“The Light is Fragile…”: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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76 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I think that real Bible interpretation begins with acknowledging all the paradox in Scripture…so many tensions that need to be held at on the same time.
    You can’t systematize paradox…

  2. Em says:

    There has been some talk lately of the possibility of a solar eruption taking down the nation’s power grid…. i pray God doesn’t decide we need an object lesson…
    Lots of good food for thot here… Thank you

  3. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, it is the paradox we find in so much of Scripture. Additionally, because we are often uncomfortable with paradox we drag Scripture out of it context – linguistic, historical, cultural, etc. In so doing, we lose so much of the meaning…

  4. Jean says:

    I appreciate the advice from the author of Hebrews, who, in the Spirit, exhorts his listeners and readers to draw near to the throne of grace “with confidence” and “with a true heart in full assurance of faith”.

    The Light, with whom there is no shadow or variation, is none other than Christ the Lord. This strong, immutable, almighty Light promises and delivers the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to everyone who believes in Him by faith alone.

    No one can snatch us out of His hand. No one can separate us from His love. No one can come to the Father except through Him. “To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”

    “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
    His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
    One little word shall fell him.”

  5. Duane Arnold says:


    … and there is the darkness of faith…

  6. Jean says:


    “… and there is the darkness of faith…”

    Could you clarify this, so that no one misinterprets you. There are two types of darkness expressed in Scripture: (1) There is darkness as in “that which is not seen” and (2) darkness as a metaphor for evil.

    If what you mean is (1), then “okay,” but then faith is contrasted with darkness. We walk by faith, not by sight. What is dark about faith?

  7. Duane Arnold says:


    “Abraham closed his eyes and hid himself in the darkness of faith, and therein he found light eternal”.
    Martin Luther, 1531

  8. Jean says:

    Is the entire sermon which has that quote available? It doesn’t answer my question to
    you, so I can try to answer it myself, if you can provide a full citation or link.

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Weimarer Ausgabe XLII, p. 561ff

  10. Jean says:

    One thing is certainly true: Abraham had not received the fullness of the Gospel that we have today, because Abraham believed in the promised Christ who was to come, whereas we today believe in the Christ who has come, and who has promised to come again as our judge. Therefore, we have the full revelation of God’s Word, whereas Abraham had only the Word from Adam to himself.

  11. Duane Arnold says:


    Luther was actually drawing off of his knowledge and reading of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (fifth-sixth century)… it was reflection on the paradox.

  12. Jean says:


    I don’t have that work. Without the context the Luther quote is useless. It would be interesting to investigate, but you would have to provide it.

  13. Duane Arnold says:


    Compare the lectures on Galatians in both the 1531 and the 1535 revision. The phrase is used in a number of places other than my quote.

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    All I can say is when you develop your theology based on inanimate objects on your desk you will write articles as you have. Now if you base your theology on scripture you will come to a different conclusion and would probably make corrections. Jesus is the light of the world – and that light is not fragile, that light is not darkened or dimmed.

  15. Jean says:


    I ask you a simple question at 10:54 am to clarify what about faith is darkness? It’s not a trick question. It could be taken a number of different ways, and not all of them fruitful. If you don’t want to answer, that’s okay to; I won’t push it. My First comment says what I think about it, and I am content to rest there, unless there is something wholesome to discuss.

  16. Duane Arnold says:


    Your comment is simply unworthy of a response…

  17. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, I wouldn’t want the ‘light’ shined on that type of theology either. It’s your article, you can say what you like.

  18. Duane Arnold says:


    Mis-statements, insults, dissimulation… same old game…

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    No insults or misstatements – just my reaction to you taking the glow off the gospel and calling darkness and confusion good – until the next step.
    You can have the last word.

  20. Michael says:

    If the Lutheran contingent can’t walk in humility here the contingent is going away.

    The Scriptures tell us we see through a glass darkly…that we walk in faith, not sight, and many other metaphors that indicate mystery.

    You two are not defending Scripture…you are defending your interpretations of Scripture… that many in the Body of Christ do not agree with.

    I can respect your interpretations…they have value.
    However, I also think the rest of orthodoxy has value and I learn from them all.

    I’m done with this nonsense…I’m too busy and have too much respect for the rest of the church to have you two spit on everything else that is written here.

