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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The religious left.

Beliefnet has a fine story on religious opposition to war with Iraq, highlighting the visible role mainline denominations and the National Council of Churches have taken in the Win Without War campaign and other antiwar efforts. The best quotes go to Evangelical critics of the antiwar movement, but the story is balanced enough to describe the failure of the National Association of Evangelicals to pass a resolution endorsing the war. Also: a sociologist tells the writer that "with the involvement of religious groups, Americans can recognize antiwar activists as 'a favorite aunt or Ned Flanders.'" Great . . .

President as theologian.

Also on Beliefnet, Mark A. Noll observes that "none of Americaís respected religious leaders — as defined by contemporaries or later scholars — mustered the theological power so economically expressed in Lincolnís Second Inaugural." In the midst of the Civil War, the president turned out to be America's finest theologian. Lincoln embraced the traditional Christian notion that God rules over all events,

But to this conventional belief Lincoln added two most unconventional convictions. First was the notion that the United States might not necessarily be a uniquely chosen nation, or at least that the moral constraints operating on American were the same as those for other nations, and that these universal standards of justice were of greater consequence than any supposed chosenness of the United States. Second was Lincolnís belief that the ways of providence might be obscure, difficult to fathom, hedged in by contingencies, or otherwise not open to immediate understanding and manipulation.

P.S. Lincoln, who never joined a church, was greatly influenced by the radical Unitarian Theodore Parker. Garry Wills looks closely at Parker's influence on the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln at Gettysburg; see especially chapter 3.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 19 February 2003 at 6:06 PM

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Next: 'Liberalism lies dying.'

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