I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness

John 8:12–20 (RSV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees then said to him, “You are bearing witness to yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness to myself, my testimony is true, for I know whence I have come and whither I am going, but you do not know whence I come or whither I am going. You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone that judge, but I and he who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two men is true;I bear witness to myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness to me.”They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father also.”These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Writing in the late 19th century, the Russian elder Theophan the Recluse spoke of this verse, “He who turns away from the Lord turns away from the light and is headed into darkness, and therefore he is a true obscurantist.”1 During Theophan’s time many “progressive” groups in Russia accused Orthodox Christians of “obscuring” the enlightenment of others.2

You know what the teaching of Christ demands.  As soon as someone puts forth thoughts contrary to this teaching, do not fear calling him an obscurantist, for this is his real name.

The Lord teaches:  enter in at the narrow gate of a strict life of self-denial; this is the only path to the light.  Whoever is traveling the broad path of pleasing himself is headed into darkness, and is an obscurantist.  The Lord teaches:  remember the last things: judgment, hell, and heaven.  There is a light that illuminates our future.  Whoever teaches that death is the end of all casts darkness over our fate, and thus is an obscurantist.  Lovers of the light!  Learn by this to distinguish where the darkness is, and depart from it.


1 Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (tr. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010), p.102

2 Ibid.


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