Thinking through Charlottesville with Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas: The Church-World Intersection and the Transforming Power of Ritual

Claire L. Partlow
Saint Leo University

In the aftermath of Charlottesville’s appallingly tragic confrontation on August 12, 2017 we might ask how a Christian view of the relationship between the church and the world—the reality of the intersection of their “realms”—could offer a solution to the hatred evidenced in our streets. More specifically, the question would probe the down-to-earth reality of Christian love interwoven throughout all of life, and especially in the most painful and cruel realities of life. Both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Stanley Hauerwas write of the vast difference between the “world” and the “church”—a difference highlighted especially in arenas of suffering. Though neither fully agrees with Martin Luther’s “two kingdom” theory,[1] both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas agree with Luther in the declaration that laity are called to vocation in the world, no less than clergy are called to vocation within the walls of the church. How the church—both lay and clergy—intersect with those caught in the harsh realities of the secular arena is of utmost importance to both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas.

For participants in Scriptural Reasoning communities, the answer would seem to be Scriptural Reasoning itself! The current practice of Scriptural Reasoning offers a venue in which seekers of the common good chew on writings that claim to offer wisdom from the divine voice. Gathering to read classic sacred texts, typically from the three Abrahamic traditions, such “crowd-sourcing” of insight not only tests one’s biases, but often results in friendship of the sort Bonhoeffer referenced in his work, Life Together—the  goodness of dwelling together in unity. Scriptural reasoners might be surprised to find, however, that Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas insist that reading, discussing, and proclaiming sacred text will not suffice in producing an ethical people. To understand their perspectives, we need first grasp how each theologian defines church and also consider their proposal that it is in worship, not in reading, writing, or proclaiming, that the ethical character of the church is shaped.

Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas: Defining “Church”

Bonhoeffer begins his classic work on Christian community with the words of Psalm 133:1: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Beckoning a community toward such a goal might be the greatest responsibility of any twenty-first century public theologian wrestling with the divisiveness in our streets. Almost forty years after Bonhoeffer’s death in a Nazi concentration camp, Stanley Hauerwas made clear his view:

Put starkly, the first social ethical task of the church is to be the church—the servant community. Such a claim may well sound self-serving until we remember that what makes the church the church is its faithful manifestation of the peaceable kingdom in the world. As such, the church does not have a social ethic; the church is a social ethic.[2]

Both men beckon the church to become, as Hauerwas calls it, a “peaceable kingdom.” Yet, both argue, the enemy of such a collective good is not ignorance, as social scientists and educators often propose, but rather one’s own self-interest.

Defining the church in his doctoral dissertation, Bonhoeffer, ever the philosopher/theologian, would define first the “Christian concept of person” as one who, unlike Adam and Eve in the Garden, “does not live in unbroken community with God and with humanity, but who [instead] knows good and evil.”[3] This person lives in solitude due to sin yet shares a paradoxical unity with all other humans precisely because of that same state of sin: “[T]he reality of sin places the individual at the same time, both subjectively and objectively, in the deepest, most immediate bond of humanity, precisely because everybody has become guilty.”[4] For Bonhoeffer, then, the tragedy of our broken human condition will become—in a fellowship that includes regular confession and forgiveness—the very bond that the world cannot know: the “experience of ethical solidarity and awareness of oneself as peccator pessimus [the worst sinner] belong together.”[5] This solidarity of sin is paradoxically the basis for a reconciling of the I/Thou relationship. Bonhoeffer proposes that, when the individual Christian moves from the solitude of sin to the paradoxical unity shared with others, the believer develops an understanding of life as one lived with the “possibility of ‘being-with-one-another,’” a possibility that  “does not rest on human will. It exists only in the community of saints, and goes beyond the ordinary sense of ‘being-with-one-another.’ It belongs to the sociological structure of the church-community.”[6]

