"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Abraham Lincoln and His Faith in Jesus Christ

The late D. James Kennedy once preached a message that gripped me emotionally. Dr. Kennedy demonstrated how Abraham Lincoln entered the Presidency as a man intellectually acquainted with the Christian faith, but void of a personal relationship with Christ. In 1863 President Lincoln endured the pain of losing his own young son to death and felt the pressure of catostophic casualties among Union soldiers. While walking the killing fields of Gettysburg, the President himself was born from above. To begin this week of Christmas, I offer the excellent message of Dr. Kennedy regarding Abraham Lincoln and the President's transforming faith in Jesus Christ. Notice the little known but prescient words of the President to his wife at the moment of his assassination. Merry Christmas to all my friends who love the name of Jesus Christ.


TEXT: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1



The most perfect speech ever uttered by mortal man was delivered on the battlefield of Gettysburg. It has been learned by unnumbered millions of children in school. It is actually an extended personification, where America is personified as a man who is conceived, born, dedicated, lives his life, engages in dangerous and perhaps mortal struggles, is born anew, and lives thereafter gloriously. Abraham Lincoln is immortal in the minds and memories of his countrymen, for on the battlefield at Gettysburg, this is what he said:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The world noted, far more than he ever thought, the words that were spoken there, though Lincoln's invitation to speak was an afterthought. The orator of the day, of course, was Edward Everett, perhaps the greatest in the land, who spoke for two hours. What did he say? No one knows. Lincoln spoke for two minutes and no one has forgotten! Remarkable, indeed. But the question I would ask of you today is: Is Lincoln immortal in any other way than merely in the memory of his countrymen? That, indeed, is a great honor, but it is little felt by those that are dead. Is he immortal in the far greater sense, next to which immortality and the memory of his people is but a pale substitute? Is he immortal in the real sense of everlasting life which Jesus Christ and Christ only can give to a man, or to put it another way:

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?

Now I, in preaching this message, am not endeavoring to merely exhume the bones of Lincoln for some kind of belated autopsy. But rather, this is another way of proclaiming anew that Gospel message with which he struggled all of his life in the hope that as we emphasize and sympathize with his struggles with the great verities of life and death and eternity, that some of you will ask yourselves the deeper and more relevant question: Am I a Christian? Are you?

Consider well the sixteenth President of the United States. Like the nation he described in its conception, Lincoln was conceived in the midst of great religious fervor. There was a revival going on in Kentucky in 1809 of the type associated with the evangelist Peter Cartwright. (By the way, when Lincoln was grown, he entered into a political contest with Cartwright in running for the same office.) But in the midst of a prayer meeting, young Tom Lincoln leaped to his feet in the midst of this religious fervor and began to dance around and sing. A moment or two later, a young lady by the name of Nancy, did the same thing. They were soon introduced, engaged, and shortly thereafter married. In the midst of that religious fervor, Abraham Lincoln was born to Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Certainly a spiritually, encouraging beginning. His mother was a godly woman who sat Lincoln upon her knees day after day after day and read to him the Scriptures and encouraged him to remember it. Particularly, she encouraged him to learn the Ten Commandments. (Every parent should certainly have their children memorize the Ten Commandments.)

They had a profound effect upon Lincoln's life. He said that whenever he was tempted to do something wrong, he could still hear the clear tones of his mother's voice saying, "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before me . . . Thou shalt not steal . . . Thou shalt not kill . . . Thou shalt not bear false witness . . . " Abraham Lincoln became known, believe it or not, as the most honest lawyer east of China. As a young prairie lawyer in Illinois, when his opponents forgot or did not know some points in arguments, he would remind them. Once, when he was a shopkeeper, he walked for miles to return an overpayment of only a few cents by one of the customers. Lincoln also had a great regard for the Sabbath, as well. At one time during the war, when he was President, he went to Falmouth and there he visited with the general, who told him he was going to begin on Sunday the March to Richmond. Richmond was the heart of the Confederacy, its capital, and this well could mean the end of the war, for which Lincoln had so fervently prayed for so long. But the general brought it up because he knew of the opposition the President had toward beginning military initiatives on the Sabbath day. The President was silent for a long while. Then he said, "General take a good rest and begin on Monday morning."

Lincoln was never a member of any church. Would that the members of this church had as high a regard for the Sabbath as Lincoln did. I would like to express my appreciation to many writers who have contributed to this message. I have read thousands of stories about Lincoln, perused his entire total works, and numbers of biographies. I particularly appreciate William J. Johnson's excellent biography of Lincoln. My appreciation to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington for sending me copies of historical documents and affidavits from their archives, and to the late F. W. Boreham, the great Australian preacher, whose Outline I would like to borrow for this message, and also, many others who have brought to my attention new information.

THE AGE OF IRON

Boreham says there were three mountains Lincoln climbed where his life was changed. The first stage he described as the Age of Iron, where he "climbed Mount Sinai with Moses" in his effort to keep the command- ments of God. He had learned the Ten Commandments on his mother's knee. Those commandments influenced his life in such an incredible way that he gave himself to studying them. When Lincoln was only nine, his mother sickened, and before she died she called him to her side and said to him, "I am going away from you now Abraham and shall not return. I know that you will be a good boy and that you will be kind to your father. I want you to live as I have taught you to love your Heavenly Father," and then her last words, "and keep His commandments."

Yes, Lincoln strove mightily to keep those commandments. But the question is: Was he a Christian? Listen to Lincoln's own words: "I am not a Christian. God knows I would be one." He said that he did not read the Scriptures like those clergymen in Springfield who opposed his election because of his skepticism. And they were right. When Lincoln came to Springfield, he fell in with some agnostic and skeptical friends who gave him, among other things, Volney's Ruins, a great volume of unbelief which attacked viciously and articulately the Scriptures. By the way, Volney's Ruins has been repudiated on every page, but Lincoln did not know that then. This had a tremendously chilling effect upon his boyhood faith, and he became quite skeptical. "I am not a Christian," he said in the Age of Iron.



THE AGE OF CLAY


The second mountain Lincoln climbed was described by Boreham as the Age of Clay, when he climbed Mount Carmel with Elijah, where he was clay in the hands of the Almighty Potter. What was Lincoln like? When he was a young man, he looked in a mirror one day and said to himself, "It's a fact, Abe! You are the ugliest man in the world. If ever I see a man uglier than you, I'm going to shoot him on the spot!" It would no doubt, he thought, be an act of mercy. What was his personality like as a young man? We've seen what he thought of himself, and of course, we can't help but conjure up some pictures of this rather unique looking gentleman. He was six foot four in a world of midgets, when everybody else was far shorter than they are today. He towered over everyone head and shoulders. Of course, there were those horribly long arms, the bane of his tailors, with these gigantic hands; that uncontrollable lock of hair on his forehead; deep dark eyes; sallow skin. Indeed, he could not see what any young lady could see in him. And yet, when you look at him sitting there in that great chair at the Lincoln Memorial, you can't help but feel that somehow there is a certain grandeur about this man who thought he was so ugly.

What was his personality like? One day a young lady that he had attempted to date said, "Abe Lincoln, you are illiterate, self-opinionated, overbearing and abominably ill-mannered." (She liked to beat around the bush.) What did Lincoln do? What, gentleman, would you do in a situation like that? He determined to completely change himself, and he turned to the Scriptures. He still had his mother's Bible, and he began to read in the Sermon on the Mount and other passages in the Bible about what God intended a man to be like. Was he illiterate? He became the most literate President we have ever known. As I said, his Gettysburg Address is considered to be the most perfect speech ever uttered by mortal man, but I disagree. I think his Second Inaugural Address is far superior even to that. Was he proud and overbearing? He became the humblest President we have ever had.

