Post Tenebras Lux
The guys who started the Protestant Reformation were great with words and slogans. Sola Scriptura
Sola Deo Gloria
In making a doctrinal statement, they carefully chose words with a certain precision. Scripture alone (and not the traditions of men) was their guiding force. Faith alone (and not works) was the pathway to justification. Christ alone (and not a Church official) was their Mediator. God alone (and not the church) would receive the glory.
But there was another phrase that they used -- perhaps more powerful than any of the others -- at least in terms of its world-changing impact.
Post Tenebras Lux
After darkness, light.
They were stating their belief that the Roman Catholic Church had held Christians captive, chained in darkness. What they believed God was doing through the Reformation was bringing his light to bear on this despicable darkness.
"Dark" and "light" are loaded terms -- easily as fraught with ambiguities as "truth" and "falsehood". No one comes out opposed to truth and in favor of falsehood. Instead, they try to depict their viewpoint as being real truth -- a different kind of truth perhaps. Likewise, no one stands up and makes a case for remaining in the dark. Everyone prefers light to darkness, right?
Well...not according to the Bible. But we'll talk about that later (I know I keep saying that, but I want to do this a little bit at a time to make sure I'm thinking correctly and everyone's keeping up).
The early Reformers did exactly what the Religious Right did -- rhetorically speaking. The Religious Right said that they were "Pro-Family" -- as if the Secular Left was "Anti-Family". The Reformers said that they were in favor of light -- as if the Roman Catholic Church preferred darkness.
And it worked for a while.
The problem is that neither the Reformed side nor the Roman Catholic side realized that there was another side in the debate. There were folks who weren't interested in Roman Catholicism or Reformation theology. And they decided to launch an attack in the 18th Century -- a time not just of reformation but of revolution.
This was a time when lots of philosophers saw an opportunity to eliminate not just church tradition but the Bible itself as a viable source of knowlege and guidance. They believed that it wasn't just Roman Catholicism but religion itself that blinded people and kept them in the dark. Now that people were coming of age, they could be trusted to figure out the world by human reason alone.
Thus was born "The Enlightenment".
And one of their most important slogans was borrowed from the Reformation 200 years earlier: Post Tenebras Lux.
Everyone loves light, right? Who wouldn't want to be enlightened? Would you rather stay in the dark with the cavemen? Light is always better, isn't it?
Do you suppose there was some downside to "The Enlightenment"?