Friday, August 18, 2006

"Out-Calvined Calvin"

In my reading of Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk, the following is one of the most amusing portions I've found so far. In Chapter 5 "A Misfortune, Not a Fault", second paragraph, pages 81 - 82, you will find the following excerpt:

Lincoln was raised in the thick of Old School Calvinism. In Kentucky and Indiana, his parents belonged to a fire-breathing sect called Separate Baptism, in which congregants heard - in the tradition of Jonathan Edwards's famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" - that they were bound for eternal hellfire, and nothing they could do or say or think would change their fate. Preachers did allow that a chosen few were ordained for grace and would be saved, but these fortunate ones had been selected by God before time began. As one Baptist preacher in Lincoln's Kentucky explained it, "Long before the morning stars sang together...the Almighty looked down upon the ages yet unborn, as it were, in review before him, and selected one here and another there to enjoy eternal life and left the rest to the blackness of darkness forever." Such Baptist ministers were so intense that it has been said that they "out-Calvined Calvin."

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