Why I’m Not a Stoic

Of all the various philosophies to choose from, Stoicism is particularly fascinating to me (as I’ve noted previously). Far from the stereotype of seeking to remain emotionless through life, Stoics seeks to live each day as if they might not have another, to master their primal appetites and desires, and to face with resolve and patience the circumstances of life wrought by the logos.

These are all logical responses to world broken by sin. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so in a sense, today is the only day we ever have. Our natural desires are often sinful and seek to rule over us, so wisdom cries for us to master them instead. Life, of course, is filled with suffering and adversity, so if we cannot bear the storms, we will live a tumultuous life indeed.

Yet despite the truth behind these ideas, I am no Stoic; I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. While there are many reasons for this fact, Calvin addresses one of them quite well when he writes:

Above all, let the Christian entirely dismiss that absurd and wretched consolation dear to the heathen– that adversity is a matter of fate, and thus to be borne with greater patience. For the philosophers reason that it would be foolish to revile fate, which is both blind and reckless, hurling its darts at random and wounding the guilty and the innocent indiscriminately. Real piety, by contrast, holds that it is God’s hand alone that governs fate, both good and bad; and since his hand is neither hasty nor unthinking, it dispenses prosperity and adversity in a just and orderly way.

Indeed, as a believer in the almighty Creator of heaven and earth who sent His Son to ransom humanity from their sins, I need not bear adversity with the stoic determinism that what will be, will be. Instead, I find patience in adversity through the faith that this all-powerful God will in the end work together all things for the good of His people. So while I agree with the Stoic resolve to bear suffering with patience, I will do so knowing that the logos is not a force but a person whose name is Jesus.


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