Jennifer McBride of Wartburg College has written an absolutely outstanding book inspired by the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, titled The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness.
It is very pricy, currently $65 on Amazon. I got mine as a review copy (why do these theological publishers lock away young theological voices in incredibly expensive hardback volumes? It's a tragedy).
So I'm posting some of her wisdom for those of you who won't want to buy the book at that price point, and don't live close enough to me to borrow the book when I'm done with it.
"Interpreting repentance through the person of Christ directly challenges the common understanding that repentance primarily concerns one's individual standing before God; instead, as participation in Christ, repentance constitutes existence before others... the church witnesses to Christ in a nontriumphal manner and demonstrates Christ's being for the world when it takes the form of the humiliated, crucified God by accepting guilt or confessing sin unto repentance." (19)
"The person and work of Christ lay the foundation for an ecclesial witness that is free to belong wholly to a world already reconciled to God and to enact concrete redemption from that place." (19)
"An ethic of confession unto repentance manifests that God alone is righteous and thereby signals a totally new mode of being and doing good, which disrupts the prevalent presumption among North American Protestants that the church is called to be the standard-bearer of morality in public life. Such a witness has transformative power because it prepares the way for Christ's unfolding redemption as it takes responsibility for sin, suffering, and injustice through repentance." (20)
"It is God's glory to accept guilt."
"The church takes the form of Christ and witnesses to the work of Christ by affirming humanity and being in solidarity with humanity instead of setting itself apart as dispenser of truth, moral exemplar, and judge; by receiving and accepting God's judgment on itself; and by demonstrating God's reconciliation with the world through acts of concrete redemption rooted in responsible repentance" (206-207).
"As a community that counts itself among current transgressors, the church cannot dissociate from the sinful world. The church demonstrates Christ's affirmation of the world when it refuses to take a defensive stance against it" (208).
And two awesome Bonhoeffer quotes:
"It is only when one loves life and the earth so much that without them everything seems to be over that one may believe in the resurrection and the new world" (209).
"This is what I call this-worldliness: living fully in the midst of life's tasks, questions, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities--then one takes seriously no longer one's own sufferings but rather the suffering of God in the world. Then one stays awake with Christ in Gethsemene. And I think this is faith: this is metanoia. And this is how one becomes a human being, a Christian." (14)