Comparing Obama with Lincoln (2009)

As the celebration of Lincoln’s birthday is upon us, cialis canada sales I want to share this timely article with you regarding the comparisons between him and our new President, tadalafil sildenafil Barak Obama.  I am hopeful you will find it to be thought-provoking.

In this year’s Presidential Inauguration, medicine Barak Obama chose the “Lincoln Bible” on which to take his oath of office.  Historically speaking, this was not Abraham Lincoln’s personal Bible, but rather one he borrowed for his own Inauguration in 1861.  Later on this borrowed Bible was given to the Lincoln family who held it in their possession from one generation to the next.  In 1928 the “Lincoln Bible” was finally donated to a library for posterity.  Although Lincoln used biblical terms and language in his oratory and speeches, he was not particularly fond of the Bible as evidenced in some of the pamphlets he wrote criticizing parts of it.  This might explain why he did not have a personal Bible on which to take the oath of office.  In fact in Lincoln’s early days as a politician and President, he did not adhere to any religion.  As he stated, “When I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad, I feel bad – that is my religion.”  Because of statements like these, many historians deduced that he was nothing more than a deist, one who believes in a supreme natural God who created the universe, but not one believing in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ as Christianity taught.  Don’t be too discouraged with Lincoln’s apparent lack of spiritually; he did change during the course of his presidency.  I will share this with you later on in this article.

As to why Barak Obama chose Lincoln’s borrowed Bible on which to take the oath, I am not sure.  Perhaps he respected Lincoln for the many brilliant achievements he accomplished as President, many of which vaulted him into being considered our greatest President.

I want to share some insights into what influenced Lincoln to become the President he was and then draw some comparisons between him and President Obama.  I have read many books and commentaries on Lincoln, but for this article I depended on various insights from the U.S. News and World Report, a book titled Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas, and Abraham Lincoln the Christian by William J. Johnston.

The influences which made Lincoln a great decision-maker and President

Before discussing the influences that made Lincoln a great decision-maker and President, the following is a brief summary of his terms in office.  Lincoln was voted in as the 16thPresident of the United States in 1860.  He represented the Republican Party and officially took office in 1861.   He was reelected for a second term but was assassinated just six weeks after taking office.

Influences dictated by circumstances

Lincoln walked into a presidency filled with conflict from the very beginning.  He had almost one-half of the country (the South) wanting to secede from the Union because of slavery and states’ rights issues.  This left him with only two alternatives:  (1) let the South leave and form their own nation, or (2) keep the United States together as one country.  In making this decision, the plight and bondage of the slaves in the South moved him not to let the South make such a move – even at the expense of a Civil War.  The result of Lincoln’s decision kept our country together as one nation, while at the same time eradicating slavery for all time.  Of course this decision came with the high price of more than 600,000 American lives lost.

Influences on Lincoln’s view of equal rights for all

Lincoln believed that all men should be free, including the African Americans of our nation.  The possible primary influence which caused him to think this way came from a British politician named William Wilberforce.  During his long tenure in the British Parliament, Wilberforce vigorously campaigned and fought against the slave trade and slavery until they were abolished.   Wilberforce was quite graphic in his speeches and writings against slavery, especially in respect to those who were transported on slave ships to America.  But as Wilberforce said many times, it was his faith in Christ that drove him to do what he did.

Lincoln said of Wilberforce, “He is a good example and inspiration to us all, there’s not a school boy who does not know of William Wilberforce.”  Because of the influence of Wilberforce and others (along with his own conscience), Lincoln could not live with the institution of slavery in America.  So when he became President, he did something about it.  He freed all slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 which was halfway through his first term as President.  In addition to the time it took him to set forth such a proclamation, Lincoln was often found downstairs in the White House teaching his African American staff how to read and understand the written language, ending each session with a caring prayer.  This is the way Lincoln was; he loved to help the helpless.

Influences that changed Lincoln’s thinking about God

As mentioned in the beginning, Lincoln believed in God but did not trust that one could have a personal relationship with Him.  But he changed dramatically in his beliefs, especially after the battle at Gettysburg.  Once again, perhaps, Wilberforce or other respected Christian writers had an early effect on him.  Aside from Wilberforce’s writings on slavery, he also wrote one of the most popular Christian books of his time called Practical Christianity.  It would have been highly probable that Lincoln read this book since he respected Wilberforce so much.  If he didn’t, then he would have been amongst the few American leaders who hadn’t.  I read it, and it is one of the best Christian books I have ever read.  But whether Lincoln readPractical Christianity or not, he did openly make a commitment to Christ in his second year in office.  During this year (which was also the second year of the Civil War), Lincoln suffered greatly.  His Union Army suffered one loss after another.  The mounting criticism he received for these losses was overwhelming.  He was termed by a majority of the press on both sides of the conflict as America’s worst president.  Along with all of these events, his beloved son Willie died.  In the midst of these rough times, Lincoln was asked by a local clergyman in the course of a conversation if he loved Jesus.  Lincoln solemnly replied, “When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me, but I was not a Christian.  When I buried my son Willie, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian.  But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.  Yes, I do love Jesus.”  After this great admission of faith, the Civil War took a turn; the Southern armies began losing one battle after the next, until Lee finally surrendered.  As a result, Lincoln went from zero to hero in many skeptics’ hearts – from the worst to the greatest President.  But all this mattered little to Lincoln; his newfound relationship with Christ was everything to him.  According to his wife, on the way to Ford’s theatre on the last day of his life, he talked of going to Jerusalem “to walk where Jesus walked” and see his son again; and of course, he did just that.

