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Following Jesus

Entering the Inner Land

August 1, 2019 by

Plough has just come out with the first volume of a new edition of Inner Land, by Eberhard Arnold. This edition is to be published in five small volumes over the course of the next twelve months. Volume I is The Inner Life.

cover image of The Inner Life by Eberhard Arnold

In Inner Land Arnold expressed his deepest thoughts; while Hitler’s dictatorship was becoming more and more repressive, he felt compelled to make a statement of his faith.“The object of this book,” he wrote, “is to make an appeal in all the political, social, and economic upheaval today. It is an appeal for decision in the area of faith and beliefs, directed to the hearts of all those who do not want to forget or lose God and his ultimate kingdom.”

Every chapter of Inner Land contains the same message: Humankind needs to become once more what God intended when he created man in his image. This return has to begin in the inmost heart and soul of each person – but from there it must proceed to change the practical, outward aspects of his life, spreading to include other people until the earth becomes the kingdom of God. This is also the proclamation of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation; all of Arnold’s thoughts stem from his deep understanding of Scripture. He intended Inner Land as “a guide into the heart and soul of the Bible.” Again and again Arnold points out that the message of the Old Testament’s prophets is the same as that of the New Testament’s apostles. Arnold speaks of the importance of inner concentration, of finding a firm inner foundation in order to face the stresses of today – not as a retreat to which one turns, isolated, but as a place of strength from which one reaches out.

The following is an excerpt from the latest edition of Arnold’s Inner Land, Vol I (Plough, 2019):

Jesus saw into a time when the earth was to experience the horrors of universal war and bloody revolts, severe privations and plagues (Matt. 24:6–13). In close connection with these things, he predicted that love would grow cold and lawlessness and injustice would increase. The truth of this prediction has been seen in the preparations for every war and in those who wage war. The disturbances of our time now permit the increase of disorder, lovelessness, and injustice of all kinds. All the events that have followed the World War – seemingly only outward events – will develop into the most terrible judgment that has ever fallen on humankind. All inwardness will be destroyed if our love for God grows cold with icy fear for our individual or collective existence and so-called security. If we no longer love God, and if the glowing love for brothers and sisters, as well as the radiant energy of love for our enemies, is drowned because of boundless sin and the struggle for material advantage – both so coldly calculating yet so madly passionate – then all inwardness will perish. Further, it will be the end of all inwardness if greed for power and violence gain the upper hand once more; for they are born of hate and are severed from the depth of the soul, and the Spirit of God at work in it, and seek only external things, exhausting themselves in superficialities. And such destruction of inwardness means destruction altogether.

Only when our inner life is anchored in God can we gain the strength to take up the enormous tasks of the immediate future with the courage of faith.

In the same context in which Jesus spoke about war among all nations and kingdoms, about lawlessness, and about love growing cold, we hear from him about enduring to the end, about a movement truly born of God, about mission, and about the working of the Spirit throughout the world. In hard times like these, nothing but a thorough and deep-going revival of our inner life, nothing but a great and full awakening to God and to his all-determining rulership can bring it about that the gospel is carried to the whole world – the joyful news that Christ alone matters. For that to happen, however, the life of a mission church must be given: a life from God that is in keeping with the kingdom of God from its core to the last detail of its outer form, as peace, unity, and community and as love and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This hour of world history is a challenge to inwardness because it means a challenge to be at work in the world, because it implies tasks that are literally boundless. Therefore it is high time that we gather ourselves for serious thought, going deeper and deeper, in order to gain clarity about our inner life. We have to know the foundations and laws of inwardness. Then we will also gain more and more clarity for the whole shaping of life – in what divine order, under what rulership of Christ, and under what decrees of the Holy Spirit we are to set about this shaping of life and how to carry it out. Most of all, it is important that we experience the power of God in our inner being because only then can we be made capable of standing firm and holding out in the storms to come. Only when our inner life is anchored in God can we gain the strength to take up the enormous tasks of the immediate future with the courage of faith. When unity and clarity bring order in our innermost being, then, and only then, can our life attain the warming and radiating power of the light on the lampstand. Then, representing the unity and freedom of the city on the hill, it becomes a light for the whole world.

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About the author

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel, an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history, writes a regular blog post featuring timely...

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  • Great stuff. Thanks.

    Greg Neale