  21. Em says:

    Strange discussion here …..
    The light is eternal, yes… But…
    One can most certainly use visualizations that are sound doctrine (True to the Bible)
    Right now i am looking a photo that my daughter took in the black of night during our recent fire… In the background is the raging, white hot fire cresting the ridge. In the foreground, silhouetted by their leader’s headlamp is a group of firefighters at the river bank, planning their attack. I have been thinking, “what a perfect illustration of time and eternity.” The firefighters illustrating the Church, illuminated, hopefully, by the lamp, the Word, their pastors are entrusted with and over that hill looms the danger of eternity separated from God – the hellfire.

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    I’ll repeat…” Yet sometimes, as our writer has said, we can only find the light in the darkness of faith; we can only find certainty in acknowledging mystery. Sometimes we can only know by acknowledging what we don’t know.” Or, as someone else has said… “This experience is the experience of faith – of that faith which does not see, of that faith which like Abraham’s faith is faith in a promise that, humanly speaking, cannot be fulfilled! It is belief in that which is hidden to human eyes. It is faith which sees the light in the darkness. As Luther, in his comments on Genesis 17, writes in a profound word about Abraham’s faith: “With closed eyes he hid himself in the darkness of faith, and there he found eternal light”
    Hermann Sasse

  23. Em says:

    There is always a risk of getting carried away with clever-so-called illustrations and we all should be somewhat Lutheran in staying on the straight and narrow…
    I try to understand Lutherans, try to show them grace, all the while aware that i am warned to keep a watch on myself, my walk… I still don’t really understand Luther’s present day progeny… it seems they are still trying to establish sound doctrine with hammers and nails? ?
    Amen to Michael’s 11:46….

  24. ( |o )====::: says:

    I want you to know that I appreciate your articles and especially this one. Thank you for enriching me.

  25. ( |o )====::: says:

    Thank you for your continued hosting of Duane’s articles.
    Love to you and your boy and your feline family!

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    ( Io )====:::

    Many thanks. We try to do what we can…

  27. Jean says:

    I don’t know why someone diverted the discussion into Lutherans vs. everyone else. I certainly did not take it in that direction.

    I asked a couple of questions at 10:54 am, which I would think an author would be delighted to receive and answer. Further, I have made no disrespectful comments.

  28. Duane Arnold says:


    You were answered five different times with citations…

  29. bob1 says:

    Wow. It’s the Mutt and Jeff of Lutheranism.

    Fantastic witness for your sect, guys!

  30. bob1 says:

    Banjo Man +1

    How difficult can it be to just accept what a brother says without giving him the
    third degree? Sheesh.

  31. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael, thanks for your comment at 11:46. I for one am not going anywhere, but this constant argumentation is getting old fast.

  32. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Why is it an argument? Why can it not be considered a different opinion? Michael, you have said you don’t want an echo chamber.
    A couple of weeks ago on one of Jean’s articles you jumped in as the first comment telling him he was wrong – which in the end diverted the conversation in a negative manner. No one accused you of imposing Anglican doctrine or interpretation on the article.
    Just my thought.

  33. Em says:

    When does discussion become disrespectful argumentation?
    I have gained a clearer understanding of the Lutes over time, reading their posts here… But…. as a non denominational evangelical, fundy, i am a bit of an outsider here, so…. I learn from everyone ?

  34. Duane Arnold says:


    I will correct you, you are not an outsider here… ?

  35. Michael says:

    A different opinion can be stated as one…instead of inferring that the writer is doing violence to orthodoxy or “the word of God”.

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    bob1 – you have an odd view of differing opinions (I won’t even mention the name calling or say that is a bad witness for you sect – which you keep secret.

    Back when I was writing my articles, especially on Hebrews and Matthew, we lively and heated disagreements from the peanut gallery. No one had inhibitions about telling me I was full of crap. I never objected and never did the admin step in.
    Now that someone else is writing the articles, the rules have changed. Hey, what can I do, slit my wrists?

  37. Duane Arnold says:


    When you wish to have a serious discussion, let me know. I’ve yet to see the evidence of it…

  38. Michael says:

    There is no singular “Anglican” position on doctrine.
    We allow people to read and think broadly and come to reasoned conclusions.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I know Anglicans allow people to think broadly. We saw that when Rowan Williams was honored as a Druid. (I know they tried to clean up behind him)
    Look, much of worldwide Lutheranism has gone down that same road – nobody is right and nobody is wrong as long as long as you pronounce Jesus’ name correctly. I will admit I am a bit narrow minded in that area.
    Didn’t JI Packet recently collaborate on a new catechism for the ACNA?

