The Story of Thanksgiving and Why it Matters, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 3, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” ~1 Peter 2:16

A topic that is often times forgotten or horribly misrepresented is the story of Thanksgiving. For my next few posts, I am going to visit this topic. Each post will follow a chronological framework and will explain to us, as both Americans and as Christians, why the story of Thanksgiving is relevant today.

To understand the story of Thanksgiving, one needs to first understand why the Pilgrims fled from England. To understand why the Pilgrims fled from England, one must understand the concept of the establishment of a national religion.

It is no mistake that the first amendment of the United States Constitution protects religious liberty. It specifically reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The founders of the United States were all too familiar with how a powerful state-controlled church could be used as a force of oppression.

In the 16th century, King Henry VIII desired to have a son. He married Catherine of Aragon who would eventually only give him a daughter. He wanted the Pope Clement VII to grant him an annulment, which, to make a long story short, he refused. Henry desperately wanted to be legally unbound from his wife (divorced) so that he might marry someone who would birth him a son, so that his son might be the heir to the throne. He took action by separating England’s church from the Roman Catholic church. Instead of being led by the traditional monk-like man of the cloth, he conveniently declared himself head over the newly formed Church of England.

Protestantism and Catholicism were deemed illegal and were regarded no higher form of religion than witchcraft. This means that Protestants and Catholics (as well as witches, of course) could be executed for the crime of heresy. I am going to skip some of the details, but you probably know the next move of the Pilgrims. They packed up their bags and moved to, you guessed it, Ameri – uh, Holland? Yes Holland, where Protestants could practice their faith freely.

But while in Holland, they experienced some troubles that were previously unforeseen. Probably the most significant of their troubles was the dire poverty they faced. As immigrants they could only secure work that hardly paid enough to ensure their survival. Second, the Dutch culture did not embrace their deeply held convictions, and the children of the Pilgrims started to live lives that were not acceptable to a holy God. Third, and probably the most fascinating, is that the Pilgrims wanted to spread the Gospel message to the unreached parts of the world.

It should fascinate and inspire us that the initial motif for the Pilgrims’ pilgrimage to America was for the sake of spreading the Gospel. It is a shame that the first amendment is only invoked by politicians of our era whenever a nativity scene is erected, or it is being debated as to whether the 10 Commandments should be allowed to be displayed in classrooms, or if people should be allowed to say “Merry Christmas!” Religious liberty extends beyond our porch steps.

  Nationalized religion both kills and necessitates the need for evangelism. When religion is forced upon a group of people, it is either mockingly rejected or dreadfully obeyed. Some people might maintain a genuine faith in such a climate, but Europe, including Great Britain, is evidence that nationalized religion kills genuine faith. Government can’t get cars right, they can’t get healthcare right, and they can’t get church right. Why do we keep on expecting them to fix things? I digress.

We here in America need not fear preaching the Gospel openly. For one, the consequences for us doing so are not half as severe as what it is in other countries. Some people recently have forfeited their careers by taking stands on their faith. Some might say they were foolish to do so. I say, “Who am I to judge another man’s servant?” We do not have to be willing to participate in the same simple acts of faith that other people engage in, but we certainly should not condemn them. Not only that, we should be willing to step out on faith ourselves.

What ways might you be able to exercise your religious liberty? What is God calling you to do that might require faith? It is important to protect our religious liberties that are guaranteed by the Constitution, but it is even more important to exercise them.

For more information, check out this website, Monumental featuring Kirk Cameron, and Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh.

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