Was Abe Lincoln a Christian?

In a new book Did Lincoln Own Slaves? there is some unveiling of Lincoln’s religious beliefs.  Below is an excerpt from the Change of Subject blog.

The answers to questions about Lincoln’s church membership are not the ones that most people are hoping to hear. He was never a member of the church you attend, or any church. His religious beliefs were dynamic, complex, and powerful, but not conventional. He wasn’t a Baptist, despite being raised in a Baptist tradition. He wasn’t a Presbyterian, although he attended Presbyterian services much of his adult life. He was not a Catholic, contrary to rumors started by the ravings of Reverend Charles Chiniquy, who published a bizarre diatribe called Fifty Years in the Church of Rome (1886), which accused Catholics of claiming that Lincoln had been born into their Church. According to Mrs. Lincoln, who ought to have known, he was not even a Christian. Many stories have circulated about Lincoln being secretly baptized, or planning to be, but they are all unsubstantiated.  [emphasis mine]

Read the whole thing.

I wonder what the reaction to this book will be.  Either way it looks interesting.

[HT: Riddleblog]

Let's connect!

in Culture,theology

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ken Temple April 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

D. James Kennedy wrote that Lincoln was planning on announcing his profession of faith on Easter Sunday, but he was shot and killed on Friday evening, at Ford’s theatre.

Most of his life, he was honest and admitted he was not a Christian until the last days of his life.

Here is a quote:
some asked Lincoln, “Mr. President, do you love Jesus?”

After a long pause, Mr. Lincoln solemnly replied:

“When I left Springfield I asked people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus.”

(p. 58, D. James Kennedy, see below, cites p. 366 of The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles in O. H. Oldroyd Collection, published in 1882. )

He refers to information from Dr. Gurley, pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian church in Washington, D. C. ; the archives and affidavits of that church, and William J. Johnsons’ Biographay of Lincoln ( pp. 58-59; p. 64 of “What They Believed: The Faith of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln”, Coral Ridge, 2003.

2 johnMark April 26, 2008 at 3:25 pm


I wasn’t making a judgment either way. Do you think that quote you provided proves Lincoln was a Christian?


3 Ken Temple April 26, 2008 at 5:34 pm

No, I don’t think it proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt;

I don’t know if it proves it, but the way D. James Kennedy approaches it and other American History issues, it shows that Lincoln had a definite Christian worldview (with all the other quotes from his speeches, etc.) OR, he was just a typical politician, but that is dis-heartening; and I have not studied the details on his life as much as D. James Kennedy did.

I realize you weren’t making a judgment either way, just a very interesting subject.

The secularists try to paint all the American founders and other famous Presidents as secular humanists/Deists and so, this information is helpful in showing at least they had a basic Christian worldview, even if many of them were not born-again evangelicals.

4 JJ Schmidt July 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’m not sure why it matters what faith Lincoln ascribed to. His life deeds are what one should go by. Lincoln’s intent on ending slavery is commendable and humanistic but certainly not Christian. You need only look to the Bible to see that slavery is condoned and that the Bible even addresses laws which govern slaves. There is no doubt that their were slave owners at the time of the Civil War that used the Bible to justify slavery and no doubt they were Christian.


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