Both Hauerwas and Bonhoeffer reject the Augustinian/Lutheran definition of the church as comprising a visible church (the institution) and an invisible church (all true believers on earth and in heaven). Instead, Hauerwas and Bonhoeffer take quite literally Jesus’ words that the church is his body here on earth: thus, the role of the church is as a visible church, not merely an institution in the world, but rather as the people of God visibly living out the life of Christ alongside their neighbors, many of whom will be their “enemies.” Sounding much like Bonhoeffer in Sanctorum Communio, Hauerwas defines the communal life of the church as an alternative polis, insisting that its primary purpose is to be the living Christ, the new incarnation in the world. As he introduced Bonhoeffer’s theology in Performing the Faith, Hauerwas sought “to show that from the very beginning Bonhoeffer was attempting to develop a theological politics,”[7] a perspective essential to Hauerwas as he outlines the way the church “performs” its faith, both within its walls and outside them. Bonhoeffer had written:

The primary confession of the Christian before the world is the deed which interprets itself. If the deed is to have become a force, then the world itself will long to confess the Word. This is not the same as loudly shrieking out propaganda. The deed alone is our confession of faith before the world.[8]

For both Hauerwas and Bonhoeffer, then, the crux of the issue (quite literally, as it turns out for Christians) is that Jesus has reconciled the world to God, and this reconciliation is communicated not by shouting beliefs on the streets, but by living out, acting out, performing the faith in front of the world.

Hauerwas presents a view of reality that defines the roles of both church and world, which quite naturally leads him to comment on H. Richard Niebuhr’s multiple-choice Christ and Culture[9] question. Hauerwas explains, per John Howard Yoder,[10] that Niebuhr’s categories absurdly seem to place Christ thoroughly outside of Culture even though Christians believe that Jesus is the world’s Creator. For this reason, Hauerwas dismisses Niebuhr’s categories almost out of hand.[11] Instead, Hauerwas recalls Yoder’s terms of activist, conversionist, and confessing church. Choosing the latter category, Hauerwas explains that the confessing church “finds its main political task to lie, not in the personal transformation of individual hearts or the modification of society, but rather in the congregation’s determination to worship Christ in all things.”[12] In laying out his vision of the church’s mission, ethicist Hauerwas might surprise the reader with his declaration that “the first task of the church is not to make the world more just, but to make the world the world. For the world can only know that it is the world through its contrast with the church that rightly knows the joy of worshiping the true God.”[13] Bonhoeffer had written similarly: “The space of the Church is not there in order to try to deprive the world of its piece of territory, but precisely in order to prove to the world that it is still the world, the world which is loved by God and reconciled with Him.”[14] Bonhoeffer, whose death in 1945 predates Niebuhr’s now-classic book, outlined his view of the relation of the church to the world in his earlier The Cost of Discipleship, sounding much like the later Hauerwas:

Let the Christian remain in the world, not because of the good gifts of creation, nor because of his responsibility for the course of the world, but for the sake of  the Church. Let him remain in the world to engage in frontal assault on it, and let him live the life of his secular calling in order to show himself as a stranger in the world all the more. But that is only possible if we are visible members of the Church. The antithesis between the world and the Church must be borne out in the world. That was the purpose of the incarnation. That is why Christ died among his enemies.[15]

Hauerwas’ book, Performing the Faith, posits the role of Christians as people who do not merely believe a doctrine, nor merely proclaim a faith, but who live out, as on a stage, the faith they profess. In this living, they demonstrate a community, a polis, radically different from the world’s attempts at community.

The question remains, though, how the beliefs of the community become an ethical system so ingrained in the character of the community that its people act in ways far above their “poor, miserable sinner”[16] status, acting instead in ways that incorporate (or incarnate) the living, “being-doing” God. To discover how this polis is created and shaped in the midst of the realities of a suffering world, a reader of Hauerwas needs to look to his book, In Good Company, in which he outlines the liturgy-ethics connection. In that book, we also find high correspondence with the works of Bonhoeffer. Both these ethicists point to the same place—the worship rites of the community—as the focal point of ethical training.

The Transforming Power of Ritual

British anthropologist Victor Turner, who studied symbolism and rites in tribal cultures, once compared the Ndembu rites in Zambia to the Tridentine Mass of Roman Catholicism,[17] concluding that in ritual, the “whole person is impregnated with a single message through all the channels of communication available to him. He has to live what is being communicated, not merely to understand it.”[18] In rituals, Turner argued, a participant moves (1) from a stage of separation with the past, (2) through a liminal state in which one learns the values of the community, and (3) finally into a future of becoming “one” with the community, its values, and its focus.[19] Hauerwas writes similarly of the rites in Christian worship in his early work, The Peaceable Kingdom:

[T]he story of Jesus is not simply one that is told; it must be enacted. The sacraments are means crucial to shaping and preparing us to tell and hear that story. Thus baptism is that rite of initiation necessary for us to become part of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through baptism we do not simply learn the story, but we become part of that story. The eucharist is the eschatological meal of God’s continuing presence that makes possible a peaceable people…These rites, baptism and eucharist, are not just “religious things” that Christian people do. They are the essential rituals of our politics. Through them we learn who we are…It is in baptism and eucharist that we see most clearly the marks of God’s kingdom in the world. They set our standard, as we try to bring every aspect of our lives under their sway.[20]

Both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas argue that Christian liturgy is a powerful force in the ethical formation necessary for incarnating Christ outside the walls of the church in a broken and often hate-filled, violent world. Through the four basic parts of worship—Gathering, Word, Sacraments, and Sending—the rites mold Christians, individually and corporately, into “the body of Christ,” in service to the neighbor.


One theologian defines worship as “the people of God gathered around the presence of God.”[21] Gathering, then, becomes the first action of a worshiping people, a rite of separation from the world and from the concerns of ordinary life. Hauerwas writes of this first action of worship:

Liturgical time, in other words, takes Christians out of what the world teaches them to think of as the standard or normative measurements of time and orients them to, sets them firmly within, God’s eschatological horizon. Worship marks the time of Christ that breaks into “our” time…In this regard, the regular continual pattern of gathering for worship may be viewed as the church’s rehearsal. Worship thus becomes a kind of performance before the performance, a preparation beforehand for whatever witness the church might be called upon to give.[22]

Christianity claims that human nature naturally turns in upon itself, insidiously seeking its own desires and pleasures. Though human beings bear the imago Dei, the divine image is marred by sin to such an extent that one’s own perspective—maybe especially the assumptions of the public intellectual—cannot be fully trusted without testing against external standards. The gathering rites bring an awareness of being in the presence of the Holy One and may be the first moment in which worshipers become aware of their own moral corruption. Like Isaiah in his vision of heaven,[23] they respond by confessing their sins. Kneeling, a whole-body act of contrition and submission, is not as common as it was in centuries past; yet, even without that repentant posture, the corporate confession is accompanied by action: bowing of heads, making the sign of the cross, and heads lifting to hear words of absolution in the name of the triune God. The rite of separation from ordinary life has ended, and worshipers are ready to hear of another life, that of their Creator, in the words of the sacred text.


The reading those same words in private or even in a group study such as in Scriptural Reasoning. In both the reading and the proclamation, worshipers encounter, as John Dominic Crossan wrote, the “Jesus Then and the Jesus Now.”[24] The teachings of Jesus throughout the entire Bible become not museum pieces of time travel, but directives for life in whatever era one lives. Often in a liturgy, the Bible is carried in procession into the middle of the congregation, an action indicating Jesus’ presence in the midst of them; encountering his presence, the people rise and turn their bodies in the direction of the book. During the reading and preaching, worshipers dwell, anthropologically speaking, in a liminal state—the past is behind and the values of the I/Thou community are propounded. During this portion of the liturgy, the people will rise again to corporately confess not their sins but, this time, their belief in the triune God who created, redeemed, and now enlightens his people. Corporately speaking their faith and jointly singing their hymns with one voice are potent actions that bind the people to God and to one another.[25]

