We have talked on these pages about those who believe that they can get people to have a “life together” if they force everyone to use the hymn book or have certain types of vestments or what ever. Bonhoeffer writes……
The acts of love for man in community with Christ are:
(1) self-renunciation — to work for others by giving up personal claims to happiness; (2) intercessory prayer; and (3) “the mutual granting of forgiveness of sins in God’s name.”
Bonhoeffer’s comments on intercessory prayer follow the inspiration of Luther and need serious reconsideration in modern times. More controversial is the matter of mutual granting of forgiveness. This leads most naturally to Bonhoeffer’s proposal that private confession be reinstituted, but only if proper instruction is given concerning its meaning.
Bonhoeffer’s ideas about the unity of the church also needs constant reiteration because it is too easy rto forget or to tuen into a cliche. Unity is willed by God and is not the result of a concord or agreement between men. Unity is misunderstood. The unity of the New Testament is not “one theology and one rite, one opinion upon all things both public and private, and one mode of conduct in life,” but rather “one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. . .” Oneness and unity are different. Oneness suggests conformity; unity exhibits the possibility of diversity in the Spirit. This unity is invisible, but it must be believed. Spiritual unity is related to equality. There is equality before God, but neither in the church nor in any community are men identical.