Finding God can be difficult even in times of joy. But consider the times - and profound sorrows - of Abraham Lincoln. His beloved mother died a painful death before Abe’s tenth birthday. His father was abusive when the man wasn’t absent entirely. Abraham was so beset by depression that he neared suicide on numerous occasions. He lost one son when the boy was the tender age of three. A second was eleven when he died, and this was less than a year after Lincoln assumed the presidency of a fractured nation.
Despite his trials - or perhaps because of them - Lincoln yearned for comfort beyond the mortal world. He took counsel with ministers. He read voluminously. And he prayed. Still, it is not easy to number Lincoln among the saints. He never joined a church and he seldom spoke of Jesus Christ. Even during his lifetime, his religious statements were greeted with skepticism. And yet the evidence indicates that Lincoln did indeed struggle to find a life-changing faith, to follow the deathbed charge of the mother he adored: “Worship God.” He struggled, too, with God’s will in the great war, the war between brothers Lincoln was unable to prevent. These wrestlings led to his benevolent treatment of his former enemies and ultimately to the sentiments he expressed in the greatest of American sermons, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
Lincoln’s Battle with God will challenge both of the accepted views of the great man’s faith: the atheist Lincoln and the passionately religious Lincoln. Stephen Mansfield presents a Lincoln ever on a journey of faith, a journey cut short by an assassin and obscured by scholarly bias and conflicting evidence. Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual journey offers profound insight into the man who is today perceived as nearly the soul of America. His spiritual battles are not unlike those of our nation, which makes Lincoln’s story of faith as told in this marvelous book a story vital for our times and perhaps vital for our souls, as well.
©2013 Stephen Mansfield (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
As a Christian and a pastor, I have long chaffed under the historical illiteracy which attempts to wrap the cloak of sainthood around the brooding figure of Abraham Lincoln. Well-meaning people have attempted to make Lincoln a Christ-like figure, loving, forgiving, kind, wise, and godly. This is the first work I have read that gets the story right. The author is frank and honest to admit that Lincoln was "the village atheist" in New Salem, having rejected the 'hard shell" Calvinism of his father, and the wild excesses of the Baron Stone Camp Meetings.
But Lincoln's story proves infinitely more complex. Through the death of two of his sons, his own mental condition of depression which left him suicidal, and his wife's mental instability, Lincoln gradually moved toward the Christian faith.
With great historical skill the author pulls back the cover on a very complicated man's troubled struggle with the fact his mother was illegitimate and the fact that he could not to bring himself to understand the deity of Christ. In the end, the bullet of Booth shattered his brain and ended his battle with God. From the author's research we find tantalizing hints of what might have been Lincoln's intention to profess faith, but the truth is we shall never know until this life is ended. To anyone who wants to know the truth, I commend this excellent little work.
Lincoln is an American Saint, in my opinion. I have studied his life for 40 yrs.; it opens room for more questions. Between this book and Joshua Wolf Shank, one can develop who Lincoln truly was. The battle with God is a little drawn out. I believe that the reading level maybe to hard for some and you would have had a philosophy class to understand terms.
The author did a terrific job of exploring the complexity of the subject. I learned a lot from reading the book. I especially liked the fact that the author read it himself. Very sincere.
Most memorable was how it begins -- with the assassination. Very dramatic. He does a good job with lots of other parts of the book.
Somewhat curious about his own religious beliefs.
I would recommend this book to Christian and non-Christian friends, alike.
Many books have been written about Lincoln from many aspects of his life and the events of history around him. Through my few years (67) of life, I have yet to read one that spoke with such meaningful insight regarding his spiritual journey. I have read that many authors say he believed in God and others, he didn't; he was an atheist because of his father and on the other hand, others say only a man of God could have brought us through the Civil War, etc, etc. Until Steven Mansfield, I have not read a book that spoke of Lincoln's exposure as as child to his father's punitive, miserable god and his gradual understanding of a loving and powerful God in his mature years. It is amazing to me that so many authors miss the fact that spiritual growth in most cases is a life-long journey and effected through life experiences...many times, very painful experiences.
I would like to read this book several times.
Stephen Mansfield did an excellent job in researching, conveying and voicing this key contribution of a book.
I was *there with Lincoln in the frustrations and privations of his rough childhood in southern Indiana; in the angry disbelief of his early adulthood in New Salem, Illinois; In the abject sadness of the loss of his heart and delight, his son Willie, while he was President. Thank you, Stephen (Mansfield, not Douglas;) for helping me see through the mists and biases of past positioning of Lincoln.
I admire Lincoln all the more (and feel as though I *know him - he feels more real and personable to me) now that I understand how he battled with God. He took God seriously. He didn't blindly believe, nor blithely follow - he grappled with Him. And I'm grateful that Lincoln won that Battle (or lost it, depending on the way that you look at it).
Bravo, Mr. Mansfield. I have listened to dozens of books on Audible (not hundreds, like some - but perhaps four score and several) - and this is one of my five or six favorites so far. The combination of your extremely pleasant reading voice and tone-perfect author's delivery; your thorough and balanced research; and your compassionate and human narrative made this a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me.
I cannot recommend Lincoln's Battle with God strongly enough. Get it. Enjoy it.
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