The Circumference of Darkness

I am currently at the ACCS conference, and wanted to share a takeaway point from George Grant’s talk, one that made the entire trip worth it. Everything else is just added value.

George was channeling Thomas Chalmers, naturally, and the point he was passing on to us is applicable everywhere the believer goes. And here it is.

The greater the diameter of light, the greater the circumference of darkness. Expanding this, if you are in a dark place, the more effective your light is, the greater the diameter of your light, the longer the boundary line between light and darkness grows.

This means there is no way, in this fallen world, to solve problems without increasing them. Be encouraged therefore. This is not a sign that something has gone desperately, terribly wrong. No, it is sign of something else, much more exhilarating.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

So the brighter that light shines, the more opportunities the darkness has to say and do something about it. So as I said before, be encouraged therefore.

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Christian Lewis
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Christian Lewis

Thank you for this. I’d be interested in your relating this metaphor with a post-mil viewpoint. The expanding light creates more battle fronts yet against an ever diminishing and stretched thin enemy?

Michelle
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Michelle

Also, “men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” which creates a few problems as well.

I am compelled by Bonhoeffer’s exposition of Matthew 5:16 in Cost of Discipleship, which argues that the good deeds which glorify God are those listed in the verses preceding: meekness, mourning, hunger for righteousness, purity of heart, mercy, peacemaking, willingness to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The good deeds are not defined by the darkness.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

Amen Amen Amen.

The point that the Church listens to Jesus to define what good is, regardless of what the culture or our particular enemies are doing, is so often missed. We are not in this to win the way the world wins, but to shine light the way Christ shone.

James
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James

“Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end.”- Machen

Rob Steele
Member

Applies to scientific knowledge and intelligence too, which are just particular forms of light. I often wonder how geniuses cope with the vastness of their ignorance.

ROB HOWARD
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ROB HOWARD

It’s pretty tough.

Rob Steele
Member

I know, right!?!

Christin
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Christin

Bahahahahaha.

This blog has unsung heroes.

MeMe
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Oh, amen to that! Consider it all joy….

Steve Jameson
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Steve Jameson

Thanks for the good [post and the good news. Thirty plus years of international and urban mission work confirm the truth of your words. One other factor: The power of evil is finite, the power of God infinite. What happens when you stretch the finite? It must get thinner. What happens when you stretch the infinite? It remains infinite in every aspect. Thus as the boundaries of light increase, and the circumference of darkness increases, the depth of the opposition must decrease and the power of the light must increase. We have always experienced the increasing opposition of the evil… Read more »

Steve Jameson
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Steve Jameson

Plesae catch the typo in the first line – [post. Thanks.

cgatihi
Member

This is, indeed, very encouraging. Thanks for sharing. Would love to hear this idea further unpacked if possible, perhaps in a later blog post? Especially how you are drawing the connection of this principle to Matthew 5:16, which I’ve most often heard interpreted as the opposite of what you are saying here: the brighter the light of the church shines (through various good deeds), the more those outside embrace (not resist) it.

kyriosity
Member

I have a cold, so my brain has turned to sludge, and that is my excuse for completely not getting this diameter/circumference picture. Can somebody ’splain me better?

David
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David

the brighter the light, the larger the circle it casts, the greater the circle of darkness you are interacting with. Therefore the greater the darkness that is exposed.

Scott
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Scott

It assumes a single circle of light in a vast area of darkness. If you have a circle of light that is 10 feet in diameter, it will have a 31 foot circumference. A circle of light with a 20 foot diameter has a 62 foot circumference. The more light, the more darkness touching the light. I guess you could say that when we look back at the good old days there were whole miles of darkness that we did not even know about because the light was less extensive. So more awareness of the darkness does not necessarily mean… Read more »

Rob Steele
Member

Good point about the assumption of a much larger darkness. It’s finite and will eventually be completely illuminated, that is, gone.

kyriosity
Member

OK, so it didn’t make any sense because it’s mathematically nonsensical. The circle described by the edge of the light is simply not the circumference of the surrounding darkness. Geometry don’t work that way. But I get the picture now.

Katecho
Member

The larger a circle of light becomes, the more perimeter contact it has with the remaining darkness. I.e. there is an increase in the front line area for engagement by/with the enemy.

kyriosity
Member

Thanks. “Perimeter contact” is better wording. “Circumference” is just not geometrically accurate.

bethyada
Member

I get it is just an illustration and that there is a reaction from the evil one against to all God is doing in the world. But the mathematician in me notes that the comparison is in one dimension: diameters and circumferences. Yet the illustration is noting the size of the light which is two dimensional: the light shines on an area! As the light enlarges the area being shown up increases. And a ratio cannot really be drawn between a 2 dimensional area and a one dimensional circumference. So to modify the illustration to a slightly different one. The… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

If you don’t address umbra, penumbra, and antumbra and how they support the analogy, I won’t feel you have covered this topic with the necessary rigor. I thought you might be amused by the Snowflake’s continuing journey through the Holy Land. She has kayaked in the Jordan, swum in the Sea of Galilee, floated in the Dead Sea, ridden a camel at an encampment of Bedouins, spent midnight at an oasis, and watched the sun rise over Masada. It is a good thing her group travels with an IDF soldier and a medic as she managed to slice open her… Read more »

bethyada
Member

Now you’re just enticing me into sin by provoking envy in me. I think that one of my distant ancestors was part Jewish, or adopted by a Jew, or at least visited Palestine and spoke to one…. How Jewish does one need to be?

