Writings by Dr. Blair

Jesus Christ is Lord! So What!

An expanded version of the Keynote address delivered by Dr. Ralph Blair at the Eastern and Western connECtions 2002.

INTRODUCTION

“Jesus Christ is Lord!” So what! There’s no more foolish non sequitur than that. Yet among so many Christians, there’s no more frequent folly. Of course, among non-Christians, this dismissive statement seems no non sequitur. As Paul said: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ [and really mean it] unless he or she is prompted by God’s Holy Spirit.” (I Cor 12:3)

“So What!” That’s the least of the interjections of indifference. “Yeah, well, so?” “Whatever!” They get rougher, more hostile. “Who cares?” “Who gives a damn?” “Who gives a shit?” Shall I go on? Christians usually don’t go on from there. And, of course, Christians don’t actually say: “Jesus Christ is Lord! So what?” No. With eyes closed and hands aloft, Christians sing the praise chorus, “He is Lord.” And with eyes shut against that truth and a hands-off policy to what is proclaimed, we lead our lives to suit ourselves. For too many, instead of following through on Christ’s Lordship – there’s a flaking out in the fantasies of our own lord- and ladyships. For all practical purposes, it’s not: “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Forever! It’s “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Whatever! Read more →

The Matchless Match: How to Achieve Sexual Intimacy

A Workshop Presentation for the Western ConnECtion2002 at Chapman University in Orange, California, July 26, 2002

Half a hundred summer connECtions have come and gone since that first one in 1980. My keynote address that summer was entitled: “Getting Close: Steps Toward Intimacy.” I said: “I am going to begin with a neglected passage from Ecclesiastes 4.” And I read this Scripture: “Then I looked again at all the injustice that goes on in this world. The oppressed were crying, and no one would help them. No one would help them because their oppressors had power on their side. … Here is one who lives alone. This person has no children, no sister or brother, yet this person is always working, never satisfied with the income. For whom is this person working so hard and denying self any pleasure? This is useless, too – and a miserable way to live. Two are better-off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help the person up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help. If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself? Two can resist an attack that would defeat one alone.” [Ecclesiastes 1:1 and 4:8-12]

Those old lines are poignant. And even with the intervening millennia and all the cultural changes from the ancient Middle East to the advent of Western romance from the Middle Ages Read more →

Moneyism

New York, July 21, 2002

“Eternity” is for sale, and so is “Truth” – as high fashion fragrances from Calvin Klein. And they’re not cheap. That’s the point. And these bottled ego-builders are the least of the luxuries available to those who think they need such things.

A New York Times advertising supplement on “The New Luxury” assures us that “The ego builder’s soul mate is the person who pays an outrageous price for the ultimate product … [and that] to most ego-driven people, it’s important that everyone else know that they own the best, whether it’s the biggest ranch or the car with the longest hood.” According to this Read more →

Signs of Jonah

A Sermon Preached at City Church, New York, June 23, 2002

What do you think is America’s No. 1-selling children’s video? It’s a Bible story starring a talking tomato and cucumber. And in October, more than a thousand big screens across the country will be showing the VeggieTales version of Jonah and the Whale.

But a sermon on “Jonah and the Whale?” This stuff of tacky tchotchkes and bubble bath for kids? A sermon on a silly story about a guy who gets swallowed by a whale? And any Bible Quiz nerd knows it wasn’t a whale anyway. It was a “big fish.” So – don’t “save the whale” part. But then it’s a silly story about a guy who gets swallowed by a big fish. So it still sounds far-fetched, even – dare we say – fishy. Sounds like something right out of The National Enquirer! Read more →

The Bond that Breaks the Boundaries

An expanded version of a lecture by Dr. Ralph Blair to Courage Trust at the Anglican Church of St. James the Less, Pimlico, London, November 2, 2001

When it comes to the subject of gay and lesbian evangelical Christians, most evangelical Christians agree with most gays and lesbians. Just as Grape-Nuts is neither grapes nor nuts and Christian Science is neither Christian nor science and Therapeutic Touch is neither therapeutic nor touch, to most evangelicals and to most gay people, a gay evangelical Christian is neither truly gay nor truly Christian. For most people, you cannot be both an openly evangelical Christian and an openly gay man or lesbian.

EVANGELICAL AND GAY/LESBIAN DIVERSITY

Actually there are all sorts of evangelicals – from the all-out-of-sorts kind to those who aren’t. And there are all sorts of gay men and lesbians – from the all-out-of-sorts kind to those who aren’t.

According to an evangelical history professor: “Once past a shared commitment to a supernatural gospel, evangelicals are all over the place theologically.” [Mark Noll] The president of Southern Baptist Seminary joins a church historian at Westminster Seminary to declare that “No single evangelical tradition exists.” [Albert Mohler, Jr. and D. G. Hart] A Regent College Read more →

Get it in Writing!

A Sermon Preached by Dr. Ralph Blair at City Church, August 26, 2001

Last Sunday’s Style section of The Times featured a report on lavishly crass crosses as statements of fashion if not statements of faith. We’re told that trendsetters disavow Christianity but wear the cross as “a badge of status,” “the latest in hip,” “a testament to chic,” and even for “shock.” As always, in this world, nothing truly Christian is sacred.

