Eberhard Arnold, on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday:
“On this day I have been especially conscious of my lack of abilities and of how unsuited my own nature is to the work I have been given, remembering how God called me and how I have stood in his way, with the result that so much of what God must have wanted to do has not been possible. When I look back on the years that Emmy and I have been seeking, it is a miracle that we are still allowed to be a part of this community. This is only possible because of God’s infinite power and forgiveness.
“Another thing concerns me very much: the powerlessness of man, even of the man who has been entrusted with some task. Only God is mighty. Even for the work that has been given us, we are wholly without power. We cannot fit one single stone into the structure that is the community. We cannot protect the community once it has been built up. We cannot devote ourselves to the cause using only our own strength.
“But I believe that this is precisely why God has called us: we know we are powerless. It is hard to describe how all our own power must be stripped from us; how it must be dropped, dismantled, torn down, and put away. What I wish is that this dismantling of our own self-will might be carried out to its full extent. This is not attained easily and will not happen through a single heroic decision. God must do it in us. But when even a little of our own power rises up, the spirit and authority of God retreats at the same moment and to the same degree.”
Eberhard Arnold was born July 26, 1883 in Konigsberg, Germany. He died November 22, 1935. In those 52 short years he established a community of believers called the Bruderhof that still exists today. His writings and those of his children, some of those important to his thoughts and writings, and some of his grandson Johan Christoph Arnold can be found and downloaded at http://www.plough.com .
The story of his son’s life (J. Heinrich Arnold) and the continued growth and struggle of the Bruderhof after having been driven out of Germany by the Nazi regime is recorded in a book titled Homage to a Broken Man. I highly recommend it’s reading.