Someone once asked me what I thought was his most outstanding quality. I said it was his ability to forgive anyone anything because he was himself so humble. Lincoln's humility is further seen when, immediately after the war, he went to Richmond to the home of the President of the Confederacy who was, as you might imagine, "not home." His wife came to the door carrying a little baby in her arms, the baby of Jefferson Davis. The baby reached out to the President. Of course, Mrs. Davis was astounded to see Lincoln standing in her doorway. He took the baby into his arms and was given a big wet smack on the face. He handed the baby back to Mrs. Jefferson Davis and said, "Tell your husband that for the sake of that kiss, I forgive him everything." He was an incredibly humble man.

One time during the war Lincoln went to the home of General McClellan. Now McClellan had a hearty dislike for Lincoln, but he was a good general. Lincoln wanted him to become the general of the Army of the Potomac, because the war was not going well at all. When he arrived at his home that evening with an aide, the general was not home. The butler ushered them into the library, and they waited. They waited for over an hour. Finally the general came home, and the butler told him that the President of the United States was waiting to see him. But McClellan went upstairs. Ten, twenty, thirty minutes passed. Finally, the butler went upstairs and again said, "Sir, the President is still waiting for you." In a few minutes he came back down and told the President, "The general has gone to bed." If you were President of the United States, what would you do? Lincoln went back the next night. His aide said, "Sir, how can you put up with that ill-mannered boor?" Lincoln replied: "Why, I would be willing to hold McClellan's horse, if only he will give victory to our army."

He, indeed, was putty in the hands of the Almighty, and he had done this through studying the Scriptures. Theodore Roosevelt said that Lincoln mastered only one book and that was the Bible. He had committed thousands of verses to memory--many whole chapters--and he was trying to change his life to be what God would want him to be. He was a man whose life was filled with tragedy. His beloved mother died when he was but nine. Then his sister died. The woman he loved, Ann Rutledge, could never be his. After his father remarried, every Sunday his stepmother took Abe and his sister to the Pigeon Creek Hardshell Baptist Church. Here they listened to the fiery sermons about predestination, justification, foreordination, sanctification, and the new birth. He and Sarah sat in the front row and listened to it all but he never understood it.

He was married to a woman who certainly challenged his humility, Mary Todd. Lincoln is loved by people all over the world as the wife of the most beloved President the United States has ever had. But Mary Todd never saw anything good in him at all. As far as she was concerned he had terrible faults. He walked flatfooted, she said, with his toes turned down like an Indian. Furthermore, he slouched when he walked. He was head and shoulders taller than everybody else. Maybe he wanted to join the crowd. But Mary never saw anything good in this man. Poor Mary, or should I say, poor Abraham, but humbly he endured it all to the end.

THE GOLDEN AGE


Then the great tragedy of his life occurred when his little son, Willie, the apple of his eye, died. He was crushed. There is no doubt that he believed at this time strongly in the providence of God, though he could not understand and had rejected much else in the Bible, especially concerning the doctrines of salvation and redemption, which he could never understand due to the way it was presented to him. But he believed in God's providence, and he was to climb now, at last, the third mountain, Mount Calvary, with Saint John. This was what Boreham describes as the Golden Age. There he was to find something he had never seen before. Was he a Christian at this time? Ward Lamon, who had been his law partner, who had been his private secretary when he was President, who had been his bodyguard for years, and who knew him intimately, said of Lincoln, “...the melancholy that dripped from him as he walked was due to his want of religious faith."

But then little Willie died, the apple of his eye, his beloved son, his little boy. Lincoln was absolutely crushed. He was so overwhelmed with grief that he set aside every Thursday to mourn his death. After some period of time, when he would see no one on that day, but wept and mourned and lamented the death of his son Willie, Dr. Francis Vinton, rector of Trinity Church, came down to Washington from New York. He was a friend of the family, and was allowed in to see the President. Not wanting to beat around the bush, he told him it was not right to mourn thus over his son. He said, "Your son is alive in paradise with Christ, and you must not continue." Lincoln sat there as though he were in a stupor, and then his mind caught on to the words that Dr. Vinton had said, and he exclaimed, "Alive! Alive! Surely, sir, you mock me."

"No, Mr. President, it is a great doctrine of the church. Jesus himself said that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Lincoln leaped to his feet and threw his arms around this pastor. He wept openly and sobbed, saying, "Alive! Alive! My boy is alive!" From that day there began a change in Lincoln that even his wife Mary noticed. His religious views began to dramatically change. There is a remarkable letter that comes to us from an Illinois clergyman who talked to Lincoln after this time. He said this to Mr. Lincoln (Again, I commend him for his boldness): "Mr. President, do you love Jesus?"

After a long pause, Mr. Lincoln solemnly replied: "When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus."

By the way, when I preached this sermon before, someone challenged that statement. Well, I would suggest they do what I do. Go to Washington. Go to Ford's Theater. Go across the street to the Lincoln Museum; ask for The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles in the O.H. Oldroyd Collection. The book was published in 1883, and the quote is found on page 366. But if you would rather not do all of that, then simply come to my study, and I will show you a photocopied page from that book on the stationery of the U.S. Federal Government Agency charged with caring for that museum. "Yes, I do love Jesus," Lincoln said.

Mr. Noah Brooks, sometime after that, longtime friend and newspaper correspondent, said, "I have had many conversations with Mr. Lincoln, which were more or less of a religious character, and while I never tried to draw anything like a statement of his views from him, yet he freely expressed himself to me as having a hope of blessed immortality through Jesus Christ." Lincoln said that he had found the peace that had eluded him all of his life.

"Therefore, being justified by faith" he now had peace with God. When a lady connected with the work of the Christian Commission later came to see him, he said: "I had lived until my boy Willie died without realizing fully these things [about the Gospel]. It showed me my weakness as I had never felt it before, and if I can take what you have stated [as to what a Christian is] as a test, I think I can safely say that I know something of that change of which you speak; [which is called the new birth, to which Lincoln alluded in that very speech: "that this country might have a new birth of freedom"], and I will further add, that it has been my intention for some time, at a suitable opportunity, to make a public religious profession."

Dr. Gurley was pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, which Lincoln attended regularly not only on Sunday morning but also on Wednesday night. One Wednesday night he sat in a little ante room right off the chancel with the door halfway open so that he would not disturb the worship of others, but that he might partake. Dr. Gurley said that Lincoln had wanted to make a public profession of his faith on Easter Sunday morning. But then came Ford's Theater.

He had just been elected for the second time six weeks before that. His spiritual understanding had matured greatly in the year and a half since Gettysburg. Every message was peppered with Scripture and spiritual insights. "His Second Inaugural Address is not only the most spiritual speech ever given by any statesman in the world," said one of England's leaders, "in my opinion, it is a far better sermon than most any I have ever heard preached in a pulpit." And I would include, most certainly, my own.

These words from his Second Inaugural Address are carved into the wall of the Lincoln Memorial: The Almighty has His own purposes.

"Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God give us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Lincoln had been to Calvary. His heart and mind were changed. The last speech he gave three days before his death was one in which he said that he was submitting a proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving to God. He said, also, that now that the abomination of slavery was removed, the next point on the agenda would be to get rid of the curse of alcohol which had so plagued the land. In his last meeting with his Cabinet on that Thursday morning in opposition to strongly held opinions by some of his Cabinet members, he said: "There will be no recriminations against the South."

If he had lived, the history of postwar South would have been far different, indeed. His last act was to issue an edict that henceforth, on every coin would be printed the words: "In God We Trust." Lincoln had been to Calvary. That night he was invited to Ford's Theater to see a play he wasn't really interested in. He had received that very day the news that the war was over. He sat in his chair in the presidential box that was supposed to be guarded by a soldier. He had talked about the curse of liquor that plagued the land. That afternoon a man from the South crossed the street and went into a tavern and had a number of drinks. His name was John Wilkes Booth. That evening a soldier from the North left his post, crossed the same street and entered the same tavern to have a drink while the aforementioned actor quietly opened the unguarded door to the President's box and went in.

Lincoln was sitting up talking to his wife, not paying any attention to the play. He said, "Mary, do you know what I would like to do now? Now that the war is over, we could go to the Near East. [Booth stepped up behind the President] We could go to Bethlehem where He was born. We could visit Bethany where those hallowed steps were so often heard." [Booth pointed his gun at the back of Lincoln's head.] Lincoln continued, "And we could go up to Jeru.." BANG! . . . the maddest pistol shot in history rang forth.

Lincoln was carried across the street to a boarding house (which is now a museum) and laid diagonally across the bed that was too short for his huge frame. On the next day, Good Friday, he died. He was going to make his public profession on Easter Sunday. Secretary of War Stanton, when he looked down on that bed at his cold form, said, "Here lies the most perfect ruler of men that the world has ever known."

Lincoln had climbed Mount Calvary, and he had come to know the Savior. Walt Whitman concludes his great poem, "My Captain, My Captain," where he pictures Lincoln as the captain of the Ship of State which has come through a terrible storm and now lies upon the deck:

My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

But we cannot leave him lying there upon the deck of the Ship of State, for I would like to add one of my own: a fourth mountain that Lincoln climbed. Beyond Mount Calvary, the fourth was Mount Zion, where he went up to, not the Jerusalem in the Near East, but to the Jerusalem on high to the heavenly Jerusalem, taken there by Christ to whom he had consecrated his heart, and in whom he now trusted for his salvation. He had abandoned his trust in the commandments and in his own strivings, and now he trusted in Christ. Yes, dear friend, at long length, Abraham Lincoln was a Christian. Are you?

Prayer: "Heavenly Father, I pray that if there are any here who are still trusting in their ability to gain access into Thy heaven by keeping the commandments that they will see the utter folly of that. If there are any here who still suppose that by attempting to improve themselves they may make themselves acceptable to Thee who is of purer eyes than even to look upon iniquity, cause them to turn from trusting in themselves and to trust in Jesus Christ, who alone is their hope of eternal life that they, too, may go up to Jerusalem on high by consecrating their hearts and trusting their lives to Christ. In whose name we pray. Amen."

D. James Kennedy A.B., M.Div., M.Th., D.D., D.Sac.Lit., Ph.D., Litt.D., D.Sac.Theol., D.Humane Let.

Merry Christmas,

Wade Burleson

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. Thanks so much for an inspirational and enlightening look into the life of Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

I heard that sermon on the radio and still have the cassette somewhere. As you said, it was truly moving. After 20 years I still hear his voice saying some of the lines in it and I have not listened to Dr. Kennedy that much. Thank you for the transcript.

Scotty

Thy Peace said...

Amen.

This is a good and profitable post.

Merry Christmas to ALL.

NativeVermonter said...

Robert Todd Lincoln had a home in Vermont that was only lived in by Lincoln descendants until 1975. http://www.hildene.org/

Stephen said...

With all due respect to Wade and to Dr. Kennedy, I would like to offer a dissenting view of Lincoln. I assert that Lincoln’s conversion at Gettysburg was a chronological disaster for America. Had he been a faith-filled Christian at the time of his election, our great country may have avoided the awfulness of war. Instead, he conveyed a sacred status to the Union, a status that bordered on idolatry. Since his assassination, most Americans have accepted the Lincolnite view of a great American civil religion. Many Americans adopted the view that the Civil War was God’s way of purging the land of sin, ending slavery, and creating a monolithic American identity that had been threatened by Southern secession. America was thus a creation of the acts of God and should be held in high esteem. Covering all the denominational differences was an emerging civil religion and Lincoln was the iconic figure.

Lincoln believed that secession was illegal and that Southerners were in rebellion against the United States. Did he have a choice in going to war? Of course. Did Jefferson Davis have a choice in going to war? Of course. One was willing to go to war and one was willing to accept it….and the war came. I have difficult time believing that our so-called Civil War can be attributed to the divine plans of the Prince of Peace.

Had Lincoln been a faith-filled Christian at the time of his election, he may have sought to avoid war. Instead, he was willing to commence a war not only on Southerners, but also on the civil rights and liberties of Northerners. He claimed that the Union was in peril. Well, HIS Union was in peril, but one must remember that there was still a United States – it just had fewer states after the South left.

Perhaps more disturbing is that Lincoln blamed God for the war. Far from being “the most spiritual speech ever given by any statesman in the world," his Second Inaugural Address is simply an exercise in passing the buck. If one can shed his or her blinding Lincoln worship for a moment, one would see that Lincoln was saying that God ordained slavery for a time, then decided that slavery must end, then brought about a great war to end slavery because the North and South had refused to do so. If we accept Lincoln’s view, then we should blame God for the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the unprecedented misery suffered by Americans from 1861 to 1876.

Perhaps the most paradoxical issue is that Lincoln was as guilty of allowing slavery to exist beyond “His appointed time” as were Southerners. He made war to prevent the South from leaving the Union, not to free slaves. His Emancipation Proclamation actually freed no one and was, as Lincoln put it “a fit and necessary war measure” aimed at undermining the Confederate war effort. It did change the character of the war and made abolition a goal of the war. More importantly, it put a label on a process that was already underway because slaves had already begun liberating themselves.

Had Lincoln been a faith-filled Christian earlier in his life, he may have been free from the racist attitudes that plagued America in the nineteenth century. Instead he held racial assumptions of white supremacy that, in modern times, one would attribute to the skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan. To be sure, white supremacy was pervasive in American culture so Lincoln is not to be criticized for sharing the views of his fellow Americans.

Regarding the Gettysburg Address, it is bad history and another Lincoln exercise in political buck-passing. No nation was created in 1776. It took a war and then several years to create the United States of America. What happened in 1776 was a declaration of independence of the British North American colonies from the empire of Great Britain. Put more succinctly, the colonies seceded from Great Britain! (they later seceded from the Articles of Confederation to create the Constitution…and the government we have now.) Seen this way, the creation of the United States was the result of contingent actions taken by American colonists to secure the rights as enumerated by the Declaration of Independence.

To Lincoln’s credit, he was more progressive with his acceptance and promotion of free labor and American capitalism and the expansion of these ideas across the developing nation. Slavery was indeed an evil institution. Lincoln believed that if slavery could not spread, it would eventually die. Hence, He and the Republican were willing to allow slavery to continue in the South, even to the point of supporting a constitutional amendment in hopes of keeping the Southern states in the Union. Ironically, it would have been the Thirteenth Amendment, which was the number of the one that eventually ended slavery

We flirt with idolatry by assigning such a sacred status to our nation and to the mere mortal Abraham Lincoln. On the back inside cover of a Southern Baptist Sunday School quarterly is a picture of the Lincoln Memorial with the “house divided” quote. I believe it was originally spoken by someone with true authority and in the context of a spiritual nature……and I am sure He was not an American. God forgive us for compromising His gospel for the sake of American civil religion and the pseudo-deification of Abraham Lincoln.

Darby Livingston said...

"I have difficult time believing that our so-called Civil War can be attributed to the divine plans of the Prince of Peace."

While I absolutely agree that Americanism is a less than subtle form of idolatry, and one's opinion of Lincoln can vary, I wonder if you meant the above quote in the way it comes across. If you mean it the way it comes across, then you must somehow explain who tied up God in the mid nineteenth century and took over his universe for awhile. Just a thought.

K. O. Johnson said...

Amazing. The one and only thing that's true in this myth is that Lincoln was never a member of any church. All of those who knew him, even Mary Todd Lincoln, affirmed to any and all inquirers that Lincoln never had any faith at all. His official speeches, written by Sec. Seward or his secretary John Hay, make use of the vocabulary of official Deism; but there is no way to pretend that Abraham Lincoln was ever a Christian. The least little research proves the opposite. This sermon is an insult to our intelligence. Spreading falsehood doesn't help anybody, and it needs to stop.

Stephen said...

I believe the Prince of Peace preferred a solution to our national problems based on His divine principles. War was not inevitable. Peace was not inevitable. Choices were made by well-meaning people that were not based on the teachings of Christ. How arrogant and idolatrous Lincoln was to blame this calamity on God. God, in his permissive will, allows us all to make mistakes. As great as America is, she still has a history filled with actions that were not pleasing to God.

Stephen said...

In fairness to Lincoln, he was not the only one who blamed God. Many Southerners believed the Civil War was punishment of God for the South's sin of not practicing Christian slavery.

Robert E. Lee also believed it was all in God's hands. He was not in favor of secession and sought national reconciliation after the war.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
Thanks for an excellent post that I needed. I’m a poor history student and didn’t know Lincoln was not a Christian until close to his tragic death. To be so humble he could not have had much ego like some preachers conducting deacon meetings with their feet on their desk. How much ego would a man have that was upset and saying, “Look at me! I’m apologizing to you!”

I think some that comment here have very thin skin and become angry if their egos are shaken. We should remember our example that not even whips, spit, nails, or thorns could make him angry because his ego was only for his Father.

Kevin,
I used to skip your comments, but now I look forward to them.

Anonymous said...

Don't be afraid to tell ANYONE, "God is the God of the living"!

My SC family fought against Lincoln and the North (my family got its Bible wrong at that point); but, I'm glad Lincoln heard about the Lord Jesus and understood what to do with Him.


David

Wade Burleson said...

Stephen,

I really enjoyed reading your comment. Though we disagree, I appreciate your ability to articulate your historical views.

My wife and I will be in Shiloh in June of 2009. We would love to have dinner with you and your wife at the restaurant of your choice to talk history.

If you would be so kind to give us a couple of hours of your time, I know that it would be the highlight of my trip to Shiloh.

In His Grace,

Wade

Anonymous said...

Great story Wade and very interesting.

As we all show our ability to bicker about anything once again, please dwell on this fact.

If anyone wants a good bible-based theology...not perfect (like the one some of you think you have now :) ), but as close as one can get to perfect...then find and read all you can from Dr. D. James.

He was amazing and I miss him dearly.

SL1M

Stephen said...

Wade,

You know where Shiloh is? I didn't even know until a few months before we moved here....and I had lived 35 miles away for almost 30 years!!

Are you serious? Wade, we would love to be your hosts for dinner and a visit. It will be a pleasure to discuss history with you and most of all to enjoy our fellowship in the Lord.

Anonymous said...

"He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. "

-- Agamemnon

This was quoted by Robert F Kennedy in his speech announcing the
assassination of Martin Luther King on 4 April 1968;
and the epitaph
Robert Kennedy's family inscribed on his grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery.



COMMENT:
'ABRAHAM', 'MARTIN', 'JOHN',
'BOBBY'

From the 'pain that cannot forget'
are we given wisdom by God's grace.

Anonymous said...

Adaptation from
SARUM 'O' ANTIPHONS for Advent
December 22

COME, O KING OF NATIONS

O King of the Nations, and their Desire, you are the cornerstone who makes us both one: Come and save the creature you fashioned from clay.
As we look out on a world torn by strife and a Church divided into competing denominations, shouts of heresy and overt acts of schism, we send up our fervent entreaty to Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords, to save us--the creatures the Divine hand has fashioned out of clay. We are God's building, and Christ is the cornerstone. We are just the bricks, not the architects. It is Christ who makes us one. It is wondrous indeed that Christ does not give up on us, but says, "Little children, love one another."
Come and save the creature you fashioned out of clay.

Adaptation from Sarum 'O' Antiphon for Dec. 22 in Advent preparation for Christmas

Anonymous said...

"His official speeches, written by Sec. Seward or his secretary John Hay, make use of the vocabulary of official Deism; but there is no way to pretend that Abraham Lincoln was ever a Christian."j

Be suspicious of anything written by Seward. There are 'rumours' that Seward was involved in the plotting of Lincoln's assassination. Seward was no friend of Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

WAS LINCOLN A CHRISTIAN?
YOU DECIDE.

"That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrepect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular."
Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity on July 31, 1846



These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children's children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began -- so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.

Speech about The Founding Fathers at Lewistown, Illinois, on August 17, 1858
Certainly there is no contending against the Will of God; but still there is some difficulty in ascertaining, and applying it, to particular cases.
Pro-Slavery Theology, October 1, 1858
The Bible says somewhere that we are desperately selfish. I think we would have discovered that fact without the Bible.

Debate at Alton, Illinois, on October 15, 1858
Judge Douglas ought to remember when he is endeavoring to force this policy upon the American people that while he is put up in that way a good many are not. He ought to remember that there was once in this country a man by the name of Thomas Jefferson, supposed to be a Democrat -- a man whose principles and policy are not very prevalent amongst Democrats to-day, it is true; but that man did not take exactly this view of the insignificance of the element of slavery which our friend Judge Douglas does. In contemplation of this thing, we all know he was led to exclaim, "I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just!" We know how he looked upon it when he thus expressed himself. There was danger to this country -- danger of the avenging justice of God in that little unimportant popular sovereignty question of Judge Douglas. He supposed there was a question of God's eternal justice wrapped up in the enslaving of any race of men, or any man, and that those who did so braved the arm of Jehovah -- that when a nation thus dared the Almighty every friend of that nation had cause to dread His wrath. Choose ye between Jefferson and Douglas as to what is the true view of this element among us.




Letter to Lyman Trumbull on June 5, 1860
Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Farewell Address on February 11, 1861
I turn, then, and look to the American people and to that God who has never forsaken them.

First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861

We must remember that the people of all the States are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the several States. We should bear this in mind, and act in such a way as to say nothing insulting or irritating. I would inculcate this idea, so that we may not, like Pharisees, set ourselves up to be better than other people.

Reply to the Pennsylvania Delegation on March 5, 1861
And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear, and with manly hearts.

Message to Congress in Special Session on July 4, 1861
The President responded very impressively, saying that he was deeply sensible of his need of Divine assistance. He had sometime thought that perhaps he might be an instrument in God's hands of accomplishing a great work and he certainly was not unwilling to be. Perhaps, however, God's way of accomplishing the end which the memorialists have in view may be different from theirs.




Annual Message to Congress on December 1, 1862
But I must add that the U.S. government must not, as by this order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual, in a church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest, he must be checked; but let the churches, as such take care of themselves. It will not do for the U.S. to appoint Trustees, Supervisors, or other agents for the churches.

Letter to Samuel Curtis on January 2, 1863
Relying, as I do, upon the Almighty Power, and encouraged as I am by these resolutions which you have just read, with the support which I receive from Christian men, I shall not hesitate to use all the means at my control to secure the termination of this rebellion, and will hope for success.


Letter to James Conkling on August 26, 1863
Nevertheless, amid the greatest difficulties of my Administration, when I could not see any other resort, I would place my whole reliance on God, knowing that all would go well, and that He would decide for the right.

Remarks to Baltimore Presbyterian Synod on October 24, 1863
Submitted to the Sec. of War. On principle I dislike an oath which requires a man to swear he has not done wrong. It rejects the Christian principle of forgiveness on terms of repentance. I think it is enough if the man does no wrong hereafter.


Letter to Mrs. Horace Mann on April 5, 1864
At the beginning of the war, and for some time, the use of colored troops was not contemplated; and how the change of purpose was wrought, I will not now take time to explain. Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that element of strength to account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the christian world, to history, and on my final account to God.


Response to Methodists on May 18, 1864
To read in the Bible, as the word of God himself, that "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, and to preach there-from that, "In the sweat of other mans faces shalt thou eat bread," to my mind can scarcely be reconciled with honest sincerity.

Speech at Philadelphia Sanitary Fair on June 16, 1864
I am much indebted to the good christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.

