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Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:21 PM

Abraham Lincoln's Faith, 'Battle With God,' Explored In New Book

"Lincoln's Battle with God: A President's Struggle with Faith and What it Meant for America" (Thomas Nelson), by Stephen Mansfield

By CHRISTOPHER SULLIVAN 11/12/12 01:02 AM ET EST

He has previously explored the faith of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and now author Stephen Mansfield takes on the complex and fascinating religious life of Abraham Lincoln, who went from fiery atheism in youth to such deep conviction later that his second inaugural address could be called a kind of sermon to the nation.

Textbooks often freeze and simplify Lincoln's religion, making him merely a "skeptic, ever religiously uncertain," Mansfield writes in "Lincoln's Battle with God." "The truth is that Lincoln was, in fact, a religious pilgrim."

There's no end to books parsing the 16th president, of course, and even Lincoln's faith has had many thoughtful explorations. The value of Mansfield's study is its sharp focus, its detail about those who influenced Lincoln and the author's willingness to let some aspects of the president's belief remain mysterious or not fully resolved.

"Lincoln's Battle with God" dismisses those determined to shape Lincoln in their own religious image, whether deeming him godless or a "true Christian."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/review-complexities-of-li_n_2116805.html

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:25 PM

1. Lincoln was an atheist and could have evolved to agnosticism. He was a staunch opponent of equal

 

rights for African-Americans as he stated
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.

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Response to jody (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:29 PM

2. Do you have a link that supports the conclusion that Lincoln was an atheist?

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Response to rug (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:31 PM

3. "The Religious Beliefs Of Our Presidents" by Franklin Steiner nt

 

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Response to jody (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:47 PM

4. Thanks.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:43 PM

5. As far as I know Lincoln was skeptical of religion to the day he died.

This guy's claim sounds fishy.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #5)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:49 PM

6. Very likely but it's not clear he ever resolved his skepticism.

There's lots of material out there but his second inaugural address, oddly, returns again to the question of God. In some ways, it describes his uncertain views best.

http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Feb 17, 2014, 02:23 AM

7. Lincoln a believer during the war

Lincoln definitely believed in God at the end of his life, and probably believed in Christianity. After his death, his secretaries found an undated sheet of paper (probably from 1862, though) titled "Meditation on the Divine Will" in which Lincoln wrote:

"The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities , working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true -- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds."
His faith steadily increased until his 2nd inaugural address, called his "Sermon on the Mount".

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Response to lincoln65 (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 17, 2014, 09:12 AM

8. Welcome to DU.

I take it you're well-read on Lincoln.

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