There’s a new, glossy Bible due with the fall fashion season. The publishers had first teased that it would picture supermodels as Adam and Eve in the nude. Instead, it’ll show a not-so-famous bi-racial Adam and Eve. Along with other Bible characters, they’ll be shot by famous high fashion photographers. The publishers are still promising “nudity because [as they say] the Bible is very sensual and we are going to exploit that. We want to take the Bible off the dusty back shelf and put it on coffee tables.” But these self-appointed pacesetters are bringing Read more →

Bride’s Biography

A Sermon Preached by Dr. Ralph Blair at City Church, New York, on June 24, 2001

It’s June – the month of brides. And the oldest of all brides is here today in church. She is church. She’s us. As scripture says: We are the Bride of Christ.

From the creeds that lie behind the letters of Paul, we see that from the beginning, Christians have affirmed our belief that we are recreated creations of God, living in a world that God created through Christ and is recreating through Christ. It’s now been some 2,000 years since the everlasting action of God’s mercy began to be lived out in the life-unto-death of Jesus of Nazareth. And it’s now been almost that long since the everlasting action of God’s mercy continued to be lived out in the coming of God’s Holy Spirit in and through the Church, the Bride of Christ. Read more →

I Love To Tell The Story

Ralph Blair’s opening remarks at Philadelphia’s Pridefest, 1998.

Emmylou Harris and Robert Duvall sing a duet on the CD of “The Apostle.” It’s a mid-nineteenth century hymn written by an English woman. Here’s some of what she wrote: “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love … because I know ‘tis true [and] some have never heard the old, old story/Of Jesus and His love.” Jesus and His love. They’re very simple words. And yet it was Jesus and His love that gave her life its most profound meaning. It was in being thus loved that she worked with other Christians for the abolition of slavery.

I remember this hymn from my childhood. Its theme formed my own self-identity, my understanding of my deepest self, long before I ever identified as gay or understood what that could mean.

“Jesus and His love” means I am loved. It also means that I’m to love, too. One way that I try to express that love is to work on behalf of other gay men and lesbians. I’ve been doing that Read more →

Enthusiasm

Based on material presented by Dr. Blair at the two 1997 summer conferences of Evangelicals Concerned held in Pennsylvania and California.

“An enthusiastic religion is the perfection of common sense. And to be beside oneself for Christ’s sake is to be beside Christ, which is our chief end for time and eternity.”
– Henry Drummond – The Ideal Life

There’s way too much enthusiasm. And there’s also way too little. That’s because there’s enthusiasm and enthusiasm. So we’d better not be too quick to enthuse over just any enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is supposed to be enlivening, but much of it is rather short-lived. Remember these words? “Get other names at 100,000 or more, 50,000 or more… . Ready to start overnights right away.” That’s from the White House memo launching Bill Clinton’s bed and breakfast deal. The New York Times headlined: “His Enthusiasm is Made Clear in a Memo.” But his enthusiasm didn’t last. It was dashed by the press’s enthusiasm for scandal — real or imagined. But even the enthusiasm of self-righteous journalists can be sustained by any particular scandal for only so long. Here’s another Times headline of erstwhile enthusiasm: “Addition of Kemp Offers Strength to Dole, Foremost on Tax Policy and Enthusiasm.” The publisher of a talk-radio digest enthused: “For the first time, there’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm about Dole-Kemp.” He might just as well have said it was for the last time. The enthusiasm didn’t last. Read more →

TRUST

Based on an address Dr. Blair gave at the eastern and western connECtions96 in the summer of 1996.

(PDF version available here.)

by Dr. Ralph Blair


INTRODUCTION

Tennessee Williams used to say that “at New York cocktail parties, I drink martinis almost as fast as I can snatch them from the tray.” He said it was at these parties that he “always had a particularly keen and truly awful sense of impermanence” that, he said, haunts all of us. He called “fear and evasion … the two little beasts that chase each other’s tails in the revolving wirecage of our nervous world.”

Fear and Primal Fear aren’t just Marky Mark and Richard Gere movies. They’re our own home videos, channeled through the little amygdala alarm in our brains. Once that alarm goes off, we experience fear, whether or not there’s any good reason to be afraid. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger said that “fear is probably the first emotion experienced” though he added that it’s “so inextricably fused and regularly associated [with anger] that it is difficult to make useful distinctions” between them. Overcoming such fear becomes our “first spiritual duty,” according to philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev. Freud called fear “the fundamental phenomenon and the central problem of neurosis.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 23 million Americans suffer from serious anxiety, over twice as many as suffer from depression and other psychiatric disorders.

Cognitively speaking, fears and anxiety can be prompted and sustained by lack of trust. They can also be resolved by trust. Psychologically, trust is an absence of anxiety. Philosopher John Dewey once said: “To me, faith [or trust] means not worrying.” Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr defined trust as “the final triumph over incongruity.” He went on to say that trust is “the final assertion of the meaningfulness of existence.” Read more →

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