Abraham Lincoln’s Christianity as a Teen

Abraham’s parents were deeply religious and young Abraham seemed to resent the commitment of his parents and what was expected of him. The pressure to live a Godly life resulted in him displaying behavior not becoming of a Christian. He used his intellectual skills to exacerbate his behavior. Lincoln was like many who struggle with making a commitment to Christ. There was a rebellion that seemed to have taken root during Lincoln’s youth or young adult hood that carries into adulthood.

“Tellingly, no one who was close to him seems to recall Lincoln making a confession of faith of the Christian religion. Arguments from silence are hardly the best, still the broad range of people who could not remember Lincoln doing so is notable. Lincoln could have been quiet about his beliefs, but it is likely that there would have been some indication of them.”[1]

There were several known occasions when close friends and associates of Lincoln either questioned his Christianity or firmly stated that he did not believe in God. One of which was a Methodist preacher, Peter Cartwright, who was considered an authority on Christian orthodoxy. He ran against Lincoln for the Seventh Congressional District of Illinois in 1846. Peter Cartwright, during the campaign, called Abraham Lincoln an infidel. This prompted Lincoln to write a letter defending his Christianity.[2] John Todd Stuart, who was claimed to have discovered Lincoln, says:

“I knew Mr. Lincoln when he first came here and for years afterwards- he was an avowed and open Infidel – Sometimes bordered on atheism … Lincoln went further against Christian beliefs – & doctrines & principles than any man I ever heard: he shocked me…. Suppose it was against the inherent defects so-called of the Bible & on grounds of reason – Lincoln always denied that Jesus was the Christ of God.”[3]

[1] Burkhimer, Lincoln’s Christianity, 9

[2] Burkhimer, Lincoln’s Christianity, 23-24.

[3] Burkhimer, Lincoln’s Christianity, 28