A Jagged Contention: Christ Builds

“We shall confess—he shall build. We shall preach—he shall build. We shall pray—he shall build. We do not know his plan. We do not see whether he builds or tears down. It may be that the times, which by human standards are times of collapse, are for him the times of great building. It may be that the times, which by human standards are times of great success, are for him the times to tear down. It is a great comfort that Christ gives to his church: confess, preach, and bear witness to me. I alone will build as it pleases me. Don’t give me orders. Do your job—the you have done enough. You are all right. Don’t’ seek out reasons and opinions. Don’t keep judging. Don’t keep checking again and again to see if you are secure. Church, remain a church! But, you, church—confess, confess, confess! You have only one Lord—Christ alone. By his grace alone you live. Christ builds.”

– Dietrich Bonehoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, pg 80.


Why is it so hard for the church to heed Bonhoeffer’s advice to simply preach and confess and trust the Lord to build His church? Are Bonhoeffer’s comments too simplistic? If so, what more should the church be doing? Is the church ever free to utilize other means to achieve growth?

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One thought on “A Jagged Contention: Christ Builds

  1. Within the three words, “confess”, “preach” and “pray”, you have the entire service. But the question arises how each of these is done. For example, can you do them in the common contemporary language of the people, or do you need to do them in the language of the 16th century or any other century other than the one you are living in.

    I mention this not to criticize Bonhoeffer, who I agree with, but how someone might construe his admonitions to freeze the church in another time, which could actually be a handicap to the mission of confess, preach and pray, if such are not easily accessible to the common people.


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