Bond movie titles are an artform in themselves, ranging from the sublime (The World is Not Enough) to the outright bonkers (Octopussy). The title of the latest episode, No Time To Die, is on one level a reference to the fact this is actor Daniel Craig’s last outing as the eponymous spy, before he is replaced by a fresh face. It’s no time to die: so Bond will live on in a new incarnation.
For the rest of us who are not multi-faced secret agents, however, life is more brutal: there will, for each of us, be a time to die. Death is the great leveller: no matter your race, gender, politics, or bank balance, all of us will eventually meet our end. Although our culture desperately tries to distract us from thinking about this, events like the pandemic bring us face to face with the spectre of our own mortality.
Movie critics are busy right now writing about how Daniel Craig’s era as James Bond will be remembered. And death raises for us that same question of remembrance. How will we be remembered when we are gone? A few years ago I attended the funeral of a cousin who had died tragically young. It was a secular service and the officiant closed by saying “Jonathan will live on forever in our memories”. But that isn’t true. We will be forgotten.
This summer we took the kids to visit their grandparents and my mother showed me an old photo she had found in the attic. A grainy black-and-white image from the 1880s, it showed some long-dead relatives. “I know a couple of their names,” she said, “but the others …” Eventually we won’t be remembered.
If we live in a godless universe, that’s the fate awaiting all of us: gone; forgotten; extinct. No wonder that atheist writer Julian Barnes titled his book about death Nothing to Be Afraid of. For nothing is very much something to fear because if oblivion is our final destination, that also entails that nothing we do now makes any ultimate difference.
But what if atheism isn’t true? If Christianity is true, then there is a God who had you in mind before the world began; a God who calls you by name; a God who offers you, in and through Jesus, an eternity with him.
If there is no God, then there is no time to die and death is to be dreaded. But if the God who revealed himself to us through Jesus is real then we need not fear death. For Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” For those who trust in Jesus, tomorrow never dies.
Dr Andy Bannister, Director, Solas Centre for Public Christianity, Dundee.