Lincoln’s Battle with God chronicles Abraham Lincoln’s life and faith from his childhood up until his death. Both at the start of the book and the end of the book Stephen Mansfield does not ever indicate if Lincoln was a Christian or not. Instead, throughout the book, he presents compelling evidence that could suggest both possibilities. Lincoln often referred to a creator but rarely to Christ himself.
Two notable events stand out from the book. When Lincoln lived in New Salem, Illinois, he wrote a leaflet explaining why God COULD NOT exist. The booklet became lost because someone who saw Lincoln’s potential grabbed it from him and burned it to keep it from being used against him. However, there is a lot of documentation to point towards the former existence of the leaflet. One example was that the town referred to Lincoln as an “infidel.”
These early encounters in Lincoln’s life lead to another significant event supporting Lincoln’s belief 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.” The exact name of the book was “The Christian’s Defense, Containing a Fair Statement, and Impartial Examination of the Leading Objections Urged by Infidels.” 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 Lincoln with a 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. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Lincoln was a boy who heard the traveling evangelists. Mansfield wrote that through his imitation of them and his mother’s appreciation for poetry, 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 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. This approach frustrated Lincoln. Instead, 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 prioritize reading God’s word rather than just buying church tradition. Let us read the word of God and allow God to guide us more than the customs in church we have created.