Sunday, July 05, 2009

quote of the week: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the prevailing unity of the Church

The spiritual unity of the Church is a primal synthesis willed by God. It is not a relationship that has to be established, but one that is already posited (iustitia passiva), and remains invisible. It is not made possible by concord, similarity or affinity between souls, nor should it be confused with unity of mood. Instead it is real just where seemingly the most intractable outward oppositions prevail, where each man leads his quite individual life, and it is perhaps absent where it seems to prevail most. It can shine more brightly in the conflict between wills than in concord.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Communion of Saints, 137 from Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 186.

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

I do struggle some with Bonhoeffer's thought here, though not the essence of it.

We are told to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, which requires being completely humble, etc. (Ephesians 4).

So while the unity can be quite present in "the conflict between wills", to keep it requires handling that conflict in love, as well as in truth, in Jesus. Forgiving each other will be high on the list, I'm sure.

This Bonhoeffer book is out of print, by the way, but there is a volume (probably multiple books) that includes all of his writings, if I'm not mistaken.