Both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas remind us that the Word we have heard in reading and preaching is not intended to “make the world more just,”[26] but to ensure that the world begins to see its reality as disconnected from the community of God. Yet, as Bonhoeffer said, “[t]here are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is the reality of God, which has become manifest in Christ in the reality of the world.”[27] Bonhoeffer insists that the “world stands in relationship to Christ whether the world knows it or not…there can be no retreat, therefore, from a ‘worldly’ into a ‘spiritual’ realm.”[28] Hauerwas concurs with Bonhoeffer’s appeal that the church should speak both “law and gospel”[29] as a prophetic voice in the world, “to be a people capable of speaking truthfully to ourselves, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the world.”[30] The word that the Christian brings into the public square, according to Bonhoeffer, is not only gospel, but also law and its consequences. The church’s prophetic voice of both law and gospel “are alike addressed both to the world and to the congregation.” [31] For Hauerwas, listening to the Word read and preached is key to formation of ethical character:

Being skilled in obedience is perhaps the key virtue of a good and faithful performer. This is a skill that can be acquired only in communities that foster an “ecology of hope”…Patient listening and attentiveness are skills that are exercised, honed, and refined in Christian community…[and are] acquired primarily in liturgy. [32]

From this period of quiet listening and meditating on sacred text, the worshipers move into a time of response with tithes, offerings, and intercessory prayer for others before they meet God again in the sacraments.


In Christian liturgy, the public rites of baptism and eucharist utilize words of consecration, material elements (water, bread, wine), and ritual actions which function, as Augustine said, as “visible words” communicating a divine message to participants. In the initiation rite of baptism, the “old life” with its bondage to evil is renounced, and a new life is begun: ancient liturgies encourage turning from the west—a realm of darkness—to the east with its light; water, whether by total immersion or by pouring over the head, cleanses the person of sin; and in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the sign of the cross is used to mark the person as a new child of the faith. While to casual observers these actions may seem trite or even useless, anthropologist Victor Turner and Christian theologians agree that, through such rites of initiation, a person moves through three classic stages: separation, liminality, and then, aggregation into the community. After baptism, the new believer is welcomed not only into a new community, but into a new life. Hauerwas argues that after baptism, because we are “a people formed by baptism, through which we learn that our lives are not our own,” we reckon with life and death issues differently than the world does.[33]

In baptism, the neophyte moves from Bonhoeffer’s “paradoxical unity” of sinfulness into a “paradoxical reality of a community-of-the-cross.”[34] For both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas, this new life within community can never be individualistic, but will be always outwardly-focused. Both men argue that true community is possible only when one’s focus shifts from finding Others who are quite like oneself to finding and loving Others who are quite obviously not like oneself; and, they argue, this happens best within Christian community:

It is the destiny of the human species to be absorbed into the realm of reason, to form a realm of completely similar and harmonious persons, defined by universal reason or by one spirit and separated only by their different activities. Most importantly, however, this union of like beings never leads to the concept of community, but only to the concept of sameness, of unity.[35]

Hauerwas writes similarly that in Christian community, which worships a God who is comprised of three distinct persons, differences are not merely tolerated, but embraced and celebrated:

Charity is the resource that makes the blending in God of all differences possible. To the extent that the church’s life is animated by charity, and inasmuch as charity’s source and mode of expression is essentially trinitarian (that is, a constant outgoing and excess, which is never finally threatened by difference), the life of the church is enlivened by a power that accords every difference its place.[36]

The sacrament of baptism, then, reinforces within the community the high value placed on the beauty of the differences between us, strengthening the bond of the people to one another as they reflect on the God who invites them into community.

A similar bonding of people to their God and to one another takes place in the eucharistic meal, which might be categorized not as a rite of separation (except for one’s first experience), but as a rite of aggregation, cementing the bond established in baptism. Just as in baptism, the words of consecration, material elements, and ritual actions become “visible words” which teach the participant the values and the truths of the community. Sharing the same loaf of bread and the same cup of wine are obvious actions of communal bonding; in addition, the eucharistic ritual includes preparatory words which recite the narrative of redemption, reminding participants of their sin and their need for such redeeming. It also includes “Sharing of the Peace” and, in ancient liturgies, a more shocking ritual—a kiss of peace that crossed social boundaries. The ritualized words and actions reaffirm the central truth of the unity shared:

