Was Abe Lincoln a Christian?

Continuing the discussion from Amid Russia Tensions, Ukraine Moves Toward Separate Church:

Seems like Lincoln’s personal faith is a bit of a mystery.

Lincoln only once wrote directly about his faith. When opponents in a race for Congress in 1846 accused him of lacking faith, Lincoln penned these careful, noncommittal words: “That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.”

Though he did pray…

We recognize that alternative theories such as please-the-public[207] or strategic-theology[208] will likely continue to garner support. Our problem with such approaches is not their abstract impossibility, but that they do not accommodate all the evidence. In particular, they do not explain Lincoln’s own prayer life. There are only a finite number of ways to handle the evidence that Lincoln prayed.

Interesting question it seems.


Abe lincoln was a great analysis thinker. So he knew he had to come to hard conclusions on the great claims of Christianity. He can’t be vague or wishy washy.
there is a famous incident of him approaching a evanalgelist who directed him to a bnook called “proofs of cHristianity” so suggesting lincoln said to him he was doubting.
i never saw him mention christ. i don’t think he was a born again evangelical and I think he denied christ was gods son unless unsure.
YET because he believed in god and talked about him so intimately it would persuaded people he was some regular Protestant Christian believer…
So not only not of the true faith, getting it right, but i think he knew he didn’t believe in christ as the son of god. it was a myth to him.
yet he believed in a God. like a old deist type.
i understand he did read Darwins book.
Saying the scriptures are true might only mean they are not invented lies.
In 1800’s america only 5-10 % of American citizens/slaves were evangelical christians.
No I don’t think he was christian and he would say so.

Yeh, it was pretty hard for the slaves to be Evangelical Christians unless their owners forced them to be.

That’s not true. Many slaves attended church services on Sundays and heard the Gospel message. Exposure to Christianity varied greatly from plantation to plantation but there was general familiarity with the main concepts from the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible in general throughout the slave community by the time of the Civil War. Indeed, many slaves sang “Negro spirituals” which were inspired by those Biblical themes as they worked in the fields.

By the eve of the Civil War, Christianity had pervaded the slave community. Not all slaves were Christian, nor were all those who accepted Christianity members of a church, but the doctrines, symbols, and vision of life preached by Christianity were familiar to most.

For more details, see:

As to Abe Lincoln, I’ve seen articles claiming that he had a born again experience just days prior to his death. I don’t recall how well that claim is attested by clear evidence. (We all know that wishful mythology grows easily around the legacy of heroic historical figures. So I’ve always taken such claims with a grain of salt.)

Dr. Swamidass linked to a very interesting article by historian Mark Noll. Here is another of Noll’s articles on Abraham Lincoln: