The Conscience

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Like the previous book The Inner Land, I found The Conscience was harder to read than I expected.  At times, I would look and wonder if I was reading the actual Bible or a devotional book. The content is substantial and requires intense thought to comprehend. As such, it is a book to be read slowly and meditated on. While a small book, do not expect to read it quickly. I suspect I will return to this title again and will re-read it many times in order to gain the fullness of its pages.
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After having read and reviewed volume 1 of The Inner Life by Eberhard Arnold, I got offered volume 2, The Conscience. In this extensive Bible study meets thought exercise, Arnold explores the conscience as the part of our inner world, our soul and spirit that needs restoration through Jesus Christ's atonement and indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. Many have tried to empty their spirit, connect it to evil spirits, or become holy. The conscience is our moral compass with effects in daily life for good or bad results.

Directly exposing Adolf Hitler and his nazi regime, the author is clear about the single Leader one should follow. That bold statement resulted in a raid on his home and belongings one week after this volume was sent to Hitler. Arnold paid with his life, certain that everlasting life sanctified by the Lord would follow.

The Conscience is a call to action, emphasizing the importance of the worldwide Church, unified by God's Spirit.
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In this short volume, a reissue of a previously published work, the great Anabaptist theologian Eberhard Arnold offers an in-depth but concise treatment of the conscience, it's role in the greater understanding of the grace of God, and effects of clinging to conscience when rightly understood. 

Arnold starts with the theological paradox of the conflict and mutual support of both law and spirit in the role of the Christian's life. He sees conscience as a God-given call to live a more just life as well as a vehicle through which God calls us to repentance. He details the ways in which the conscience is unreliable without a life lived in tandem with God, teaching that only a life lived with and dedicated to Jesus Christ as Lord will purify the conscience and make it reliable. He sees conscience as only being able to find it's true bearings when a person experiences the life of spiritual rebirth. 

Arnold then spends some time discussing how modern society has turned it's back on the role of the conscience, denigrating it as out of step with our search of self-fulfillment. He takes task most especially with the Freud and modern psychoanalysis. Some of this section might been seen as dated by readers, but it is worth keeping in mind both that this work is somewhat older and Arnold was not a professional psychologist. 

This work will probably be pretty daunting to many readers who haven't ventured much beyond sermons in their reading of formal Christian theology. That said, it is not insurmountable to any who are willing to give it a try. Arnold is not overly abstract or complicated, but he does refer to theological issues which often don't make it into the sermonic life of the local congregations. 

Arnold was a paragon of the Christian life well-lived. He was considered a sort of living saint by many in his day. He should be heard on what he has to say, even if the reader may not always agree with him. He does an excellent job of making his writing compatible with most Christian theological traditions. Certainly, any Protestant or Evangelical Christians  will find what he was to say illuminating and insightful. In all probability, most Catholic, Orthodox, and Pentecostal Christians will as well.
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This book identifies itself as a ‘call to action’. Although written in the early 20th Century, the points made by the author are extremely relevant today.  The author states: “…The conscience is the spirit’s sensitive organ of response. It has the task of warning the character against degeneration and destruction, because the character is meant to preserve moral order….” 

With the challenges being encountered today, this book may be seen as a timeless piece of literature to remind or instruct readers of what is needed in our relationships and decision-making.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book that was provided by the publisher through Net Galley. However, the thoughts and opinions presented here are my own
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