Letter to Eliza Gurney on September 4, 1864
In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.

Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore on September 7, 1864
God bless the soldiers and seamen, with all their brave commanders.


Response to a Serenade on November 10, 1864
On Thursday of last week, two ladies from Tennessee came before the President asking the release of their husbands held as prisoners of war at Johnson's Island. They were put off till friday, when they came again; and were again put off to saturday. At each of the interviews one of the ladies urged that her husband was a religious man. On saturday the President ordered the release of the prisoners, and then said to this lady "You say your husband is a religious man; tell him when you meet him, that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their government, because, as they think, that government does not sufficiently help some men to eat their bread on the sweat of other men's faces, is not the sort of religion upon which people can get to heaven!"

Story Written for Noah Brooks, December 6, 1864
Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."


Letter to Thurlow Weed on March 15, 1865
The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated.


Religious Quotes of Abraham Lincoln

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Stephen,

I will be in touch.

MadisonFan said...

One must be careful in accepting Kennedy's claims about the specifically Christian faith of past American leaders. For many years Kennedy perpetuated the historical falsehood that Benjamin Franklin made a motion during the darkest days of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that prayers be instituted (the Convention had made a deliberate decsion NOT to begin their proceedings with official, public prayers!), that the motion was well received, and that the resultant prayers were the turning point of the Convention. In fact, Franklin's motion was NOT well-received, it was never voted upon, and there
is no sound evidence whatsoever that oficial, public prayers were offered within the Convention.
A special service WAS held on July 4th outside of the Convention.

By the time of his last prime-time program on this issue, Kennedy had apparently to realize that such was the case. So the statement was made that, following upon Franklin's motion, "prayers were offered for the Convention." While technically correct, it gave the erroneous impression consistent with his past claims that Franklin's motion was accepted.

My point is this: Kennedy demonstrated many times that he was willing to 'eisegete' American history in behalf of a pre-conceived thesis. Selective use
of sources and tendentious interpretations are too often the case in the claims of 'historians' like Kennedy and David Barton.

Anonymous said...

WORDS OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN:

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
- Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Richard Price. October 9, 1790.

This comment concerning should the state support a religion reflects Franklin's devotion to the separation of Church and State.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Leon McBeth's book detailing the history of Baptists show that Franklin was not a Christian, though he supported Whitefield's ministry? Seems I also recall Dr. McBeth discussing this during a Baptist History class at SWBTS lo' many years ago.


David

Anonymous said...

EXCERPT from Funeral Oration
for Abraham Lincoln's Little Son, Willie.


....."That departure was a sore bereavement to parents and brothers; but while they weep, they also rejoice in the confidence that their loss is the unspeakable and eternal gain of the departed;
for they believe, as well they may, that he has gone to Him who said: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven;" and that now, with kindred spirits, and with a departed brother, whom he never saw on earth, he beholds the glory and sings the praises of the Redeemer. Blessed be God.


"There is a world above
Where sorrow is unknown;
A long eternity of love,
Formed for the good alone;
And faith beholds the dying here
Translated to that glorious sphere."
It is well for us, and very comforting, on such an occasion as this, to get a clear and a scriptural view of the providence of God.

His kingdom ruleth over all.
All those events which in anywise affect our condition and happiness are in his hands, and at his disposal.
Disease and death are his messengers; they go forth at his bidding, and their fearful work is limited or extended, according to the good pleasure of His will.

Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His direction; much less any one of the human family, for we are of more value than many sparrows.

We may be sure, -- therefore, bereaved parents, and all the children of sorrow may be sure, -- that their affliction has not come forth of the dust, nor has their trouble sprung out of the ground.

It is the well-ordered procedure of their Father and their God.

A mysterious dealing they may consider it, but still it is His dealing; and while they mourn He is saying to them, as the Lord Jesus once said to his Disciples when they were perplexed by his conduct,
"What I do ye know not now, but ye shall know hereafter."
What we need in the hour of trial, and what we shoud seek by earnest prayer, is confidence in Him who sees the end from the beginning and doeth all things well.

Only let us bow in His presence with an humble and teachable spirit; only let us be still and know that He is God; only let us acknowledge His hand, and hear His voice, and inquire after His will, and seek His holy spirit as our counsellor and guide, and all, in the end, will be well.
In His light shall we see light; by His grace our sorrows will be sanctified -- they will be made a blessing to our souls -- and by and by we shall have occasion to say, with blended gratitude and rejoicing,
"It is good for us that we have been afflicted."


"Heaven but tries our virtues by affliction;
And oft the cloud which wraps the present hour
Serves but to brighten all our future days."


QUESTION: Is it at all believable that Abraham Lincoln was not a man of faith? Would he have allowed a minister of God to speak, for his little Willie, these words in vain?
Why is it that we so often question the faith of others. ?

God's gift of faith to another should never be diminished by a
'christian' who chooses to sit in judgment.

Anonymous said...

D. James also told his mother when he was a boy that he ate all of his vegetables. But really he had fed them to Charlie, his pet dog.

I know. I was there.

Give me a break people.

SL1M

Anonymous said...

CHRIST'S COMING WAS FORETOLD
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND REMEMBERED IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN


Jn 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God". Isa 54:13

Jer 31:33f
"All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the prosperity of your children."

"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord", for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest…""


Jn 7:38 As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Isa 44:2f


Zech 14:8
"Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground."
"On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem half of them to the eastern sea, and half to the western sea..."

'ON THAT DAY, LIVING WATERS SHALL FLOW FROM JERUSALEM:
HALF OF THEM TO THE EASTERN SEA,
AND HALF TO THE WESTERN SEA. . '


Jn 7:42 Has not the Scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived? I Sam 16:1f


Micah 5:2
The Lord said to Samuel, "I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."

"But you , O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you will come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel."


WAS IT NOT FORETOLD ?
THE COMING OF CHRIST?
WAS IT NOT FORETOLD?

Just a thought: the gifts we give at Christmas to the ones we love:
do these not also reflect
the Gift God gave to us
of the One He Loved,
as well as the gifts of the Magi?

His Gift of Love . . . .
born and laid in a manger of wood.

Offered back to the Father on
a cross made of wood.

Because we were so loved . . . . .

Steve said...

A great post featuring a wonderful scholar discussing our greatest President. What a wonderful state that man must have been born in!

The Civil War was inevitable from the day the founders signed off on the Constitution and e erybody involved knew it. Slavery was simply too big an issue to allow the new republic to go on without deciding what to do about it.

Should one wish to mention the subject in light of God's watchcare over the United States, I might suggest He waited until we were gifted with a leader capable of leading the nation through such a conflict. If it had happened under Buchanan, Pierce, or - oh my, Jackson! - one can only guess what quality of nation(s) would have survived it. James K. Polk MIGHT have been able to walk this line, but Almighty Providence had other ideas.

Stephen Pruett said...

I admire Dr. Kennedy as a preacher and as a man who had, on the whole, a positive impact on our culture. However, a quick internet search suggests that the certainty with which he concludes that Lincoln was born again shortly before his death is not shared by scholars. Of course, scholars are not always right. However, they make their living by objectively analyzing real evidence, and they are accountable to others in their profession if their logic or the reliability of their sources is faulty.

Therefore, I am skeptical. I hope Kennedy was right, but it may not be possible to determine if Lincoln was saved.

This raises a broader issue, which I hope the preachers who frequent this blog might find interesting. As a laymen, I have heard a number of assertions from pulpits about scientific issues that I knew were scientifically incorrect. I would guess that historians in congregations across the country have had similar experiences with regard to proclamations from pulpits about historical issues.

I do not intend to criticize pastors or to generalize about the care with which they check the facts for sermons. However, it may be worth considering that sermon illustrations that are not rigorously checked may do more harm than good. It may seem that no great harm would be done if the occasional illustration includes information that a few hearers know to be incorrect. However, if this causes one of those hearers to question the credibility of the messenger and to consequently question the credibility of the message, there is potential for great harm.

