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Evangelicalism is too effeminate. Towards a muscular robust faith.

I just stumbled upon this aforementioned series of videos recorded and distributed in 2018. Unfortunately, Dr. Maxwell has went apostate and renounced his faith as of 2021. However, I cannot help but comprehend what it says when he refers to evangelical culture as too apt to produce effeminate and girly beta males.

“As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.”

—Isaiah 3:12

It’s the agreeable, compromising, compliant, capitulating beta male that conveys spirituality in effeminate terms. In fact, spirituality in the popular imagination has come to be perceived as an almost feminine quality. For instance, I have quoted the Bible beforehand in the manner of a devotional, and a less spiritually inclined, more irreligious man speaks of it as me “being sensitive” but the reality is, he’s chosen to see public avowals of faith as a tender, “sensitive” trait, (and maybe that’s a polite way of saying girly because he’s seeing spirituality in feminine terms.) But this is illustrative partially of why evangelicalism has been a failure and its popular perception is that evangelical piety is a display of sensitive feminine traits like being emotional, sensitive, and passive. It’s illustrative of why men drop out of fellowship in evangelical churches. It’s furthered along by the fact that increasingly women (i.e., mothers, grandmothers) are functioning as the spiritual pillars of their households and extended families. Christian masculinity doesn’t find an ideal expression in the evangelical subculture. Not only is this the case, but evangelicalism has also lost its earlier traits of militancy and tribalism that made it attractive to men. Contrast men like J.C. Ryle and Ian Paisley with contemporary evangelicals like John Piper and Andy Stanley, for instance.

Evangelical churches tend to conjure images of soprano-singing males in praise bands playing contemporary Christian music one associates with the KLove radio station. Maxwell was not influential in my earlier summations that evangelical subculture is ‘too effeminate‘ and ‘girly‘ — in the sense of producing a subculture of men that are passive, weak, too prone to a spirit of compromise, and wishy-washy talk in order to be agreeable, and palatable. I just heard Maxwell talk on these issues recently and I had formed a comparable critique of evangelicalism years ahead of hearing Maxwell’s critique.

I have said things, such as affirming that we need “a muscular robust faith,” thinking in terms of soldierly analogies of masculine spirituality whereby we’re prepared for battle. This is an ideal where Christian men can live out their existence as men. We need to comprehend leadership, sacrifice, and the necessity of struggle and see our Christian culture/occidental civilization as an extension of the church and seek its preservation. We men need causes to fight for. Christian men yearn to fight cultural wars and spiritual battles as men with masculine traits of perseverance and steadfast faithfulness, not with timidity, passivity, and an air of compromise. The Christian man prays most humbly in his cloister where the genuineness of his humility and contrition may be manifest not in showy displays of contrived prayer before his fellow man, but in heartful yearning for God’s aid, and professed dependency upon God. There are more than a few reasons why Christian men are NOT putting their most sincere, heartful prayers professing their unequivocal dependence upon God’s providence before others. They’re NOT necessarily ashamed of their faith in such instances, but they’re not seeking to wave it on their shirt sleeves nor virtue-signal it either. Part of being a Christian man entails being discrete and circumspect in certain things such as manifest piety, and aggressive in other things like decrying wrong and standing up for justice.

Jordan Peterson states: “You are like a rabbit. . . A rabbit is not virtuous, it’s harmless, it can do nothing, except maybe get eaten. But If you’re a monster and you show restraint and not act monstrously, then you’re virtuous.” As Peterson surmises, “It’s better to be restrained monster than a well-behaved coward.” It’s in recognizing his own power and strength that a man learns responsibility, and fathoms the strategic imperative of due regard for His Creator God, and using his power for just and right.

And to the point, Christian men have abdicated evangelicalism in mass. Why? Many Christian men profess to be on a search for a more primitive, traditional Christianity. They call themselves traditionalists!—or trads! They extol patriarchy! They’re tribal! Why? Evangelicalism with its de facto effeminate subculture has failed Christian men for the simple reason it’s not allowing Christian men to be ‘Christian men.’ Its lost its allure, and Christian men don’t think you can salvage the church, the culture, the nation, and Western Civilization with a modus operandi that’s perceptively passive, effeminate and girly. Hence there’s a good reason why men have hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE on the contemporary evangelical subculture.

