If This Isn't Heaven, I Don't Know What Is

Biblical Reasons Why We Should
And Practical Suggestions on How We Can

Create Heaven on Earth

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

—John Lennon

I never liked that song.

I was a Christian before I was a Beatles' Fan, but I was a fairly die-hard Beatles' fan. When I was young I had to come up with some pretty creative rationalizations to harmonize some of their lyrics with my Christian ethics. ("Their manager made them put that in there.") But by 1971 I had either grown up too much or Lennon had grown too consistent with his anti-Christianity for me to imagine that there was harmony between us.

Lots of people had already been following Lennon's advice, living as though there were no heaven, no religion, no God, and I don't think it was making the world a better place.

When America was a younger nation, a person could not hold any political office if he didn't believe in heaven. An oath was viewed as a promise made to and in the presence of God. An "infidel" did not believe in future rewards and punishments, and so was not allowed to take an oath, and since an oath was required to hold office and testify in court, infidels were not allowed to do either. An early edition of Black's Law Dictionary defined an "infidel" as

One who does not believe in the existence of a God who will reward or punish in this world or that which is to come. Hale v. Everett, 53 N.H. 54, 16 Am.Rep. 82. One who professes no religion that can bind his conscience to speak the truth. 1 Greenl. Ev. § 368. One who does not recognize the inspiration or obligation of the Holy Scriptures, or generally recognized features of the Christian religion. Gibson v. Ins. Co., 37 N.Y. 580.

Prof. Steven B. Epstein, writing in 1996 for the Columbia Law Review, tells us:

Similarly, under English common law, no one but a believer in God and in a future state of rewards and punishments could serve on a jury or testify as a witness. The oath was taken on a Christian Bible, in effect disqualifying non-Christians. The English courtroom was quite explicit as to the consequences of perjury while under oath:

I charge thee, therefore, as thou will answer it to the Great God, the judge of all the earth, that thou do not dare to waver one tittle from the truth, upon any account or pretense whatsoever; . . . for that God of Heaven may justly strike thee into eternal flames and make thee drop into the bottomless lake of fire and brimstone, if thou offer to deviate the least from the truth and nothing but the truth.

This is the courtroom atmosphere America inherited. Consequently, in certain places in early America the privilege of serving as a witness or on a jury was expressly restricted to Christians. It is, therefore, not surprising that the South Carolina Supreme Court is reported to have noted in 1848 that

"[i]n the courts over which we preside, we daily acknowledge Christianity as the most solemn part of our administration. A Christian witness, having no religious scruples against placing his hand upon the Book, is sworn upon the holy Evangelists -- the books of the New Testament, which testify of our Savior's birth, life, death and resurrection; this is so common a matter that it is little thought of as an evidence of the part which Christianity has in the common law."

This is only 110 years before I was born. It hadn't changed much by 1930, when an article (apparently by an atheist) in the Yale Law Journal complained:

Thus it was at the beginning of Statehood, and has continued in some states to this day. Significantly it was the rule of evidence for all federal courts by the Judiciary Act of 1789, so that by federal law a witness was not competent to testify who did "not believe that there is a God who rewards truth and avenges falsehood."

Laws requiring politicians to believe in God still exist today in some states, even though the U.S. Supreme Court -- just a couple of years before removing the Bible and voluntary prayer from government schools -- declared such laws "unconstitutional" (1961).

I have to admit that if I were falsely accused of a crime, and the only witness who could testify on my behalf was an atheist, I would want the jury to hear that testimony, even if the atheist did not believe in heaven.

But it seems to me that the world was a better place when politicians believed in heaven, and had some fear of God. We have thousands of politicians today who have taken an oath to "support the Constitution" who have never even read the Constitution, and I am firmly convinced that if the Framers of the Constitution were to visit us today, they would unanimously conclude that we are no longer governed by the constitution in any meaningful sense. Back when atheists were excluded from public office, the government didn't have to keep statistics on how many 13-year-olds had sexually transmitted diseases. Federal judges were not ordering states and municipalities to remove copies of the Ten Commandments from classrooms or other public places. The United States wasn't manufacturing weapons which could obliterate several million people at once. Politicians weren't selling this technology to communists. Nor were they giving foreign aid to violent Muslims like Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Ladin. Metal detectors were not placed at the entrances of government schools in an effort to keep violence to a minimum.

Millions of people today "imagine" that there's no heaven, and it seems to me to be creating hell on earth.

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