Glad she’s having fun. Any sympathy from her yet about it being the holy land?

Jill Smith
Member

One Jewish parent will suffice. My father always wished he had been Jewish, but that is not enough! My great-uncle worked on the Palestine railway back in the early twentieth century when it was a British mandate, but that is not enough either. She was very subdued after spending a day at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial. If I went, I would have to be carted away and heavily tranquilized. And she was also deeply affected by her time with an IDF squad or platoon or whatever. They took them to the cemetery and showed them the graves of IDFs… Read more »

bethyada
Member

You don’t want either faith, you want her to know Christ.

My pastor had problems with his father that were never resolved with his father but resolved by him knowing God as Father. Have you read Doug’s Father Hunger?

Jill Smith
Member

No, I will look for it.

She was quite devout until after the break up. It is still in there somewhere. I know this is not an advice column but I wanted to ask for an objective opinion on something. My ex brought his fiancee into my house without warning me or asking for my permission. I was startled to find her in my living room. I don’t much like her, and this really bothered me. Is it unkind or unforgiving of me to tell him I don’t want her here?

bethyada
Member

It depends on several things. First up, it is your house and you can put the stipulations on it you choose. It is not unreasonable to ask him to warn you of who he is bringing there, but he will tell his new wife your conversations. It may also depend on when she appeared on the scene. I know it was before your divorce was final, but was she with him before he left you? If so, it is understandable that you feel animosity. I would, however, say that showing her grace could be part of her pathway to God.… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

She wasn’t the one he left me for. I got along with that lady very well, but he left her for the new one. I was willing to be friends because I have always found it dumb for women to be angry with the other woman. If there is anyone to be angry with, it is the husband! But this lady does not like me, hates our child, and will not speak to me. My friends have met her at plays and are frankly disbelieving that she won’t talk to me. I say hello and she doesn’t reply! My ex… Read more »

bethyada
Member

I suspect she is insecure.

You say she is religious but not certain what you mean by that. Jill is thoroughly Catholic but clearly very Christian! :) Not all religious Catholics (or Protestants) are particularly Christian. She does want to marry a non-Christian (and yes, I know what else this implies).

Jill Smith
Member

Well, she ought to be insecure because she is marrying someone who, despite some excellent qualities, is incapable of fidelity. When you hook up with a man who has both a wife and a mistress, you have to realize that on some level! I get this at second hand, but I think she has a Catholic faith she believes in but is not living up to very well. I do understand that and sympathize. I am sorry to say that love blinds one to the problems inherent in marrying a non-Christian, which is probably why we were advised not to… Read more »

lndighost
Member

It seems to me that you have been very charitable. My knee-jerk advice would have been to change the locks and notify your ex that his stuff was on the front porch. I’m sorry for the new woman, and for all those poor souls who don’t understand that whoever breaks promises made to somebody else will not keep promises made to you!

Jill Smith
Member

I only wish I could put them on the porch, not that I have a porch, but I get the idea. Unfortunately, his stuff occupies two rooms. Wall to wall, and floor to ceiling. The psychobabble way of describing me would be to say that I have trouble drawing and enforcing appropriate boundaries. As my daughter said when her cat bit my tongue, not even animals respect my boundaries! But I will be very happy to see the junk hauled out of here. It comprises things like broken photocopiers, phone bills from 1978, and enough textbooks to supply a small… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Would some kind and dear person tell me how to insert paragraphs? Also, do the mark-up symbols we used for bold and italics still work on the new site? Thank you!

bethyada
Member

Just put 2 line breaks in.

Like this.

If the comment is long then the paragraph breaking disappears unless you hit the read more button.

bold and italics work like on the old system. As do quotes.

mikebull1
Member

For the Church, history is a series of curve balls of increasing speed and difficulty, but each one brings greater understanding and wisdom. God allows Satan to throw them because He knows that by doing so the evil one is gradually painting himself into a very small corner.

RANDY R BUNCH
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RANDY R BUNCH

Just a thought. Suppose the light surounds the darkness, as in: the gates of hell shall not prevail. Does the circumference grow? Or, does the darkness just get darker as the light grows? To me this presents a totally different perspective and outcome.