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Philosophy discuss Stoicism in the Apologetics Forum forums; Can anybody inform me on Stoicism? What within it is right within the Christian worldview? What is wrong? Why is it wrong? etc. Thanks!...

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    Stoicism

    Can anybody inform me on Stoicism? What within it is right within the Christian worldview? What is wrong? Why is it wrong? etc.

    Thanks!
    Sean
    Layman, First Presbyterian Church of Concord New Hampshire (PCA)
    Hillsborough, New Hampshire

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    The Wiki article on it is pretty straight forward and even has a section in regards to Christianity. There are some right ideas within the school [edit:] but most ideas are wrong (as others have shown after me).
    Last edited by Claudiu; 08-29-2011 at 03:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    The Wiki article on it is pretty straight forward and even has a section in regards to Christianity. There are some right ideas within the school.
    I dabbled a little bit into the Wiki article, and read the entire Christianity part. I can see how being happy through all situations is a good thing, but that can't always apply because there should be things we are to be sad and distraught about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus View Post
    Can anybody inform me on Stoicism?
    Dear Sean,

    As that Stoicism has been a popular order of philosophy in history and influential (regrettably) even up to this day, and as it has had many many followers, and probably not a few writings left in its wake, I am confident that Yes, someone, somewhere can inform you on the subject. I hope to have exhaustively and sufficiently answered your question and - in all sincerity - hope that you rest in sweet slumber tonight knowing that your inquiry has been fully addressed.

    Sincerely,
    Claudiu
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus View Post
    Can anybody inform me on Stoicism?
    Dear Sean,

    As that Stoicism has been a popular order of philosophy in history and influential (regrettably) even up to this day, and as it has had many many followers, and probably not a few writings left in its wake, I am confident that Yes, someone, somewhere can inform you on the subject. I hope to have exhaustively and sufficiently answered your question and - in all sincerity - hope that you rest in sweet slumber tonight knowing that your inquiry has been fully addressed.

    Sincerely,
    I thought that was funny. But then, I'm a wiseass too.

    Anyway, many great Christians in history have found a lot of value in the writings of Stoics like Seneca the Younger (though Seneca's philosophy was actually fairly eclectic). The value, for us, IMO, largely has to do with the Stoic emphasis on Providence, and how this reality informs how we ought to react/behave when bad things happen. Rather than crumble emotionally when our cat dies or when we lose a limb, we should trust in Providence -- nothing happens by chance -- and the larger purpose behind these events. The study of philosophy (Stoicism) is highly therapeutic -- it leads to a tranquillity of the mind/soul in a stormy world. This is not to say that we mustn't mourn, or that we should be like 'robots', devoid of emotion. This is a caricature of Stoicism, say the Stoics. Of course the Stoic sage mourns when his child's life is snuffed out; but he mourns in a mature way (which can sometimes look 'robotic' or devoid of emotion, to those who mourn in childish ways). The idea is that the Stoic sage always maintains his bearings in tragedy, because he is intimately aware of the higher truth of purposeful Providence. This is the happy man, who is realizing his potential as a rational being.
    N.F. Tyler, Hon. B.A. with Distinction (St. Michael's College, Toronto)
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    N.F. Tyler, I believe your construction of Stoicism is Christianized. To adduce providence without greater contextualization as that upon which Stoics rely is misleading. The Christian doctrine of providence is based on a personal God (the Blessed, Holy Undivided Trinity) as taught in Holy Writ. The Stoics' view is materialistic and impersonal.

    I do not deny that Stoics speak of providence, but they identify it entirely with "fate." To quote the Oxford Classical Dictionary: "Stoic physics gives an account of the world which is strongly materialist. It is also determinist; the world as a whole is made up of material objects and their interactions , which occur according to exceptionless laws, which are called fate." To be sure, as noted above, Stoics identify this "fate" with providence. But it is entirely impersonal. And any conception of God is material. This is all quite different than the Christian concept of providence. I am not suggesting that you would disagree with any of this. However, simply to say that Stoics believe in providence (with a capital P no less!) is potentially misleading.

