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Local Voices: “Abraham Lincoln’s Spiritual Leadership”

(Based on the Elton Trueblood book)

In reading this book, it became obvious to us the difference between our nation’s current leadership and our nation’s greatest Presidential leader. One narcissistically wants all to hang on to his every word, and one used his words more simply from his most divisive time, addressing the same issues and saving the nation for all, without self -righteousness. Lincoln never formally joined any church, yet he held all religions in the highest regard and he held all to an equal “save-the-Union-first, level and perspective.

Lincoln said, “Foreordination and free will differ from fatalism and volunteerism at their creation of each’s divine vocation with underlying belief we were each made with a purpose to uplift or oppress? We by our actions help our unbelief.

“Equality is not the issue: the question is what his rights are as a human being made in his image. And are we going to truly deliver on those rights? As instruments of divine will, are you, we devoted to the possible? Is it a momentous thing to be the instrument under providence of the liberation of a race, in the whole family of man.”

Everything, including all Presidencies, are under God’s judgment. The country has a purpose and something to do with the ultimate welfare of humankind; that being the perpetuation of the ideal democracy that is led by the light and wisdom shed down from on high to guide them and us; as we are humble instruments in the heavenly father’s hands.

Order equals justice is the strategy of all governments. But only an order which implicates justice equals stable peace. Unjust order invites rebellion, resentment and undoing.
Reverent references pertaining to our having no excuse for doing nothing because we have convinced ourselves we can’t do everything, is never being our ideal best and that is not striving for perfection’s attainment” (however elusive it may be.)

During the 49 months of Lincoln’s presidency, he made nine separate calls for penitence, fasting, prayer and thanksgiving. The 1st prayer Thursday people were not called as church members, but as Americans. Lincoln concluded what was needed, was required, was not boasting, but humility. Personal contrition; rather than blame of others.

What Lincoln asked and prayed for “was not a judgment, to subdue anger and a change in their hearts, to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace; but, a perfect balance between gratitude, penitence and compassion; with the divine’s purposes to full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.

“The hierarchy of values saved from moral ambiguity by absolute firmness at one central point, fellow citizens we cannot escape history, it is a majestic thing for a person to be responsible. History is never abstract because it is concerned with what persons do.

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“We even, we here, hold to power and bear the responsibility.

“The inevitability of freedom in giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free-honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve” (a more perfect union.)
“We shall nobly save, or meanly lose the last best hope on earth. Are we not teachers (and students) of the object lesson taught to all nations achieved by the new birth of freedom, under God. All of us are under judgment as men and patriots.

“Living God within each of us, all… our living will, is our steadfast dedication to continue to breathe life into freedom and equality for all time. With malice towards none, there be room for all. Let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” (that fulfillment and realization of a fair and just equality for all here and now.)

Professor Elton Trueblood, Christian philosopher, statesman and advisor to President’s from Herbert Hoover, to Eisenhower, to Reagan has written a scholarly but altogether human approach to Abraham Lincoln’s evolving understanding of religion- What the president thought about religion. As a Quaker, he also served as Chaplain at Harvard and Stanford Universities.

Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide for eighteen years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available via e-mail at and he does make large-scale solutions presentations upon request.

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