I recently read a post about Abraham Lincoln. The inspiring tale of his Christian character — which enabled him to lead our nation through its greatest post-Revolutionary War crisis — depicted the taunt of an aristocratic senator seeking to belittle the backwoods president soon after he assumed office.
The senator declared Lincoln’s father an impoverished shoemaker who actually made shoes for the senator’s family. Lincoln responded that his father was the best of shoemakers, who taught the trade to his son, and offered to make a new pair for the senator at no charge should any defect be discovered.
Readers are meant to be moved by Lincoln’s wholesome pride in his origins coupled with loyalty to his father — this allegedly demonstrates the character of our 16th president.
It would be a wonderful testimonial if it were true. In reality, Lincoln’s father was an impoverished farmer all his life, and such an abusive parent that the animosity between father and son was life-long. Yet just as false is the myth perpetrated by most Lincoln scholars that he was not dependent on the God he served, but was rather some sort of deist.
The truth is that Lincoln’s statements throughout his life — verbal and written — trumpet his faith in the God revealed in scripture and through his Son, Jesus Christ, without which the president would have presided over the destruction of the union instead of its preservation.
Just as true is this: What God does through men and women like Abraham Lincoln — or you and me — stands on its own quite well. God has no need of fables that will eventually be discredited to inspire his people. The truth is not just enough, it is infinitely better.
For example, Lincoln actually did call for a day of prayer, fasting and humiliation when the Civil War showed no signs of conclusion and the Union was losing more battles than it won. The day occurred on April 30, 1863, on the anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as our first president. The war turned in the Union’s favor seven weeks later at Gettysburg.
Washington, another alleged deist, did indeed dedicate the fledgling nation to the God he loved for having first loved him; that would be Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is no fable; Google Washington’s inaugural address and read what he said.
Washington’s story is a stark contrast to the fable about the president of Haiti gathering 1 million people into a stadium and dedicating his nation to the Lord after the earthquake a few years back. (Is there any stadium that would hold a million people?) The problem is these stories — those that prove to be fiction — are not harmless.
When the truth is discovered, people are less inclined to believe in the very real miracles — and sacrifices — that came as gifts of grace in Haiti and other ravaged lands. There were many healings and raisings from the dead, not to mention sacrificial efforts to provide food, medicine and rebuilding offered by countless Christians who came to serve.
God is good; he is in fact awesome, and the facts of this truth are all any of us need — not the embellishments so often believed by credulous Christians.
Some leaders who share these fables bristle when called on it.
“I am going to share the story until you prove to me it didn’t happen,” is a common retort when logic or probability is questioned in the absence of documentation. It makes about as much sense as saying we will believe in evolution until faced with compelling proof a small pig-like animal could not evolve into a horse when faced with the absence of evidence it did.
Another is, “I just want to share the awesomeness of God.” By demonstrating he is not awesome in the way depicted? That makes as much sense as Bible scholars who — without contrary evidence — assert Jesus never fed the 5,000 because, well, it isn’t possible (they say) and the story is meant to demonstrate his generosity. By demonstrating he was not so generous on this occasion?
There is no question California’s last drought ended after thousands of Christians both prayed and repented in September 2015. People can choose for themselves whether to accept divine causation, although the logic of pray first/prayers answered/give thanks is pretty compelling and the chronology is indisputable.
The same can be said for the millions of recorded healings, liberations from bondages, the ongoing existence of Israel and the peace that passes understanding that has impacted so many lives. The truth is dramatic, dynamic and sufficient.
Let’s be content, and blessed, with that alone.
James A. Wilson is the author of “Living As Ambassadors of Relationships,” “The Holy Spirit and the End Times” and “Kingdom in Pursuit.” He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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