What is the Speed of Darkness?

John C. Rankin (February 4, 2013)

Of course darkness has no speed, since it has no atomic existence. It simply eviscerates in the presence of light. At the prior and theological level, we see the proactive power of light in the first words of God in Scripture, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). And in John 1:5, we read, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood (or overcome) it.”

The apostle John is speaking of Jesus as the Light of the world, and in his first epistle, John also says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (3:8).

Since light is proactive, and darkness is reactive, the way Jesus as the Light destroys the work of the prince of darkness is by letting the light shine. Darkness, by definition, always flees.

The apostle Paul reflect this understanding of light versus darkness, in the ethical realm, in Ephesians 5:11-13: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible.

We do not need to focus on evil in order to overcome it. Live in the light, love God, love our neighbors, and realize that our only warfare is against the devil and his minions in the heavenlies. Then the devil’s work will be destroyed in our midst.

This biblical centrality is at the core of the mission of the TEI. To embrace the power to love hard questions in the presence of skeptics is to also embrace the power to live in the light.


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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.