    The early church fathers battled mightily against Stoicism, which, with Middle or neo-Platonism, was likely the most popular philosophy of the day. Justin Martyr (martyed, btw, under the great Stoic emperor, Marcus Aurelius) , Tertullian, and others stressed personal responsibility and freedom of the will to the extent that they did (and this is often missed), at least in part, because they were seeking to combat the notion of this all-pervasive, impersonal fate. This is helpful to keep in mind: these men were not merely proto-Pelagians, but rather were combatting this stultifying Stoicism that taught apatheia as the response to tragedy and suffering.

    This is all quite different than what we read about the Emotional Life of our Lord in Warfield, for example. Stoicism apes certain Christian virtues, as do most philosophies at some point, but falls woefully short of the rich, satisfying life (including our emotional life) that we are called to in Christ.

    Peace,
    Alan
    Last edited by Alan D. Strange; 08-25-2011 at 09:59 AM.
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    "Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."


    "Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it."

    Marcus Aurelius

    Some short quotes by Aurelius, whose book, Meditations, would be a good read if you are looking for insight into stoicism. Read with discernment and compare the writings to Scripture! Only in the Word of God can we find truth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan D. Strange View Post
    N.F. Tyler, I believe your construction of Stoicism is Christianized. To adduce providence without greater contextualization as that upon which Stoics rely is misleading. The Christian doctrine of providence is based on a personal God (the Blessed, Holy Undivided Trinity) as taught in Holy Writ. The Stoics view is materialistic and impersonal.

    I do not deny that Stoics speak of providence, but they identify it entirely with "fate." To quote the Oxford Classical Dictionary: "Stoic physics gives an account of the world which is strongly materialist. It is also determinist; the world as a whole is made up of material objects and their interactions , which occur according to exceptionless laws, which are called fate." To be sure, as noted above, Stoics identify this "fate" with providence. But it is entirely impersonal. And any conception of God is material. This is all quite different than the Christian concept of providence. I am not suggesting that you would disagree with any of this. However, simply to say that Stoics believe in providence (with a capital P no less!) is potentially misleading.

    The early church fathers battled mightily against Stoicism, which, with Middle or neo-Platonism, was likely the most popular philosophy of the day. Justin Martyr (martyed, btw, under the great Stoic emperor, Marcus Aurelius) , Tertullian, and others stressed personal responsibility and freedom of the will to the extent that they did (and this is often missed), at least in part, because they were seeking to combat the notion of this all-pervasive, impersonal fate. This is helpful to keep in mind: these men were not merely proto-Pelagians, but rather were combatting this stultifying Stoicism that taught apatheia as the response to tragedy and suffering.

    This is all quite different than what we read about the Emotional Life of our Lord in Warfield, for example. Stoicism apes certain Christian virtues, as do most philosophies at some point, but falls woefully short of the rich, satisfying life (including our emotional life) that we are called to in Christ.

    Peace,
    Alan
    Quite right. But this 'fate' language can also be misleading. Stoicism, generally speaking, did not reject freedom or free-will (and thus moral responsibility) per se, but that 'libertarian' freedom or free-will which is at odds with or denies the causally deterministic workings of Nature. The mainstream Stoic position was a kind of compatibilism.

    Cicero wholeheartedly rejected popular arguments against the Stoic position such as the so-called 'Lazy Argument': (in the formulation of Cicero, from his treatise On Fate) " 'If it is fated for you to recover from this illness whether you call the doctor or not, you will recover; similarly, if it is fated for you not to recover from this illness whether you call the doctor or not, you will not recover. And one of the two is fated; therefore, there is no point in calling the doctor'. It is right to call this kind of argument 'lazy' and 'slothful' because on the same reasoning all action will be abolished from life!" Cicero and most other Stoics were not holding to a fatalism which denies the role of (free-)willed human action in the the unfolding of providence. The 'Lazy Argument', and the Stoic response, is similar to the Arminian argument against Calvinist predestination -- that it breeds laziness, inaction; for whether we are going to heaven or not has already been determined before we were born, etc. -- and the Calvinist response to it.
    Last edited by Reformed Thomist; 08-25-2011 at 10:44 AM.
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    N.F. Tyler:

    I agree that Stoicism claims a kind of compatibilism and that the best exemplars of the philosophy emphasized moral responsilbility.

    However, from a philosophical viewpoint, I would regard that as nonsense. It's one thing to argue responsibility and compatibilism with a personal, sovereign God; it's another thing altogether to argue that in a system that is materialistic and in which fate is impersonal.

    Stoics may assert it, just as those who are scientistic may wish to argue against vicious determinism (though all who practice scientism cannot escape the charge of vicious determinism).

    I don't dispute that Stoics argued these things and in that respect could rather sound like Christians. As you well know, there is a whole school of thought that seeks to brand the Apostle Paul as a Stoic. But Paul's determinism is not at all the same as that of a Stoic.

    The Stoic's determinism is not, if I may be a bit jocular, that of Calvin but rather that of Hobbes. The reason that the Calvinist can defend himself against the Arminian has a different ontological ground, and epistemological reality, altogether than that of the Stoic. What I mean is that I acknowledge that the Stoic makes the claims that you cite, but such compatibilistic claims do not cohere with his system; they are not warranted within a worldview that is impersonal, materialistic, and empiricistic.

    I would ask our dear Cicero how, given the worldview of Stoicisim, he can justify what he is saying. I know how to justify it from a Christian viewpoint, and I know that Cicero knows what he is saying is true because he is made in the image of God who made the world as He did and that Cicero, along with all others, has the works of the law written on his heart. Cicero knows that it is absurd to be lazy in the fashion that he excoriates. But he knows that only because his creation [I]in imago dei[I] and the reasoning powers that God has given him permit him to make that conclusion. He knows it in spite of Stoicism, which can only point, consistent with itself, in a viciously deterministic direction. Because no Stoic wants to live with the consequences of that does not mean that he is warranted in simply announcing what he wishes were the case: we are responsible beings with free will (he is warranted in such if he has a world view to support it).

    Peace,
    Alan
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    Quote Originally Posted by FCC View Post
    "Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."


    "Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it."

    Marcus Aurelius

    Some short quotes by Aurelius, whose book, Meditations, would be a good read if you are looking for insight into stoicism. Read with discernment and compare the writings to Scripture! Only in the Word of God can we find truth.
    I agree with this post. I'm no Stoic, but I still understood and appreciated a lot of the things Epictetus had to say, anyway. I'd echo FCC's comment about reading with discernment, etc., and recommend you read The Discourses, The Internet Classics Archive | The Discourses by Epictetus. I, for one, really enjoyed it.
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    When I have the time I'd love to read the some Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus but is there any way in which I could compare it to scripture other than deeply looking through passages? Maybe a website like bible gateway or passages according to use of a word. I do see the problems of materialism and the possibility of emotionalism in it, and all together it does have non-Christian origins, but that doesn't make everything within it un-Christian.

    Does anybody else recommend it? Does anybody not recommend it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    I am vexed with seeming insurmountable incredulity, Sean, that you have not heaped praises and thank yous upon me, considering I'm really the only person to have directly, succinctly, yet exhaustively answered your question. Hmmph.
    I still don't understand.
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    I haven't read too deeply in stoicism but I would think 'Christian' elements are probably easier to strain off the surface, than to very deeply reconcile. As C. S. Lewis says of Cicero's 'Somnium Scipionis': 'Superficially it seems to need only a few touches to bring it into line with Christianity; fundamentally it presupposes a wholly Pagan ethics and metaphysics.'
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Dear Brother,

    You asked if anyone could inform you on Stoicism. I said with great confidence and solidarity, "Yes." How my response did not, in your mind, sufficiently quell all doubts, is beyond me. I am hurt, offended, and subsequently crushed. Of course, such betrays any notion that, at least in practice, could ever be a Stoic.
    Your messing with my grammar aren't you? Because I said if anybody here could and you said "Yes." because there are people on the Puritanboard that could.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Dear Sean,

    Whilst you have shown apparent disdain for my answer to your original post, I shall now make an attempt to answer this question as well. Given that there are positive reviews on writings of different Stoics throughout history, as is evidenced by reviews on Amazon.com (that is, if we are to grant charity to those who say they've read the writings), I can confidently answer in the affirmative that, Yes. Someone else, somewhere, recommends such. Given that I, myself, along with myriad others of hoards of folks have not read the writings, nor left reviews on said writings, it may thereby be reasonably deduced that there are others, who by their silence on said writings, do not recommend such. So I can answer in the affirmative on that question as well.

    Again, I hope this satisfactorily answers your seeds of inquiry. Be at peace.
    I give up.

