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Who has more power: the Supreme Court—or you?

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.


Who has more power: the Supreme Court—or you?
The Roberts Court, November 30, 2018. Seated, from left to right: Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel A. Alito. Standing, from left to right: Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh. Photograph by Fred Schilling, Supreme Court Curator's Office. Public domain.

The Supreme Court ended its 2020 term last week, and CNBC‘s Tucker Higgins spoke for many when he said, “The court continues to issue rulings that fully satisfy nobody.” 

Of course, the reason is probably that satisfying the public is not their job. 

After all, the court exists largely to ensure that the rule of law is not held ransom by the whims of the masses. Still, though, their decisions did fall in line with public opinion on most cases, as FiveThirtyEight‘s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux described

Within those decisions, moreover, the justices left indications that even the rulings they made this year were not as absolute as they may appear. 

So, whatever you may think about their decisions regarding abortion, protections for LGBT workers, or freedom of religious objection, it seems unlikely that the Court is finished responding to those subjects. In many ways, their rulings this year seemed intended to invite further cases on those topics down the road. 

And those future cases could be far more important than the ones heard this year because there remain a number of questions regarding religious liberty that went unanswered. 

“Christ more than courts”

As Dr. Mark Hall and I discussed on a recent podcast, the role of faith in the founding of America and the writing of the Constitution remains a divisive and often misunderstood subject. That uncertainty plays out in the courts on a frequent basis as well. 

It’s important to remember, however, that while the courts can be used to further God’s kingdom and help guide the nation in a direction that more closely aligns with his will, the culture is far more likely to change if the 68 percent of Americans that claim to be Christian start being more intentional about helping the other 32 percent know Christ.

After all, individual cases pale in importance to the larger work of the Lord. 

If our reactions to a decision that goes God’s way drive people further from Christ, then it’s still a net loss. 

And, perhaps even more importantly, if our reactions when the courts go against Scripture display a sense of hopelessness or exasperation, then it tells a watching world that we’re depending on people rather than the Lord. 

Our culture needs Christ more than courts. 

And while God can certainly use the latter to help this nation better align with his will, we must guard against expecting nine fallen individuals to accomplish the work to which the Lord has called each of us. 

The good news is that, even though the Court’s work may be done for the year, ours is not. 

God still has big plans for 2020, and he’s invited each of us to play a part. To play it well, though, our focus needs to be on what the Lord wants to accomplish going forward rather than looking back on what the courts accomplished—or failed to accomplish—this summer. 

Where is your focus today?

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