Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Is God on America's Side?

So Elizabeth Bumiller asked in Sunday's Democratic candidates debate, trying to trip them up. We know George W. Bush's answer. Of course God is on America's side. We are working to make things better. Our opponents are the evil doers.

Here is Abraham Lincoln's answer:

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

"Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

As it was in the time of the Civil War, so it is today. Both we and our adversaries pray to the same God. He will not answer either their prayers or ours fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. The important question is not whether God is on our side, but whether we are doing our best to be on His side.

But if Lincoln had said that on Sunday night, I can just imagine Matt Drudge's headline the next day: ABRAHAM LINCOLN NOT SURE GOD ON OUR SIDE-- THINKS NATION MAY NEED TO PAY FOR OUR SINS.

And the pundits would click their tongues and say: My goodness, he doesn't think we're always right! How did such a man ever get to be elected president, anyway?

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