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Immortal Intimacy: Where, When, Who, Why & What of Heaven

by Dr. Ralph Blair

This booklet is an expanded version of Dr. Blair’s keynote address at connECtion 1991, the summer conferences of Evangelicals Concerned, at Kirkridge and at the University of Denver.

Copyright ©1991. Ralph Blair, 311 E. 72nd St New York, New York 10021


Peggy Lee sings of going to “the greatest show on earth” when she was twelve years old. She remembers:

“There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.”

And she recalls that:

“As I sat there watching the marvellous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don’t know what, but when it was over
I said to myself, ‘Is that all there is to the circus?’
Then I fell in love
With the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks down by the river
Or just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes.
We were so very much in love.
And then one day he went away
And I thought I’d die, but I didn’t.
And when I didn’t
I said to myself,
‘Is that all there is to love?’”

Have you ever thought like this? Remember your disappointment when the cartoon show flashed those three unwanted words: “That’s All, Folks!” Remember the emptiness late on Christmas Day, after all the presents had been opened and abandoned, and all the excitement that had raised expectations for weeks was gone? I’ve heard it for years in therapy: Is that all there is—to sex? to love? to career? to success? to rational living? to life? And if we don’t go deeper with such questions, we settle for superficial solutions. We sing along with Peggy Lee:

“Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is, my friends
Then let’s keep dancing.
Let’s break out the booze
And have a ball,
If that’s all there is.”

She goes on:

“I know you must be saying to yourselves
If that’s the way she feels about it
Why doesn’t she just end it all.
Oh no. Not me.
I’m in no hurry for that final disappointment,
For I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you
When that final moment comes
And I’m breathing my last breath
I’ll be saying to myself
Is that all there is?”

Peggy Lee and The Preacher of Ecclesiastes agree: all is vanity. But one responds with calls to reverence God and the other calls for a ball and booze. But the ball ends. Lust doesn’t last. Does anything? Well, after the hangovers we still fear the futility of life we sought to escape. Said Malcolm Muggeridge: “It would be a terrible prospect, wouldn’t it, to just go on and on and on. Everything is bearable because we die.” Yet who wants to die? We die against our will. We may pretend it’s “death with dignity.” There’s a nice lie: Dignified death—“Cold Obstruction’s apathy!” [Byron]. Read more →

RECORD: Winter 2017

(PDF version available here.)

The 2017 Evangelicals Concerned calendar includes our 30th Presidents Day Winter Weekend Bible Study, our 75th ConnECtion and our 15th Fall Preaching Festival. 

   The Presidents Day Weekend Bible study will be February 18-20 at The Turning Point at Kirkridge Retreat in the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.

ConnECtion2017 will be June 2-4 at The Nelson Lodge atop the mountain at Kirkridge.  Todd Komarnicki, film producer and Sully screenwriter, will keynote, as will actress Jane Bradbury, who’ll read from Amy Carmichael’s devotionals.  Ralph Blair will also speak.     

The Fall Preaching Festival, in grateful celebration of the Luther 500th, will be October 6-8 at Ocean Grove on the Jersey Shore.

Gay marriage and an Islamist’s mass murder in an Orlando gay club ranked 9th and 10th among lifetime events that Americans say impacted them most.  This Pew Research found that Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 slaughter was the event that most impacted Americans’ lives.

Christian country superstar Carrie Underwood has voiced wholehearted support of marriage for same-sex couples.  In January, she gave an impromptu performance at Passion 2017, a major 3-day evangelical event where over 55,000 members of the collegiate generation packed the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Afterwards, she tweeted: “What an incredible night!  Thanks for letting me be a small part of it!”

But Wesley Wildmon, a heterosexually married grandson of the founder of the Religious Right’s American Family Association, wasted no time in sending out his open letter publicly protesting her presence on stage.  AFA’s 27-year-old Director of Outreach blasted the evangelical organizers of Passion 2017 for permitting the appearance of one who supports “those who practice homosexuality”.

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker are two more evangelicals who support marriage for same-sex couples.  Co-stars of a popular real-life family series on HGTV, they’ve now learned how very quickly there can be a costly backlash to such empathy and support.

Jen’s public comments came in response to a question from Religious News Service’s Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical who is same-sex attracted though committed to celibacy.  He asked if she supported marriage for same-sex couples and she replied: “I would never wish anything less for my gay friends”.  She explained, “Just like the rest of us, [they] need marriage support”.  Her husband then defended the position on Facebook.  Ever since, bookstores, e.g., Southern Baptist LifeWay Stores, have refused to carry her books.

Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnutt notes that Jen’s position is consistent with her overall approach, though applying it to same-sex issues was too much for many other evangelicals to accept.  Shellnutt says: “Jen is very sensitive to the outsider … she is so passionate about including others: cultural outsiders, the homeless, racial minorities, people who have been hurt by the church”.  She adds that Hatmaker’s recent comments only “clarify and update what she’s said previously.”

Read more →

Evangelism: Proclaiming God’s Good News—with every bad -ism crossed out

Evangelism: Proclaiming God’s Good News—with every bad -ism crossed out

by Dr. Ralph Blair
This booklet is an expanded version of Dr. Blair’s keynote address at connECtion 1994, the summer conferences of Evangelicals Concerned at Kirkridge in the eastern Pennsylvania mountains and at Chapman University in Orange, California.

Introduction

Have you ever seen the guy who goes to ball games with his John 3:16 sign? I’m sure that at least you lesbians have. You gay men may have been watching a different channel. The John 3:16 guy gets into trouble with sports stadium officials. When they say his evangelism violates “good taste / bad taste policy,” his lawyer gets a judge to say that the policy violates free speech rights. When the Cincinnati Reds then responded by prohibiting all signs that were not related to baseball, he showed up with a sign that said: “Go Reds! John 3:16.” The Reds management then reacted by banning all non-commercial signs, claiming thereby “to protect the family-oriented atmosphere.” The supposedly “family-oriented” beer and cigarette signs remained and the John 3:16 guy has gone elsewhere. According to his lawyer: “It’s unfortunate that the Reds have to take the fun out of baseball.”

Did you ever think of evangelism as fun? To say it’s fun may be to trivialize the gospel, but fun is at least a hint of the joy that is the good news. Too much evangelism is so dreary or full of self-righteous spite and fright that it’s anything but fun—anything but good news. Why shouldn’t it be a real pleasure to proclaim the truly joyous news that “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that no one need be destroyed but, by relying on him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life?”

Last September the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board estimated that 46.1 percent of the folks down in Alabama are going to hell. Now how did that Mission Board know what Paul says all “creation is eagerly waiting to have revealed” only on the last day? (Rom 8:19) Well, the Board did a county by county statistical analysis. They subtracted the Southern Baptists from the population of each county and then estimated the “unsaved” in the remaining churches on the basis of how closely those groups’ beliefs matched Southern Baptist doctrine. Why did they do this? It wasn’t for idle curiosity. It wasn’t only to look good in their own eyes. It wasn’t in order to look bad in the eyes of southern Methodists, Roman Catholics or Crimson Tide secularists over at the University. And it wasn’t in order to be ridiculed by hostile national news media. It was in order to strategize for evangelism.

Last July, strategists from the Southern Baptist Convention, Campus Crusade for Christ, and other rightward religious efforts met in Colorado Springs—the antigay capital of America—to plan what they call “Assessment 2000: A Global Survey of the Unfinished Task” of world evangelization. Read more →

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