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Abraham Lincoln's Faith

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Abraham Lincoln's Faith

by Steven McDowell


Quick Overview

Views of Lincoln’s faith can differ depending upon the source of information and the time period considered.


In response to being presented a Bible on September 7, 1864, Abraham Lincoln said: In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Saviour 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.[1] This is the view many would have of Lincoln’s faith, but some people have presented Lincoln in a different light, including some who knew him well. William Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner for about 18 years, said of him: “As to Mr. Lincoln’s religious views, he was, in short, an infidel. . . . Mr. Lincoln told me a thousand times that he did not believe the Bible was the revelation of God as the Christian world contends.”[2] Skeptics of Lincoln’s Christian faith have portrayed him as not just an unbeliever but as a scoffer. Charles Minor records of Lincoln that “when he went to church, he went to mock and came away to mimic.”[3] Yet, Rev. James Smith, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield where Lincoln attended for over 10 years, gives a much different picture. Replying to a number of questions posed in a letter from Herndon, Smith wrote: “With regard to your second question, I beg leave to say it is a very easy matter to prove that while I was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Mr. Lincoln did avow his belief in the divine authority and inspiration of the Scriptures.”[4] Which of these views is right? Why the contrary views? Views of Lincoln’s faith can differ depending upon the source of information and the time period considered. Lincoln had many friends and enemies, some of whom were certainly not objective when evaluating his life. Lincoln also underwent a change in his beliefs over the years. Thus, to accurately understand his faith, we must consider who is testifying and the time period they are representing of Lincoln’s religious views.

Additional Information

Author Steven McDowell
Age Group 12+
Book Type paperback

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