After the Dark Ages came the Enlightenment. So they tell us in the history books. In this reading of history, the “darkness” of divine revelation was replaced by the “light” of human reason. But as the 20th century wore on that light was becoming decidedly dim.
As thinkers pulled down the dimmer switch on modernity, a new star shot into the sky (or is it just an old one orbiting around again?). Post-modernism emerged in the gloom of fading hopes. But rather than repenting of the lie of calling the darkness of human thought apart from God “light”, it came up with another light source. There was still no room for the Divine Revelation that shone from without into the cosmos: the Word of God that makes sense of everything. Human Reason had displaced Divine Revelation, but it is now being eclipsed by human revelation. Reason functioned in relation to objective truth; now relativism focuses on my personal truths. The Age of the Enlightenment has been superseded by the Age of the Inner Light. But it’s just another form of darkness.
Where do people now look for light? Oprah Winfrey is a prophetess of the new era. She read Butterworth’s book “Discover the Power within You” and saw the light. She said, “This book changed my perspective on life and religion. Butterworth teaches that God isn’t ‘up there’. He exists within each of us, and it’s up to us to seek the divine within.”
Religion remains passé. The rejection of what were seen to be its twin pillars in the middle ages – authority and revelation – remains intact. But where religion was once replaced by reason, it is now supplanted by spirituality. Ray Yungen (“A time of departing”, p.159) writes of Emerging Church leader Leonard Sweet’s book “Quantum Spirituality” in which he says that “the old teachings of Christianity must be replaced with new teachings of ‘the New Light’”. He sees this “New Light” movement to be the key to profound unity, a “world-making” faith whereby in the mysticism of our spiritual experiences we can all connect with this inner reality.
But amidst all such counterfeit lights, Jesus continues to step into the darkness of our confusion saying, “I am the Light of the World”. Outside Light. Yes – illuminating the darkness of our innermost being. But by light that comes from without rather than within. The Word of God stepping into the world in the flesh and shining into the world in the Scriptures. The light has come, but still many prefer darkness: the darkness of their own inner light.