Lincoln, What Brought Him To Christ? With Author, Stephen Mansfield: Happy Birthday, Lincoln! Today we are doing a special program in honor of Lincoln’s birthday! Lincoln is someone who we can point to and say that he was not a Christian his whole life. Stephen Mansfield does a great job in his book outlining Lincoln’s life story and what brought Lincoln to Christ. Stephen has done several books on presidents where he really looks at their background, what drove them, and what went into their decision making. You won’t want to miss today’s broadcast!
Air Date: 02/12/2018
Guest: Stephen Mansfield
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
- WallBuilders | American historical events, founding fathers, historical documents, books, videos, CDs, tapes, David Barton’s speaking schedule.
- Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men
- Fun American Facts: Presidents
- Lincoln’s Battle with God
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. Welcome to WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about today’s hottest topics – all kinds of topics – policy, faith, and all kinds of areas of the culture. But we’re always doing it from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re always looking back in history, always looking at the Constitution, what does it actually say? What was the original intent? And then of course the Biblical application on that particular issue.
You can find out more about our program at our two websites – WallBuilders.com is our main website. Wealth of information there for you to get equipped and inspired. And then WallBuildersLive.com is our radio site and you can get archives of the program, a list of stations, and all kinds of other information.
My name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator and I’m here with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton is also here. He’s a national speaker and pastor and he’s the president of WallBuilders. Later in the program author, Stephen Mansfield, will be with us. Guys, happy birthday.
Happy birthday is exactly right.
It’s not your birthday though.
Well, if it was–
If this was my birthday, I would now be 200 and, what is it? Two hundred and nine years old.
You look pretty good.
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
I look pretty good for my age – 209. And it would not only be– I would not only be 209 years old, I’d also be called Abraham Lincoln if this is was my birthday.
Yeah, this is his birthday today. This is his birthday to be celebrating.
That’s right, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky on February the 12th 1809. One of our great presidents and it’s interesting, a lot of states celebrate Lincoln’s birthday – most don’t. You have Connecticut, and Illinois, and Indiana, and Ohio, and Missouri, and New York. These are states that celebrate Lincoln’s birthday specifically. The rest of them roll it in with George Washington’s birthday and make it Presidents Day on the third Monday of February.
So, today is Lincoln’s birthday. That’s half of what drives Presidents Day, as far as birthdays – but a number of states still celebrate this individually as his birthday.
And of course one of the authors on Lincoln – a lot of books have been written about Abraham Lincoln – but Stephen Mansfield has done several books on presidents and others and takes a faith perspective. He really looks at their background and kind of what drove them, and figures out what went into their decision making. He’s going to be with us later in the program to talk about that.
Lincoln is somebody we can point to and say he was not a Christian his whole life. He had some things happen in his life that brought him to Christ.
Can You Really Bring Anything New Out About Lincoln?
But, you’re talking about Lincoln. How many hundreds of books have been written about Lincoln? So, can you really bring anything new out about Lincoln? And the answer is, “yes”.
Well, yeah I would say it depends on who wrote the other books and what they covered. Because even the thought of bringing out something new on Lincoln – what Mansfield does is not present information that nobody’s ever seen or heard before. It’s just information that most authors and historians choose not to focus on because there are some of these positive religious elements. And what he presents is not stuff that’s disputed historically, it’s just not taught historically.
So, it’s a lot of even similar things to what we do here at WallBuilders. We’re not trying to rewrite history at all. We’re trying to show the history that’s not being told using original sources, the original documents. So, read this original proclamation from John Hancock, read this original proclamation from George Washington, read the original documents.
And a lot of what Mansfield does with Lincoln is go back and say – this is what he actually said. This is what he actually did. This is what actually happened. And so it’s not that he’s presenting something that nobody else knows historically, it’s just things that most historians don’t talk about but was a very significant part of who Lincoln was.
Lincoln Family Bible
Based on what Tim saying, really what you get– he’s identified one of the three things that are out there that cause us to think that this is new information. One is: you get into these generational fads or trends or emphasis. For example, right now under progressivism, secularism, and negativism what you’re going to hear is secular stuff, and you’re going to hear progressive stuff and negative stuff. So, we will hear the bad things about Lincoln, we will hear nothing about his faith because that’s secular – that doesn’t mean the history is lost, it’s just lost to this generation.
And so what Stephen Mansfield, as Tim said, what he’s doing is he’s going back and bringing out things that have always been there but they just aren’t known to this generation.
