The Bible and the Presidents
by Art Farstad
February is a presidential month for historically-minded Americans. And rightly so. Our first and truly great President! George Washington, was born in February (Feb. 11, 1732, "Old Style" calendar, Feb. 22 "New Style"). So too was Abraham Lincoln, perhaps our greatest and most beloved President of all (Feb. 12, 1809). Their respective birthdays have been holidays in most states--or at least one of them was. Now it's "President's Day"--and it's supposed to include all of the Presidents.
The office of President of the United States has become a very powerful one. People are influenced--no matter how much they may complain and deny it--by what these men--some great, some weak, and some mediocre say and do.
The Grace Evangelical Society is interested in God's Word--its teachings, and its application to everyday life. A very large percentage of U.S. Presidents, whether definitely known to be believers or not, have said and written some very worthwhile things about our favorite Book.
I have chosen remarks on the Bible from a handful of Presidents during the 3 centuries in which there have been Presidents of the United States.
George Washington (1789-97)
John Quincy Adams (1825-29)
Andrew Jackson (1829-37)
Upon hearing a man defaming God's Word, Jackson rebuked him with the following well-chosen words:
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
Lincoln had devout Christian parents but apparently didn't become a believer till the darkest days of the Civil War. As a boy he read the Bible so much that his style was ever after heavily influenced by the King James Version. The following quotation is no doubt from the period before he found his faith:
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77)
Grant was a man of integrity. As he was dying of cancer he wrote his memoirs, not for prestige, but so as not to leave his family in debt. He finished in time; the royalties saved the family from financial ruin. Grant wrote:
William McKinley (1897-1901)
President McKinley was a genuine believer in Christ. His words are sorely needed by our currently biblically illiterate, "Christian-bashing" culture:
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09)
Herbert Clark Hoover (1929-33)
It was Hoover's misfortune to be presiding over the Nation when the great stock market crash took place, though he was not responsible for it. Hoover did much to help the world's needy between the World Wars.
We have read just a few presidential quotations--powerful men speaking of the powerful Book. If we had more space the list could be augmented at least fourfold.
Since our Newsletter has British Commonwealth readers as well as U.S., let's have a royal quotation for our Canadian and other Commonwealth friends:
King George V (ruled 1910-36)
His words are greatly needed in the British world today:
Having dealt with men of power sufficiently, I would like to close with a few lines from one of North America's finest men of poetry:
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
From the old flower-fields of the soul,
And, weary seekers for the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read.
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