“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.”- Ecclesiastes 1:9-11
The preacher of Ecclesiastes is where we get the old adage that “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Surely, however the wise preacher new better than this, didn’t he? There is tons of stuff that is new under the sun. New inventions, new styles, new fads, lots of new things, was the preacher blinded by his pessimism? Not at all.
The preacher of Ecclesiastes was not a fool, most likely he was Solomon the wisest man who ever lived. Now the preacher here is not talking about stuff, technology, or innovations; he is talking about human nature and the actions of men.
You can travel the world and see changing landscapes, go to a museum and see the new inventions and advancements of science and technology. New styles of music, and other new forms of art pop up all the time, but if you will but look beyond the superficial novelties, you will find something very ancient and unchanged, human nature.
The human race does not progress. Yes, we may develop more instruments and pull more strings, but we are still the same old depraved sinful creatures that we have been since the fall of Adam and Eve. This is progressivism’s ultimate blindspot.
Progressivism believes that if we just were a little more enlightened and cultured, if we were a little bit smarter, if we all started from the exact same place with the exact same opportunities we would radically change humanity for the better. Such is absolutely vanity.
We hear it all the time, “If we just had a perfect system of law, things would finally be right,” the nation of Israel did, and look at how it turned out for them. Sinful hearts will always rebel, even when the law governing them is perfect. The arguments of the progressivists continue on, “Well if we were just more enlightened then we would have perfect peace and could all coexist together!” The problem with that is that the first “enlightened” men had no problem dropping the guillotine on the necks of those they sought to revolt against.
“Oh if we just had more medicines and healthcare, then we would finally eradicate human suffering.” We have the greatest medicines in the world today. Medications which can absolutely get rid of your pain, while at the same time destroying your life by growing you ever more dependent on their remedy.
“Oh if we just had more technology, then we could discover all that was needed to benefit humanity.” We have endless and unimaginable technological capabilities already. We can look into the womb of a woman today with a machine and watch her baby suck their thumb and kick their feet while their heart beats stronger than ever, while at the same time just down the road the same machine will be used to rip a baby limb from limb under the guise of personal choice and women’s rights.
This is the myth of progressivism that hough everything around us might change, the hearts of men remain the same. Why? Because one of the greatest effects of the fall is our inability to learn from the past. Sin constantly makes us believe that we are far more enlightened and intelligent, and ingenious than the generations before us, and yet in spite all of our achievements, our nature has remained the same.
IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR US THEN?
Human nature will never be changed through human ingenuity, it will only ever find true progress and newness through divine intervention. There is no pulling yourself out of the depravity of human nature, only an act of divine grace can do such a thing. There is no gain and no hope for progress in anything under the sun, for both gain and progress are gifts given by the sovereign God above the Sun. For He alone can change our nature and make us new creatures, and that is only possible through a saving relationship with Christ Jesus, who is making all things new by His power.
In Christ we are given a new heart to love him and others like never before, in Christ we are given a new song to sing every day, in Christ we are given new eyes to look at the cycle of nature and not be reminded of the monotony of life, but the orderliness of the one who governs us through his laws, and the goodness of the one who sustains creation for the good of his people, in Christ we are give ears to hear his precious word and have its sweet nectar replenish our famished hearts, and in Christ we are given new mercies every morning to live for his glory, as he works in us for our Good.
Augustine in his confessions wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We were made by God for God, and your soul will never be satisfied until and unless you come to know Him personally.
This is where gain is found, this is where progress is found, this is where life is found, in Christ and Christ alone. Oh that you would turn your eyes from the vanity of this world, and behold the King of glory who was and is and is to come in order to make all things new.