So, it’s nothing new about Lincoln it’s just new to the here’s now. Second thing is – actually new items become available. Great example – recently as part of the collections we were able to purchase the family Bible of the Lincoln’s – and the family Bible of the Lincoln’s it has Mary Todd Smith’s name in there and talks about it – but it also included letters from Lincoln’s Pastor, James Smith. Reverend James Smith in the 1850’s in Springfield, Missouri is one of the guys who had a huge, massive spiritual influence on Lincoln. And what’s in those letters has never before been seen- never before been known because the content in there is fairly unique.
For example, it talks about that Reverend Smith wanted Abraham Lincoln to give the message at the annual meeting of the Bible Society. And Lincoln said; “no, I don’t want to do that.” Smith said “yes you do.” Lincoln said “no I don’t.” So he talked Lincoln into giving a message to the Bible Society annual meeting – and he recorded the message that Lincoln gave; he talked about – he said he spoke about the Ten Commandments and their applicability today – it was such a wonderful message.
Now the fact that Lincoln would have a religious message is nothing new because we have a lot of other documentation on that. But, this specific content for this message– I don’t think anyone’s ever shown that he went to the Ten Commandments to show the applicability of the Ten Commandments today and how to live by the Ten Commandments. So, that’s a new aspect, but it doesn’t change the religious nature of *.
So, the first is you get into this generational emphasis like progressivism or secularism. Second is new letters become available. And the third is that we often forget the historical context when we use modernism. In other words, we base things on the way we interpret them today rather than the way they were back then.
African Americans and the Medal of Honor
A great example of this is if you look at a number of African-Americans today and professional athletes or sports or whatever– they take a knee on the national anthem, forgetting that generations ago in the Civil War five African-Americans won the Medal of Honor for not allowing the flag to be dishonored. African-Americans back at that point in time, man, that was a huge symbol of what they stood for, what they fought for, what life was to become, of the equality they would one day attain. But, this generation’s forgotten the history of those previous generations.
So that was third reason that Lincoln can sometimes seem new, is we’re judging things by what we’re used to today rather than by what actually happened back then.
So, the stuff that Tim was covering– this is why having Mansfield on– even though Mansfield is writing about someone has been written about hundreds of times, what he has to share is very new for this generation although it’s not new for history.
Well, Stephen Mansfield will be with us when we come back from this break, so stay with us folks you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton with another moment from American History. The year after the American War for Independence ended we begin addressing the issue of Muslim terrorists in North Africa, who were attacking American ships, killing, and enslaving American seamen.
Congress dispatched John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate peace. When they asked the Muslim ambassador the reason for the unprovoked attacks he told them that it was written in their Qur’an, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found.
Sixteen years of negotiations failed and in 1801 America sent its military to crush the terrorists. When that war ended in 1805 the first American edition of the Qur’an was published, urging Americans to read the Qur’an to see for themselves that it’s teachings were incompatible with the safety and peace of non-Muslims. To see the first American Qur’an and to get more information about America’s first war on Islamic terror, go to WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back–thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Stephen Mansfield is back with us. He’s the author of The Faith of George W. Bush and a lot of great biographies on Booker T. Washington, George Woodfield, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln. It’s good to have you on Lincoln’s birthday, Stephen, thanks for coming back.
Hey, it’s great to be with you. Thank you.
The Untold Story
Hey so what– I mean, sometimes you get with a guy like Lincoln –you get these caricatures in your head from school, and it’s four score and all that good stuff. But, what would you want people on his birthday to remember most about him.
Well, I would want them most to remember his faith. Everything else is pretty well established –the monuments, the great speeches and all of that –but what most people don’t tend to know is that Lincoln was actually born during a great revival. He sort of rejected that faith largely through pressures and anger and irritation with his father–he became the village atheist for a while in his life, and if he had stalled there, if he’d been the atheist for the rest of his life I don’t think he would be the great man that we know now. But he made a slow progression back to faith and that’s why we hear those phenomenal speeches during his presidency. And that’s why he was so shaped by faith and his sense of what God was doing during the Civil War.
So, I think it’s an untold story. That’s what I would want people to know.
We definitely want to come back to what his transformation was. But first take me back to when he was kind of the village atheist. What did he– in your research of him, what did he draw upon? Because he still overcame so many incredible challenges –whether it was the failed businesses, the sicknesses, the deaths, there was so many times he could have just said “forget it.” But he persevered in a way that it’s almost– it’s iconic –and was most of that before he found his faith and if so what do you think he drew on through all that?
Well, it’s hard to say. You know Lincoln had a very sad life. We know he was manic depressive, he almost committed suicide a couple of times in his early days, he lost his mother when he was only 9 years old, he lost a sister when he was 16. We all know that he famously lost the love of his life when he was in his early 20s. He said to a friend once “I’m haunted by the thought of rain falling on graves”– and he was a sad man.
