The Sacrament of Ethical Reality: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Ethics for Christian Citizens

Studies in Christian Ethics 18 (3):71-87 (2005)
Abstract
The paper explicates Bonhoeffer's dense statement, made in a 1932 lecture, that `Reality is the sacrament of [the ethical] command'. It begins with a summary of William T. Cavanaugh's rich description of the Eucharist as that act which makes the Church Christ's body, thereby constituting the true res publica. A comparison is drawn with Bonhoeffer's account of the sacramental foundation of the Church's public proclamation of God's ethical command. Bonhoeffer differs from Cavanaugh, I suggest, not only in his conviction that the Church speaks God's command penultimately and with humility, but in regarding the state as one of the means by which God acts within the penultimate to preserve creation
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