Experiencing God (Inner Land – Volume 3), Eberhard Arnold. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2020.
Summary: What it means for us to truly experience the greatness of God and the peace of God.
Many of us long for a deeper experience of God and peace in our lives. Eberhard Arnold, in this third volume of the Inner Land series, proposes that there is a far deeper and richer experience of God for believers than we reckon, but that this calls for far more of us, really all of us.
This work is broken into two parts: “experiencing God” and “the peace of God.” The first part explores how we may enter into a deep experience of God. It all begins with God drawing near to us, inviting us to escape judgment and know forgiveness, to know both his greatness and our smallness. He considers how God discloses himself in creation and guides history. As we trust in Christ we come to new life, and the inner life brings change in our love for others under the saving grace of God, leading to the just community and continuing renewal. Above all, we experience the strength of God for all of our life.
Peace is so much more than an inner experience of tranquility. It is both unity and justice; it is constructive work. It is rooted in God’s truth, frees us to serve, and demands purity. The unity of peace among the people of God can be expected to evoke opposition. Hardness toward peace leads to the judgment of war. Striking here is the development of the peace ethic of the early Christians in contrast to both abortion and the amassing of wealth in the culture around them, a culture of war. At the heart of it all, Jesus is our peace.
Reading Eberhard is best done slowly and meditatively. His sentences do the work of paragraphs, and paragraphs the work of chapters in many books. One example:
God begins–that is the end for man. When in fear and trembling we know God and are known by him, God is drawing near to us in person. When the Most High descends to us, the degraded, he tears away all cloaks and barriers. God is revealed only through this fearful experience. When we experience God, we appear before him as we are. As long as we shrink from being exposed for what we are, from God’s unhindered recognition of us, we remain lost and helpless, overwhelmed by the superior power of the external world. As long as we submit to things as they are and remain their slaves, terror of God repels us and keeps us at a distance (p.5).
So much here. God’s approach, the fearsomeness of knowing and being known, the choice between vulnerability and enslavement. No sentimental, inspirational writing here but the truth we desperately need and often resist. The choice between a hard-won peace and unity, and the discord and war that surround us. Arnold offers us the vital, uncompromising substance of truth in every sentence, every paragraph and page rather than innocuous “inspiring thoughts.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.