People said he dripped melancholy while he walked. He went through a phase from about 1830-1831, for the next half a decade where he was in New Salem, and there were a lot of religious liberals there, and they just constantly were undercutting the Christian Gospel, reading Payne, reading Volney, reading Gibbons, reading a lot of the skeptics, and it sent him into a dark place. But it also sent him into an angry anti-Christian place, and so I think he was a man tormented by his depression, a man who had experienced a great many deaths and he had rejected at least for a short while the faith that had sustained him earlier in his life.
In fact the title of your book really reflects that– Lincoln’s Battle With God–A President’s Struggle with Faith and What it Meant for America. It’s almost like because of the battle, it made him that much stronger later on if that makes sense– because he did go through all those struggles. When he did finally come to a place of faith you can see it and hear it and feel it in those words that he used, even talking about as he walked through Gettysburg.
Lincoln’s Faith And Death
Well, there’s no question. Most great leaders– Churchill, for example, others –they have gone through dark nights of the soul. And what they have found that helped them get out of those dark nights, helped them get through, is what they turn around and offer it to their nation in times of crisis.
So, Lincoln did eventually come back to faith. He did eventually make a turn –it was painful– It did happened a lot through the deaths of children, and grieving, and ministers helping him and so on. But he did eventually make a turn and I think therefore by the time he became president, he had been in the pit, knew how to get out of the pit, and was telling the nation how to get out of the pit so to speak– especially in spiritual matters. And that’s why his speeches while he’s President are some of the most powerful political sermons we have in American history.
No doubt. You mention in the book– you tell about –and I’ve never heard this before– that literally on the day he was shot, he had talked about going to Jerusalem.
It’s what I start the book with and I think it’s a story that hasn’t been told enough. If you saw the Spielberg movie about Lincoln you know that on the day he was shot he and his wife went for a ride, they had a conversation in their carriage, they were feeling better, war was won, things were going well– and they started talking about what they would do after the war. That night at Ford’s Theater, Lincoln turned to his wife and said; “You know, after the war we will not go back to Springfield, we’ll travel abroad.” And he said; “I should so much like to go visit Jerusalem– go visit the Holy Land.” He said “I would so much like to walk in the footsteps of the Master.” And then he said the thing he had said already about Jerusalem, and those were the last words he ever spoke.
We don’t read it often in the textbooks and we don’t see it in the movies– the last words Abraham Lincoln ever spoke were about walking in the footsteps of the Master in Jerusalem and how he would like to do that after the war.
Lincoln As A Man
That’s powerful. Okay we’re going to come back to Lincoln, Stephen, in awhile, but while I’ve got you– I did not know this– that you’d done this book. So, I knew about your biographies and all that, but as I was getting ready for today’s show I came across Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men, and I got to ask you about I’ve even already gone on Amazon and ordered it. So, I’m looking forward to it coming in, but I want you to tell me a little bit about it, and then bring it back to Lincoln and we’ll talk about what kind of manly man Lincoln was. But tell me what inspired that book, and what people could expect and why men should read it.
Most of the books that I write are biographies, and most of them are biographies of men. While I’ve been contemplating the lives of men I’ve been watching what’s been happening in our generation of manhood. Men are in decline by almost every standard. There’s a lot of criticism of men. Most men don’t know what their role is, don’t know what righteous manhood is.
So, I finally just got fed up with the depictions I was seeing on television and in the movies, and how lost men were and I had a lot of late night conversations with college students on college campuses. So, I decided to write a book that would hit hard, that would challenge men, that would allude to some of the great men in history and some of the principles out of their lives; and then we decided to have some fun with it and call it Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men. So, buddy I’m glad you got it. You’re definitely going to have it now once you read that.
We look forward to it. The highlight is utterly invigorating –got to being your most masculine self– so needed today. I don’t see a picture of anybody in skinny jeans on the cover so I think–
Oh baby no. Axes, and knives, and guns.
It’s the man’s experience.
All right, well let’s bring that back to Lincoln. What kind of man was he– because wasn’t he like a champion wrestler or something?
Oh, Lincoln was a manly man, he was known to be very, very strong. They called him the ‘rail splitter’ because he literally could take an axe and split a log with one chop.
He won all the wrestling contests –didn’t drink. I think he’d had a few experiences with alcohol early in his life so he never drank alcohol, but he was always known to be strong. He was always known to be a powerful man, he was respected.
