Abraham Lincoln’s Religious Mind

Jan. 20 2023

Reviewing And There Was Light, Jon Meachem’s new biography of the sixteenth president, Andrew F. Lang examines the unique political theology that animated so much of Lincoln’s thinking. Nowhere is this theology more apparent than in Lincoln’s second inaugural address:

On that day in March 1865, Lincoln asked his fellow citizens to consider why God wrung American blood to affect His holy will in accounting for the nation’s collective sin of slavery. His query embodied a lifetime of introspection into the mysteries of providence, the consequence of time, and the enduring battle between good and evil.

As a young man, Lincoln struggled with questions of divine will. He nevertheless sensed the world gripped in a supernatural struggle between virtue and malice. To what extent did God mediate this eternal dispute? Lincoln did not know. But as he matured, particularly when he engaged in the national debates over slavery during the 1850s, Lincoln came to see history not as an arbitrary or random process. The world was rather “defined by a moral drama” in which God furnished His people with clues and a compassionate soul to discern His will. When God’s children ignored or cursed His holy designs, they confronted an inevitable punishment foretold in the Old Testament. For Lincoln, perpetuating American slavery beckoned the Lord’s wrath.

Meacham thrives in surveying Lincoln’s swift evolution into seeing the Civil War not merely as a political crisis, but as a spiritual battle that engulfed Americans and their divine Maker. How did Lincoln arrive at this mystic proposition? He committed his presidency to untangling why God acted “in a specific place and a specific time—in the United States of America in the mid-19th-century” to impart a prophetic message about the dignity of all individuals.

Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, American Religion, Religion and politics

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy