Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Marcus Aurelius - taking his inspiration from Purpose Driven Rick Warren.

"People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time - even when hard at work." - Meditations 2.7.

The Stoics have a wonderful philosophy, or maybe it just seems this way since it is so much like what I believe. They characterize their philosophy with the word Logos and the book of John certainly embraces this concept, but then goes further saying that Jesus is the Logos in a way that is offensive to the Stoics and probably explains the continuing persecution of Christians under the emperor Aurelius.

Still there is something missing from Stoicism. The son of Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, managed to get a very poor reputation which is celebrated in the film, Gladiator, in spite of having the best tutors money could buy. The Stoic Seneca's student Nero also was an embarrassment to the movement and Seneca himself was lambasted for talking stoic but not acting Stoic. As a competitor to Christianity, it simply proved very weak due to the fact that few will actually have the mental makeup to truly be Stoic and it is very difficult to pass on to the next generation. In the end, it proved not much of a match to Christianity with a personal God, judgment, and forgiveness being the central themes that are missing from Stoicism. I find the study of the Stoics useful, because there is much that I would have assumed was uniquely Christian which isn't, while what is uniquely Christian stands out in contrast when we compare these other writings to the Bible.

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