When incorrect information is part of a sermon or statement by a pastor or Christian leader that receives national attention, the potential for harm is even greater.

Hopefully this is a rare occurrence. How about a quick poll to get an estimate about this? How many of you pastors have used or heard that men have one less rib than women to this day, because a rib from Adam was used to make Eve? Now, how many aren't afraid to admit it?!

Anonymous said...

In terms of the propogation of liberty, Lincoln was one of the worst Presidents we ever had.

He placed soldiers among and around the Maryland legislature when they were voting on secession. He issued an arrest warrant for a Supreme Court justice who disagreed with his suspension of the habeus corpus. He had printing presses destroyed for not painting Lincoln positively.

That said, that is a wonderful sermon.

Stephen said...

Steve, You wrote "The Civil War was inevitable from the day the founders signed off on the Constitution and e erybody involved knew it. Slavery was simply too big an issue to allow the new republic to go on without deciding what to do about it."

Can you separate secession from Civil War? It seems your premise is that the founders knew from the beginning that the Union could only be kept together by force. That is a far cry from the belief that the Declaration of Independence forms the ideas that made America.....self-government, government by the consent of the governed, the moral obligation to throw off a government that no longer represented the interests of the people, etc. For good or bad, what we have had since 1865 is a nation held together by force of arms.

Civil War was inevitable? Secession did not have to result in war.

Anonymous said...

LEADERSHIP

'In a place where there is no humane person, strive to be humane.

It is especially important to do
what is right,
when others have not done so.

Rise to the responsibility.

Do what is right,

So that others may follow
and do the same.'

This advice comes from the great teachings of Hillel, in the Judaic tradition.

Did Lincoln read this advice?
Did Wade read it?

Or did they know because God has imprinted His moral laws on our hearts?

Anonymous said...

"Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."

Abraham Lincoln


Is it possible that Lincoln was wise enough to realize that no one can understand the plight of another unless he has lived in that man's shoes?

Anonymous said...

THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL

The focus of the memorial is Daniel Chester French's sculpture of Lincoln, seated on a throne. French studied many of Mathew Brady's photographs of Lincoln and depicted the president as worn and pensive, gazing eastwards down the Reflecting Pool toward the capital's starkest emblem of the Union, the Washington Monument.

The words of the Gettysburg Address carved into the south wall of the interiorThe central cella is flanked by two others. In one, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is inscribed on the south wall, and in the other, Lincoln's second inaugural address is inscribed on the north that depict an angel (representing truth), the freeing of a slave (on the south wall, above the Gettysburg Address) and the unity of the American North and South (above the Second Inaugural Address). On the wall behind the statue, and over Abraham's head is this dedication:

IN THIS TEMPLE

AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE

FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION

THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

IS ENSHRINED FOREVER




There is a marker where Martin Luther King stood to give his
"I Have A Dream" speech.

Anonymous said...

FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S
SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS :

"It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces;
but let us judge not that we be not judged.
The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.
The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"
If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?
Fondly do we hope--
fervently do we pray--
that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Yet, if God wills that it continue,
until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk,
and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago,
so still it must be said
"the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

With malice toward none; with charity for all;
with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in;
to bind up the nation's wounds;
to care for him who shall have borne the battle,
and for his widow,
and his orphan--
to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves,
and with all nations."

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"...but it may not be possible to determine if Lincoln was saved."

If only we could find his baptism certificate. Then, and only then could we be sure.


It seems to me that Lincoln's salvation is a moot point. The record states what it states, just as the does the record of Carter, Clinton, Reagan and both Bushes. Just because someone mentions "God" or prays in Jesus' name or adheres to certain biblical principles does not mean that they have a personal relationship with Christ.

It should also be noted that God CAN and DOES accomplish His decreed will through the agency of unregenerate Presidents and Statesmen. I could be wrong, but I think when we have the need to posthumously "save" powerful figures, we do so because of a need to line up their actions with God's revealed will which is like saying that Bill Clinton never lied because God said "thou shalt not lie."

"...but it may not be possible to determine if Lincoln was saved."

Lesson for the day:

Make certain that no one has to guess about YOUR salvation after you are pushin' up daisies.

:)

K

donald said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Betty


http://www.my-foreclosures.info

Chris said...

Kevin,

Challenging insights. Thanks and no thanks all at once.

Anonymous said...

KMC says "Make certain that no one has to guess about YOUR salvation after you are pushin' up daisies."

And Chris says, "no thanks"?

Wow!

Unlike Chris, I hope that I will live a life that reflects what Christ has done for me which in turn will reveal why I lived for Him.

In fact, I pray that His light will shine brighter through my death than even while I am alive.

SL1M

Anonymous said...

KEVIN CROWDER wrote:
""...but it may not be possible to determine if Lincoln was saved."

If only we could find his baptism certificate. Then, and only then could we be sure."

Sure of what?

This raises the questions:
what about the Good Thief at Jesus' crucifixion?
What about martyrs who never had a chance for a 'formal' baptism?
What ELSE besides Baptism might be necessary for 'salvation' IN THE EYES OF THOSE WHO NEED PROOF WHO ARE MAKING A JUDGMENT ON ANOTHER PERSON'S 'SALVATION'?

Some verses to think about:

Mark 16:16: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." It is often said that this verse advocates that one does not have to be baptized to be saved because of the second half of the verse. However, something to consider: Would someone be baptized if they did not believe?
John 3:5: "Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." This verse is taken from a section of Scripture in which Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. I think when considering this passage, as with all sections of Scripture, it is important to read the entire context.
Acts 2:38: "And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This verse is a case in point that baptism is not the only thing required for salvation (repentance is also mentioned here).
Acts 22:16: "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name." Here the Bible states that baptism washes away sins.
Romans 6:3-7: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin."
1st Peter 3:21: "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"
Galatians 3:27: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." This verse tells one how to put on Christ.
Colossians 2:12: "having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead."

Baptism is a formal ritual called by some 'an ordinance'. Men administer this to other men according to the requirements of their church.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual baptism.

Imagine God's reaction when He sees the smugness of some who THINK they are 'saved' sitting in judgment on another's acceptability.

Men look at other men's words.
God looks into men's hearts.
Salvation belongs to the Lord and it is for Him to decide the fate of a man.
No one can know the mind of God and His ways are far above ours.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Anon who missed the point:

Do me a favor and re-read my post and mentally insert the e-con *roll* after the line you quoted.


The point is we are looking for tangible proof of Lincoln's salvation. And we are not going to find it.

But hey, way to defend the faith!


K

Anonymous said...

Kevin, sorry for misunderstanding your statement. Your point is taken. Anon

MadisonFan said...

In positive response to a couple of previous commenters, it is clear that Benjamin Franklin was not an orthodox Christian and that he was in favor of church-state 'separation.'It is also clear that many of the Founding Fathers spoke on 'God' and 'Bible' and 'general principles of Christianity' in a sense quite different than the way these words are used by evangelical Christians who want to claim the Founders as their own.

But there has been a concerted effort over the past few years,
by the likes of D. James Kennedy and David Barton, to claim Lincoln, Washington, John Adams and James Madison, among others, as 'Christians'- in their sense of 'Christian' - in the service of
a social-political agenda. Integrity requires that one not argue a case based upon questionable sources and interpretations or demonstrably false claims.

Chris said...

SL1M,

I realize that the internet does not convey humor well at all, so I understand your misunderstanding of my statement. One of these days I'm just going to stop trying humor altoghter.

By "thanks and no thanks," I intended to convey a welcome response both for the insight and the challenge, while admitting that such a challenge is not an easy one to live up to. The "no thanks" was not to say that I did not intend to take Kevin up on a very biblical commission: I have every intention of doing so.

