President Donald Trump is scheduled in the next few days to announce his Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Rancor and disputes will abound as each side will bring up phrases such as “litmus tests,” “nuclear option,” and “out of the mainstream.”
As a self-professed history nerd with a PhD to prove it, here are a few interesting facts about the Supreme Court:
- Louis Brandeis (appointed by Woodrow Wilson) was the first Jewish Justice. Today all the justices are either Jewish or Roman Catholic
- William Howard Taft was the only man to be president and Chief Justice. Therefore, he is the only man to take and administer the oath of office
- The Supreme Court has not always had nine justices. The number has varied over time. FDR sought to expand the number so that he could “pack the court” with justices who would approve his New Deal policies
- The Supreme Court is expected to be at the State of the Union but they are not supposed to respond to the speech as that would give indication of bias
The father of one of the most well-known justices, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., also gave us a line that is worth considering today (FYI – the son gave us the legal terms “clear and present danger” and “shouting fire in a crowded theater”):
Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Think about this phrase for a second – Holmes was a poet and an Abolitionist but not a theologian. Do you agree or not?
But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
I have heard others reference Col. 3:2 where it tells us to keep our focus on the things above and not on this earth; however, the context is more about our Christian walk and not on a rush to get there. So again I ask does Holmes have a point – do Believers in Jesus have such a heaven fixation that we have allowed this planet to literally “become hell on earth” before it’s time?
C. S. Lewis offers an idealistic perspective on this concept:
A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in:” aim at earth and you will get neither. (Mere Christianity, p.134)
I would and can agree with Lewis (who is my second favorite Evangelical writer) up to a point. I would like to point out that the great individuals that Lewis noted not only had heaven in mind but also the alternate destination (Hell) as well. They were motivated to spread the Gospel of Heaven as a focus because they knew the other eternal destiny was the one described in Revelation 20:15. We cannot forget that truth … either.
My dad once stated that if God would allow the Gates of Hell to be open for five seconds so that Christians could be allowed a glimpse inside, our evangelism efforts would be forever changed. Our focus would never be the same. We would never be the same.
What is your focus today? I cannot wait to see heaven – Jesus, daddy, friends, family, eternity. However, the focus of Tzedakah Ministries must remain on the here, the now, and the reality that while I have never been a 5-second hellish glimpse, I have been given a commandment to go, show and tell because my presence is more needful than my absence (Phil. 1:24).