Monday, May 28, 2012

Bonhoeffer 1939

Dietrich Bonhoeffer rebelled against the nationalist Nazi movement in Germany through several different avenues.  He was a pastor, professor, and prophet who provided a powerful witness through his own road to martyrdom.  One of his most significant and best organized rebellions took place in a place known as Finkenwald where he gathered a group of young people to establish an underground Christian seminary.

The Finkenwald experiment became a journey into the intricacies of Christian community.  The students lived together, prayed together, worked together, and shared every aspect of an organized Christian community.

The 'Brothers' House,' as it was known, became such a thorn in the side of Hitler's system that is was ordered closed and the students scattered.  But the two years at Finkenwald were not isolated to the  personal experience of Bonhoeffer and his students.  In late 1938, Bonhoeffer and his close friend Eberhard Bethge (who would later become the key Bonhoeffer biographer) tucked themselves away for a month of reflection and writing.

Bonhoeffer invested day and night in writing his theological and structural reflections of the Finkenwald experiment.  The result became a small book known in English as Life Together.  This small personal document was published in 1939.  It caught fire and by the end of the year it was commissioned into a fourth printing.  Today, it is a classic image of Christian community with neo-monastic structure, and a strong theology of personal discipleship.

Life Together provides a model for the current neo-monastic / Christian discipleship lifestyle that is being lived out around the world.  It is a memorable work for people of faith who want to understand how community can become the root of faith development for individuals.  Grab a copy, read it, live it; you will never be the same.

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