The Power Of Thanksgiving



By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

Most adults probably know by now that the story of the first Colonial Thanksgiving was a little more complex than that learned as a child. To catch up see Robert Tracy McKenzie, The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning From History (2013). There are young people, however, who have learned an equally simplistic (and even malevolent) story in which the colonists and pilgrims were genocidal maniacs. Check your child’s history books. If one of them is Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States your child is being taught one of those discredited narratives.

Apart from cultural and political arguments over American colonial history, however, Christians do well to appreciate the necessity and power of being thankful. Even among Reformed people gratitude as a motive for the Christian life seems to have fallen on hard times. One need not look far to see various alternatives being suggested. It has been said to me quite plainly that the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) is a “Lutheran” confession and that the old Reformed schema of “guilt, grace, and gratitude,” the three parts of the catechism (and arguably the outline of the book of Romans) are either passé or make sanctification a “second blessing.”

First, how to answer the objection, made seriously by self-identified Reformed and Presbyterians, that the catechism is Lutheran? The charge is absurd and to suggest that the Heidelberg was never Reformed is to adopt a definition of Reformed that is without basis in the history of Reformed theology, piety, and practice. The Westminster Divines received the Heidelberg as Reformed. No one in the history of theology has ever seriously characterized the Heidelberg as Lutheran, in the sense in which this allegation is being made, i.e., in the sense that is sub-Reformed or contra-Reformed. Perhaps it is best to say any definition of Reformed that excludes the Heidelberg is idiosyncratic at best.

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