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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Letter sheds light on Abe's faith

The Raab Collection of Philadelphia plans to sell a recently discovered letter that describes President Abraham Lincoln's belief in God.

"Mr. Lincoln's religion is too well known to me to allow even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary — supernatural inspiration or revelation," wrote William Herndon, a Springfield, Ill., lawyer and Lincoln confidant, in 1866.

"At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God."

Lincoln's faith has long been an elusive topic for historians. He was never baptized, did not join a church and usually did not discuss his beliefs.


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