He actually saved some lives in his early days. People run into him and calling and saying; “Can you get this dead horse off this guy”, “Can you lift the wagon off this guy.” So, he was a real man’s man, and even when he was in the White House he was known to be quite strong and loved arm wrestling Colonels, things like that. So, people really respected him. Of course he was tall and wiry, but he was also incredibly strong and very manly. He by the way was concerned about the state of manhood in his generation and really thought about it. So, yeah, I actually draw on that in the book.
Manly Men Book
No kidding. All right so– before let’s go– to who else–name a couple of other guys you cover in the book on the Manly Men.
Oh, in the Manly Men book I talk about Theodore Roosevelt, I talk about Booker T. Washington– one of the great African-American leaders –of course I talk about Lincoln, I talk about Harry Truman, I’ll talk about John Wooden the coach at UCLA.
So, yeah I just caught up a whole bunch of men and draw principals out of their lives that every man can emulate.
I’m looking forward to reading it– we’ll have to get you back and talk about it after I get a chance to read it. Stephen Mansfield always good to have you on, and especially today on Lincoln’s birthday, we’ll have a link today to the book about Lincoln. And folks if you don’t just want to go search for it it’s Lincoln’s Battle with God –a President’s Struggle with Faith and What it Meant for America. Stephen appreciate you brother. Thanks for coming on.
So good to be with you, thank you.
Stay with us folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hey, guys, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. I know you hear my dad and Rick talk a lot about our Founding Fathers about the original intent of our nation, a constitutional heritage that we have. And really we’ve seen how far we slipped away from that. And I know a lot of us as we hear my dad and Rick talk think, “I wish there was a place that I could go where I could see these documents and I could read and learn about the Founding Fathers firsthand. See the things they did.”
I want to give you some websites today that can help you accomplish that very thing. If you get online you can go to places like Library of Congress and you can look under their century of lawmaking or historical documents. You can go to the Avalon Project, to the Founders Constitution, Google Books, or even the internet archives.
Or you can just go to WallBuilders.com. We have a section for our WallBuilders Library. And under that section we have different subgroups for historical documents, historical writings, even a place where you can get helpful links to find out more information about other websites. Where you can do research for yourself and find the truth for yourself. Friends, this is the time that we need to know who we are and where we came from. WallBuilders.com is a great place to go.
Welcome back, thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders Live. Special thanks to Stephen Mansfield for joining us today as well. David, Tim, in speaking of other presidents –David you talked in the first segment about the fact that there’s a lot that people just don’t know and that there’s new documents there’s lots of reasons we find out new things about them. We have an app that actually will get people a lot of that information on each president.
Yeah, it’s a new app that just came out very recently. It’s fun facts on American presidents, and so you can go to the WallBuilders website, it has a link over to the app store, you can go on your smart device and go into the app store and you can find it– whether it’s for your iPhone, or Android, or whatever it is you might have, but it does cover a lot of these details. And so even some of things that– as we’re talking about Lincoln and some of his faith elements, there’s a lot of fun stories to these presidents and one of the mistakes that oftentimes we make in history is. History becomes dates and dead people and you really don’t know their stories, you don’t know some of the fun aspects of their life. And as you get into their lives and learn some of these fun aspects, all of a sudden, history is so interesting it’s so entertaining.
As Stephen Mansfield gets into Lincoln, I love being able to talk to him and hear him explain a lot about Lincoln’s faith, and what motivated him, and what inspired him. So he goes through this great depression in moments in his life and even wants to commit suicide and the pastor’s got to be there and help him through it. And as you start to learn the story all of a sudden this story is so entertaining; and so one of the things is this app can do is help bring some fun back to history and learn about some of these people –maybe learn a lot about their personalities from what they did and the things they accomplished. But the app is a great way to learn more about the presidents, just as we’re learning more about Lincoln today with Stephen Mansfield.
Now, and –what’s the best way to get on the app, you go to your iTunes store, what would you type in?
So, you could type in WallBuilders, or you could type in fun American facts -presidents. And so either one of those will bring it up. And as fun American facts- presidents– because there’s going to be some fun American facts with signers of the Constitution and with young people and with– there’s a whole series of these apps that will soon be out there. But this is the one that’s out on presidents.
TBN Network Interview With Stephen Mansfield
And you guys had the opportunity to do some television with Stephen Mansfield as well on special programs.
Yeah, on Presidents Day, actually right on Presidents Day –will be a phenomenal one hour special on Presidents Day and Stephen Mansfield is our special guest. It will run on the TBN Network –for those of you that don’t know much about TBN it’s the nation’s third largest domestic network. It’s a massive network. It’s a religious network, but has undergone a substantial change in direction the last three years or so, moving in a very different direction from what it had been, and so we’re part of the new programming.