Thank you for always assuming the best possible interpretations.


Kevin,

I think you are right when you say that nobody gets mid-MO humor.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

No one has a keener sense of humor than me. I can say that not knowing anyone else here. That's how far behind me the one in 2nd place is.

Having said that, I missed your humor by saying "no thanks" to KMC's quote by a country mile.

A nickels worth of free advice: Use this as an opportunity to work on what you rightly call a very difficult thing to do...that is to convey humor through writing.

You will be disappointed continually if you depend on people to assume the best possible interpretation.

I know this from experience.

SL1M

Anonymous said...

SARUM 'O' ANTIPHON for Dec. 23rd


O COME EMMANUEL


"O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
the Desire of all nations, and their Salvation:
Come and save us, O Lord our God."

O Emmanuel
O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us, Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.


Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster

Advent Preparation for Christmas Day: Sarum 'O' Antiphon for Dec.23
O COME EMMANUEL

Anonymous said...

GABRIEL'S STORY

"Hail, Mary," I began.

"Hail, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!"


"Fear not," I said. "You have found favor with God."

"You will conceive in your womb and bear a son. You are to name him Jesus." She appeared stunned by these words, but I continued.

He will be called the Son of the Most High God. What's more, the Lord God will give him the throne of David his ancestor. And he will reign as Messiah over Israel forever. Of his kingdom and reign there will be no end!"

She was quiet for a time. Then she asked in her young voice:

"How will this happen, since I am not yet married?"

I answered:

"The Holy Spirit will come to you,
The Power of the Most High will overshadow you,
Therefore your son to be born will be holy,
He will be called 'Son of God.'"


"And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has conceived a son."


"Yes, they called her 'barren,' but she's already six months pregnant."


How could she ever explain this to anyone?
Who would understand?
Who would ever believe her?
Her father would be furious, her mother deeply hurt.
And Joseph? There would be no wedding. Her dreams of marriage and family vanished in an instant. And the town fathers?
Would they try to stone her?

I had been given one sentence by the Father with which to respond: "Nothing will be impossible with God," I said. "Nothing!"

She was quiet a moment longer, lost in her thoughts.
Then she looked up at me with clear eyes and said intently:
"Here I am. I am the Lord's servant, his handmaid.
Let what you have said come to pass."


And that is how I met Mary. She taught me what it means to be a servant when it's hard to obey, when there seems to be no hope except God's promise. Mary took the words,
"For nothing will be impossible with God," and believed them. Whenever I struggle with obedience, I think of this young girl who began a servant's journey with the words:

"I am the servant, the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be! Let it come! I am His servant."

The tall angel touched the corner of his eye for a moment, then stepped down and took his seat. Gabriel had learned servanthood from an even greater servant than himself -- a young virgin from Nazareth named Mary.

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous Tue 10:50 AM
Are you saying if a person is NOT baptized, they cannot be saved? In case you are, you’re in the same boat with Pharisees saying, “you must be circumcised to be saved”.

You asked: “Would someone be baptized if they did not believe?”

Probably there are many who were baptized as my sister. She wanted to do everything her older sister did, so she got baptized. The first time I was baptized, I was hopeful it would save me, but I only got wet. How about the army of Constantine that was pronounced Christians because he marched them under a water hose or something to that effect?

You quote “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

You say, “I think when considering this passage, as with all sections of Scripture, it is important to read the entire context” and you go to Acts, but why do you skip the previous (verse 4) and following verses (6-7) which explains verse (5)?

Verse (4) “Born again! Exclaimed Nicodemus, What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” [Born of water twice?]

Verse (6-7): “Men can only reproduce human life [born of water once], but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again!?” [Born physical—born Spiritual]

Verse (5) has nothing to do with being baptized.

You quote “And now why delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)

You say, “Here the Bible states that baptism washes away sins.”

You are implying Paul was saved by being baptized. This verse was spoken from Paul trying to stop a mob from killing him. Paul knew the mob accepted the baptizing of John the Baptist and that was his appeal.

To know when Paul was saved, study the event and not the speech (Acts 9:4-18). “Who are you Lord?” “I am Jesus…”

Instantly, Paul knew he was wrong—he had sinned, but that did not save him. He was saved by trusting Jesus which was shown by Paul obeying him.

Being blind, it would have been natural to return home among friends, but he went where Jesus told him—to where people were afraid and angry with him.

Paul may have thought in going there his life might be in danger for doing his evil deeds. Paul went because he had faith in Jesus which is the ONLY requirement to be saved.

Paul must have prayed for three days to be able to see again, because Jesus told Ananias He had given Paul a vision that Ananias would lay hands on him and Paul would receive his sight.

“Ananias…placed his hands on him and said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus…has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. At once…he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:17-18)

Since Paul said he spoke in tongues more than any, I believe when he received the Holy Spirit may have been his first time to speak.

The difference between the speech and the event is the time of Paul’s salvation. Even the speech said Paul’s sins were washed away by calling upon the name of the Lord.

In many places the Bible uses baptism as synonymous with being saved. Today, churches keep a record of the date of baptism and not the day a person was saved.

Anonymous, your proof that baptism washes away sin is pathetic.

Water washes dirt; only the blood of Calvary washes sin.

Anonymous said...

God's gift of faith to another should never be diminished by a
'christian' who chooses to sit in judgment.


What a judgmental statement!

Anonymous said...

To the Anon who keeps posting the Advent messages ... most of us aren't Catholic and don't want to be.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

To the Anon who reprimanded the other Anon,

I enjoyed the posts. I am a Baptist who enjoys the full and glorious celebration of the Advent Season. I introduced the Advent Wreath to my congregation this year and they loved it. We used couples to light the candles each week and read a passage of Scripture appropriate the week's theme. The message and music were also relevant to the weekly theme. We will be lighting the Christ Candle the evening of the 28th at a Candlelight/Communion Service. I borrowed service elements from several traditions. The Methodist and Lutheran Pastors in town, as well as my former Baptist Pastor were all very helpful in giving suggestions. As a Baptist, I am free to explore and craft my own Advent tradition each year. i intend to change it up a bit each year. The purpose? To extend the normal single Sunday Christmas celebration normally found in Baptist churches, to introduce a touch of liturgical flare to our worship, and to build a sense of excitement before the birth. The Bible indeed accomplishes this and so I am believe I am on tract to one day fully incorporate a biblical or regulative principle of worship.

Thanks to the first Anon. Bah-Hum-Bug to the Second.


:)

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Second Anon (the Scrooge-y one) here. I said "most of us". I already knew know how much you secretly long to be Catholic.

;)

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"I already knew know how much you secretly long to be Catholic."

Not Catholic.....I just wanna be Pope! :)


K

;)

Anonymous said...

Hi KEVIN and Anon.

It's me, L's

I am the not-so-mysterious poster of the Advent Sarum Antiphons.
So sorry if offense was given.
I was trying to share because, someone, I think maybe Kevin, had mentioned using a Advent wreath, so I thought Baptists celebrated the 'run-up' the Christmas Eve Vigil and the Holy Day of Christmas. This was one way I could give a 'gift' I thought.
I HAD NO IDEA I WOULD GIVE OFFENSE TO ANYONE.
If I had known that, these gifts would not have been posted.

BTW, some of the posts are from Anglican and Episcopalian sources, so as not to be 'too' RC in tone.
I WAS trying to protect feelings here. I goofed. Won't be the first time. Won't be the last.
You know how I am. :(

Must say there is some value in celebrating and 'entering into' the spirit of the Season.
Can't explain it, because I don't have the Baptist words to explain it. For me, it is a time of preparation involving the OT scriptures that foretold the coming of the Savior. The rest is a series of celebrations and prayers of the fulfillment of these ancient prophecies.
Helps me to keep focus on the meaning of Christmas, amidst all the busy-ness and materialism.