    I did read an article on the Neostoicism that arose during the 1600s, John Calvin actually mentioned Neostoics somewhere in the Institutes however that was before the known Neostoic movement began, so it is uncertain whom Calvin was talking about. According to the article on of the problems people attempting to reconcile much of old Stoicism and Christianity was that God in Stoicism is subject to fate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    I am vexed with seeming insurmountable incredulity, Sean, that you have not heaped praises and thank yous upon me, considering I'm really the only person to have directly, succinctly, yet exhaustively answered your question. Hmmph.
    I still don't understand.


    I have a hard time following whatever in he says in general myself, so you're not alone.
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    Joshua has employed a common joke. It is part of the talk of the rabble that is to be despised by those who are allowed to enter heaven.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    I have a hard time following whatever in he says in general myself, so you're not alone.
    Haha , at first I thought he was using some Stoic philosophical move on me but I didn't see how it matched up. Maybe he should have been an English teacher, correcting kids grammar, instead of ours .
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    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    Joshua has employed a common joke. It is part of the talk of the rabble that is to be despised by those who are allowed to enter heaven.
    We can all come up with witty responses but I don't know how helpful they are for discussions. Sure, sometimes a joke here and there is fine but when an excessive amount of the posts a person makes are just witty stuff I don't understand it anymore.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    We can all come up with witty responses
    I'm not so sure that we can.
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    Quote Originally Posted by py3ak View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    We can all come up with witty responses
    I'm not so sure that we can.
    Ah...maybe you're right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    I appreciate, however, you thinking they're witty, as I'd never think to ascribe such grandeur to them.
    Ok...now that is funny.
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    I have been reading In the Shadow of Death by Abraham Kuyper, and he has a lot to say on the subject. First, as Christians, we are to recognize that we live in a sinful world. Illness, injury and death were not a normal part of creation. Rather than soldiering on, the Christian should view with horror the result of sin. (Not like Job's friends trying to equate certain sins with certain ailments but in recognizing that our world is horribly distorted.)

    As Christians, we are to give thanks in all things. But that does not mean setting our faces in an emotionless mien. We are to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. And this is very real grief and very real gladness. We can show a quiet confidence in God's sovereignty, yet grapple with the difficulties before us, pleading for God's comfort and resolution of difficulties, yet recognizing that God takes these difficulties to sanctify us. We know that God will somehow be glorified and that we will be healed or made whole even if we have to wait for our resurrection. This is a hope that the world does not know and cannot understand. To stoically endure is to live a life antithetical to the teachings of scripture.

    I am losing my hearing. At times, I would love to take off this corrupted body and wait with Jesus for a glorified body. I recognize that as part of Adam's line, I am a sinner. I recognize that I've added a ton of my own sin to the mess. I mourn the result of the fall on my body. Rather than trying to "keep an even keel" I give thanks to my God that he sees me worth disciplining. I accept the sovereignty that he controls every decibel I'm losing. He could stop it, even restore full hearing (medically speaking, not likely). Yet I fully feel the loss and plead with God to intervene. My brothers and sisters in Christ bear this burden with me and try to give relief and encouragement. This is not a resignation to fate. The word "fortune" has been banished from my vocabulary. Though we would distort God's image even further if we were to totally fall apart as ones without faith, we none-the-less have very real feelings that should not somehow be contained.
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    Is it wrong for me than to embrace certain things as being Providential and strive to be happy through them? (I'm not talking really bad stuff) but for instance, it rains. And other times it's very hot. People often complain about these things but I see them as completly out of my control so I take the best that is in those and know theirs a purpose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    It is not only not wrong to embrace all things as God's Providential dealings, but we are required to give Him thanks in all things and to realize that all evils that befall us are:

    1. Better than what we deserve.
    2. For God's glory.
    3. Ultimately, for our good.

    For whom the Lord loves, He chastens. We are not bastards, but sons. No matter what happens to us, it's not nearly as bad as what we deserve; yet, in Christ, all hard providences brought our way are of a redeeming and valuable purpose. This - by no means - is to be confused with Stoicism. A cursory glance at the expression of emotions in the Psalter should alone dispel such a silly notion.
    Thanks Joshua. You gave me a great answer, they make up for all your witty grammar related jokes that I didn't get.
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    I had a conversation with my barber today which may lend some help to this topic. As he was cutting my hair ( an aside here, never, Never, NEVER get your barber talking about a deeply personal matter WHILE he is cutting your hair!), we began talking about his teenage granddaughter. She had become extremely ill and after two visits to our local hospital she passed out at home and went into a coma. By the time they returned her to the hospital her temperature was 107 and rising. After being in the hospital for hours the doctor came out and told them that he had no idea what was wrong with her. The family immediately had her transported to West Virginia University for treatment. She is now recovering but has suffered unknown damage from the extremely high fever. I tell this story because as he was telling me he expressed some common Christian ideas. He said that he would have to trust in the Lord since the Lord knew what was best. I responded with a passage from Job, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord." Not a direct quote but close. The barber was near tears and thanked me for the verse and asked me to pray for his granddaughter.

