…re that bring about positive results, but this is an example of a destructive miracle, so to speak. Third, Jesus clearly presents his disciples with a metaphysics very different from the Stoic one (and sort of reminiscent of the one underlying “The Secret”), according to which wishing, or really believing, something will actually make it happen (through the agency of God, in this case). Not at all the sort of cause-effect that the Stoics subsc…
Figs in Winter
As a Christian & Stoic, I found your comparison between Jesus and Epictetus fascinating, but from a theological and academic perspective, I find some of your conclusions, that you list as clearly evident, to be inaccurate. For one, there is no direct conflict between Christian and Stoic philosophy that should warrant one challenging the other. Many early Christian thinkers drew from Stoicism in explaining what kind of life a Christian ought to live. Matthew (6:27) and Luke (12:25) both record Jesus as having taught, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (NIV). Very Stoic, no?
Furthermore, the metaphysics of Jesus you present in your third point appears to reflect a modern Evangelical misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer. I can’t say that’s a fault of yours. We’ve just been teaching it wrong for quite some time. Prayer is not a request for divine intercession but a methodology of praise, worship, and personal relationship. There is an extent to which Christianity requests individual and communal participation with the divine: a reflection of the divine invitation of God’s creation and salvation. However, this is to be understood not as a merely natural being requesting specific miraculous change but in the context that the Christian seeks divinization, a return of state to the initial, perfect condition of man.
Finally, the story of the cursing of the fig tree occurs during Passover. During that time of year, fig trees from the area that would later be covered in fruit would first be covered in leaves. Jesus didn’t curse the tree out of impatience; He knew it would never bear fruit that year in the first place!
In any case, I appreciated you sharing your thoughts. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.