So tonight. I light the candles in my home and the 'vigil candle'.
Food is set out for all who come to visit and any 'carolers' will receive something. Around ten o'clock or so, our family goes to church for the midnight celebration of the Christ Child's Coming.

I hope it snows.:)



P.S.
I am truly sorry. Even if ONE person who blogs here was offended, then it was wrong of me.
It just honestly never occured to me that someone would be offended by such a beautiful and meaningful (at least to me) Christian preparation.

Karen in OK said...

L's,
It wasn't wrong. I too have really enjoyed your Advent posts and thank you for them.

Karen in OK

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Karen, I wanted to give something, but I'm afraid I did some harm to someone's feelings.
I know it wasn't intended in that spirit. Quite the opposite.
But thank you for your kindness.
Be peaceful. L's

John Fariss said...

Interesting group of posts. I did not dream it would so controversial, Wade.

I neither know nor much care to speculate on whether I will meet Lincoln in heaven. Some facts are certain, others. . . less so. It is a fact that Lincoln was not a member of any church. Then again, neither was the thief on the second cross. It is certain (or almost so) that Lincoln "believed in God," whatever that means, and almost equally certain that his "faith" for most of his life was more deistic than evangelical or orthodox. Mine was too for almost half my lifetime, and a letter in my possession from my great-great-grandfather, written in 1861 reflects the same attitude towards "religion" that Lincoln uttered. But when does such a faith "cross the line" so to speak and become a saving faith? Certainly it is when one experiences Jesus as savior, when one humbly, with repentance, asks Him into his/her heart, but articulating that and measuring it in another individual is difficult at best and sinful (on our part) at worst. Many of the founding fathers have been credited with an evangelical faith because they prayed or spoke of God when they were deists rather than Christians. And because the language of faith and of the church influenced them, the unanswerable question (for many, from Franklin to Lincoln) involves whether they were sincere in the profession of Christianity, were simply observing "pop religion," or if they were they deliberately constructing a civil religion. I am not sure there is sufficient evidence to be dogmatic about Lincoln's salvation either way, and I think Dr. Kennedy erred in his conclusions about Lincoln, at least in being so certain about it.

NOW: having said that, I must disagree with a few things that have been said. For instance, being a faith-filled Christian does not insure that one will always make the right choices. I am convinced that a lot of faith-filled Christians have believed, though, and felt absolutely nothing wrong with either slavery or racism. Why? Because salvation does not automatically bring with it spiritual (or theological or emotional) maturity, so one cannot deduce salvation (or the lack thereof) from such attitudes. And a saving relationship with the Prince of Peace no more guarantees that one will pursue peace over war than does the lack of that relationship insure that an unsaved person will pursue war over peace. Why? Besides that fact that some wars are justified, even one unsaved may be a peacemaker while one saved may lack the maturity to pursue the sort of radical peacemaking Jesus envisioned. And yes, the North went to war with mixed motives. Some went to save the Union, caring nothing about slavery and slaves one way or the other, while others saw it as a great crusade to end this evil, and still others had less noble motives--greed, control, etc. But I believe it was Union army hero Joshua Chamberlain who said that war had a way of clarifying things, and thus that the end of slavery became foremost in motives. As to Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus and other supressions of civil rights, well, I rather think Lincoln was more a pragmatist than theoretician, and was simply doing whatever he saw that it took to win. As to his Gettysburg address, I expect Lincoln understood that the Federal giovernment he led did not come into existence until the Constitution was written and ratified in 1789, but the language about 1776 is etched into our national conscience as a watershed date. Lincoln was not giving a college lecture on the foundation of American government, he was articulating (and rather brilliantly at that) a way to establish continuity between America's past and his present. Then finally, Stephen, your passion, perhaps even anger, against Lincoln is showing, and I suspect it is coloring your perceptions. What is really going on with you there?

John Fariss

John Fariss said...

BTW: while great-great-grandaddy was working on the Savannah defences with the Georgia State Forces, and great-granddaddy was serving in the 4th Georgia (later 60th Ga) in the Department of the Valley, Army of Northern Virginia, under a fellow named Thomas Jonathan Jackson, their cousin--whose parents had moved to Indiana--was earning the Medal of Honor at Shiloh.

JHF

Anonymous said...

L's,
I'm the other Anon who made a remark about the Advent posts. They really didn't bother me, I was just being goofy, pay me no mind. They were good, and I don't think anyone had a problem with them. Baptists aren't really such stick-in-the-mids as I pretended. Not all of us, anyway. Have a blessed Christmas!

Justa Believer said...

Some quotes from the book "Christians Only", by James DeForest Murch (an apologist for the Campbell-Stone Restoration Movement, which spawned the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ, the churches of Christ, and the independent Christian churches).

"Newly elected President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois came from a Christian Church home." (page 151)

"Lincoln's father and stepmother were members of the Christian Church." (page 154)

"There is a tradition among Illinois Disciples that John O"Kane, when state evangelist, dicussed the state of Lincoln's soul with him on several occasions; finally he was convicted and wished to be immersed. He reportedly knew that his wife, who had strong Episcopal and Presbyterian social obligations in Springfield, would be greatly embarrassed if it were known that a 'Campbellite' evangelist had baptized him. But one night, Lincoln slipped away from the house with proper garmets for baptism, met O'Kane and was immersed in the waters of the Sangamon River. Whether this story is true or not, there are many evidences of Lincoln's strong Christian Biblical convictions. (Another version tells of his baptism in Virginia while he was President.)" (page 155)

If it is true that Lincoln had Christian Church ties, it adds an interesting quirk to Civil War history. Confederate President Jefferson was a graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, which was a Christian Church school. (Murch, page 151)

Lin said...

"If it is true that Lincoln had Christian Church ties, it adds an interesting quirk to Civil War history. Confederate President Jefferson was a graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, which was a Christian Church school. (Murch, page 151)"

And both are from Kentucky. The state Capitol has a statue of both Davis and Lincoln in the Rotunda

Anonymous said...

Hi OTHER ANON

It's me, L's.
Thank you for writing me and letting me know things are okay with us. It means a lot to me.
May your Christmas be a joyful and peaceful one. Love, L's

Anonymous said...

Hi JOHN FARISS,

It's me, L's

I also have some civil war history on the maternal side of my family.
My grandmother was born Lucy Ausbon and lived in the Ausbon House in Plymouth, N.C. as an infant. Her father, my great-grandfather was Joseph Gray Ausbon and it was HIS brother, William James Ausbon who was one of the Six Heroes of the Siege of Petersburg. He was awarded a silver medal by General Beauregard for saving many lives:

A lit mortal shell was lobbed over the 'works' and was 'spinning around like a top'. Before it could go off, William James Ausbon picked it up and threw it out and away.
He saved himself and many others by his actions.

The family house is still owned by a cousin who descends directly from William James Ausbon. The house is on the summer walking tour of Plymouth as a historical site, first because it is 'antebellum' and secondly because it received fire from the river and a cannon ball was lodged in the chimney bricks. A sniper shooting from the upstairs of the house was shot by the Yankees, he staggered downstairs, and died in the front hall.

My cousin has some family letters from the time of war and they are fascinating and very moving.

Thanks for sharing about your family's Civil war connection.

buttsms said...

Thanks For Sharing this nice Topic

Finally, Paul tells us who the true seed of Abraham is and the nature of that promise. We learned earlier that the Seed of Abraham was singular, one person, i.e. Christ.
Next Paul says, “For you are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus for as many of you as we baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:26-29).
Those who accept God by faith and are baptized into Him become a part of that one Seed of Abraham who is Christ . We become one Seed with Christ, not many seeds, but one with Him. As the Seed of Abraham through Christ, we then become heirs/inherit the promise. The promise is salvation in Christ, i.e. the kingdom of God. See the post “Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom of God.” The true seed of Abraham is Christ and the inheritance is the salvation in him to all nations (families of the earth) who are blessed in Him.