  40. Xenia says:

    Good article, Duane. Thank you.

    Reading A World Lit Only by Fire was a real eye-opener, for the reason you give. Imagine living by the equivalent of a Bic lighter at night and top it off with the very long nights of the northern European winter. I think this would instill a real sense of mystery in people which is harder to grasp in today’s overly bright world. Orthodox churches are usually fairly dark inside, often lit only by beeswax candles.

  41. Xenia says:

    You know, MLD, it wouldn’t kill you to actually think about what Duane is saying in his article instead of immediately jumping to the contrarian view. He’s not presenting all there is to say about the Gospel, or even about Christianity, he’s giving a reflection, as we call such musings in Ortholandia.

  42. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks. I think it really hit me years ago at St. Serge in Paris at the Easter Vigil and the “new fire”. I was outside in the cemetery (the church was packed) and it was pitch black. You literally could not see the person next to you. All of a sudden, the flame was passed candle by candle until the whole church was surrounded by light. No wonder people think it a miracle!

  43. Duane Arnold says:


    As an addendum, anything by Norman Cantor is worth a read…

  44. Xenia says:

    Will do!

  45. Babylon's Dread says:

    Sooner or later we are going to get back to the 16th century around here.

    Anabaptist Dread

  46. Duane Arnold says:


    “The Darkness of Faith” goes earlier to Duns Scotus (whom Luther studied) and to Meister Eckhart and the Brethren of the Common Life (whom Luther studied and learned from)…. So much to learn.

  47. bob1 says:

    “It wouldn’t kill you to actually think about what Duane is saying in his article instead of immediately jumping to the contrarian view.”


    Not thinking…knee-jerkily reacting.

    It’s like PxP has its own DJT wannabe!

  48. So there is no metaphor in the scriptures… sigh.

    Beautiful imagery. My mother took us from 1983 to 1883 overnight. No electricity, the darkness of the forest was shocking. A Coleman Lantern was high tech, but the basket wicks and fuel were too expensive, so we got by with kerosene lamps, whose fire constantly darkened the glass with soot. Living inside an unfinished barn shell, no insulation, studs exposed, the walls seemed to absorb the feeble light cast by kerosene. It cured my abject fear of the dark quickly. I had no choice other than to let that go.

    The upside was that looking up, I finally saw the cosmos, and looking down, the landscape lit by starlight on moonless nights

  49. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia, why would you think that I did not adequately consider Duane’s “reflection”? The article was posted for almost 4 hours before I made a comment. There were 13 comments before my initial comment.
    Does disagreement equal lack of thought in your world?
    I thought my comment was a bit mundane pointing out the different outcomes of a piece based on personal experience (his lamp, his surrounding vegetation, his meeting with a professor and a book the read in common) vs an outcome based on scripture.
    Basic conversational fare where I come from – although the reception was distant.

  50. Michael says:

    “pointing out the different outcomes of a piece based on personal experience (his lamp, his surrounding vegetation, his meeting with a professor and a book the read in common) vs an outcome based on scripture.”

    So illustrations are taboo too?
    Outcomes based on scripture…what you mean is based on YOUR interpretation of Scripture.

    I think you and Jean would be much happier some place where only Lutherans gather…

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I like how you continually use the slur “your interpretation” with me but I have not once heard you say such of others when they rebut something.
    As I pointed out earlier when I wrote my articles any and all could tell me I was full of crap and you never intervened – as in never – and I never would have wanted you to.
    So why now the great sensitivity?

  52. Michael says:


    It’s not a slur…it’s a fact.
    You are a zealot for a particular sect and you think there is no question that your sect has it all down pat and the rest of us are in error or worse.
    There is no humility, no desire to share instead of correct.
    It happens continually and our readership and participation have suffered for it.
    This is not who we want to be…people can find a brawl online in a million places, but they can’t find a place where it’s safe to ask questions or think through things without being attacked by someone who is sure that they’re speaking from Sinai.
    I don’t have the time or energy to deal with it anymore…and I won’t.
    As to your writing…you often wrote in such a way as to invite strong reactions…that’s what you wanted.
    You like to get after it.
    I will speak strongly against real heresy and abuse…but I’m done with daily fights over orthodox doctrine.
    I don’t believe that God began or finished doctrine in the 16th century…I respect the work of the Reformation,but I don’t have to embrace it all.
    It’s you guys call…you can be one of many voices sharing or you can refuse to play nice in the sandbox.
    I’ll respond to either as necessary…

