I’ve written about this subject before, but not recently, and people nowadays seem to have a tendency to forget much of what they once learned. Our attention span as a people seems to be about seven minutes–the time between commercials on most television stations. What went on beyond the last commercial we often don’t remember too well. And for something we learned yesterday, forget it. It’s long gone!
What made me think of this was something I saw on the internet while looking for something else. I came across a site that said of Abraham Lincoln that he was the first “republican, Christian president.” Knowing what I know about Lincoln that almost made me choke!
Lincoln was supposedly raised in a strict Baptist family. There has even been some question in some circles about his ancestry. Some have claimed he was born in North Carolina where his mother was a servant of the Enloe family. I saw a short booklet about that once. Don’t know if that’s still among my research material or not.
Be that as it may, Lincoln never joined any church. As a young man he was noted as a skeptic and even noted for ridiculing Christian preachers and revivalists. Many who knew him for years like William Herndon and Ward Lamon rejected the idea that he was a believing Christian. Even his wife also said, at one point, that “Mr. Lincoln was not a technical Christian.”
James Adams 1783-1843, called Lincoln a deist. Lincoln was reported to have authored a manuscript that challenged orthodox Christianity and was taken from the ideas of unbeliever Thomas Paine. Some writers have pooh-poohed this but I have read enough about it to think it may well be true. Supposedly a friend after reading it, took it and threw it into the stove, telling Lincoln it would ruin his political ambitions–and in his day it would have. Today, in our apostate age, he might have gotten by with it, but not back then.
According to The Gospel Coalition, they say of Lincoln: “Well, the truth of the matter is that he was not. He was exposed to Christian influences all his life. He worked with Christian people…but Lincoln never joined a church, never was actively involved in any kind of Christian organization, in fact, had only most minimal religious profile in his own day.” When someone asked his law partner, William Herndon, about Lincoln’s religious faith, Herndon replied to the man “The less said about that the better.”
Donnie Kennedy and I had a chapter in our book Lincolns Marxists about how a freethinker viewed Lincoln. The freethinker was Col. Robert Ingersoll. This freethinker led the charge in defending Lincoln against the charge of being a Christian and instead argued that he was a freethinker. Freethinkers include atheists and agnostics. Christians they are not. I even read one place, and I did an article on this, where Lincoln was reported to be a Rosicrucian. But, then too, some evangelicals have claimed him. All the research I have done over the years has led me to the conclusion that Lincoln was far removed from the orthodox Christian faith.
This piece was published on Revised History on April 24, 2023.
The War of Northern Aggression (aka the Civil War) had many reasons, economic (tariffs), constitutional (states rights), and even conspiratorial. There were certain people, both north and South of Mason-Dixon that had as their objective the destruction of the Constitutional Republic the Founders gave us. Abraham Lincoln was one of these. And the idea of a One World Government was not new, even in 1860.
However, most books written about the War studiously avoid dealing with the theological implications involved. Either their authors are unaware of those or they hope their readers are. And then, books on the theological aspects of the War do not sell nearly as well as books about battles and personalities.
Northern “historians” which predominate in our day want nothing to do with the theological issues, because those issues tend to cast the North in a less than glamourous light. Fighting to “free the slaves” sounds oh so much better than fighting to defend apostate religious views does. So Northern historians want nothing to do with the theological issues except for their own theology, which, though they may not even realize it, is steeped in radical Unitarianism. To ignore the theological issues is to ignore the real reasons that men like Lee and Jackson fought–and it wasn’t to defend slavery! The thought of going to war so your neighbor down the road apiece could keep his 20 slaves would have been reprehensible to them. And peddling such political pap does most of your Southern fighting men a grave disservice. Though that seems to be where the “enlightened” thinking seems to reside in our day. Forgive me, but such truncated thinking is a long way from “enlightened!”
If history today is accurately read (almost an exercise in futility) it will show that in the three decades before the War the North had become saturated with Unitarian thought while the South was leaning more and more toward orthodox Christian thinking–what today we call Reformed Theology. The South produced theologians of the caliber of James Henley Thornwell, Robert L. Dabney, and Benjamin Morgan Palmer while the North was producing apostates like Henry Ward Beecher, Theodore Parker, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson–the man who was “always ready to invest money in treason.” So there was a distinct theological cleavage between North and South!
For the average Southerner there was a distinct belief in God’s sovereignty and man’s complete dependence on God for his salvation through Jesus Christ. Southern preachers had warned their congregations against “extreme confidence in human nature” and against the Unitarian mindset where “each man is his own Christ.” The Southern biblical worldview was completely at variance with the Unitarian-inspired thinking of much of the North. Besides, the abolitionist thinking in the North was tainted with sort of a “one world” aura that reeked of internationalism. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison had said his country was “the world” and he was into the Feminist Movement and spiritualism of his day.
So the theological climate in the North was far removed from the orthodox Christian faith–and some of the conspirators I took note of earlier had a plan to subvert orthodox Christianity in the South and replace it with a more Scofieldian version which was famous for its neutrality toward evil. For a bit more reflection, read my 4/9/2016 article The War Didn’t End At Appomattox.
This piece was previously published at Revised History on March 23, 2023.
Al Benson is the South’s best-known Copperhead (Northern-born patriot), a prolific columnist. and the coauthor of Lincoln’s Marxists.