    A stoic, if he were truly a stoic, should show no emotion while dealing with such a situation. A Christian can have the emotions that accompany such a distressing situation and also trust that God in His providence is working all things out for His glory and our eternal good! I think the stoics were right in some small areas but again we must always return to the Scriptures for a right understanding of the world and the events that occur to us and around us everyday.

    PS: I ended up with an extremely bad flat top that he tried to correct to no avail! I am now shorn short! Yet, I stoically manned up and excused his mistake!
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  28. #28
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    Sean:

    And what makes your response to the rain, or whatever, as a Christian, and Joshua's beautiful words so very different from anything that the Stoics could ever imagine is that all that comes to pass comes from the hand of your gracious Father, who works all things for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Nothing impersonal or material but the most real thing in the universe, a personal God who before time and space decreed all that comes to pass, again, for His glory and your good. Loved eternally in the Beloved.

    There is a grand Trinitarian conspiracy--if you will--Ephesians 1:3-14: God the Father appoints our salvation, God the Son accomplishes it and God the Spirit applies it. All for our everlasting rest and His everlasting glory. And the wonder of it all is that which most makes for His glory most makes for our good. All is so ordered by one who loves us so much that He gives us His only begotten Son. Stoicism knows nothing of this.

    Stoicism's apatheia as one of its purported secrets to pain-free living is a sad echo of the saint resting in the beautiful providence of His Father (who truly knows best!), his Father who is great, good, and wise (I Tim. 1:17). Even in the most painful things (and we don't deny evil and we don't deny pain--about this Stoicism can't handle the truth), we confess, through tears and crying "how long?" that God does wisely and well. The Book of Job isn't Stoicism and Job would not have done better as a Stoic. Many apsects of Hinduism and especially Buddhism attempt to take similar approaches but are all bound to fail.

    Stoicism is one of man's ways of trying to handle this life in a fallen world without Christ. It's like a band-aid on a gaping wound. We are far worse off than Stoicism, Buddhism or any like approach can begin to deal with. We need a divine rescue mission not ways of figuring out how to cope by human wisdom. God offer us so much more than that in Christ and in His Word.

    These approaches deal with emotions by corraling them. Christianity deals with them by sanctifying them and developing them. Stoicism denies something essential to our humanity in order to deal with the pain. Christianity, in sanctifying us, does not need to make us less human to deal with the pain; sanctification makes us most truly human and brings us into the fullest flowering of our humanity, begun here and consummated hereafter.

    Peace,
    Alan
    Alan D. Strange
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  29. #29
    py3ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan D. Strange View Post
    Sean:

    And what makes your response to the rain, or whatever, as a Christian, and Joshua's beautiful words so very different from anything that the Stoics could ever imagine is that all that comes to pass comes from the hand of your gracious Father, who works all things for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Nothing impersonal or material but the most real thing in the universe, a personal God who before time and space decreed all that comes to pass, again, for His glory and your good. Loved eternally in the Beloved.

    There is a grand Trinitarian conspiracy--if you will--Ephesians 1:3-14: God the Father appoints our salvation, God the Son accomplishes it and God the Spirit applies it. All for our everlasting rest and His everlasting glory. And the wonder of it all is that which most makes for His glory most makes for our good. All is so ordered by one who loves us so much that He gives us His only begotten Son. Stoicism knows nothing of this.

    Stoicism's apatheia as one of its purported secrets to pain-free living is a sad echo of the saint resting in the beautiful providence of His Father (who truly knows best!), his Father who is great, good, and wise (I Tim. 1:17). Even in the most painful things (and we don't deny evil and we don't deny pain--about this Stoicism can't handle the truth), we confess, through tears and crying "how long?" that God does wisely and well. The Book of Job isn't Stoicism and Job would not have done better as a Stoic. Many apsects of Hinduism and especially Buddhism attempt to take similar approaches but are all bound to fail.

