What makes the Bible more than ink on paper?
The living word, Eberhard Arnold writes, is greater than the words of the Bible, which even the devil used to tempt Jesus. The scriptures on their own can never produce the righteousness, mercy, and faithfulness that count before God.
But when the Holy Spirit speaks this living word into the hearts of those who have set out on the way of discipleship to Christ, the deepest meaning of the scriptures are opened up to them. Those who have accepted this living word, which never contradicts the Bible, also agree with one another. Transformed from within, they receive the strength, clarity, and unity they need to carry out the task God has given them — to make God’s kingdom a reality on earth.
The final volume of five in Inner Land, The Living Word includes a preface by Eberhard Arnold’s son J. Heinrich Arnold, who has written elsewhere: “My father not only believed that Inner Land was the most important book he had written; he also believed and told me that he included in this book everything in his life he had ever experienced of Christ, of the suffering of humankind, of the murderous spirit of mammon, of human life and divine life altogether.”
About Innerland: It is hard to exaggerate the significance of Innerland, either for Eberhard Arnold or his readers. It absorbed his energies off and on for most of his adult life — from World War I, when he published the first chapter under the title War: A Call to Inwardness, to 1935, the last year of his life.
Packed in metal boxes and buried at night for safekeeping from the Nazis, who raided the author’s study a year before his death (and again a year after it), Innerland was not openly critical of Hitler’s regime. Nevertheless, it attacked the spirits that animated German society: its murderous strains of racism and bigotry, its heady nationalistic fervor, its mindless mass hysteria, and its vulgar materialism. In this sense Innerland stands as starkly opposed to the zeitgeist of our own day as to that of the author’s.
At a glance, the focus of Innerland seems to be the cultivation of the spiritual life as an end in itself. Nothing could be more misleading. In fact, to Eberhard Arnold the very thought of encouraging the sort of selfish solitude whereby people seek their own private peace by shutting out the noise and rush of public life around them is anathema. He writes in The Inner Life:
“These are times of distress. We cannot retreat, willfully blind to the overwhelming urgency of the tasks pressing on society. We cannot look for inner detachment in an inner and outer isolation…The only justification for withdrawing into the inner self to escape today's confusing, hectic whirl would be that fruitfulness is enriched by it. It is a question of gaining within, through unity with eternal powers, a strength of character ready to be tested in the stream of the world.”
Innerland, then, calls us not to passivity, but to action. It invites us to discover the abundance of a life lived for God. It opens our eyes to the possibilities of that “inner land of the invisible where our spirit can find the roots of its strength and thus enable us to press on to the mastery of life we are called to by God.” Only there, says Eberhard Arnold, can our life be placed under the illuminating light of the eternal and seen for what it is. Only there will we find the clarity of vision we need to win the daily battle that is life, and the inner anchor without which we will lose our moorings.