  53. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t get it – you say I can be one of many voices, but when I express that voice you shut it down.
    Look, I never quote Luther or Lutheran scholars, and I never quote the confessions – never, check it out. I speak for myself, like every other person here. I may have influences that direct my conversation but so do you, Xenia and even folks like bob 1 who veils his root.
    Even today I have not said anything that is particularly Lutheran, although Duane has been quoting Lutheran people today, but you don’t catch me doing that.

  54. Michael says:


    The nature of most of your comments is to insult or attack.
    We all have influences, but most here also have a measure of grace and humility when expressing them.
    This isn’t open for any more discussion.
    I’m tired and have more pressing matters than this…it’s been gone over before and it’s time to deal with it.

  55. Xenia says:

    I think the problem is, MLD, is that you take a reflection such as Duane presented, which blessed many of us, and twisted what he wrote. Rather than thinking about what “darkness” might mean in the life of a Christian, you say it “takes the glow off the Gospel,” etc. It’s like you read the words but deliberately obfuscate the meaning and twist a thoughtful pondering into an Anglican heresy because you know, those Anglicans have dealings with the Druids.

    I will clearly say that Christ is pure Light and in Him there is no darkness. That doesn’t mean that Christianity doesn’t have some dark, or shall I say, mysterious places in it. While Christ is All Light, *we* see through the glass in some darkness. *We* look up into the dark night sky and see God. *We* have times of doubt and sorrow when we darkly wonder if God is paying attention. *We* might sit in silence in a dark room and experience God. That’s how *we* are.

  56. Xenia says:

    Moreover, Christ Himself used everyday objects- fish, coins, birds, yes, even lamps- to illustrate spiritual truths.

  57. Muff Potter says:

    Well put Xenia.
    Well said…

  58. ( |o )====::: says:

    Thank you for bringing freedom and peace to our experience of mystery.

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I apologize that people take offense at my dissent, however, we all seem to agree that Jesus is the light and then with that same confession some here want to claim that the light is fragile. To me, and perhaps to me alone, there is a disconnect.
    The Bible says that the secret things belong to God – that is the hiddiness of God, a place we should not be looking as it will always bring distress and darkness.
    On the other hand, the Bible says that what has been revealed to us, where the light shines for us, is for us and our families to live out the full Christian life.
    Faith is never dark – doubt and unbelief are dark.
    Just my opinion – I will not bind anyone else’s conscience to believe like me.

  60. Duane Arnold says:

    “Abraham closed his eyes and hid himself in the darkness of faith, and therein he found light eternal”.
    Martin Luther, 1531

  61. Outside T. Fold says:

    I love that moment you described, Duane WH A, where your friend and scholar urged you to experience the current space using only the lighting technology of the past. Beautiful.

  62. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks. Sometimes we need to be taken out of “our moment”…

  63. Duane Arnold says:


    You intentionally and continually twist meanings and words. I’m surprised that you don’t tire of it…

  64. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    1.) You are obviously a bigger Luther fanboy than myself. I don’t take all the words or teachings of Luther as binding and I don’t know any Lutheran who does.
    2.) You keep tossing out a Luther quote with no context. I captured a reading in my last post that says God’s revelation is given to us for life, not to keep us in darkness.
    3.) Lastly you need to tell us in your own words what you think that term means, not just keep posting it like a social media meme.
    4.) Or you can remain comfortable and just dismiss my view – as I said, I will not bind your conscience. That’s all from here on this topic.

  65. Mud Man says:

    Many years ago I had a pastor friend of mine say, “the bible doesn’t teach us everything about this life. For instance, most of us spend a lot of our time driving cars and there’s nothing there about that.”

    He was serious about this analogy in trying to describe the gray areas of life not spelled out in the text.

    My comment was simple this, “It does tell us how to drive our cars, especially when we want to give our fellow motorists the finger.”

    It is a light unto my feet. The Hebrew idea of life is a walk with our God. You want to know how to walk with Him? Get to know what He had people record about their walk with Him.