There is a community of peace for Christians only because one will forgive the other for his sins. The forgiveness of sins still remains the sole ground of all peace…The reality of the Gospel is not the external order of peace, not even the peace of the battle for the same cause, but only the peace of God, which brings about forgiveness of sins, the reality in which truth and justice are both preserved.[37]

While unity will never be fully accomplished on earth because of sin, the fruit of such bonding may still become the seeds of peace and justice outside the walls of the church. Bonhoeffer argues that “romantic feelings of solidarity between kindred spirits”[38] can never be the ethical unity God desires and that the eucharistic meal produces—the experience of the church as the real body of Christ, living in the world:

[The experience of church as the body of Christ] rather takes place where there is no other link between the individuals than that of the community that exists within the church [kirchliche Gemeinschaft]; where Jew and Greek, pietist and liberal, come into conflict, and nevertheless in unity confess their faith, come together to the Lord’s Table, and intercede for one another in prayer. It is precisely in the context of everyday life that church is believed and experienced.[39]

A right understanding of the eucharist, too, is a key factor in virtuous formation. Partaking of the same loaf and the same cup is, in anthropological terms, a rite which unifies the people. Hauerwas puts these actions into their theological context: the eucharist is not “a sacrifice God demands, but is instead, God’s sacrifice for sake of the world in which we are graciously included.”[40] After celebrating this gracious sacrifice, the church—as the body of Christ—is then ritually ushered out the door of the church and into the “real world” by the Sending format of the liturgy.


The members of Christ’s body, having ritually heard and enacted the story of redemption from sin, are next sent out with a benediction, often following the cross as it recesses. At the front of the sanctuary in my local congregation, King of Glory Lutheran, a large cross with a crown on top is situated in front of a partial cross-shaped break in the front wall as though it has burst into our world. At the beginning of our worship services, a duplicate though smaller cross processes from the rear to the front and then, at the end of the service, recesses toward the back of the sanctuary. The back of the sanctuary is traditionally positioned toward the west, recalling the baptismal renunciation vows. These liturgical actions, as people follow the cross’ movements with eyes and turned bodies, enact the truth that we have met with God and that we follow him back out into the reality—the often harsh reality—of life in twenty-first century America.

Now, from the sanctuary and its worship, the Christian is sent out into the world. Encountering that world, with its lack of unity and its shocking violence, the Christian should find a crisis of sorts that produces a desire to display a different way of living. Hauerwas writes, “The beauty, the goodness, and the truth of our liturgy is tested by our being sent forth. If we are not jarred by the world to which we return, then something has gone wrong.”[41] The liturgical rites are merely the “dress rehearsal”[42] for Bonhoeffer, too, who declares that the “word of the love of God for the world sets the congregation in a relation of responsibility with regard to the world. In word and action the congregation is to bear witness before the world to the faith in Christ.”[43] In writing his directive for “life together” at his small seminary, Bonhoeffer insisted that the Christian’s task is not to be within the sanctuary’s walls, but outside of them: “So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.”[44]

Church-World Intersection: Diversity Celebrated, Enemies Loved, Burdens Eased

Hauerwas believes that the formation of ethical character, accomplished in the “dress rehearsal” of worship, will translate to embracing our differences when faced with diversity in the public square. Not only has the Christian begun to act out the faith within the walls of the institutional church—in worship’s gathering, in hearing the “Jesus then/Jesus now” words of the gospel, in breaking bread across generational and societal barriers, and then in going back out into the world—but the Christian, Hauerwas predicts, will look with Jesus’ eyes on every person and every event encountered, especially in the harshest realities of life. Whereas in the secular world “all differences are by definition negatively related,”[45] in the Christian world—which, for Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas, must intersect constantly with the secular world—differences will be sought out and celebrated. Hauerwas continues:

[B]ecause Christians believe in a God who is pure act in trinitarian relation, difference does not and cannot interpose itself violently…because Christians understand difference affirmatively in God,…differences are preserved rather than eradicated. Charity is the resource that makes the blending in God of all differences possible.[46]

Only in the eschaton, Hauerwas admits, will all differences be erased, for only then will we “all be made one in God.”[47]  For Bonhoeffer, as for Hauerwas, it is only in the Christian community that our unity as sinners will unite us, transcending the tendency to allow diversity to divide us, because we recognize that:

