The Appeal of Stoicism | Notebook Scribbles (iii)

Unlike my previous posts of notebook writings, this is one larger thought rather than smaller bullet-pointed ones.

Life is hard.

Discipline is harder.

While striving to live a life of strength, value, and honor, I can certainly understand the sway of Stoicism and Taoism. They both teach the necessity of a disciplined life. After all, life is chaotic, far beyond our control; therefore, take control of yourself. You may not be able to fix the world, but you can, to some degree, fix yourself.

That’s also the same essential message that Jordan Peterson is preaching. It’s appealing. It calls for people to do something, to stop being sidelined in their own life, to start being the main character in their own story. It’s a call to wake up and face hardship. To embrace the pain of life, not run from it. I feel that pull. I feel that tug.

The message isn’t wrong, just incomplete. It’s a half-truth, but only because the other half is missing entirely. The Christian life should fulfill the deepest longings of Stoicism, just as it should do the same with Hedonism. The Bible repeatedly teaches us that suffering is a guarantee if you live long enough in this world. And it gives a similar message. Meet it head-on. Don’t run from it. Stare it down. Conquer it.

Yet the methods are different. Stoicism requires the strength of will, the force of self. Grit and determination push you through the tough times. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that such strength and determination don’t come from self. They come from being indwelt by God the Spirit, from knowing that God the Son suffered for us, and from believing that we are now adopted as children of God the Father. Unlike Stoicism, we do not believe in mystic determinism of whatever happens is bound to happen. Instead, we believe in divine providence, that the Logos who is ordering and sustaining the world is not ashamed to call us His brothers.

And that belief makes all the difference.


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