    Stoicism is one of man's ways of trying to handle this life in a fallen world without Christ. It's like a band-aid on a gaping wound. We are far worse off than Stoicism, Buddhism or any like approach can begin to deal with. We need a divine rescue mission not ways of figuring out how to cope by human wisdom. God offer us so much more than that in Christ and in His Word.

    These approaches deal with emotions by corraling them. Christianity deals with them by sanctifying them and developing them. Stoicism denies something essential to our humanity in order to deal with the pain. Christianity, in sanctifying us, does not need to make us less human to deal with the pain; sanctification makes us most truly human and brings us into the fullest flowering of our humanity, begun here and consummated hereafter.

    Peace,
    Alan
    Professor Strange, I just wanted to say that I'm glad you are here on the PuritanBoard. It is a pleasure to see your posts, and I'm sure more than myself are profiting from them.
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  30. #30
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    You all are very kind. We have a Master who renders service both a light burden and a joy. And we have the best script in the world to work from in His Word. Nothing new here, as Hodge would gladly proclaim.

    Peace,
    Alan
    Alan D. Strange
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  31. #31
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    It may be helpful to view Stoicism in its historical context to get a better understanding of it, although very great words by very intelligent people have been spoken on it here already. Greek philosophy basically began as asking what is the nature of things, or what we have come to call metaphysics? They from the begining sought to answer such lofty questions at the disdain of practical everyday life. Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Cynicism were all reactions IMHO to such lofty questions by making philosophy primaraly, I don't think that is spelled right?, about everday human experience.

    They had their metaphysical theories to be sure but they were more concerned with how do then live in such a metaphysical context? For instance if the gods are completly indifferent to everything than I should in a measured way live it up, Epicureanism. Or everything is so "fated" that I must take it all with stride and hold my head up high, Stoicism. There is actually great continuties between these two schools of thought and Existentialism.

    For the Stoic we must take life as it is fated for us, for the Exitentialist we must live authentically in the life we are "thrown" into. Camus was in some sense a modern Stoic. One of the only differences between these two schools of thought is the beleif in any gods.

    Now can we "chrisitinize" these philosophies at all? I would say fundementaly no. Yes there are things to be gained by these thinkers but on a fundemental, presupossitional, level they are at odds with christian theism. Therefore we need to be careful with how we read them and incorperate any ideas from them. In Stoicism and Epicureanism the gods have no real concern for humanity but our God does, that is a presupossitional difference between the two.

    On a personal note I think we need Van Tillian philosophers out there to write Reformed commentaries on all philosophers to better serve the church in exploring these things. It has been far too long for most VanTillians to lose our allergy to philosophy and start from Reformed theology and do truly christian philosophy. So I am sounding the call for VanTillians to do philosophy and contribute to this much negleted need in our churches. K. Scott Oliphant said nearely the same stuff and also added that any VanTillian doing this would be virtualy alone in doing so. I think we can do better than that.
    James
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    My blog: http://thereformedcafe.wordpress.com/.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwright82 View Post
    Now can we "chrisitinize" these philosophies at all? I would say fundementaly no. Yes there are things to be gained by these thinkers but on a fundemental, presupossitional, level they are at odds with christian theism. Therefore we need to be careful with how we read them and incorperate any ideas from them. In Stoicism and Epicureanism the gods have no real concern for humanity but our God does, that is a presupossitional difference between the two.
    I think this is key.

    ---------- Post added at 01:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:26 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by jwright82 View Post
    On a personal note I think we need Van Tillian philosophers out there to write Reformed commentaries on all philosophers to better serve the church in exploring these things. It has been far too long for most VanTillians to lose our allergy to philosophy and start from Reformed theology and do truly christian philosophy. So I am sounding the call for VanTillians to do philosophy and contribute to this much negleted need in our churches. K. Scott Oliphant said nearely the same stuff and also added that any VanTillian doing this would be virtualy alone in doing so. I think we can do better than that.
    I'm interested in possibly continuing my education in philosophy/apologetics but is it that neglected of an area (as far as Reformed folks doing philosophy)?
    Claudiu
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    I'm interested in possibly continuing my education in philosophy/apologetics but is it that neglected of an area (as far as Reformed folks doing philosophy)?
    I would say yes. Too many Reformed apologests have an allergy to doing philosophy. Christian Essentialism - ReformedForum.org. Here is where I heard Scott oliphant talking about the need for Reformed philosophers. If I ever get to doing doctoral work myself it will be in philosophy as well, good luck.
    James
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus View Post
    Can anybody inform me on Stoicism? What within it is right within the Christian worldview? What is wrong? Why is it wrong? etc.

