into the Christian's daily life, even recommending specific times of the day to pray, and how to pray, when to meditate, and how to use the Psalms as a template in prayer. In the same way, he gives directives on what one should or shouldn't do while leading public prayers, or reading scripture aloud. Again, this reads as Bonhoeffer giving his own opinions the force of scripture. He doesn't directly say this, but his writing doesn't make a distinction between personal preference and Biblical authority, so it's hard to tell which is which. There are lots of Bible verses quoted throughout (plus a fair amount of Martin Luther). I thought it funny that Bonhoeffer speaks against taking verses out of context ("Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and intended to be used as such"), yet sprinkles single-verse quotes and references throughout the book. One cannot help but wonder why the Bible needs so much of Bonhoeffer's expounding and exegesis - presumably the original authors could have spent more time talking about Church community explicitly, and less about animal sacrifice. In one section he talks about the importance of being comfortable alone, by one's self, but also comfortable in community. That's all fine, but he takes it rather far: "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." Really? So what are you going to do, Bonhoeffer... find someone who can't be alone and kick them out of the church? I'm never sure how he plans to back up these tough-sounding declarations. Bonhoeffer is prone to strong categorical statements that declare, by fiat, that Christian spirituality is great and everything outside of it is base and horrible. For example: "The basis of all spirituality is the clear, manifest Word of God in Jesus Christ. The basis of all human reality is the dark, turbid urges and desires of the human mind." This is nonsense, and these kinds of statements irritated me in what was otherwise a fairly harmless book. I'm at risk of writing a review longer than the book itself, so I'll bring it to a close. Bonhoeffer covers other areas, such as aspects of ministry and the importance of confessing to one another, which all follows the same format. These ideas all feel quite modern, and I suspect this book and Bonhoeffer's other writings have had a significant impact on contemporary church culture. It's all well-intentioned and fairly harmless stuff.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Talia DeBenedictis

    Great read. Especially since it is only a little over 100 pages, I highly recommend! As hilarious as it sounds, I would better title this book, Life. Bonhoeffer gives a practical guide/call/encouragement for the daily Christian life, which is a life together with other believers. A life together with other believers includes time alone and time with non-believers, time resting and time working. Bonhoeffer really challenged me to consider my walk with God as being one in a community of Christian b Great read. Especially since it is only a little over 100 pages, I highly recommend! As hilarious as it sounds, I would better title this book, Life. Bonhoeffer gives a practical guide/call/encouragement for the daily Christian life, which is a life together with other believers. A life together with other believers includes time alone and time with non-believers, time resting and time working. Bonhoeffer really challenged me to consider my walk with God as being one in a community of Christian brothers and sisters. He challenged me to think not of community as a support for my individual walk with God but as my individual walk with God as a part of God’s church. A few ideas that really challenged me: -community is not an ideal, it is a reality of being with my brothers and sisters in Christ -my brother is uniquely created in the image of God, often different from how I would have created them -God gives us community as a GIFT to remind us of truth, to bear with us, and to help us remember God’s forgiveness of sins

  20. 4 out of 5

    Richard Willsea

    I try to read this one every 10 years or so....

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    A short exploration of prayer, devotion, fellowship, and other aspects of the life of a Christian. Meant for those already a part of the Christian faith. This is my first Bonhoeffer, and I liked his voice.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    So many wonderful gems in this book. Love this book so much!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter Bringe

    I have now read this book three times, and I continue to benefit from the practical wisdom contained in it. I don't give out five star ratings very often, but this one deserves it. Bonhoeffer's directions for life in Christian community, including family life, are biblical and convicting. I don't necessarily endorse Bonhoeffer's theology as a whole or his other writings (I understand that he was Neo-Orthodox, so do be aware of that influence), but I do recommend this book. I will likely re-read I have now read this book three times, and I continue to benefit from the practical wisdom contained in it. I don't give out five star ratings very often, but this one deserves it. Bonhoeffer's directions for life in Christian community, including family life, are biblical and convicting. I don't necessarily endorse Bonhoeffer's theology as a whole or his other writings (I understand that he was Neo-Orthodox, so do be aware of that influence), but I do recommend this book. I will likely re-read this book again in the future.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This is an excellent book about what it means to live in Biblical community. There is an abundance of wisdom in this work that can be applied in any context of community. At the same time, there is also an abundance of dogmatic prescriptions of how to go about every aspect of devotional life, at a level that is obviously excessive. It is important to read with discernment, and when recommending the book to others, to be wise in the maturity of the one to whom you recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    This is one of the most encouraging, eye-opening books I have read during my christian walk. It was such an encouragement and very convicting, especially the Ministry chapter. A must read for every christian!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    The last chapter is worth a reread every month as a devotional, especially before partaking in the Lord's Supper. He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy Pr.28;13

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Solid teaching! I zipped through this & am now rereading each morning as part of my devotions. Solid teaching! I zipped through this & am now rereading each morning as part of my devotions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Meyer

    For such a short book, Bonhoeffer packs a lot into this work and gives the reader much to think about. Earlier this year I read Eric Metaxas’ biography on Bonhoeffer, and he made the point that Bonhoeffer didn’t waste words. He chose every word carefully to say exactly what he meant, without prattling on. “Life Together” illustrates this fact. Although it is barely over 100 pages, I could only read a few pages at a time before pausing to digest the information. Bonhoeffer has excellent suggestio For such a short book, Bonhoeffer packs a lot into this work and gives the reader much to think about. Earlier this year I read Eric Metaxas’ biography on Bonhoeffer, and he made the point that Bonhoeffer didn’t waste words. He chose every word carefully to say exactly what he meant, without prattling on. “Life Together” illustrates this fact. Although it is barely over 100 pages, I could only read a few pages at a time before pausing to digest the information. Bonhoeffer has excellent suggestions on personal and communal devotional life, and I find it fascinating that “Treasury of Daily Prayer” (Concordia Publishing House, 2009) follows the format recommmended by Bonhoeffer, with a reading from the Old Testament, New Testament, psalm, prayer, and hymn. I also found Bonhoeffer’s insights on “The Secret of the Psalter” particularly helpful, as he suggests we read each psalm as if Christ was praying it. Besides the theological aspects, Bonhoeffer also has an astute understanding of human nature, and I found his last section on “Ministry” especially useful in dealing with other people. “The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue” and “The Ministry of Listening” are sections everyone ought to read and put into practice. In the section “The Ministry of Helpfulness,” Bonhoeffer reminds us that “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions” (p 99). Throughout the chapter on Ministry, Bonhoeffer speaks of the “freedom” of fellow Christians to be themselves, with their own personalities and strengths and weaknesses created by God. When we cease from judging others according to our own limited viewpoints, we can see “the richness of God’s creative glory. God did not make this person as I would have made him. He did not give him to me as a brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the Creator...God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image. I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others” (p 93). It is precisely this type of insight that makes me reevaluate the way I think of and relate to others. The final section about Confession was also very powerful, and a great admonition to modern-day Christians to return to the historic practice of private confession and absolution, in addition to corporate confession in church. All in all, this book is packed full of excellent insights and suggestions, and I highly recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Beadles

    I honestly loved how Bonhoeffer writes (or was translated to write ...). He writes in such an elegant and profound way that it almost makes you feel like you're really smart, but really, he's the one who did all the hard work. I found the way he separated spiritual and emotional community not only interesting, but really important. He's definitely not a 2020 Christian and he's little intense, BUT his wisdom is needed now just as much as it was needed then. My favorite chapters were the last two-- I honestly loved how Bonhoeffer writes (or was translated to write ...). He writes in such an elegant and profound way that it almost makes you feel like you're really smart, but really, he's the one who did all the hard work. I found the way he separated spiritual and emotional community not only interesting, but really important. He's definitely not a 2020 Christian and he's little intense, BUT his wisdom is needed now just as much as it was needed then. My favorite chapters were the last two-- we NEED silence and we NEED confession. Two community art forms that have been almost completely obliterated in modern-day Christianity. We rush and we speak when we should be listening (maybe I'm just talking about myself). We cover, hide, and post when we should be confessing. The best part about Bonhoeffer's book: the humility of it all. EVEN THOUGH it's obviously an intellectual man who is deeply spiritual, he is constantly pointing out the reality of our own sinfulness-- another thing that we tend to ignore-- in order to show how deep grace and community can actually be. Somehow I feel that modern Christianity has jumped clearly out of reality in regards to sin. When are we confessing? When are we humbly regarding others' needs? I definitely had moments in this book where I stopped and thought, "How does this align with having boundaries with others?" or "How can we actually do this healthily?" -- I don't have those answers, but it allowed me to see how Boundaries (it's a great book- go read it) has completely re-shaped my view of Christianity and of life...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A.G.

    There is so much to try to grasp in this compact but deeply thought provoking book, that it demands at least a second reading. Bonhoeffer stresses that living in a Christian community is a grace from God, mediated through Jesus Christ, and not man-created. It is significant that to be part of the community, one must confess to our fellow member and must suffer painful humiliation that destroys the prideful, sinful person and brings new life just as Jesus suffered the public shaming of crucifixio There is so much to try to grasp in this compact but deeply thought provoking book, that it demands at least a second reading. Bonhoeffer stresses that living in a Christian community is a grace from God, mediated through Jesus Christ, and not man-created. It is significant that to be part of the community, one must confess to our fellow member and must suffer painful humiliation that destroys the prideful, sinful person and brings new life just as Jesus suffered the public shaming of crucifixion for mankind. Bonhoeffer gets rather specific in his directives of how to live together in a Christian community and this seems to me unrealistic to the modern Christian family setting outside the confines of a seminary - trying to live Biblically in a family may not allow for the strict time allotments that Bonhoeffer wants to impose in the seminary. This is an amazingly convicted man in his thoughts and actions considering the turbulent, dangerous rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany during which other church leaders succumbed. Some takeaways I found: to meet as a Christian community is a grace from God (not to be taken for granted); the idealization of what a Christian community should be will lead to the destruction of the community because it cannot live up to the imagined ideal; the importance of silence and reverent listening that allows for us to honor and receive the Word; the Word should then be absorbed into our hearts to inspire service and good works in our ordinary day; the importance of intercessory prayer; and generally, an openness with and for one another. I know a re-reading will open up more truths to me!

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