Monday, June 23, 2014

LDS BOOK REVIEW: The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard


ABOUT THE BOOK

Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth US president during a very dark time in America's history. Author Timothy Ballard explores the crucial role that President Lincoln played to bring this nation closer to heaven. Readers will see Lincoln as a man inspired of God who invoked a covenant relationship between America and its maker — not unlike the national covenants invoked by righteous leaders in the Book of Mormon. In addition, The Lincoln Hypothesis reveals documented evidence that Abraham Lincoln did, in fact, check out the Book of Mormon as he struggled with making some of the most critical decisions of his presidency. Did he read it? Did it influence him? Was the Book of Mormon a key factor in Lincoln's success and the healing of a nation?

The author states, “As you read, you will, like a prosecutor reviewing a case, or like a jury determining a verdict, identify valuable pieces of evidence that can be fully substantiated. You will also identify pieces of evidence that cannot. I ask you to consider all the evidence and weight it accordingly. Through this study, many questions regarding the interplay between the restored gospel and the Civil War will be answered. New questions may emerge that will not be so easily answered. Either way, in the end you will find yourself on a most exhilarating investigative journey.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TIMOTHY BALLARD graduated cum laude from Brigham Young University in Spanish and political science, then went on to receive and MA (summa cum laude) in international politics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Tim has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as well as an agent for the Department of Homeland Security. He is also the author of The American Covenant: One Nation under God. He lives in Southern California with his wife and six children.

REVIEW

Abraham Lincoln has long been a hero of mine that I love to read about, so when I heard about this book I really wanted to read it, especially when I found out the topic. Did Abraham Lincoln read the Book of Mormon? I really wanted to know.  The book did not disappoint.  In fact, it's one of the most amazing, thought-provoking books that I've ever read.  The evidence that Ballard presents is compelling although not definitive.  The book is very readable with lots of quotes and stories, many of which I hadn't heard before, despite my extensive reading about Lincoln and the Civil War.

The major focus of the book is on the United States as a covenant nation under God.  As such the blessings of righteousness are tremendous, but the consequences of sin are horrible. While there are many sins in our past, Ballard chooses to highlight two: slavery and the horrible mistreatment of the early saints (as well as other minorities).  He states his belief that the Civil War was the consequence of the refusal to repent of these sins.  But God isn't eager to punish His people if they'll repent, so He sent Joseph Smith to give them a chance to do so.  Ballard goes through the prophecies and efforts that Joseph went through, including a run for the presidency, that were intended to lead to national repentance.  When those chances were ignored, the Civil War became inevitable.

The scriptures, quotes, and stories that Ballard shares are fascinating.  My perspective on Joseph's run for the presidency has shifted significantly.  I'd long believed it was mostly to give the saints someone to vote for, but Ballard has convinced me that there was a lot more to it than that.

The stories about Lincoln I found very touching, as the author tracks the changes in belief and action that Lincoln underwent during his time as President.  Lincoln really learned to rely on the Lord as he dealt with his very heavy burdens and griefs.  Ballard makes his point that Lincoln did in fact read the Book of Mormon and use what he learned very plausible.  Of course, there is no way to know for sure, but Ballard really does a good job making his case.

An absolutely fascinating book that I highly recommend you read if you are at all interested in the topic. Beautifully written and well-thought out, I will never look at Joseph Smith, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War the same way again.

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