Giving Thanks to God as a Nation

In 2013, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day. Some people have decided to combine the holidays and celebrate them both.

In 2013, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day. Some people have decided to combine the holidays and celebrate them both.

Think Thanksgiving is strictly a “Christian” holiday?  Think again.

Thanksgiving is also celebrated by Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and Wiccans.

There are those who hail it as a holiday when all faiths can “come together”, as we “give thanks to God as a nation”. But what spirit is behind this ecumenical mindset?

Even now as I write this article, I just received a “Happy Thanksgiving” text message from an acquaintance who is a Oneness Pentecostal–someone who claims to be Christian, yet rejects the doctrine of the Trinity.

Thanksgiving has become an all-purpose holiday for anyone who believes in anything. As long as we stuff ourselves with turkey and dressing, almost anything goes. The only real requirement is that we just “give thanks” to someone or something. But who is the recipient of our thanks? Many seem to think the question is irrelevant.

Is this a glorious sign of some grand “unity” that Christians share with other faiths?
Or is this a sign of our culture’s widespread shallowness and lack of faith in Christ?

It appears that some core issues–such as who God is–have become “side issues”, while folks are seeking to find “unity” on a completely superficial level.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day this year, leading some people to call it Thanksgivukkah. Not content to leave it a mere curiosity of the calendar, a number of families and schoolteachers have decided to celebrate. One news article reports on how schoolchildren are integrating Thanksgiving and Hanukkah this year, with students creating paper-and-paint mashups of menorahs and turkeys.

Never mind the fact that the Jewish religion rejects Jesus as the Messiah. Never mind the fact that the Jewish Talmud calls Mary a whore, and Jesus a bastard. Never mind the fact that Jews sing songs like “Jesus is a Bastard (see the linked YouTube video).

What is our response supposed to be? “Hey, Jews and Christians both love to eat turkey. At least we have that much in common!”

No thanks.

Some would respond, “Well, at least Jews and Christians worship the same God.”

But Christ himself would disagree with that statement. If a person rejects Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus says that person is a child of the devil. As the apostle John said, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either“.

Some followers of Islam celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday too.  In “An American Muslim’s Thanksgiving“, Dr. Faheem Younus encourages Muslims to thank the country, thank the constitution, thank the people around us, and to thank [the Muslim] god. To top it off, he reminds us, “adding Turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and a pumpkin pie to the day would be a fantastic idea too.”

Again, never mind the fact that Muslims reject Jesus as the Messiah.  Why bother bringing it up?  As long as we all thank somebody, as long as we thank some god, our belief in Jesus as the Messiah is apparently irrelevant to the Thanksgiving holiday.

There are also a number of Buddhists who celebrate Thanksgiving.  In an article titled “A Buddhist Thanksgiving“, the author calls it his favorite “holy day”.

One Hindu writer observes that “Indian [Hindu] Americans embrace this festival with the same enthusiasm as others.” Some even go so far as to say that Thanksgiving has Hindu Roots, suggesting that “Abraham Lincoln had been a Himalayan yogi in a past life“.

You can even read An Atheist Plea for Preserving Thanksgiving. Apparently one does not have to believe in God, in order to enjoy turkey and stuffing.

And, sure enough, there is even guidance available for witches who want to celebrate the holiday. This article on Wicca and Thanksgiving comes complete with “A Pagan Thanksgiving Blessing”. According to the author, this is a time to “give thanks for what you have and your family and friends, offer thanks to the God and Goddess and for the harvest, bless the feast as an offering to your loved ones, and so on.”

Even witches like to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday

A “Pagan Thanksgiving” card  from a modern witch

So what is this great unity that binds nearly all faiths together? What is the common denominator that allows Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and Wiccans to join hands in celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday?

There is at least
one common denominator:

All of these people reject Christ.
All of these people refuse to follow Jesus.

Therefore, as Orthodox Christians, let us be very careful how we celebrate this holiday. Meeting with family and friends is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with a turkey dinner (as long as it is not eaten on one of the Church’s fast days). And there is certainly nothing wrong with thankfulness. It is the mark of an Orthodox Christian to live in constant thankfulness to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

But let us not be deceived. We are not in unity with those of other faiths. We are not celebrating Thanksgiving “together” with them, as a nation. The children of light and the children of darkness belong to two totally different kingdoms, and they are not in unity with one another.

Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Wiccans, and Oneness Pentecostals may all be feasting today, and all of them may be “giving thanks”.

But the “gods” they thank are actually demons.
They are not giving thanks to Christ.


This is day fourteen of the 40 Days of Blogging.
For more articles on Giving Thanks to God as a Nation, check out these bloggers.

About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
This entry was posted in 1 John 2:22-23, 40 Days of Blogging, John 8:37-47. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Giving Thanks to God as a Nation

  1. tpkatsa says:

    Good post.

    Not sure however if the comments you make about the Jews would apply to the majority of Jews, let alone to all Jews. Let’s be careful not to drift into antisemitism.

    • He meant true faithful Jews.

    • I am not talking about those of Jewish descent. When a Jew accepts Christ, he becomes an Orthodox Christian.

      In my article, I am talking about those who worship according to the modern Jewish religion. All of them, without exception, reject Christ as the Messiah, and therefore are children of the devil. Jesus said so in the 8th chapter of John’s Gospel.

      • tpkatsa says:

        Hmm… I don’t read John 8 to condemn all Jews – or all non-believers – as “children of the Devil.” It’s very clear in John 8 that Christ was speaking to the Jewish *leadership* in place at that time. His comments were directed toward the hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership which imposed grievous burdens on others but would not themselves lift a finger. But the Lord never said that they could not also turn to Him and be saved (e.g. Nicodemus, Joseph of Arithmethea). It is also written that many others Jews believed and were saved. We are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore all have the possibility to be saved; Christ died and rose again for all. The Lord does not desire that any should perish, but that all should turn to Him.

        Can someone become a “child of the Devil” in other ways? Perhaps by engaging in great evil. There are men who by their actions we might reasonably judge to be children of the Devil – mass murderers, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and so on… but these are very few and very far between. Outside of these obviously exceptional cases, and even given the words of Christ, I’m not sure that we are in a position to judge others in this fashion.

      • Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:42). Nonchristians do not love Jesus; therefore God is not their Father. If God is not their Father, then who is their father? The only other option is the Devil.

        Likewise, the apostle John made a categorical statement which applies to all people, everywhere. He said, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:22-23)

        Thus, according to the apostle John, followers of the modern Jewish religion are “antichrist”, because they deny that Jesus is the Messiah. Muslims are also “antichrist”, because they likewise reject Jesus as the Messiah. Anyone who denies the Son, “does not have the Father either”, according to the apostle.

  2. Pingback: And He Shall Reign Forever | The Orthodox Life

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