These are Bonhoeffer's thoughtful reflections on the actual experience of people in community. He warns that community will require difficult and at times tedious work. His insights on confession and forgiveness are timeless for those who aspire to forge deep relationships.

* * *

Spiritual Friendship
Aelred of Rievaulx (Cistercian Publications)

Written over 800 years ago as a series of dialogues between Aelred and his fellow monks, this short work offers fresh and frank observations on the relationship between God-centered friendship and devotion to God.

* * *

Jesus and Community
Gerhard Lohfink (Augsburg Fortress)

Writing for a culture steeped in individualism, Lohfink traces themes in Jesus' teachings that emphasize God's communal enterprise, the "contrast society." This is an excellent biblical study of the people of God in Jesus' words and the life of the early church.

* * *

When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus' Vision for Authentic Christian Community
Joseph H. Hellerman (B&H Academic)

Hellerman shows how Jesus' and Paul's teachings can be understood and lived out only in the family of believers in community. He then applies his biblical study to the practices, decision-making, and authentic leadership of such a community.

* * *

Paul's Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting
Robert J. Banks (Hendrickson)

Banks goes beyond clichéd notions of the early church to speak about first-century house churches' practices and structure. Banks explores Paul's metaphors of the body, the family, and the household, and he helpfully identifies Paul's source and use of authority among his church plants.

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March 2010

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