From Our Pastor, Robert Miller:
I have just read Stephen Mansfield’s book, Lincoln’s Battle with God. It is a book about the spiritual development of Abraham Lincoln. The book records Abraham Lincoln, who, as a young man, was a skeptic that did not believe in God and certainly didn’t believe Jesus to be the Son of God. He didn’t believe in churches and disliked preachers. However, by his
assassination, Abraham Lincoln spent a good part of his day praying and reading the Bible. He referred to Jesus as Savior; and though he didn’t join a church, he attended church and prayer meetings every week and gave generously to more than one church. Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham’s wife,
reported that the last words of his life were a desire to go to the Holy Land and experience the land of their Savior after his presidency. Through reading this spiritual biography of one of the greatest presidents in our country’s history, I was encouraged by several things.
One, the mood of our country has been skeptical of God and the church before. Abraham Lincoln grew up in the years after the Revolutionary War. It was the Age of Reason in America. Many of the books Abraham Lincoln first read were critical of the belief in God, the church, and ministers. Those books
significantly influenced Abraham Lincoln. Yet, the more he experienced life, especially the death of his sons and the war, the more he turned to God in times of crisis. The Third Great Awakening happened in the second half of the 19th Century; and as a whole, America turned back to a belief in God. And
most of the population were regular church attenders. In our time, this mood of skepticism and criticism of the church is back. I do not believe it will last. The truth always perseveres through tough times.
Abraham Lincoln never joined a church though he attended twice a week. He once said, “If I could find a church that practiced the Great Commandments, I would join that church.” He also didn’t like the pettiness of churches. He was
put off by the church’s emphasis in Springfield, Illinois, his hometown, being preoccupied with the evils of dancing. He was turned off by other pettiness that is often found in churches. I think Abraham Lincoln would have liked First
Baptist Church Texas City because we have made the Great Commandments our mission statement. “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We fall short of that, but that is our goal. Also, our congregation, as a whole, tries to stay away from the
petty. Our church is not perfect, but Abraham Lincoln’s criticisms made of the churches he was familiar with we have been attempting to correct.
The other thing I am encouraged by reading Lincoln’s spiritual biography is that we can all change and get better. Abraham Lincoln’s writings in his younger life about God, Jesus, the church, and pastors certainly didn’t reflect in his later life. We all can grow closer to God, and we all should.
I picked up this book out of curiosity about Lincoln’s pilgrimage as a believer. I came away not only more knowledgeable but with some keen insights into
our own time. Let’s not get discouraged but realize God is in the life-changing and nation-changing business. God is in control! Jesus is King! Why are we worried?