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

—Ephesians 6:16

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”

—2 Timothy 2:3-4

J.I. Packer

This past year on 17 July 2020, Rev. Canon Dr. James (Jim) Innell Packer, the English-born Anglican clergyman that was so influential on my spiritual formation, and indeed my recognition that I am but a desperate sinner in need of grace, has gone home to glory to spend eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:8). At a young age, Packer was setback by a debilitating injury incidental to a car accident whereby he was struck as a pedestrian crossing a street. He was scarred for life, and it left a visible indentation in his skull where it was fractured. Yet he lived! He grew closer to God! In his youth, Jim won a scholarship to Oxford where he cultivated his brilliant intellect in service of Christ’s Kingdom. He was a treasure in his own time! An acclaimed author, churchman, friend to sinners, professor, and Bible teacher, Packer elicited respect across denominations and communions as one of the foremost systematic theologians of the past century. Jim drew his inspiration from Scripture, and was deeply ingrained in the works of Bucer, Calvin, Cranmer, and the English Puritans. He revived Puritan devotionals into something of an art form, and he elicited notoriety as a catechist who stressed the value of sound doctrine, and reminded his students of the immense value of cultivating spiritual disciplines, such as memorizing Scriptures and catechesis. As of 17 July 2020, his faith has yielded to sight! He’s in eternity with our Lord Jesus! 

Video Above: J. I. Packer helps Christians to embrace weakness as he shares about his own struggles in this book of meditations on 2 Corinthians. Ultimately, Packer directs us to the ultimate source of strength and power: Christ himself.
Video Above: Theologian J.I. Packer challenges the Christian to know what he believes.


Video Above: In this short documentary, author and theologian J.I. Packer reflects back on his career and ministry, and what he’s found to be the most meaningful work he’s done.  Hosted by Packer biographer Dr. Leland Ryken.




Ottoman-Portuguese War – Age of Colonization

“Kings and Generals animated historical documentary series on the history of the Ottoman Empire, continues with a video on the Ottoman-Portuguese wars, as the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Portugal fight for dominance over the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In this video, we cover the early Portuguese conquests in India and their clash against the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt at Diu in 1508, as well as the battle of Diu of 1538, Ethiopian–Adal war and the battle of Wayna Daga of 1543, Ottoman-Portuguese conflict over the Arabian peninsula 1552–1554, battle of Diu 1546 and the battle of Ksar-el-Kebir (Alcácer Quibir) of 1578. More videos on the Age of Colonization are on the way!”

The Seminary-Industrial Complex and the Crisis of Value

Originally published on social media 27 September 2017.

Saint Andrew’s Chapel is a model church. But is there a model seminary?

In North America, the Christian church’s understandable goal of recruiting ministers is complicated by institutional inertia that favors a certain stagnation, inflexible rigidity, and anachronism in how priests, pastors, deacons, and missionaries are trained. Seminaries in the semblance of the secular academy’s Ph.D. model have an inherent pyramid scheme logic, one fueled by the fiat monetary system’s insistence on debt finance of virtually everything. The number of newly minted M.Div. graduates far exceeds those who become ordained ministers. The same can be said of Ph.D. grads desirous of becoming professors.

An opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. The opportunity cost increasingly doesn’t justify the time investment nor the lost potential income nor debt. The end product of these seminaries is a mishmash of dropouts and graduates who are left cynical, in debt and they do not follow through with any perceived ministerial calling, between an elite cadre who obtain ordination into holy orders.

Problems posed by the status quo

Liberty University was built around Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary founded in 1971, and evolved into a $1.1 billion endowed institution fueled by the federal student loan program. Whereas it formerly subsidized seminary programs from revenues derived from the secular curricula, it now countenances divinity, missions, theology, and apologetics programs that produce graduates with $50-120K debt. A pastor or missionary in such debt peonage loses a certain efficacy. From the turn of the millennium to 2017, its tuition inflation in the seminary has been dramatic.

A major problem would be rigid seminary schedules that impede one from holding down a reliable steady salaried job. This itself becomes the rationale for borrowing money. Though a few programs have been built around the idea of in-residence evening coursework or intensives.

One of the smartest and most well-read theologues I know, name withheld, actually dropped out of Reformed Theological Seminary. I would hold up his erudition against Th.D.’s. He’s explored Christianity inside and out from low church to high church, from apologetics to patristics to the end times. His inability to complete the program of study shouldn’t be viewed as intellectual in nature but circumstantial misfortune. I think you get my point. He withdrew from RTS under duress and they overcharged him fraudulently. RTS like many seminaries have become an indifferent sweatshop, which is not invested in their students’ success. My experience has been similar. When I lost a graduate fellowship due to a miscommunication and bureaucratic indifference in a secular program, I then succumb to the prior investment trap and rationalized finishing a master by borrowing. The ROI was never there. I should have walked away from it, right then and there.

Scholarships themselves have become teases that have liabilities and strings attached, such as a low grade or an early withdrawal of any portion of the program resulting in a loss of scholarship and tuition bill coming due. As a result, the academy has a proclivity for Indian Giver games, where something of apparent value is given, i.e., funding for coursework towards a degree, under the church’s subsidy, but the seminary has a conflicting interest in extracting monies from the pupils. What’s the result? They stack the deck for their students. 19 graduate hours of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Bible, Liturgy, Preaching Practicums, and virtual course overload. Exorbitant fees for overdue library books, parking fees, administrative fees, and surcharges. Stiff fees and penalties are posted for withdrawal of classes, and in some cases, a rigorous model of compulsion exists based on the course-load by default as a condition of participation in the program. When these duties are balanced out against work duties, conflict and stress emerge. It becomes a fool’s errand of sacrificing things and inevitably seeking administrative withdrawals to function or risking academic failure.

Other common seminarian experiences are transferring sometimes 2-3 times between institutions and suffering loss of time and money with only a portion of their completed credits accepted on transfer.

Cynicism and Stress

Stress is designed into the system needlessly. Full scholarships are reduced to partial scholarships. They ask for the impossible in many circumstances given the constraints of time in the day, and impediments to working an ideal job successfully. The institutions, of course, reason many have endured the Crucible before them, so why reform it? It’s a rite of passage. But this Crucible tends to cultivate more cynics than priests, pastors, missionaries and theologians.

Many seminaries have a high turnover rate, yet some drop-outs persist in the pursuit of their perceived calling, going elsewhere, or even pursuing ordination absent the seminary degree. Diligent and capable seminarians are coaxed into foolishly borrowing avalanches of money when faced with the hardship of concurrently working and studying full-time. Seminaries like the willingness to borrow as student debt balances are more capable of producing immediate cash flow than waiting on the trickle of revenues from students in odd jobs.

Leadership Deficit

The Apostle Paul listed one of the qualifications of an overseer in the church: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect” (1 Timothy 3:4). Yet the Seminary-Industrial Complex produces such absurdity as seminarians seeking welfare and food stamps, and Medicaid out of desperation. The notion of disciples embracing such dependence is contrary to apostolic teaching (c.f. 2 Thessalonians 3:12). When a Seminarian’s duty conflicts with His duty to His Creator, they should remember Simon Peter’s words: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The church has an interest in compensating vocational ministers and even ministerial candidates in training granted (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

Another glaring problem of the status quo model is its proclivity for ignoring class—as in the upper and upper middle class—as an instrument of evangelization and discipleship. The early church grew rapidly when it secured the support of wealthy patrons. Christian men who demonstrate leadership in business and military often demonstrate leadership capacity for roles in the church. Yet many prominent business professionals find the established seminary model too cumbersome and inflexible in scheduling to balance out with family and career, which in turn leads to leadership recruitment problems for the church. This corresponds to a problem with the current model as it tends to attract candidates who never really merited any great success in their professional lives, and simply cannot find anything better to do, so they embrace the cloth. This was manifest in the virtual disintegration of the mainline Protestant churches from the 1970s onward, given the absurdity that emerged from pastors who don’t believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, embraced Open Theism, and allow pop psychology lessons on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs to supplant Gospel preaching. Seminaries counting nickels and noses had a profound disconnect from the local church in ascertaining qualifications of seminary candidates.

A Solution? The Apprenticed Free Seminary Model

To be tongue in cheek, the Apostle Paul attended a Free Seminary Model. Despite notoriety as being the architect of the Great Commission under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he never attended an accredited seminary, nor did he obtain a Masters of Divinity, nor a Masters of Sacred Theology, nor a Doctorate of Divinity, nor a Doctorate of Philosophy, nor a Doctorate of Theology.

When the Apostle Paul exhorts the faithful, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world. . .,” why should we as Christians presume that a costly, debt-fueled worldly model of higher education should be applied to the training of disciples? In a world that fails to submit itself the Lordship of Jesus Christ, much fraud and debt-serfdom abounds. The fiat monetary system itself is conducive to debt peonage and it deprives people of the value of their earnings and savings. Bubble sectors develop in housing, higher education and health care (i.e., the three H’s, which lack the market’s full discipline of freely allocated prices since non-market coercion from state intervention changes the rules of the game, for the worst.) “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him” (Proverbs 11:1). “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). The church should forsake debt-financed education models. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law,” proclaimed Paul in Romans 13:8.

One solution would be the church and certain communions legitimizing ‘Apprenticed Free Seminary’ models. They could be based on a self-paced distance / correspondence education model of apprenticeship where graduates become future instructors, mentors, and exam proctors; incidental to working regular day jobs, they volunteer. Some critics may claim the quality would be compromised. I would contend when people have the opportunity to lead more holistic and disciplined lives, rather than being rushed to cobble inferior research products together on short deadlines, they can actually learn and retain knowledge better. Hence ‘Free Seminarians’ could be attentive to their studies and less stressed. Pedagogy research also points to the utility of studying one subject at a time, particularly among men and boys. It doesn’t have to be outcome-based nor have low-standards, but could be reduced to simple pass, fail or incomplete marks.

Men who have answered the call to ministry can still be held accountable to quality standards in research, examinations of knowledge retention and so on. Such programs could still be challenging but rewarding. These Free Seminarians would have to sacrifice things like entertainment and free time, but they could have the dignity of a traditional bread-earning job by day-light, avoiding debt altogether, with this Apprentice model.

Many disciples are faced with the challenge of being bi-vocational anyway. Many disciples don’t earn money for their evangelism and discipleship, and many embrace this reality without complaint as their Heavenly Father will perceptively reward them in due season.

Presently most of these ‘Free Seminary’ models are not accredited or if they’re accredited it is by an organization outside of the U.S. Department of Education recognized accreditation agencies, such as an institutional church communion. The positive note is that certain ordination bodies with various denominations and communions recognize the credentials awarded by these seminaries as perfectly valid. People have assumed full vocational and bi-vocational ministerial roles with credentials from a ‘Free Seminary.’ It may not offer employment at an accredited traditional seminary, but that’s beside the point. Rather it offers a model of getting through seminary without a mountain of outrageous debt to feed the present Seminary-Industrial Complex. The ‘Free Seminary Model’ produces disciples in other words, not jaded serfs and debtors.

The other consideration is of the nature of the apprentice model. It embraces servant leadership. Many able men with theological training have sacrificially given their time and effort to help grow these ‘Free Seminary’ educational models, which thrive on donations and a spirit of Christian service.

Who doesn’t like this? Perhaps the established seminaries. Adam Smith famously penned, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.” The established seminaries’ interests are wrapped up in the status quo. They will have all kind of rationales about why there’s virtue in their seminary model. But the reality is full-time vocational seminary instructors cost a lot of money to feed, clothe, and house, and that burden can be negated by an Apprentice Model. They old guard don’t starve. The division of labor would reallocate their labor if the Free Seminary model posed strong competitive and disruptive market pressures. The old model would be dealt a coup de grâce in much the same way Netflix buried brick-and-mortar video stores like Blockbuster. A few well-funded brick and mortar seminaries would continue on by virtue of their endowments.

If the ‘Free Seminary’ model catches on, then congregations, presbyteries and dioceses are free to grant their own accreditation to these innovative new institutions of Apprentice Model education. Capital from donations could fuel accreditation, standardization, purchase of textbooks, and market assessments such as third party reviews and independent assessments.

King Cnut the Great: The Danish King of the English

“Let all men know how empty and powerless is the power of kings, for there is none worth of the name but God, whom heaven, earth, and sea obey.”

—Cnut the Great

Video Above: ‘History Time’ – King Cnut’s Letter to the English People (1019 A.D.) / Primary Source In 1016 after the conclusion of a successful invasion, Cnut of Denmark became the new king of England. This letter, which survives only in the York Gospels, is addressed to Earl Thorkell, regent in England during Cnut’s absence in his Danish kingdom. Parts of the letter have been subjected to Archbishop Wulfstan of York’s intervention. The letter refers to the 1018 settlement at Oxford to observe Edgar’s law and essentially promises good lordship in return for fealty.
 

Cnut the Great
Image Above: King Cnut the Great





Medieval English Warfare

This blog archive is a memorial to content originally curated on the main Ryan Setliff Online page under the Medievalist section from 2020 through December 18th, 2021:

Image Above: ‘History Time’ – ‘The Lost History of the North’ – ‘Thored, Oslac & Yorvik’ – The North of northern England was brutal, unforgiving place of conflict between Angles, Britons, Danes, and Saxons.
Video Above: ‘Kings and Generals’ animated historical animated documentary series on the medieval battles continue with a coverage of the battle of Bouvines of 1214. In the aftermath of the Third Crusade and the death of the king of England Richard Lionheart, French king Philip II Augustus attempts to restore his authority over France, but this forces the English king John I Lackland and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Otto IV to ally against him, leading to another Anglo-French war and the battle of Bouvines. The battle had a dramatic influence on European history.
In this new Kings and Generals animated historical documentary, we will cover the Wars of the Roses, describing one of the first Civil Wars in English history. The Hundred Years’ War is over and the descendants of Edward III now divided into the houses of Lancaster, York, and Tudor will fight for the crown. This video features the battles of St. Albans, Wakefield, Towton, Barnet, Tewkesbury, Bosworth and Stoke Field.

Byzantine History and Culture

This blog archive is a memorial to content originally curated on the main Ryan Setliff Online page under the Medievalist section from 2020 through December 18th, 2021:

Video Above: ‘TedEd’ – The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire explained in an animated video documentary.
Video Above: ‘Kings and Generals’ – ‘Bulgar-Byzantine Wars’ – An animated historical documentary series about the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars covers the battle of Pliska (Varbitsa) pass between the Roman emperor Nikephoros I and the Khan Krum of the Bulgarian Empire. 
Video Above: ‘Kings and Generals’ – ‘Varangians – Elite Bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors’ – An animated historical documentary series on the armies and tactics of the past with a video on the Varangians, who served as the elite bodyguards of the emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire. These loyal and skilled warriors, mostly of the Norse and Saxon ancestry saved the emperors on many occasions, both in battles and in peace.
Video aboveKings and Generals – “Great Schism: The Bitter Rivalry Between Greek and Latin Christianity.” – We will talk about the rivalry between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in the Middle Ages and how it shaped the history of Christianity and the whole world leading to the events of the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople.
Video above: ‘Kings and Generals’ – Fall Of Constantinople 1453 – Ottoman Wars