Wednesday, October 12, 2011

America IS A Christian Nation, Part VI, Lincoln Uses the American Theory

In the last installment of  America IS A Christian Nation, we learned what various early American presidents had to say about the 'American Experiment,' and the theory that experiment is designed to test.  We learned that our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, understood the theory behind America's founding and design, and that he spoke to that theory, and the ongoing American Experiment, in his famous remarks at Gettysburg in November of 1863.

And we also learned that Lincoln's knowledge of the Founders' theory, and the true meaning of America, are laced throughout Lincoln's speeches and writings, over one million words in total, which are still accessible to us today.  Because Lincoln's speeches and writings articulate his knowledge so well, and indeed because Lincoln used the Founders' theory while administering the American experiment during his time as president, Lincoln is a great resource for us to better understand the truth of these matters today.

Even prior to his remarks at Gettysburg, in 1861, during a special address to Congress, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the theoretical nature of the American nation as he reckoned that the American Experiment had not yet been resolved:
Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it, our people have already settled---the successful establishing, and the successful administering of it. One still remains---its successful maintenance against a formidable [internal] attempt to overthrow it.
At the time Lincoln spoke, no one could have known that during that test of the Civil War, more than 650,000 Americans would lose their lives fighting for the ideologies they believed in.  No one could have known that countless millions would be affected so deeply by that struggle between the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and their antithesis.  Yet as Lincoln would ultimately understand, the experimental test trial of endurance, the Civil War, would end as a success.  As he expressed hope in Gettysburg, in the end the nation would live.  Obviously,  Lincoln viewed the Civil War and the circumstances that led to it through the prism of the American Theory.  It may sound strange to say, but viewed in that context, the American Civil War concluded with a successful outcome.

Since America’s founding, in a certain sense the results of the American Experiment have been analyzed by every succeeding generation.  Each day, politicians, business managers and common individuals weigh in their particular results.  Those results take many forms.  Politicians advocate their findings for as many as will lend an ear.  Their motivation is to create a base of sympathizers from which to become elected to a position of political power.  Business managers market to the public as they endeavor to create financial wealth.  Individual Americans continually compare their conditions to those of their peers.  They perform these comparisons, the purpose of which is to assess their own personal success.  If one should isolate the American Experiment for the measurement and prediction of just four parameters—endurance, power, wealth and individual success, and then gauge them against the same parameters measured from any other nation since America's founding, or any other nation prior to America's founding, the data is consistent with the theory that God has indeed Provided for America’s protection and the advancement of the conditions of its inhabitants, relative to those same measurements gathered from other nations. 

Lincoln once acknowledged the success of the American Experiment, noting the increased rate of advancement of the human condition during his lifetime.  When compared to the comparatively dismal  rate of advancement prior to the experiment, he could only reasonably attribute that difference to divine intervention:
Made so plain by our good father in Heaven, that all feel and understand it [the blessings of God over America], even down to brutes and creeping insects…We made the experiment and the fruit is before us.  Look at it—think of it in its aggregate grandeur, of the extent of the country, and the numbers of population—of ship, and steamboat, and rail—
Now whether the Founders, or Lincoln, are correct in their proposition or assessment that God would protect this new style of nation, 'or any nation so conceived and so dedicated,' a nation therefore designed to perform God's will as expressed in the Bible and New Testament, is not anything that I might try to persuade here.  It's just a theory.  But it is also the fundamental assumption from which the American sovereign authority derives.  And so any tool of American government, wielding American authority, must respect this proposition as truth. Lincoln operated in that mode.  Lincoln possessed faith in the truth of the propositions in the Declaration of Independence.  Lincoln possessed faith that God would allow those propositions to live beyond the difficulties that he encountered. And primarily as a result of Lincoln's faith, and because Lincoln trusted God to provide protection for those who performed His will on earth, as the Founders theorizes He would, did Lincoln maintain the strength necessary to fulfill his divine destiny.  At least that is how Lincoln obviously viewed these things.  And of course the results speak for themselves.  Through it all, America is still here and the world is a better place because of it.

In the next installment of America IS A Christian Nation, we are going to get down and dirty with the Theory of America and explore how these ideas interplay with our reading of the Constitution.



  1. Enjoyed your writing as always, Hank! Sorry it took me so long to getting around to reading this wonderful history lesson. Please forgive! :)


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