John Stackhouse describes a church that looks out for its own rights – or for the rights of others.
Bonhoeffer pretty famously and controversially taught that the emphasis of the German Confessing Christians on the freedom of the church to preach the gospel, which was the heart of the Barmen Declaration, was not enough. It wasn’t enough for Christians to preserve their rights, they needed to preserve the rights of others, and particularly the Jews. Not only the Jews, but particularly the Jews, because they were the focal point of Nazi persecution. And so Bonhoeffer really did mean that we were supposed to love our neighbours as ourselves – not just the people like us, but the people who weren’t like us.
Bonhoeffer’s willingness to embrace – in fact, to insist upon the embrace of the other continues to challenge Christians today who are tempted to focus on our rights and our freedom to prosecute our religion the way we want to, and not to care for those who are also falling by the wayside.