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Stoics

A school of philosophers, founded by Zeno, about 300 B.C. They taught that the practice of virtue was the first duty of man and that the only real things are those that the bodily senses can perceive. They were therefore what we should call materialists. So far as religious belief was concerned they were pantheists, holding that all things come from God and will be at last absorbed into Him again. They were also fatalists, holding that the universe is governed by absolutely fixed laws and that the private needs of individuals are of no concern to Providence. The way for the individual to be happy was to bring himself into harmony with the course of the universe. Suicide was held to be always lawful, and at times a duty. The Stoic tried to be proudly independent of externals and to bear evils with indifference. There was much that was noble about their teaching, and stoicism represents a high form of religious belief attained to by man’s unaided efforts. For Paul’s encounter with the Stoics see Acts 17:18.