Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2010
Elizabeth Agnew Cochran
Virtuous Assent and Christian Faith
Retrieving Stoic Virtue Theory for Christian Ethics
ALTHOUGH STOIC THOUGHT HAS SHAPED THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION IN decisive ways, Christian ethicists largely overlook the insights Stoicism offers for contemporary Christian discussion of virtue. This essay expands and elaborates our retrieval of ancient ethics of virtue by exploring Stoic "assent" and its possible intersections with Christian ethics. Rather than being tragically fatalistic, Stoic assent functions as a response to divine providence that is compatible with theological commitments that find particular expression in historical Protestant traditions: the claim that salvation occurs by faith alone and a conviction that humans are both morally accountable and utterly dependent upon God. Stoic moral thought offers a framework for developing a morally rich account of the virtues that takes seriously these Christian beliefs.