Are you old enough to remember when government schools released students for Christmas holidays and Easter holidays? Those terms have now been replaced with winter break and spring break. And Thanksgiving is being replaced by fall break. Do you think those replacements are accidental? They are indicators of the secular worldview and of paganism being the all-but-declared religion of the West.
What will be the endgame of a culture given over to the secular worldview? Is there reason for hope in the secular worldview? Does paganism deliver on its promises of progress?
Do not be deceived; we are incurably religious. We will worship someone or something(s). The question is whether we will worship the Creator, the one true and living God, or if we will worship ourselves (creatures)–that is, the earth (the creation).
Recently I heard a fine sermon on Psalm 19. Called by C.S. Lewis the finest poem in literature, Psalm 19 is typically divided into two major parts. The first part describes God’s general revelation of himself through his created order (cosmos). The second part describes God’s special revelation of himself through his Word.
David wrote that God reveals himself to us, his creatures, through creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4a, ESV)
What is that poetic language teaching? It’s straightforward—namely, that the firmament, the heavens, trumpet and herald this message: God is. The stars, the planets, the galaxies, etc. fill the mind and soul with wonder and cause us creatures to declare in response, “This has to be of God.” Randomness, chance, accident, billions of years, etc. cannot begin to explain the glory of what we behold.
And yet the slide into the secular pit continues. Why? Is it because God has not given enough evidence? Is it possible that it’s not lack of evidence for God’s existence that has led to the larger culture’s embrace of secularism and paganism? Is it possible that it’s much simpler—that, in fact, it’s a moral issue? What if it came down, in fact, to suppression of the overwhelming evidence of God’s existence?
According to Scripture, our consciences bear witness to God’s law written on our hearts. Our consciences either accuse or excuse our behavior: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:15, ESV).
And yet the slide into the secular pit continues. Yet we have general revelation (the cosmos), and we have special revelation (Scripture). Moreover, we have consciences that accuse and/or excuse our behavior.
But ultimately we have God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, who, according to one of Christianity’s greatest creeds, was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”
And yet the slide into the secular pit continues. Despite the heavens declaring the glory of God; despite the millions of Bibles on dashboards of vehicles or on coffee tables in homes; despite our consciences that prick us when we know we’ve violated the moral code; and even despite the Lord Jesus, whom the secular pagan world hates, but cannot get rid of. Where’s hope or salvation in secularism and/or paganism?
Despite the Dan Brown novels; despite Richard Dawkins’ tirades; despite Sam Harris’ vitriol—somehow this Jesus resurrects and outlives his enemies. And somehow the Christian church, so maligned by the increasingly secular and hostile culture, gathers across continents regularly, as a ransomed bride, and professes the faith of the gospel of grace–that Christ has died, that Christ has risen, and that Christ will come again.