Bonhoeffer: The church as a sociological failure

The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Nearly every Christian blogger and preacher thinks that the renewal of the church means getting those other Christians to think different or believe different or “love” each other in some shapeless improvement.   Bonhoeffer is more clear.

The last thing you cannot touch in American christianity is the modular family in its singular dwelling.   It is sacred.  All the debates now flapping back and forth about what “church” looks like assume that “church” is what happens when “family” is not happening.  It’s all a struggle to work around the family, which is the real ground of the sacred — the sociological sacred.  The function of “church” is to clean the conscience, and the debates about how to do that are wide, centuries long, and fierce.

But when Jesus walked up to Peter and said “follow me”, Peter did not experience it as a religious problem, a soteriological problem, or a crisis of a bad conscience.  He was not “convicted of sin”.  He was confronted with a sociological disruption: How do I leave my work and my family?

This is not our problem.  We do not experience sociological pressure in hearing the call of God.  So: do we hear the call of God?

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