September 17, 2008

Bonhoeffer & Rollins in Conversation

In his PhD. dissertation, Sanctorum Communio (SC) Bonhoeffer (DB) writes a sociological/theological account of the church and community. Instead of arguing for a narrow individualism, DB argues that humans exist as communal beings. This does not take away from the uniqueness of individuals, but rather highlights it.
The individual personal spirit lives solely by virtue of sociality, and the ‘social spirit’ becomes real only in individual embodiment. (SC)
DB then explicates a very helpful understanding of sin as both individual and communal so that guilt lies within both realms evenly (which I believe is a very important theological statement to make).

Thus, sin is not a biological problem, but a societal and individual problem. Every individual falls into sin, thus making the human race fall into sin anew. So here is where the church comes in:
It is 'Adam', a collective person who can only be superceded by the collective person 'Christ existing as church-community.' (SC)
The reality of the church is to be either denied or trusted, because it is by nature revelation. By nature man is capable of sin, not church which is understood by Bonhoeffer to be the presence of Christ.
Thus, everyone beomces guilty by their own strength and fault, because they themselves are Adam; each person, however, is reconciled apart from their own strength and merit, because they themselves are not Christ. (SC)
These thought by Bonhoeffer will be helpful when I bring Pete Rollins into the conversation. We'll need to remember that the church when it exists, exists not by the actions of 'Adam', but instead by the revelation of Christ, the church is Christ and Christ is the church. There is much that can be said here, but our focus is that whatever may be said of the church, it is the real presence of God in the world through the revelation of God himself.

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