The following was emailed to George F. Will on 6-27-16:
Since we have a choice this year between the ultra liberal Clinton and the moderate to conservative Trump, I was sad to read the following:
I approach the question of religion and American life from the vantage point of an expanding minority. I am a member of a cohort that the Pew public-opinion surveys call the “nones.” Today, when Americans are asked their religious affiliation, 20%—a large and growing portion—say “none.”
I was prompted to write you again after the horrible month of January saw the passing of 3 legendary rockers (David Bowie [1-8-47 to 1-10-16], Glenn Frey [11-6-48 to 1-18-16] and Paul Kantner [3-17-41 to 1-28-16] ). I know that you have been searching your whole life for the meaning of life and the secret of satisfaction and with the help of King Solomon and Kerry Livgren of the rock group KANSAS I wanted to pass along their conclusions.
I thought of you recently when I listened to a cassette tape of a sermon by Dan Jarrell of FELLOWSHIP BIBLE CHURCH in Little Rock entitled THE PLEASURE IS MINE on ECCLESIASTES 2:1-26 (4-21-96). It was hard for me to obtain a cassette tape player but I searched through my attic and found one hidden away.
As you know the Book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon at the end of his life and he was discussing LIFE UNDER THE SUN. I think it is easy to compare your life to Solomon since you both are pursuing satisfaction in this life UNDER THE SUN without God in the picture.
Francis Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.”
Here is a portion of the sermon by Dan Jarrell below:
You and I grew up with Mick Jagger singing “I CAN’T GET NO SATISFACTION.” You think of the lyrics of that song and what Jagger and the ROLLING STONES did. They summarized this philosophy that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I seek it, no matter what I attempt to do, no matter which avenue I go down, there is no personal satisfaction in it for me. Personal satisfaction eludes me because I try and I try and I try but I can’t get no, no, no, no, hey, hey , hey. I just can’t get no satisfaction.
That is the idea Mick Jagger and the rest of the ROLLING STONES and an entire generation that cut it’s teeth on rock and roll never got past the frustration of that song. We tried, and we tried and we tried. We tried DRUGS, and ALCOHOL. We tried SEX in a permissive moral society. We tried EDUCATION. We tried CORPORATE ACHIEVEMENT. We tried MATERIAL DECADENCE. We tried EMPIRE BUILDING. We have even tried HUMANISTIC SPIRITUALITY. We tried anything that would move us toward satisfaction, but the result of it all is no lasting satisfaction. Even our greatest pleasures lose their luster. Life is a vapor!!!! GONE WITH THE WIND!!!
I suppose the wisdom of ECCLESIASTES could have been the inspiration for the ROLLING STONES song that marked our generation if it were not for one significant detail. You see Solomon tried and he tried and he tried but the conclusion of his song was I FOUND THE KEY TO SATISFACTION. All the things he tried didn’t get him there but those experiences led him full circle to a conclusion that he began his reign with and apparently he ended with as well.
I really believe if MICK JAGGER or if any of us for that matter would listen to Solomon’s wisdom he will teach us a different song to sing, a new chorus that will mark a new generation. Solomon will show us the key to satisfaction and he warns us of counterfeits. This is the way to go but beware of this that the vapors of life are there and pursue that and you will be CHASING THE WIND.
WHAT WAS SOLOMON’S ANSWER? Ecclesiastes chapter 2 gives us that answer. This chapter is a discussion of life’s frustrations. Let me start with the conclusion of chapter 2 and then we will go back and look at life’s frustrating moves toward that conclusion.
Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?
There is some disagreement on the translation of this particular phrase “There is nothing better for a man” The NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE translates it as a comparison. The idea is if you think of all the good things that a man could enjoy there is nothing better for a man or a woman than to eat or to drink and tell themselves their labor is good. In other words, it is good for us.
The Hebrew seems to indicate we may want to translate it this way. “There is nothing in a man to eat and drink and tell himself his labor is good.” In other words, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR US, FOR THAT IS FROM THE HAND OF GOD. In other words, it is either a comparison or a simple statement. Either way this is the sense of the passage.
Either way you translate it, it says nothing is so good for us other than a satisfied life but nothing is as impossible for us because it is not in us to be satisfied for who can eat and enjoy life without him? The answer is NOBODY CAN!!!! So you come down to the idea that if one seeks satisfaction they will never find it. In fact, every pleasure will be fleeting and can not be sustained, BUT IF ONE SEEKS GOD THEN ONE FINDS SATISFACTION. That is my sermon in a nutshell. That is the conclusion.
Just like Dan Jarrell I also loved the song I CAN’T GET NO SATISFACTION by the Rolling Stones. Then in 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that both Solomon and the ROLLING STONES had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more.
“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”
Take a minute and compare Kerry Livgren’s words to that of the late British humanist H.J. Blackham:
“On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).
Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player DAVE HOPE of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and DAVE HOPE had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. DAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.
Those who reject God must accept three realities of their life UNDER THE SUN according to Solomon. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life. FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. In contrast, Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren believe death is not the end and the Christian can face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.
Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “UNDER THE SUN.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
Actually the answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.
Thanks for your time.
Adrian Rogers in the White House pictured with President Ronald Reagan below:
Adrian Rogers pictured below on national day of prayer with President Bush.