By Frank Ramirez
“It sounds trite, but it’s true,” said Steven Schweitzer at a Jubilee Insight Session this afternoon, “We are to be the light of the world.”
Schweitzer, who is dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, was speaking at a session following up on his morning Bible studies during the Conference business sessions. Those in attendance engaged in a lively interchange that circled around subtleties such as the difference between living in the light and being the light, the trials of Job, the intricacies of darkness and light before and after the Creation, along with questions like, “Do angels have free will?”
The idea for such a session began, Schweitzer said, when he heard after his Conference Bible studies last year that a lot of people had wanted to engage him with questions. Rather than focusing discussion specifically on the scriptures tied to this Conference’s sermons, he took a look at the breadth of scriptures that speak of “the light in God’s presence.”
It soon became clear that “if our light is only for ourselves we are lacking.” The Bible passages that speak about light seem to have a lot in common with Matthew 25, and the imperative of doing for others.
But Schweitzer and those at the insight session had a great interest in light at the act of creation. “God separates the light from the darkness,” he said. “God began ordering creation. Light is a new thing, the first thing.”
“Was there no light before creation?” was one question to ask, along with others, such as, “What did things look like?” Schweitzer emphasized that there may be no easy answers. Genesis states, he said, that “the source of everything is God. Darkness exists but is not differentiated until it is separated from light.” On the other hand, in Isaiah 45:6-7 God forms light and darkness and seems to create good and evil as well.
The group also had an extended discussion of Job and the place of Satan in that book, the expulsion of Satan in Revelation 12, and a question about whether angels had, have, or used to have free will.
What was evident throughout was Schweitzer’s enthusiasm for the Bible, which was shared by those who had come to take part in the discussion. “I think scripture study is essential,” he said. “I’m excited about wrestling with the Word.”
The 2016 Annual Conference News Team includes: writers Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Tyler Roebuck, Monica McFadden; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown; Conference Journal editor Eddie Edmonds; web manager Jan Fischer Bachman; web staff Russ Otto; editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.