“Out of the Mouth of Two Witnesses….”
I recall sitting in the courtyard of a Barcelona café several years ago with Michel Bongrand, then in his late eighties. Bongrand, of French Huguenot stock, had not only been political consultant to Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Valry Giscard d’Estang, but during the Second World War, he had been a member of the “Free French” who parachuted into France during the liberation.
As we sat in the courtyard, Michel complained that the airport security guards had taken away his cigar clipper on the apparent presumption that eighty-year olds are in the habit of hijacking airliners with such dangerous weapons. While I listened to his complaint, I could not help but wonder if the airport security guards in Paris had noticed what I was noticing – the small insignia on his lapel denoting his rank as Commander in the storied Légion d’Honneur–France’s highest award given only to the most celebrated of French patriots. We would all be well-served to, if not trust, at least recognize the significance of the evidence before us.
It was with that thought in mind that I determined to give Doug Fox a fair hearing about the religious convictions of Abraham Lincoln. I had always dismissed the accolades begotten of civil religion, and knew only too well how religious language is carefully parsed in political speeches for maximum effect. I also knew Lincoln’s reputation as a young man was as a scoffer, who even penned a booklet to refute the deity of Christ. Most of this early record alleging Lincoln’s lack of Christian faith depended upon the written recollections of his former law partner, who “knew him when,” and statements after his death by Lincoln’s personal secretary, yet here we clearly have something new. Indeed, what caused me to stop in my tracks was that Fox’s defense of Lincoln was based almost entirely upon the fact that Lincoln was believed by not one, but two of his pastors, rigid “Old School” Calvinist Presbyterians who knew him before and during the war. To ignore their testimony would be the equivalent of ignoring my friend Michel’s Légion d’Honneur.
There are other wonderful stories in this issue, but it is here that you will read something both important, and new. Much, but not all of the case is circumstantial, but there is weight to the personal recollections that cannot, and should not, be ignored. This story is but another reminder that we cannot see men’s hearts, and that we shall all be surprised in heaven, not only by who is there, but by who is not.
On the Cover
Queen Louise of Prussia, the postcard made from the painting by Joseph Grassi, chromolithography, edited by Stengel & Co., G.m.b. H., inventory number I.r. 29206. Courtesy of the Museum of the Lubomirski Princes at the Ossolinski National Institute, Wroclaw, Poland.
The Jul-Sep 2013 issue includes these articles:
- Queen Louise of Prussia
- Abraham Lincoln: “Old School” Presbyterian
- Of Popes and Pirates
- Controversial, Even in Death
- John Lasko and the Polish Reformation
- A More Perfect Union