Monday, February 18, 2013

Lincoln's Battle with God

I listened to a radio interview with Stephen Mansfield, author of the book Lincoln's Battle with God, and was fascinated.

The author is a Christian, but he said he was unsure if Abraham Lincoln had a genuine born again conversion to Christ. Mansfield did say that Lincoln was conflicted about atheism and Christianity and he eventually turned to belief in God after a child's prolonged illness ending in death.

The spiritual journey of Abe Lincoln is very interesting and "post-modern" in its trajectory. 

Around the time of the Civil War, Lincoln was making references to God quite often in his speeches and other statements. It seems that personal and national tragedies led him to reconsider his anti-faith stance, but how far he traveled as a sojourner is not easy to tell with any definitive conclusion.

In his earlier years, Mansfield claims:

* Lincoln walked around with a Bible just to make fun of it. 

* New Salem religious liberals influenced him greatly. 

* Lincoln wrote a book of skepticism that encouraged atheism, but a friend burned it.

* Turned against his father's Christianity in the form of the common atheist "There is no God and I hate Him" mode.

* Part of Lincoln's anti-faith zeal was allegedly based on the fact that his mother was "illegitimate", born out of wedlock, and that was a bad stigma in those days.

* When Lincoln was a teenager, he played "preacher" and gave sermons to his younger siblings, in a sincere manner.

Mansfield claimed that the recent Lincoln film misquoted Lincoln's words to his wife Mary, toward the end of his life, when discussing what he hoped to do after the Civil War. 

The Lincoln film has him saying "Not go immediately to Springfield. Visit the Holy Land and walk where David and Solomon walked". 

Mansfield claims Abe actually said, "“Not go immediately to Springfield. We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior.”

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