Friday, May 22, 2020

Lincoln's Battle with God by Stephen Mansfield

Throughout his life, Lincoln fought with God. In his early years in Illinois, he rejected even the existence of God and became the village atheist. In time, this changed but still he wrestled with the truth of the Bible, preachers, doctrines, the will of God, the providence of God, and then, finally, God’s purposes in the Civil War. On the day he was shot, Lincoln said he longed to go to Jerusalem to walk in the Savior’s steps.

What had happened? What was the journey that took Abraham Lincoln from outspoken atheist to a man who yearned to walk in the footsteps of Christ?
Just as he is for many Americans, Honest, steadfast, witty, and determined, he guided our nation through one of our most difficult times. I remember hearing several years ago that he was an atheist and that any language about faith in his speeches was just for political purposes. Ok, if that's who he was then that's who he was.

I was intrigued, therefore, when I saw this book and many positive reviews. The subtitle grabbed me — A President's Struggle with Faith and What It Meant for America — so I picked it up with a spare Audible credit. It is read by the author and is fairly short - around 5 hours.

I was pleased to find an even-handed telling of Lincoln's faith journey throughout his life. I especially appreciated the author taking care to bring up opposing points of view and objections when people's accounts of Lincoln's faith seem too easy or fabricated. This is done through using Lincoln's own letters, speeches, and other writing, as well as those of his contemporaries.

It is also a good, fairly short biography for anyone who'd like to get the gist without committing to thousands of pages which usually comprise a Lincoln biography. Lincoln's story is also very modern in many ways. His motives for his atheism ring true today. His personal journey rings true with my own experience.

Highly recommended.

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