Thursday, January 29, 2009

RNS Feature: "200 years later, Lincoln’s faith remains an enigma"

RNS Feature: "200 years later, Lincoln’s faith remains an enigma":
"WASHINGTON—Seven score and four years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and said North and South alike must suffer for the sin of slavery.

“If God wills that (the war) continue until ... every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, so it still must be said `the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,”’ Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, quoting the Psalms.

Called “Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount,” his 1865 address has been deemed the most religiously sophisticated presidential speech in American history. It was delivered by a backwoods lawyer with just one year of formal schooling who never joined a church. ..."
This is not really new to people who have read history, although it is a fact that when Lincoln attended services, it was often in a Presbyterian congregation.

As far as Abraham Lincoln's theology was concerned, there is little to quibble as far as it went. His understanding about God's will and how it is distinct from human will remains a model for us today. The excerpt I quoted above does not do Lincoln justice, so I recommend you read his full Second Inaugural Address. It isn't long, and his exposition on Divine Will is in the third of the four paragraphs.

When Licoln delivered this speech on March 4, 1865, he had only about a month left to live, and the Civil War was winding down. The final thoughts in his address outlined his intention to see the nation's wounds bound up and start the healing process. His assassination left a void that was filled with people who were not as concerned with healing as much as with retribution. This is one of the great "what ifs" of history.

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