“Lincoln’s Battle With God” by Stephen Mansfield
The book chronicles Lincoln’s life and faith from the time of his childhood up until his death. Both at the start of the book and at the end of the book Mansfield does not ever indicate if Lincoln was a Christian or not. Rather throughout the book he presents compelling evidence that could suggest both possibilities. This is because Lincoln often referred to the creator, but rarely to Christ himself.
Two notable events stand out from the book. The first is when he lived in New Salem, Illinois he actually wrote a leaflet that he read to other people explaining why God COULD NOT exist. The leaflet was never found because someone who saw Lincoln’s potential grabbed it from him and burned so it could not be used against him. However, there is a lot of documentation to point towards the former existence of the leaflet. One such example was that the town referred to Lincoln as an “infidel.”
This leads to the other significant event that supports the concept that Lincoln believed in God and possibly Christ. While he was at his Father-In- Laws house in Lexington, KY Lincoln found a book in the library that prompted him to reconsider his views on God. The title interested Lincoln because it used the word “infidel.” In fact the precise name of the book was, “The Christian’s Defense, Containing a Fair Statement, and Impartial Examination of the Leading Objections Urged by Infidels.” Needless to say in Lincoln’s pursuit of God this title would intrigue him. He went so far as to request a copy of the book, meet the author, and people remember seeing it at the White House.
Beyond these two events Mansfield paints a Lincoln that has at the least a very general belief in God and perhaps a belief in Christ. He never tries to say it is either. Also, the book addresses the death of his sons, the depression he faced and how faith played a role, and his marriage with Mary Todd Lincoln. Some of favorite parts of the book are when Lincoln was a boy and he heard the traveling evangelists. Mansfield wrote that it was through his imitation of them and his mother’s appreciation for poetry that Lincoln became the orator that history records.
In application Lincoln’s Battle With God allows the reader to see the worldview of President Lincoln. It also allows one to investigate their own worldview. For example, even if Lincoln was not a Christian one can learn that Christianity does not have to adhere to the lines drawn by humanity. In fact this approach frustrated Lincoln. Rather it is more important to have a holistic biblical view of God and more importantly Christ. President Lincoln refused to accept what others insisted were orthodox Christianity without consulting the bible itself. Christians should also put more stock in reading God’s word than just accepting what the it taught as church tradition. Let us read the word of God and allow God to guide us more than the customs in church we have created.