The Fellowship of the Undevout.

It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from 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.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

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3 comments
  1. Anyone out there with the gift of interpretation? Not quite sure what to make of this utterance. JSJ

    • jt* said:

      It’s part of Bonhoeffer’s reflection on James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other…” He talks about the idea that sin loves the darkness when what we really need is to expose it to the light in the form of confessing our sins to one another so that we might be forgiven. This goes against the general tendency to keep ones sin private and hidden from one another. Therefore, Bonhoeffer encourages us to confess our sin to each other (not everyone of course, for as he argues, in our brother we confess to the whole Church) and thus to be known as “undevout”, or to dare to be a sinner.

  2. Awesome quote. Sorry, sometimes I need a little extra help understanding. This is really quite insightful and a point I was radically introduced to when I started attending a “house church” years ago. The idea of what Acts called “the common life together.” Seeing this term described in Acts 2:42ish as meeting from house to house day by day, I began to have the feeling they were not always having formal “services” but were actually living life as a community – not just a spiritual community. At the first house church I attended, they had one of every fourth meeting dedicated to doing something common together (one time it was a Lord of the Rings marathon). It was an intentional act of taking “fellowship” seriously and stealing back the meaning from the idea of a coffee break before a sermon – to its original sense of an interconnectedness of the church in both “christian life” and “everyday life” together. JSJ

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