This week, on February 12th, Abraham Lincoln celebrates his 200th birthday up there in the log cabin in the sky.
Presidential politics and religion are normally a lethal combination. We all remember W’s claim that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher, don’t we? And I generally agree with Tony Compolo’s assertion that mixing religion and politics is like mixing icecream with manure. It doesn’t do much for the manure, but it ruins the ice cream!
But I think the church and the emergent church has much to learn from Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s take on God is summed up pretty nicely in a New York Time’s book review of Mark Knoll’s America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln.
”For the theologians,” Professor Noll wrote, ”there was little mystery in how God dealt with the world; for Lincoln there was awesome mystery. For the theologians, God’s power remained securely tethered to the interests of the United States, however differently that interest was perceived. But for Lincoln, God’s power was controlled by no one but God.” And finally, he wrote, ”for the theologians, the end of the war only tightened the bond between God and his American chosen people; for Lincoln the course of the war injected a doubt about whether America was the people of God.”