The “Paradox of Peace”: An Excerpt for Donald Bloesch’s Birthday

Celebrate Donald Bloesch’s 90th birthday with this excerpt from The Paradox of Holiness (that also includes Faith in Search of Obedience by Bloesch as well). For the theologian, pastor, or layperson who is seeking to combine Word and Spirit, doctrine and life, into an active theology, this two-in-one volume by Donald Bloesch provides an honest and sober account of the challenges that may arise throughout the Christian pilgrimage, while pointing toward the hope, encouragement, and new life that comes through the triumph of Christ on the cross.

In honor of Bloesch’s birthday today, we offer you some lovely and somewhat unusual insights from this late American theologian on a subject not typically given much thought but that can greatly affect our relationships with God and with others.

Interior Peace

Paradoxically, peace often comes to us in the form of conflict. Contrary to expectations, the gift of peace will create a disturbance in relationships. It wounds before it heals. It tears down before it builds up. Luther sagely perceived the paradox of peace when he asserted that the peace of God is “a peace which is hidden under the persecution and warfare of the cross.” When we speak the truth in love, we will inevitably arouse implacable opposition.

The peace of God does not encourage us to give up the fight for better conditions on earth but enlists us in the army of God, which wages war on the entrenched forces of evil. The provocative Anabaptist theologian Eberhard Arnold shares this word of wisdom: “Peace is the flaming eye of the armies of God. It is the battle song of His heavenly hosts,” for, “Peace with God brings about the new order of a kingdom of peace which enforces itself both inwardly and outwardly.”

The paradoxical inseparability of peace and conflict is also noted by Mother Basilea Schlink, founder of the Protestant religious order the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary:

Peace and quiet for the body, soul and spirit, no more fighting—that is what we wanted. We all but forgot that without fighting there can be no victory. And only when you suffer for something will you experience its joy.

A similar observation comes to us from the mystical Theologia Germanica, which exerted a profound influence on the early Martin Luther: “What kind of peace does Christ mean? He means the inner peace that comes in the midst of hardship, distress, much anguish and misfortune. . . . Through this peace we become cheerful and patient amid tribulations.”


If you like what you read here, check out these other excerpts on love, faith and prayer, and the Christian life, or feel free to visit our website for more information about The Paradox of Holiness and Faith in Search of Obedience.

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