    Thanks!
    Stoicism can have some noble sentiments about virtue, duty, honor, reserve and so forth. However, it is not Christian. I think Stoicism is Westernized Buddhism or Buddhism is easternized Stoicism. Many of Church Fathers..Jerome for an example were influenced by Stoicism even to an negative extent. Stoicism can be extremely tempting to people who are fed up with chattering, noisy, and cluttered lives.

    ---------- Post added at 05:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:58 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by jwright82 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    I'm interested in possibly continuing my education in philosophy/apologetics but is it that neglected of an area (as far as Reformed folks doing philosophy)?
    I would say yes. Too many Reformed apologests have an allergy to doing philosophy. Christian Essentialism - ReformedForum.org. .
    It is an overcorrection that goes back to late Renaissance in to the Reformation. Hopefully the Reformed world doesn't fall over the other side of the horse.
    Zack Flummerfelt
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  35. #35
    jwright82's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KS_Presby View Post
    It is an overcorrection that goes back to late Renaissance in to the Reformation. Hopefully the Reformed world doesn't fall over the other side of the horse.
    I would agree, I think that if we start with Van Til's thoughts we probably will not go over to the other side of the horse. He started with theology, worked out the philosophical implications of this, and than used that in the service of developing an apologetic.
    James
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  36. #36
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    James, this is a bit off-topic but what are some Reformed philosophers that have been of help to the church? I've heard that besides Van Til, Greg Bahnsen was great (I still have to read his works though). Any others? And what do you think about Bahnsen?
    Claudiu
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudiu View Post
    James, this is a bit off-topic but what are some Reformed philosophers that have been of help to the church? I've heard that besides Van Til, Greg Bahnsen was great (I still have to read his works though). Any others? And what do you think about Bahnsen?
    I love Bahnsen, he is exactly what I am talking about. He did original VanTillian philosophy. K. Scott Oliphant has done some great work in the subject-object problem in philosophy using covenant theology. I beleive that we can move forward here. I for one am studying Derrida and Levinas' ideas of an ontology of violence and how that relates to contemporary moral/political issues and how only a redeamed christian love can overcome the ontology of violence.
    James
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  38. #38
    Joshua is offline. _
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    Sean, I was reading from Mr. Brooks this morning and thought it applicable to this thread, so I thought I'd share:

    A holy, a prudent silence under affliction doth not exclude and shut out a sense and feeling of our afflictions, Ps. xxxix. 9, though he 'was dumb, and laid his hand upon his mouth,' yet he was very sensible of his affliction: verses 10, 11, 'Remove thy stroke away from me, I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.' He is sensible of his pain as well as of his sin; and having prayed off his sin in the former verses he labours here to pray off his pain. Diseases, aches, sicknesses, pains, they are all the daughters of sin, and he that is not sensible of them as the births and products of sin, doth but add to his sin and provoke the Lord to add to his sufferings, Isa. xxvi. 9-11. No man shall ever be charged by God for feeling his burden, if he neither fret nor faint under it. Grace doth not destroy nature, but rather perfect it. Grace is of a noble offspring; it neither turneth men into stocks nor to stoics. The more grace, the more sensible of the tokens, frowns, blows, and lashes of a displeased Father. Though Calvin, under his greatest pains, was never heard to mutter nor murmur, yet he was heard often to say ' How long, Lord, how long?’ A religious commander being shot in battle, when the wound was searched, and the bullet cut out, some standing by, pitying his pain, he replied, Though I groan, yet I bless God I do not grumble. God allows his people to groan, though not to grumble. It is a God-provoking sin to lie stupid and senseless under the afflicting hand of God. God will heat that man's furnace of affliction sevenfold hotter, who is in the furnace but feels it not. Isa. xiii. 24, 25, 'Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and he hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.' Stupidity lays a man open to the greatest fury and severity.

    - Thomas Brooks, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod
    Josh
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