President Ronald Reagan is remembered for many things. He effectively ended the Cold War. His popular economic policies are affectionately referred to as Reaganomics. His devotion to and love for wife Nancy are well documented. Now, a newly discovered letter reveals President Reagan’s strong, unwavering faith in Christ.
Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty found the missive earlier this year in a cardboard box filled with Nancy Reagan’s personal belongings. Tumulty, who was conducting research about the former First Lady for a biography, was given permission to look through her things by the Reagan Library. President Reagan wrote the letter on August 7, 1982. He addressed it to his dying father-in-law Loyal Davis, a pioneering neurosurgeon. The former president mentioned the need to write the missive in his diary. He said, “Again at the W.H. More of Saturdays work plus a long letter I have to write to Loyal. I’m afraid for him. His health is failing badly.”
Besides being concerned about his father-in-law’s health, President Reagan was worried about his soul. Considered an atheist, Davis once penned, “I have never been able to subscribe to the divinity of Jesus Christ nor his virgin birth. I don’t believe in his resurrection, or a heaven or hell as places. If we are remembered and discussed with pleasure and happiness after death, this is our heavenly reward.” The former president opened the letter by saying, “Dear Loyal, I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I’ve been wanting to write you ever since we talked on the phone. I’m aware of the strain you are under and believe with all my heart there is help for that. . . . ”
Reagan went on to write, “Loyal, you and [wife] Edith have known a great love – more than many have been permitted to know. That love will not end with the end of this life. We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.”
Understanding his father-in-law’s unbelieving state, Reagan compassionately stated, “Loyal I know of your feeling – your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer?”
The former president then expounded about how Scripture contained 123 Old Testament prophesies about Jesus’s life. He mentioned that they all came true when Christ was born, 700 years after the miraculous event was predicted. Because his father-in-law was a doctor, Reagan felt Christ’s virgin birth was particularly hard for him to believe. In the letter, Reagan said, “And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a Virgin. Now I know that is probably the hardest for you as a doctor to accept. The only answer that can be given is – a miracle.”
Continuing, the former President wrote, “But Loyal I don’t find that as great a miracle as the actual history of his life. Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker and charlatan who ever lived. But would a liar and faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?”
The former President quoted John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
Loyal Davis passed away on August 19, 1982, only 12 days after President Reagan penned his letter. On August 17, 1982, President Reagan’s father-in-law requested to speak with a hospital chaplain. This individual prayed with Reagan’s father-in-law. After this event, daughter Nancy Reagan stated, “I noticed he was calmer and not as frightened.”
For President Reagan, faith wasn’t merely a concept to be mentioned at political rallies to drum up support for an upcoming election. As evidenced in this letter to his father-in-law, it was an integral part of the American leader remembered fondly by so many.
~ 1776 Christian