Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer’s book is one where you sometimes need to go back and read a passage two or three extra times, just to get on the same wavelength as he is. Despite the extra little bit of work, Life Together is a book every Christian should read.


Life Together is about more than just community. It is pretty much about being a Christian period. And that is something that happens in community with other Christians. Bonhoeffer looks at all aspects of community and responsibilities of Christians who are in (or out) of it.


Here are some quotes that will hopefully encourage you to pick up a copy and give it a good read.

  • And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation. As such, God permits them to meet together and gives them community. Their fellowship is founded solely upon Jesus Christ and this “alien righteousness.” (p. 23)
  • Without Christ there is discord between God and man and between man and man. Christ became the Mediator and made peace with God and among men. Without Christ we should not know God, we could not call upon Him, nor come to Him. But without Christ we also would not know our brother, nor could we come to him. The way is blocked by our own ego. Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother. (p. 23)
  • What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done for both of us. (p. 25)
  • Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. (p. 30)
  • (Spiritual love) knows the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and that love of others is wholly depended upon truth in Christ. (p. 37)
  • The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. (p. 38)
  • No matter what objections there may be, the fact simply remains that where Christians want to live together under the Word of God they may and they should pray together to God in their own words. They have common petitions, common thanks, common intercessions to bring to God, and they should do so joyfully and confidently. (p. 62)
  • Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone than you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you have no part in the community of those who are called. (p. 77)
  • But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will only be one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you. (p. 77)
  • If you seek God alone, you will gain happiness: that is its promise. (p.84)
  • 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. (p. 86)
  • A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. (p. 94)
  • The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship. (p.94)
  • The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former but in the latter is the lack. (p. 109)
  • The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! (p. 110)
  • In confession we break through to the true fellowship of the Cross of Jesus Christ, in confession we affirm and accept our cross. (p. 114)