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Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
12-07-2015, 03:19 PM
Post: #66
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(11-08-2015 02:28 PM)L Verge Wrote:  Twice in my life, I have been struck with the thought that I might be a Deist. I am not going to attempt to define that theological term here, so you will have to look it up for yourself.

Cut to the shortest possible explanation: A supreme being created the world and gave man the power to reason his way through it. This has seemed to me to be the best explanation for the world we live in. I believe that Thomas Jefferson toyed around with the idea of Deism as did some of our nation's other historical figures. I have often thought that its tenets would suit Lincoln also.

Excerpt from Wiki: The concept of deism covers a wide variety of positions on a wide variety of religious issues. Sir Leslie Stephen's English Thought in the Eighteenth Century describes the core of deism as consisting of "critical" and "constructional" elements.

Critical elements of deist thought included:

Rejection of religions that are based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God.
Rejection of religious dogma and demagogy.
Skepticism of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious "mysteries".

Constructional elements of deist thought included:

God exists and created the universe.
God gave humans the ability to reason.

Individual deists varied in the set of critical and constructive elements for which they argued. Some deists rejected miracles and prophecies but still considered themselves Christians because they believed in what they felt to be the pure, original form of Christianity – that is, Christianity as it supposedly existed before it was corrupted by additions of such superstitions as miracles, prophecies, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Some deists rejected the claim of Jesus' divinity but continued to hold him in high regard as a moral teacher (see, for example, Thomas Jefferson's famous Jefferson Bible and Matthew Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation). Other, more radical deists rejected Christianity altogether and expressed hostility toward Christianity, which they regarded as pure superstition. In return, Christian writers often charged radical deists with atheism.

I think Lincoln desperately wanted answers to a question that plagues us all -- why do bad things happen to good people in this world. He developed these questions in childhood and became acutely aware of things that needed to be changed and that a supreme being (if there was one) was not assisting. I think Lincoln kept these questions (and wariness) about religion throughout his life. I think he still clung to the idea of there being a supreme being (an maybe even the faith that there was a life hereafter), but tended to think that the evils and the illnesses in the world were up to humans to correct.

Notice that I use "I think" a lot in this post. That's what frustrates me with my religion - I have to guess at answers when I want "to know" the answers.

IMO Laurie's analysis represents my own feelings regarding Lincoln. My best guess is that he was a deist. When it comes to Lincoln and religion, using the words "I think" (as Laurie does) is the best we can do IMO - it's impossible to know with 100% certainty.
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RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer - RJNorton - 12-07-2015 03:19 PM

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