The Unregenerate Faith of the 16th President
By: Jonathan Harris
On March 27th of 2004 Dr. H. Rondel Rumburg formally debate Dr. D. James Kennedy on the subject of Lincoln’s personal faith at Liberty University’s Civil War Seminar. Dr. Kennedy, certainly a heavy-weight in the evangelical world, took the position that in fact Lincoln was a Christian, and that he was “putty in the hands of the almighty” through “studying the Scriptures.” Dr. Rumburg, an author and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans took the opposite side claiming that indeed Lincoln was not a Christian. This work is a transcript of Dr. Rumburg’s response, and will leave little doubt in the mind of any reasonable person that Lincoln was indeed unregenerate. Rumburg starts off by stating his premise that
. . .a Christian is a regenerate person who has repented of sin and savingly believed on Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour, who alone can save from sin, and then, as an act of obedience, that believer follows his Saviour in life.
Drawing upon various Biblical references, among them Matt. 7:16,19, John 3:7, John 1:12-13, etc. Rumburg supports his view of Soteriology setting up what proves to be the death blow to Kennedy’s assertion. Fourteen separate lines of reasoning are used to either cast doubt or prove conclusively that Lincoln could not have been a Christian. First and foremost among his arguments are perhaps the first hand observations made by close friends and associates. I will not endeavor to list all of them, but perhaps a portion will serve to grant the reader a taste into Rumburgs argument.
Mary Todd Lincoln [Lincoln’s Wife]: “Mr. Lincoln had no hope and no faith, in the usual acceptance of those words. He never joined a church. . . he was never a technical Christian.”
William H. Herndon [Law Partner and Friend]:“I have never seen the name of Jesus mentioned by Mr. Lincoln.” “Lincoln was not a Christian in any sense other than that he lived a good life and was a noble man.”
Judge David Davis [Friend, Lincoln’s Estate Administrator, Chief Justice Supreme Court Nominee]: “He had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term.”
Among other quotations, Dr. Rumburg proceeds to expose Lincoln’s personal actions as well. He allowed his wife, after the death of their son Willie, to conduct seances in the White House which proved to be, “more comforting than the visits of Presbyterian Clergymen.” A personal friend, Jesse W. Fell describes Lincoln’s faith as “the Fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.” This loose doctrinal statement more in keeping with Unitarian and Transcendentalist views, explains why Lincoln would not join New York Avenue Presbyterian Church due to their strict Confession of Faith. Lincoln only told the Pastor Dr. Phineas D. Gurley that he would endeavor to keep the two great commandments (Love the Lord, and Thy Neighbor). In fact, according Lincoln’s bodygaurd and personal friend Ward Hill Lamon,
[He] was never a member of any church, nor did he believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians. . . Overwhelming testimony out of many mouths, and none stronger than out of his own, place these facts beyond controversy. . . When he went to church at all, he went to mock, and came away to mimic.
Lincoln admirers such as Dr. James Kennedy like to focus on the 16th presidents references to God (though he never mentioned Jesus) and Biblical quotations, but forget that even Satan himself is good at quoting Scripture (out of context – much like the Gettysburg Address) and referencing God in a less than worshipful way. If Lincoln was truly a Christian, his suspension of habeas corpus in which tens of thousands of political rivals, military leaders, and newspapermen were imprisoned, his shutting down of hundreds of Northern newspapers, his affirmation of total war in which thousands of civilians were raped, murdered, and vandalized (even burning churches and impounding Bible’s as contraband), and his refusal to negotiate a peace deal, speak volumes more than his statements about God. As the Apostle Matthew stated: “So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
I encourage any serious student of history to get a hold of this pamphlet by Dr. H. Rondel Rumburg. Christians have immortalized Lincoln and attempted to pair him with modern Christian concerns such as abortion in an attempt to further their legitimacy. At the same time progressives have successfully harnessed the legend of Lincoln for their own centralized government schemes (appropriately). As the Apostle Paul says, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” It’s time we stop paying homage to a modern day idol (Just look at Lincoln’s monument, Mt. Rushmore, the Five Dollar Bill, etc.) and instead support our causes upon their own ethical merit. Otherwise we will continue to buy into more government control based on Lincoln’s legacy, and futilely fight a losing battle by trying to enlist our enemies hero in our very ranks.