Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Greatest American....

Well the results are in and according to those who participated in the poll, the Greatest American of All Time is...You guessed it, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Some of you will no doubt disagree with that (Sherard :-), and while others will give their wholehearted approval (this is obvious by the mere fact that Reagan won). Well, I am not here to praise or revile Mr. Reagan (for he is an honorable man, so are they all honorable men). I would like to note however that any listing with Bill Clinton in the top ten, needs to be suspect. Nevertheless, the reason for this post is not to comment on the legitimacy of Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, but rather to draw your attention not to the greatest American, but rather to what I consider to be the Greatest American Speech ever written and heard. It is Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural. Now there have been some wonderful speeches given in the history of our country. From Thomas Paine, "Give me Liberty," to Sojourner Truth's "Am I Woman," to John F. Kennedy's Inaugural, to M.L. King's "I Have A Dream." Yet, I am convinced that none captured the pathos of the day while speaking with such prophetic insight and theological acumen as did Lincoln's Second Inaugural. Lincoln has been called "the most theological of our presidents." To read his Second Inaugural and to understand the circumstances surrounding its writing is to understand why Lincoln would be given such a designation. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading a fantastic book detailing, examining, and breaking down Lincoln's thoughts contain in that speech. The book is Lincoln's Greatest Speech by Ronald C. White, Jr. It is a remarkable and insightful read. Learning the Reformed Theological influences upon Lincoln, particularly as they are expressed in this speech, is worth the price of the book itself. If we had men (politicians and preachers) today committed to such theological integrity in the public arena, we may just see more names added to the list of Greatest Americans. If not, at least more added to the list of Greatest American Speeches.

No comments: