Protestant Virtue and Stoic Ethics
Elizabeth Agnew Cochran
Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2018, x + 211pp., pbk
To some Christians, Stoicism will seem diametrically opposed to their faith, its secular, impersonal fatalism in total contrast with a personal, relatable god and a loving providence. After all, for Charles Taylor, neo-Stoicism was one of the two pillars of the secular age. This book advances the striking double claim that an understanding of morality in Luther, Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards (collectively referred to as LCE) can be the basis for a Protestant virtue ethic; and that the key to this understanding of morality is the debt these theologians owe to the Stoics. The bridge is the shared concept of virtue. Controversial again, as MacIntyre linked the rise of modern (law-centred) Stoicism to the decline of virtue; but Cochran finds the heart of Stoicism not in a Kantian impersonality but in a eudaimonism which is closer to Aristotle.