Did Lincoln write a book, "Heretic", and then

peteanddelmar

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#1
and then, spend most of his public life parading as a Christian?

Or did he not really know where he stood?

Is it all just a fable?

We're his references to God a Diest thing? A PR thing?
Grasping at straws because he wasn't sure what he thought, because that happens?

Would he have been accepted as a national leader, as a admitted heretic , or had he changed?
Edited by Chellers.
 

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James B White

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#2
In my unstudied opinion, I think he failed to follow his heart and mind, and instead took the easy road, going along with social pressure to pick up typical Christian beliefs and attributes. I don't think it changed his sense of what was moral and what wasn't, but it made him more acceptable to society and therefore electable. Which was good--he seemed the right man for the times--but I still wish he hadn't been like so many who bow to pressure and take up the religion of their community.

Herndon seems to be the main guy on this topic. For example, from here:

Herndon’s concern at this process of deification turned to alarm with the appearance early in 1866 of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, the work of Josiah Gilbert Holland, a Massachusetts editor, loyal Republican, and pious Christian. An immediate best seller, the book was an unashamed exercise in hero worship. Although Herndon recognised its merits, he hated how the author had turned Lincoln into “a true-hearted Christian.” Holland had visited Springfield soon after the assassination and, while acquiring useful biographical material from Herndon, had asked him about Lincoln’s religion. “The less said the better,” Herndon replied. “‘O never mind,” Holland apparently retorted: ‘I’ll fix that.’”[7]

Convinced that such “sacred lies” would do lasting damage to his former partner, since the discovery of the truth “when we are dead and gone” would play into the hands of Lincoln’s detractors, Herndon abandoned his caution.[8]As he supplied the basic materials for the biography that Ward Hill Lamon and his amanuensis, Chauncey F. Black, would publish in 1872, Herndon urged them to be forthright. “On Mr Lincoln’s Religion be bold. Tell the truth—that Mr Lincoln was an infidel—a Deist—wrote a book . . . in favor of Infidelity &c.—that sometimes . . . he was an atheist. . . . He held in contempt the Idea of God’s Special interference &c. &c. . . . Tell the truth and shame ‘old Nick.’’’ Reveal that Lincoln ridiculed the virgin birth and “scorned the idea that God seduced, even by a shadow, a lovely daughter of His own.”[9]


I don't know enough on this topic to know what's been debunked or bunked by recent scholarship, so I'm curious to read more.
 

brass napoleon

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#3
I think the prevailing wisdom is that Lincoln was somewhere in the deist/atheist/agnostic mindset until the death of his first son, Eddie, in 1850, at which time he turned to religion. Seems plausible to me, but it's not a topic that I've ever looked into nor really cared about all that much, TBH. If he was faking his religion, he would seem to have been pretty good at it, as he seems to have had a pretty commanding grasp of the Scriptures (at least to my secular eye).
 
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#4
I just finished reading Allen Guezlo's Redeemer President Guelzo was well regarded for his knowledge of American religion in the 19th Century before he became a Civil War celebrity. Thus his biography deals in depth with the subject of Lincolns changing faith. Broadly, Guelzo's take is that Lincoln came late in life to believe in a sort of Divine Providence, and had a kind of Calvinistic fatalism, but never became a conventional believer in the sense of his time. (My Readers Digest version of his very good book).
 

peteanddelmar

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#5
In my unstudied opinion, I think he failed to follow his heart and mind, and instead took the easy road, going along with social pressure to pick up typical Christian beliefs and attributes. I don't think it changed his sense of what was moral and what wasn't, but it made him more acceptable to society and therefore electable. Which was good--he seemed the right man for the times--but I still wish he hadn't been like so many who bow to pressure and take up the religion of their community.

Herndon seems to be the main guy on this topic. For example, from here:

Herndon’s concern at this process of deification turned to alarm with the appearance early in 1866 of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, the work of Josiah Gilbert Holland, a Massachusetts editor, loyal Republican, and pious Christian. An immediate best seller, the book was an unashamed exercise in hero worship. Although Herndon recognised its merits, he hated how the author had turned Lincoln into “a true-hearted Christian.” Holland had visited Springfield soon after the assassination and, while acquiring useful biographical material from Herndon, had asked him about Lincoln’s religion. “The less said the better,” Herndon replied. “‘O never mind,” Holland apparently retorted: ‘I’ll fix that.’”[7]

Convinced that such “sacred lies” would do lasting damage to his former partner, since the discovery of the truth “when we are dead and gone” would play into the hands of Lincoln’s detractors, Herndon abandoned his caution.[8]As he supplied the basic materials for the biography that Ward Hill Lamon and his amanuensis, Chauncey F. Black, would publish in 1872, Herndon urged them to be forthright. “On Mr Lincoln’s Religion be bold. Tell the truth—that Mr Lincoln was an infidel—a Deist—wrote a book . . . in favor of Infidelity &c.—that sometimes . . . he was an atheist. . . . He held in contempt the Idea of God’s Special interference &c. &c. . . . Tell the truth and shame ‘old Nick.’’’ Reveal that Lincoln ridiculed the virgin birth and “scorned the idea that God seduced, even by a shadow, a lovely daughter of His own.”[9]


I don't know enough on this topic to know what's been debunked or bunked by recent scholarship, so I'm curious to read more.
Ha! Bunked.
Like Gruntled.
 
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#7
It seems Lincoln was always questioned about his faith during his political career and never answered it. Here is one take:

(CNN) - President Abraham Lincoln was a "theist and a rationalist" who doubted "the immortality of the soul," a close friend said in a letter that provides a rare, intimate glimpse into the Civil War president's religious views.

"Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist - a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary -– supernatural inspiration or revelation," William H. Herndon wrote in a letter dated February 11, 1866, to Edward McPherson, clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Herndon was one of Lincoln's closest friends. The two met in Springfield, Illinois, and practiced law together for 17 years before Lincoln became president in 1861. After Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865, he authored "Herndon's Lincoln," a biography based on contributions from Lincoln's friends and contemporaries considered among the most authoritative for its proximity to the elusive president.

I do know that he knew the bible well and quoted it numerous times in his speeches over the years. I think it comes down to what point in his career such event may have happen. Early in his political career, he would have ended it then. If he did it late in his political career like after winning the civil war, it would not have done much to it but it may have made his second reelection bid 1868 a little harder then it needed to be. Yes, I think Lincoln would have ran for a third term...

Edited by moderator jgg

 
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