Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Object of Thanksgiving

Historians bent on eliminating the Christian roots of our civilization have been plying their trade in our school textbooks for years. In the mid-1980s, Prof. Paul Vitz of New York University carefully analyzed sixty textbooks utilized in elementary schools across the country. Among his findings was the following: “In grades 1 through 4 these books introduce the child to U.S. society. . . . None of the books . . . contain one word referring to any religious activity in contemporary American life.”

He cites the following example. One social studies book includes thirty pages on the Pilgrims, without a single word referring to their religious beliefs. A boy utilizing this text went home and told his mother, “Thanksgiving was when the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians.” When challenged by the boy’s mother that the Pilgrims in fact gave thanks to God, the boy’s principal argued that they could only teach what was in the books!

What were the Pilgrims thinking? We are not left to wonder. Gov. William Bradford declared the following in November of 1623: “All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill . . . there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Doubtless the Pilgrims appreciated the aid rendered by friendly Indians; they recognized divine providence at work. But before their feet first imprinted New England soil, the Mayflower Compact revealed their true motivations. Signed by all 41 men on board, this document declared that their voyage had been “undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith.”

These brave souls were driven to risk their lives to establish a new civilization because of their Christian faith. Any other explanation for their actions is historigraphical malpractice.

This Thanksgiving season, don’t fail to render thanks to the Almighty for His bountiful provision.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Whom Do You Fear?

One of the great ironies in the life of Jesus Christ is that His enemies, primarily the religious authorities of His day, showed greater fear of the crowds than they did of the Son of God Himself.

It is recorded that the “chief priests, the scribes, and the elders” had devised a plan to do away with Jesus. But out of fear of a public outcry they wanted to avoid doing so during the feast of Passover (Matt. 26:3-5). Simply put, the religious conspirators seemingly weren’t worried about the consequences of doing in the Son of God; they just didn’t want to rile up the masses of their constituents in the process.

How blatantly misguided! Fourth-century Bishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, remarks that such leaders “never were afraid of the judgment of God but only the judgment of people.”

Throughout history, one of the characteristics of the truly great is that they feared God rather than men. Jesus Himself warned earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (10:28).

Such fundament fear of God caused the Jewish midwives in Egypt to defy Pharaoh’s command to destroy baby boys. Such fear of God in the heart of Martin Luther drove him to risk his life rather than compromise the truth. Standing up to the religious leaders bent on destroying him, he responded with the bold words, “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.”

There is still a price to be paid for defending God’s truth. You may be branded a bigot, a narrow-minded fool, or worse. You will not be popular with those more concerned with pleasing the masses than maintaining integrity of conscience. But stand you must, or bear the consequences on the Day of Judgment to which Jesus referred.