Christianity and Logic

The measure of every act is the appearance - whether the thing appears good or bad. If an act appears good, a man is free from blame. If an act appears bad the man suffers the penalty. It is impossible that he who is deceived can be one person, and he who suffers another person. Whoever remembers this will not be angry with any man, will not be vexed at any man, will not revile or blame any man, nor hate nor quarrel with any man.

It is interesting how Stoicism comes around to Christian ideas from a logical perspective. It illustrates that Christianity is both spiritual and practical. This paragraph is a perfect case in point. It tells us to not blame those who do bad things. The Bible and the teachings of Jesus tell us the same thing when we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves and when we are harmed by another to "turn the other cheek". (Matt 5:39)

Of course, none of this means that the one who acts on wrong information should not be punished. Punishment is a form of teaching. Behavior is adjusted by its just and judicious application. Thus, when a person acts as a criminal, their behavior should be punished to the full extent of the law. Western penal systems have traditionally taken the idea that a criminal is redeemable into account. One of the primary functions of the system is to rehabilitate prisoners. If this were not the case then we would simply follow the Medieval procedure of hanging petty offenders.

This basic idea is reinforced in the Bible in the same passage quoted in the analysis of the above paragraph (Luke 23:39-43). When the two criminals speak to Jesus, the first tells him, "if you are truly the son of God, save yourself and us, too." The second criminal asks only that he be remembered by Jesus. Jesus saves the second criminal, but not from his just punishment, which the criminal admits "is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did."

Chapter 28:

  1. On Good and Evil
  2. The Strange Medea (28a)
  3. Christianity and Logic (28b)
  4. Paris, Helen, and Menelaus (28c)
  5. Perception (28d)
  6. A Deal with the Devil (28e)
  7. WWJD - What Would Jesus Do? (28f)
Stoicism and Christianity Index

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This is a translation and explanation of the first book of the Discourses of Epictetus. His words are in regular text, comments are in bold.

Biographical Information on Epictetus

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