Posted by: gmscan | November 29, 2011

Some Thanksgiving Reflections, Part One

Giving Thanks to…?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, in part because it has stayed pretty true to its origins. There is no Easter Bunny or Santa Claus secularizing the meaning of the day.

Still, even though almost everybody in the U.S. celebrates it, one has to wonder — to whom they are giving thanks? It would be interesting to conduct a survey of that question.  I got one e-mail message from Fred Smith, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute titled, “Giving Thanks to Capitalism.” Really? I can see giving thanks for capitalism, but giving thanks to capitalism? How does one go about doing that? Where do you send the card?

I am thankful for Christianity, but I give thanks to God for it – for sending His Son to save us. In fact, I give thanks to God for everything I have that is good – including capitalism. Capitalism enables us to use our God-given abilities – intelligence, creativity, initiative — to their fullest. Other economic systems – socialism, communism, mercantilism, feudalism — stifle all of that.

Indeed, capitalism should help us to fulfill Christ’s commandments to love our neighbors and to preach the Gospel. It is no coincidence that both capitalism and Presbyterianism originated in Scotland with Adam Smith and John Knox, respectively.

More recently, it is interesting that C.S. Lewis was writing Mere Christianity at the same time that Friedrich Hayek was writing The Road to Serfdom, both in England during and after World War Two. These two books would become essential to the restoration in the post-war world of orthodox Christianity in one case and free market capitalism in the other. Both were informed by the experience of National Socialism in Germany and both celebrated the free will of individuals to, in one case achieve dominion over the material world, and in the other to accept the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

While some people see capitalism as anti-Christian in its celebration of materialism, Hayek thought differently. He wrote:

“Individualism, in contrast to socialism and all other forms of totalitarianism, is based on the respect of Christianity for the individual and the belief that it is desirable that men should be free to develop their own individual gifts and bents.”

Of course fallen man will often pervert this freedom, as he (we) do all of God’s gifts. But if we recognize that our talents are indeed gifts from God and not due to any inherent merit of ours, we will use them to fulfill Christ’s mandates and not for our own glory. The choice is ours.

And Thanksgiving is a reminder that we do indeed need to give thanks for our blessings. The main question is — to whom?




  1. Thoughtful post Greg. I am thankful for you.

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