I’m a big fan of the historical and biographical work of Stephen Mansfield. His books are thoroughly researched but they don’t read like scholarly works, but have a more storytelling feel to them. This is especially true in his book Lincoln’s Battle With God.
I have read several biographies about our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, but this is one of the most innovative angles of this great leader’s life. Mansfield tells the story of Lincoln as a boy growing up in an overly-strict, hyper-Calvinistic home where religious observance was demanded and oppressive. Lincoln’s father was distant and didn’t have satisfactory answers for his young son when life was painful.
This contributed to Lincoln as a young man who, while searching for answers, went the opposite direction of his father’s faith, and became immersed in rationalism and even agnosticism. Through it all as Lincoln searched for answers, he and his friends had to cope with Lincoln’s “hypo” (his word for deep, almost debilitating, depression).
When rationalism didn’t help him discover the answers he so desperately desired, Lincoln came full circle to begin to explore the tenants of Scripture once again. But this time he looked at the Bible through a different paradigm, being much more thoughtful and circumspect.
His journey to the White House where he had to deal with a nation torn apart by Civil War and the premature death of his young sons exposed him once again to events which would have caused the younger Lincoln to spiral into depression. But his faith in God now had grown rock solid and sustaining.
This book is a fascinating journey through Lincoln’s spiritual struggles, and it’s one that I think many will benefit from reading. Those who are admirers of Abraham Lincoln, those battling depression, and even those searching for life’s answers will find a lot to learn in these pages.