God loves the world. It is not an ideal man that He loves, but man as he is; not an ideal world, but the real world…While we are distinguishing the pious from the ungodly, the good from the wicked, the noble from the mean, God makes no distinction at all in His love for the real man. He does not permit us to classify men and the world according to our own standards and to set ourselves up as judges over them.[48]

The Enemy Is Loved

For both Hauerwas and Bonhoeffer, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount holds the key to defining the Christian life. Jesus said,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”[49] In his classic work, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer gave fair warning to where such discipleship leads:

By our enemies Jesus means those who are quite intractable and utterly unresponsive to our love, who forgive us nothing when we forgive them all, who requite our love with hatred and our service with derision…Love asks nothing in return, but seeks those who need it. And who needs our love more than those who are consumed with hatred and are utterly devoid of love? Who in other words deserves our love more than our enemy? Where is love more glorified than where she dwells in the midst of her enemies?…Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love.[50]

For both Bonhoeffer, who died a martyr, and for Hauerwas, who writes often of the suffering that must mark a non-violent life, no rose garden of peaceable platitudes exists. Within the peaceable community of the church, Christians encounter a grace-filled ethos which is “only possible for Christians through the forgiveness of sins;”[51] outside the walls of the church, the harsh realities of a broken and suffering world loom. According to Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas, when encountering hatred and violence, the Christian hears Jesus’ call to turn the other cheek, to answer hate with love (and surely with non-violence), to bear the Other’s burdens, and even to gladly suffer in order to show the world that she is the world.

Burdens Shared

Both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas follow Martin Luther’s dictum that the Christian’s highest calling, his vocation, is to serve one’s neighbor; such service becomes, as Luther put it, a “mask” of God.[52] Bonhoeffer would die a martyr for his stubborn refusal to agree with the German (state) Church that Jews had less rights than Aryans. Long before he discovered that Germany could become a place of horror, Bonhoeffer had written that Christians are called into a life of “being-for-each-other,” an idea espoused in his first dissertation and one which undoubtedly shaped his own ethics as he stared down Nazism toward the end of his life:

This being-for-each-other must now be actualized through acts of love. Three great, positive possibilities of acting for each other in the community of saints present themselves: self-renouncing, active work for the neighbor; intercessory prayer; and, finally, the mutual forgiveness of sins in God’s name. All of these involve giving up the self “for” my neighbor’s benefit, with the readiness to do and bear everything in the neighbor’s place, indeed, if necessary, to sacrifice myself, standing as a substitute for my neighbor…It is apparent that in self-renouncing work for the neighbor, I give up my happiness. We are called to advocate vicariously for the other in everyday matters.[53]

Years later he would write that “what is of ultimate importance is now no longer that I should become good, or that the condition of the world should be made better by my action, but that the reality of God should show itself everywhere to be the ultimate reality.”[54] “Being-for-each-other” then becomes the modus operandi for the community both within and without the walls of the church.

Going Forward

For both Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas, the harsh reality of a Charlottesville massacre, though shocking to that quiet community in the hills of Virginia, is nothing new in human history; it is, instead, recent, tragic evidence of our universal “state of sin”[55] which, they argue, can only be undone through repentance and the miracle of God’s mercy:

It is surely no accident that the cross of Christ is often the center of Christian worship. The cross, the epitome of human cruelty and ugliness, is quite literally the manifestation of God’s beauty—a beauty that we cannot possess but only suffer. By suffering such a beauty, a beauty that hides not its suffering, we are possessed and thus saved from the ugliness of our sin. In short we are made holy.[56]

Hauerwas laments the “loss of penitential practice in Protestantism,”[57] calling for a rejection of a “sentimental” Christianity and a return to the notion that sin itself is the problem society faces: “[S]in, at least, for Christians, is a more determinative notion than injustice.”[58] While a reader might accuse him of glossing over the tragedy and injustice all too evident in modern society, Hauerwas would argue that the opposite is actually the case. He, like Bonhoeffer, affirms the prophetic voice of the church and believes that only by naming sin, confessing it, and receiving forgiveness in words and in actions will ethical formation take place. Surely, Bonhoeffer would agree with Hauerwas on this point: “[P]erhaps all that can be said is that liturgy is the necessary condition for the virtuous formation of our lives as Christians.”


