Nothing New Under the Sun (7)
So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.
The adherent to a secular worldview passes his life in an open grave. He is limited in what he can see of the world because his horizon stretches only as far as the setting sun. He is walled in by the circumstances that life in a world of limited opportunities, natural obstructions, insurmountable obstacles, and sinful people create. He is anchored to the ground, or, rather, in it, from the moment of his birth.
Granted, some people’s hole in the ground may be larger and more handsomely adorned than others, but sooner or later the dirt is coming down over them, just as it will over everyone else.
Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes death stalks King Solomon. His wealth and power won’t allow him to escape it. Death could come at any moment. Will anyone be around to mourn him when he is gone? And even if so, what difference will that make? What will happen to the riches he has accumulated and the many wonderful things he has done?
As he grew old and began to see his body decline (Eccl 12), Solomon was haunted by the certainty, the inevitability, and the horror of death. He may have been the greatest king of ancient Israel, but when he dies, even the surliest dog in the street is better off than he (9:4-6). Death is the great leveler for the secularist; dust and the grave are the only destination any of them can hope to achieve, and, in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t present a compelling case for a life of charity and sacrifice toward others.
People with no faith in God live in the fear of death all their lives (Heb. 2:15). They don’t talk about it; instead, they do everything they can think of to postpone it, insulate themselves from it, or euphemize it and soften its inevitable blow. They hope to live on after death in their children, works, or the monuments and institutions they erect to themselves, but deep inside they know this, too, is vanity.
Every day of his life the secularist fears the first shovelful of earth, raining down upon his head. He knows it’s inevitable, but, given his lack of any eternal and unchanging framework, he cannot really consider his demise or that of anyone else anything other than a fact of existence – neither a triumph nor a tragedy, merely a fact, signifying nothing. That he lives otherwise, however, indicates that he knows the secularism he espouses to be a lie; he is more valuable than he admits, but only a believer in the Truth of God can tell him why.
Start your own ViewPoint discussion group. This week’s series is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for personal or group study. Download the series, "Nothing New Under the Sun."VP Secularism".
For more insight to this topic, get the book, Where Do We Stand? A Christian Response to Secularism, by Harry Blamires and Malcolm Muggeridge, from our online store. Or read the article, “Three Meanings of Secular,” by Douglas Farrow.