What made Lincoln one of our greatest Presidents?

Many Americans – both in the 1860s and thereafter – voiced and proclaimed that Lincoln was truly a great President, if not the greatest.  His funeral was certainly a statement as to how he won the American people over during his last days in office.  It was the largest and most attended funeral of any American President.  What made him such a great President?  Was it the winning of the Civil War which kept us together as a unified Nation?  Perhaps!  Maybe it was his humility and honesty; after all he was called “Honest Abe.”  And as hard as it is to believe, this it was not said in sarcasm but in sincerity.  Unlike any other politician that has ever lived, Abraham Lincoln was truly humble and honest.  There is a story which describes this part of him – one that occurred after his encounter with God after Gettysburg.  Evidently, according to one reporter, as Lincoln traveled by boat to Richmond after it fell to the Northern armies, many slaves caught sight of him and began yelling, “Bless the Lord, here is the great Messiah, and he has come to free us all.”  But Lincoln looked upon these poor souls and told them that it was God, and He alone, that brought them their freedom.  If you combine what Lincoln did to keep our nation together along with his humble and honest character, this might have made him a great President.  But I do not believe that even these two things completely defined his greatness.  It is rather what he did for the slaves in our country when he took their side and gave them equality and a right to live their own lives as they saw fit.  Like Wilberforce, Lincoln put an end to the abuse, scorn, torture, hurts and murder so many African Americans suffered at the hands of others.  It is because of this and this alone, that Lincoln ranks as one of our greatest Presidents.  When no other political figure would, Lincoln took the risk and rescued the African Americans in our society.  It is therefore justified and proper to put his face on our currency and to build a memorial monument to his name, so that we never forget our own responsibility to treat every human equally whether black or white, born or yet-to-be born.  The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC reads,”These Truths are self evident that all men are created equal.” How fitting to his memory.

Comparisons between Lincoln and Obama

Since Obama took office, many comparisons have been drawn between him and his hero Abraham Lincoln.  For example, both men are from Illinois and each faced some controversy over his limited time in elected office.  Lincoln served only a single term in the House of Representatives and was very much an unknown quantity to the eastern establishment in 1861 and seemed like an unlikely candidate to save the union.

Each man is considered a good speaker and writer.  Lincoln in particular had the unique ability to say in a few words what others tried to say in hours.  The “Gettysburg Address” is an example of this as the featured speaker Edward Everett said of Lincoln, “You have said in just a few moments what has taken me two hours to say.”

Both used biblical language in their speeches, although Lincoln never really embraced Christ as the Lord of his life until after his Gettysburg experience.

Both men are seemingly very honest and transparent.  Lincoln was genuinely known as “Honest Abe” to his generation and Obama has so far been unafraid to admit to the American people when he makes mistakes.  It would have been easy for him to fault others for the debacle in choosing Tom Daschle and Nancy Keller for Government posts during the first few weeks he took office, but he didn’t.  He took the blame of wrongly choosing them upon himself.

Both men claim a faith in Christ – Lincoln later on in his Presidency and Obama before and during his campaign for President.   Obama said in the Saddleback Forum last summer, “Well, as a starting point, it means I believe in — that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that I am redeemed through Him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.”  He also stated in this forum, his support for abortion which is contrary to everything Christ and the Bible teaches.  So go figure.

Final Comments

So, can Obama become as great a President as Lincoln (as I am sure he would like to be)?  Some would say yes if he gets us out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Others might say yes if he can restore our economy and status in the world.  And a multitude might say yes if he does all of these things.  But does the accomplishment of these important achievements make him a great President on the level of Abraham Lincoln?  I don’t think so because what Lincoln did, more than anything else in his presidency, was to change the American mind and heart toward a seemingly helpless race of people who were being persecuted and taken advantage of.  The helpless in his generation were the African Americans; but the helpless in this generation – better said, the slaves in this generation – are the unborn babies facing abortion.  They, like their African American counterparts, are at the whim of their masters, their birthing parents, who can keep or abort them according to their own wills and discretion.

If Lincoln were alive today, I believe he would take up their cause just as he did with the African Americans 145 years ago.  He would do so because that was who he was, a President willing to take a political risk to help the helpless.  And because he did, we honor Lincoln the way we do – just as Great Britain did with William Wilberforce.

Unless Obama is willing to take a similar risk and change his mind toward the helpless unborn facing abortion, then we need to look for another President who will champion their rights and freedoms.  We have four years to find such a man or woman.  Until then I will pray that Obama has a change of heart; similar to the one Lincoln experienced after Gettysburg.   And should he have such a change in heart, and do for the unborn facing abortion what Lincoln did for the African Americans of his time, then perhaps he will go down as one of our greatest Presidents.