[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains his position on Luther’s two-kingdom model in “Thinking in Terms of Two Spheres” in Ethics (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 193-204.
[2] Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1983), 99.
[3] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2009), 44.
[4] Ibid, 145.
[5] Ibid, 116.
[6] Ibid, 180, commenting on Martin Luther’s On the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, and The Brotherhoods.
[7] Stanley Hauerwas, Performing the Faith (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004), 34.
[8] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Nature of the Church,” in A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ed. Geoffrey Kelly and F. Burton Nelson, trans. John Bowden (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990), 91, quoted in Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 33.
[9] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Row, 1951). Niebuhr’s categories are Christ Of Culture, Christ Against Culture, Christ Transforming Culture, Christ In Culture, and Christ-and-Culture in Paradox.
[10] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 16, n.4.
[11] Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989), 44ff.
[12] Ibid, 45.
[13] Stanley Hauerwas, In Good Company: The Church as Polis (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1995), 156.
[14] Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 200.
[15] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 184.
[16] This phrase is typical of the confession portion of a Christian liturgy, possibly derived from Martin Luther’s sermon on the Third Sunday in Advent: Martin Luther, Dr. Martin Luther’s House-Postil, or Sermons on the Gospels for the Sundays and Principal Festivals of the Church-Year, vol I, ed. M. Loy (Columbus, OH: J. A. Schulze, Publisher, 1884), 53.
[17] Victor W. Turner, “Ritual, Tribal and Catholic,” Worship 50, no. 6 (November 1976): 504-526.
[18] Ibid, 510.
[19] Ibid, 524. See also Turner, “Liminality and Communitas” in Foundations in Ritual Studies: A Reader for Students of Christian Worship, ed. Paul F Bradshaw and John Melloh (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 74 and Margaret Mary Kelleher, “Liturgical Theology: A Task and A Method,” in Foundations, 206.
[20] Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom, 107-108.
[21] Andrew H. Bartelt, “The Centrality of Isaiah 6(-8) Within Isaiah 2-12,” Concordia Journal 30, no. 4 (October 2004): 327.
[22] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 97-98.
[23] Isaiah 6.
[24]  John Dominic Crossan, The Birth Of Christianity: Discovering What Happened In The Years Immediately After The Execution Of Jesus (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), 32.
[25] Bonhoeffer even insisted on unison singing of hymns to reinforce the reality of their oneness at the seminary (Life Together [New York: HarperOne, 2009], 60-61).
[26] Hauerwas, In Good Company, 156.
[27] Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 195.
[28] Ibid, 68-69.
[29] Ibid, 351-352.
[30] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 72.
[31] Bonhoeffer, “On the Possibility of the Word of the Church to the World,” Ethics, 352.
[32] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 100.
[33] Hauerwas, In Good Company, 160-161.
[34] Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio, 151.
[35] Ibid, 43.
[36] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 88-89.
[37] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, No Rusty Swords: Letters, Lectures and Notes 1928-1936, in The Collected Works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, vol. I, ed. Edwin H. Robertson (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1965), 168-169. Also cited by Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 13, 60.
[38] Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio, 281.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Hauerwas, In Good Company, 162.
[41] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 164.
[42] Ibid, 98.
[43] Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 352.
[44] Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 17.
[45] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 88.
[46] Ibid, 88-89.
[47] Ibid, 89.
[48] Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 73.
[49] Matthew 5:43-44, ESV.
[50] Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, 148.
[51] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 20.
[52] For a current look at this Lutheran concept, see Gene Edward Veith and Paul McCain, Working for our Neighbor (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Christian’s Library Press, 2016).
[53] Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio, 184.
[54] Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 186.
[55] Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio, 145.
[56] Hauerwas, Performing the Faith, 163-164.
[57] Ibid, 159.
[58] Ibid.
[59] Ibid, 160.

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