    Thanks Duane!

  66. Duane Arnold says:


    Of your entire post, the only thing that I find of value is “just dismiss my view”. Please consider it dismissed, along with the rest of your comments in this thread.

    As to remaining “comfortable”… I am very comfortable that much in the Christian life is a paradox. I am very comfortable that much in Christian life and doctrine is “mystery”. I am very comfortable in being skeptical of fundamentalists of all varieties. I am very comfortable that I don’t need to know it all. Finally, I am very comfortable with a wide reading of theology and church history as I want to partake of all of the riches of Christian faith.

  67. Duane Arnold says:

    Mud Man

    I like both the analogy and your reply!

  68. Mud Man says:

    “…we all seem to agree that Jesus is the light …”

    While agree, my question is what does this mean to people.

    Could it be He is the light that leads people to life eternal?

    Could it mean by following in His ways people will walk in those ways?

    Is it a way of life for mere mortals?

    Are people drawn to that light like bugs in the the heat of a summer evening?

    Could such a simple statement really be this broad?

    Just a couple of ideas, but I tend to think His light is more than salvation in the next life, it’s about walking like Him? Well now I have to actually find out how He walked; darn it was a lot easier to just make a confession and move on.

    Michael like the cat stories. Yep loving them is part of that light.

  69. Jerod says:

    The Point… Is Lost…

    Nobody is surprised at Anybody. Seems Anybody can get excommunicated from P.P. for raising an issue while Nobody can say what he really thinks about Anybody and Somebody. Somebody just lets it go. Which is best.

  70. ( |o )====::: says:

    What I’m seeing here is the spectrum of humanity and how we each struggle with revelation, faith and experience.

    As a musician and artist I see and appreciate much as Duane does, the shades and tints and tones of each color, the focus and blur, the spectrums of each visual, tactile and audible domain, while experiencing a shared feeble attempt at finding commonality, of nuance, of trying to communicate and commune in the moment.

    I used to be very, very legalistic and systematic in theology, demanding logic and empirical proof. Then I lived enough life to find one thing after another that dashed my fragile “certainty” and doctrine to shards, sadly cutting those around me as I flailed to make sense of it all. Many here were injured while I flailed, yet they patiently welcome me as a fellow sojourner.

    I’m thankful to Michael for his continued patience, his willingness to embrace each of us scraggly misfit felines, even when we hiss, howl, scratch… he knows we’ll eventually calm down and purr.

  71. Duane Arnold says:

    ( Io )===:::

    Nicely said, my friend…

  72. Boise Bart says:

    I loved this article. The imagery spoke to me and strengthened my faith. I am going to bookmark this so I can return to its wisdom.
    I have been a lurker and sometime poster here for well over 15 years. I have witnessed some really big “discussions”. It’s what happens when family gets together. Sometimes its a great big love fest, and at others it’s a free-for-all UFC fight.
    This has impacted me in two distinct ways:
    1. God loves us all – unconditionally and with a passion we cannot even come close to imagining or understanding. Especially to those I disagree with religiously.
    2. I have no desire to go to ‘church’ – as a recovering evangelical/fundamentalist/CC kool-aid consumer, I have found that my faith and my walk with God in this life is much fuller without the trappings of whatever label is on the building.
    ***FULL DISCLOSURE*** – this is my view for me and me alone. I harbor no ill will or judgement to anyone’s belief or church affiliation. As a matter of fact I want and look forward to the many different viewpoints expressed here and in other mediums as I walk this journey.
    3. I love everyone! Free from the influence of a particular sect/denomination or pastoral setting I see now that all have a place at the Lord’s table.
    And on that day when we all are seated together, our differences will vanish like chaff.

  73. Boise Bart says:

    OK so I can’t count…I have probably been impacted way more than two…or three ways.
    I really should have my wife proof everything I write.

  74. Duane Arnold says:

    Boise Bart

    Many thanks… We’re all on the same journey. God Bless…

  75. Michael says:


    This is really simple.
    I’ve kept this thing going for years after my contemporaries went away.
    It has to be stewarded .
    I’ve learned the hard way that if you allow conflict on every thread by the same person or persons that you lose readers, you lose participation, and you lose writers.
    God gave me a platform…and I intend to do the best I can to allow as many voices as possible.
    However, if the platform goes away, none of us have a voice.

  76. Jerod says:

    Well said.

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