Unless you are acquainted with medical terminology or are benefiting from various pharmaceutical remedies under the classification with the same name, the title of this blog may be quite foreign to most. Some may be familiar with the term “reformed” as it relates to theology. However, the rather archaic term “agonist” truly describes my intention for becoming a “blogger.” In this initial attempt at blogging I hope to stir some interest by explaining what an agonist is.
The most common usage of the term agonist today is to describe various drugs. In this context an agonist is a substance that acts like another substance and therefore stimulates an action. Opioids are typical examples. The opposite of an agonist is an antagonist. Antagonists block or contend against a substance and cause an opposite action. Antagonist is a more familiar term, is more commonly used in our vernacular, and it usually has a negative connotation. My intention is not to be considered one of those nasty little buggers.
The Latin origin of agonist means to contend or struggle for something. It refers most directly to an athletic contest oriented not merely toward victory or defeat but emphasizing the importance of the struggle itself. Even this concept may seem foreign in a culture where winning is the chief end of the means.
My daughter competed in equestrian sports when she began riding horses. As parents, my wife and I understood that the particular discipline which she competed in, English Hunters, was judged subjectively. For a 12 year old who had been competing in soccer and basketball, the idea that everyone was a winner came as a bit of a new concept. The judge was primarily observing the movement of the horse and how well that movement conformed to a preconceived model of the stereotypical English Hunter mount. The event was competitive in the sense that there were winners and losers. However, the objective was to make your horse do his best and not concern yourself with what others were doing. The struggle was with yourself. The goal was to overcome your fear, remember your training, and communicate effectively with your horse. Most of all you should enjoy the test. When the event was over whether or not you received a ribbon was not the point. How well you performed could only truly be judged by those who new you and your horse intimately. Those who had day after day seen you struggle to train, exercise, care for, teach and love your horse could truly judge your performance. Those who had seen you fall to the ground bruised, bleeding and crying and then get back on and try again truly had the credentials to judge how well you did. Of course, you could judge yourself but it required brutal honesty; the honesty of a true agonist.
There are many examples that describe an agonist as it relates to performance struggles where the individual is primarily contending with their own being. Regardless, the celebration is about the battle itself. The true agonist would say it is not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.
Returning to the task at hand, this blog will be about an agonist who seeks to encourage and edify other agonists in the struggle that is “being a Christian.” Emphasis is added here because there are many terms that can describe this state of being adopted children God. Regardless of what we may call ourselves, our ultimate struggle is the same and it must be celebrated and discussed. We must be those who are not only content to be agonists but those who derive their joy from it.
My hope is to unpack many topics along the way. My next post may be even more foreign to some readers. Dealing with the last first, that is “Agonist” before “Reformed,” was purposely done so that you might not decide right from the first post to declare me to be a heretic. There is usually method in my madness as those who know me well can attest.