They’re doing holiday specials and this one is with Stephen Mansfield and we actually go through three significant periods of American history covering three major presidents in each of those periods. So, we’ll cover George Washington, and then Adams, and Jefferson, then will jump over to John Quincy Adams, and Lincoln, and Garfield. And then we come and look at World War II with FDR, and with Truman, and with Eisenhower. Great stories, fun stories, phenomenal artifacts that were able to show on display, some unbelievable one of a kind stuff.
We have an audience of high school kids and they get to interact with holding some of these things– and just watch their reaction–we had one of these kids actually hold the bloodstained collar of Abraham Lincoln’s jacket when he was assassinated in Ford’s Theater. We’ve got that collar and it was like “oh my gosh what am I holding.” And so it’s just fun to see the reaction. So, for those that are interested on Presidents Day, on TBN 8:00 o’clock Eastern time we’ll have a one hour special on Presidents Day, and it will just be a fun thing. Mansfield was great we had a great time with him.
And that’s the –so that’ll be the 19th is Presidents Day so that’ll be next Monday that you can catch that program. So, I wanted to backup to Stephen and his interview. And of course he’s done this, not just with Lincoln, but with Bush and others, bringing out the faith element of this and I love how he–
He has twenty five books out right now. He’s working on his 26th. Five of them are on the presidents specifically, an individual president. So, he’s done a whole lot and you’re exactly right, Rick.
And by the way, the book that he did on Lincoln, it’s Lincoln’s Battle With God, really good book, everybody ought to get a copy of that. Amazon is a great place to go get it, but it’s a great, great, story of what we used to know about Lincoln that’s gotten away from us in the 20th century and 21st century.
The Village Atheist
Mansfield was talking about how he went back and really kind of retraced the points where– here’s a president that wasn’t just not really a Christian, he was an atheist. And I never knew that he was kind of known as the village atheist. So, I didn’t know how far he had come to those very powerful statements at Gettysburg, and at other times in the presidency, that were extremely faith based. I didn’t realize he had come so far.
Well, it’s interesting as Manfield tracks Lincoln in his story because like many atheists, they choose to be atheists because, generally, there’s been some kind of hurt, some kind of frustration. It’s not because they’ve examined the evidence. Lincoln grew up in a Christian home, but his father was someone who one night would weep over the Bible, and Jesus, and with the family, and so emotional. And then the next morning he would curse out and beat Lincoln.
So, Abraham had enough of this and said, “You know what, this is dumb. If this is what Christianity looks like, I don’t want any part of it.” And so it was a lot of frustration, and hurt, and raw emotions, that caused him to embrace atheism. Then he wore the title of Village Atheist because it was almost like kind of poking his thumb in his Dad’s eye, right. He’s going to get even with his dad, “I’m going to show you. I’m going to be the atheist.”
But then one of the ironies is as an atheist, he carried a Bible with him everywhere because he would have debates with a local pastor and with different Christians. And he wanted to know the Bible well enough to show how wrong and foolish they were. So, even in the midst of his atheism, he’s studying the Bible. So, when he starts to come back around to faith, when God’s really drawing him back. When he becomes the president, and very much his whole faith perspective is different at this point as it continues to grow as he’s in office, when you start to examine his political speeches, his political statements, they are filled with Bible verses, they are filled with Bible thoughts. And largely it could be because when he was an atheist, he was studying the Bible to prove how it was so foolish that you would believe this and God really used that on the back side.
But Mansfield does a great job of pointing out a lot of these elements, of pointing out how far Lincoln did come, and really, what even drove Lincoln to his position of atheism was kind of that hurt that frustration. But it really is a very interesting study to learn more than just the dates and dead people, to learn the story and go, “Man, history is so cool, but especially when you see how faith absolutely shaped Abraham Lincoln’s life.”
Well, and, Rick, as you brought out, Lincoln was also concerned about the state of manhood in his generation. He spoke openly about it. So, not only does Mansfield have that book, but that was a concern for that generation as well, which it still is today. But I love what Steve said that Lincoln had been in the pit, he knew how to get out of the pit, and he was telling the nation how to get out of the pit.
And that’s a pretty good epitaph for somebody’s life for sure.
Lincoln, What Brought Him To Christ? With Author, Stephen Mansfield
No doubt, no doubt. What a great summary too. I love the way he did that. We’ll have a link for the book today, folks, check it out. Learn more about these folks and go to WallBuilders.com.
There’s so many of these cool artifacts and letters and just powerful, powerful, things that WallBuilders has that they’ve made available to you. So you can get it right there on the website at WallBuilders.com – go check it out today. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.