I didn’t do the 10k kettlebell swings

I had known of T-Nation’s 10k kettlebell swings challenge for a few years now.  I decided to give it a try.  In short, you do 500 swings a day for 20 workouts over a one month period. I’m using a 24kg/53lb weight. The sets look like this

10 swings
15 Swings
25 swings
50 swings

That is one set.  Repeat 4 more times.

I’m a strong guy but I found out how weak I was on the first round of 50.  But I kept with it that day.

We won’t even talk about the soreness.  Day 2 I failed at 300 reps.  I had to ask myself, “What am I trying to accomplish with this regimen?”  Sure, you will get stronger (any proper use of kettlebells will make you qualitatively stronger.  Period.  Not Planet Fitness, not Zumba, but kettlebells and strength training).

How would I use this skill set, if it is such?  I couldn’t think of a good reason.  I am not a young athlete, nor do I play “explosive sports.”  On the flip side, I had been “strength training” for about 4 years.  This meant doing lots of chin ups, kettlebell regimens, deadlifts, presses, bent press (not bench press!), and the like.

I need strength to pick up trailers, flip John Deere riding mowers uphill, and the like.  That’s it.

flag-pole

(Though to be honest, I am not sure how the above is “functional” either).

Here is my doing a chin up with 100lbs strapped to my waist.

chin-ups

So instead of continuing with the 10k swings, I went back to my old regimen.  Those who are truly great in any field are the ones who routinely perfect the basics.

Confessions of a theological hitman

A certain CREC minister one time documented some of his theological changes, most of them for the better.  I’ve done so about myself a few times on here, but I decided to tie some strings together.  I encourage you to read his piece, since that will save me some writing.  His early development mirrors mine in many ways.  S.W’s piece is thoughtful.  I have a few questions on some of his specifics, but that’s neither here nor there.

One of the difficulties that many of us in seminary faced–difficulties that are concurrent with many of these changes–is the inevitable glut of ideas.  Compounded with that  is that seminaries which are denominationally- or quasi-denominationally affiliated are inadequately prepared to deal with these various theological currents.  If your goal is to churn out “preacher boys,” then many cross-currents of scholarship will drown you.

The Federal Vision controversy was raging when I was in seminary, and I confess I did not always make wise choices.  Federal Visionism itself didn’t really make too much of a connection with me, at least not confessionally and ecclesiologically.  What some FV writers did, however, was weaken the confessional moorings, from which I drifted and began reading outside my tradition.

On one hand that’s healthy.  We shouldn’t seek theological inbreeding.   The problem I faced was that no one was capable of guiding me through these issues.  Once I was jaded enough, combined with a lot of real grievances from said seminary (which I won’t go in here, but they do deal with objective, financial realities), it wasn’t hard to seek out so-called “Christological alternatives to Calvinism.”

Many Eastern Orthodox apologists were saying that we should do all our theology around “Christology.”  Translation: the ancient Christological creeds, if interpreted consistently, will lead one away from Calvinism.    I’ll deal with that claim later.

And so for the next few years I read through–cover to cover–about ten volumes of the Schaff Church Fathers series, as well as most of their leading interpreters.  One of the problems, though, was I was unaware of the high, magisterial Protestant tradition.  Of course I had read Calvin.  Three times, actually.  All the way through, even.  I was not familiar with the second- and third generation Protestant Scholastics, however.

I suspect most of us aren’t familiar with them, and how could we be?  The average Evangelical publisher won’t touch these writers.   Banner of Truth, specifically, won’t deal with the uncomfortable aspects of Rutherford, Gillespie, and the Scottish Covenanters.

Taking the Scholastics Seriously

When I was reading through a lot of Orthodox sources, an argument I kept seeing was that all Western traditions hold to the Thomistic doctrine of absolute divine simplicity, which reduces to absurdity; therefore, Protestantism is philosophically absurd.  The problem, though, is that I started to see several things:   a) some fathers held to a similar thesis (Nazianzus, Athanasius), b) some Reformed writers might have held to that thesis, but there wasn’t enough evidence either way to convict them, and c) the Reformed writers who did hold to that thesis had very good reasons for doing so (archetypal/ectypal).  Further, the Essence/energies distinction entailed its own set of problems, and it is not always clear that many early Eastern fathers even held to that distinction.

The doctrine of authority was always looming in the background.   Anchorites have several sharp arguments against sola scriptura.  I bought in to some of those arguments, but I had done so without reading the Protestant Scholastic responses to them.   Once I began to see that a) many Protestant Scholastics could not be seen as breaking with the medieval tradition on the canon, and b) the archetypal/ectypal distinction when applied to epistemology, leading to Scripture as the principum cognoscendi, I was then able to embrace sola scriptura with integrity.

Corollary of the above point:  how many convertskii have read Richard Muller?  Once I read Richard Muller I realized that much of what I had been parroting was wrong.

The Institutional Problem Reasserted

It is my personal belief that Richard Muller’s four-volume Reformed and Post Reformation Dogmatics will go down as one of the game changers in Reformed historiography.  Unfortunately, most remain unaware.  Baker books should issue this set in singular volumes, better allowing seminaries to use volume one as an introduction to Reformed theology course.  First year seminarians, even the better read ones, are woefully unprepared.

Publishers need to seek out translators and get Muller’s sources into English post-haste.   There is no excuse for Rutherford and Gillespie not being mainstreamed in the Reformed world.  I can read and translate Latin, for what it’s worth.  I just don’t have the time and others are better capable.

One of the reasons these works remain untranslated I suspect, is that they also entail certain conclusions about God, salvation, God’s law, and ecclesiology, conclusions which would likely cast judgment on some publishing houses.  I say no more.

Quixote and Colds

Haven’t posted much this month because I am reading longer works and I am just plain sick.  I recently found my long-lost copy of Don Quixote and realized just how glorious it is.  Yes, he is poking fun at chivalry, but at the same time he paints such glorious pictures that our hearts nearly break.  The very names alone a a feast: Roland, Amadis of Gaul, etc.

Reading Goals for 2016-2017

I measure the years starting in August, not January. So, here is what I plan, Lord willing, to have read by the end of the year:
  1. 1. All of Martin Heidegger’s corpus in English. I’ve read Sein und Zeit and most of his essays.
  2. 2. Most of Edmund Husserl’s stuff, or at least make a dent in the Logical Investigations.
  3. 3. To finish reading Dugin’s works in English. That would be his book on Putin and his book on Heidegger (one of them, anyway).
  4. 4. Cyril O’Regan’s Heterodox Hegel. That’s been on my list for some years now.

Rallying to battle scars

Seven years ago I left the Reformed social networks (if never officially leaving the Reformed world).  I kind of got back into some of these networks four years ago (if only to see what was going on).  When I left the only things people were talking about were Federal Vision, New Perspective, and whether theonomy is guilty by association.

When I came back I was confronted with new acronymns: T4G, Gospel Coalition, whatever Mahaney’s people were called, Driscoll, etc.   And then there were all the Reformed Presbyterians who secretly wanted to be John Piper.

I didn’t know what to make of any of this. No doubt some did good but it was hard for me–and it’s worse now–to get excited about the next new conference headed by the top guy at Wheaton or Covenant or WTS.  Especially if they are young.  Especially if their disciples are young.  And still in grad school.

I would be lying to you if I said I completely avoided all movements and ideologies.  I suppose that is impossible.  But I come very close.  In other words, I rally to guys who have battle-scars:  men who have been fired from jobs, universities.  These guys have stood in the trenches while the pretty boys put on the conferences.  Usually they will be well over 40 and not have outside financial backing.

Seeking not high things

The psalmist asks God not to let himself be lifted up with matters far above him.

This is the problem of the amateur dilettante, of whom I was chief among sinners.  When I dallied forth into studying Orthodoxy almost a decade ago, I learned a few catchy phrases that I would throw at my Truly Reformed Opponents.  Don’t get me wrong.  We should certainly pin TRs to the wall, but I did so in a sinful manner.  And with folks who really weren’t TRs.

Truth is, I didn’t know what I was talking about.  I used words like “person/nature” or “simplicity” and tried to prove that x position is genealogically false.

I’ve since asked God for forgiveness.  But I also realized that there are areas where even if I am not an expert, I am familiar with the literature and currents of thought.  In these areas I can actually help people:

  1. Renaissance Occultic Magic and its current rebirth in the D.C./London/Vatican nexus.
  2. Russian history and geopolitics.
  3. Church Fathers (to an extent)
  4. Continental philosophy (Hegel, some Marx)
  5. Karl Barth
  6. Philosophical ethics

And contrary to the shrill inanity of Puritanboard, studying this stuff (especially 1-2, 4) is useful.  For me, anyway, since I’ve been able to use it in evangelism.  By the grace of God I’ve warned a number of people from dabbling in darkness and even rescued a few.

The tin-ear of analytic theology

I’ve mentioned before that analytic theologians are usually on safer grounds confessionally than continental theologians.  Not that the former is superior in and of itself.  Just that these guys don’t as easily embrace the culture of the world.

But there is a drawback.  Excluding Plantinga and the like, few of these guys are able to have a conversation.  Here is how it goes:

Me:  Question 1

Analytic Theologian: logicalproof1

Me: Question 2

AT: logicalproof2

And honorable mention:

Math-Generalized-Bayes-Theorem