THE PROBLEM WITH ARMS LENGTH THEOLOGY


There are some people that I will greet with a handshake and others with an appropriate hug. Hugs are often given to affirm, console and express agreement.

You may tend to get cautious about people who hug indiscreetly.  Maybe you’ve met complete strangers who felt it their obligation to give you a big, body hug.  Gingerly we pull back and evaluate the motives and boundaries of the stranger who hugs or kisses us.

There can also be times when we were close to someone and grew distant.  It is difficult for us to know the spatial boundaries when greeting the one with whom we developed distance and caution.

I believe that there are doctrines of Christianity that we may still believe, but hold at arm’s length.  Perhaps we once fully accepted a particular belief, but scandal, misinformation and a prevalence of scoffers cause us to pull back and question the certainty of a doctrine.

In the context of this topic, are we able to embrace the apocalypse? Do we believe that Christ will come again but need to return to the Scriptures to capture the heart of what it means? To go one step away from arms-length theology, we enter into disbelief and scoffing.

If we are to take seriously the belief in resurrection and judgment, how should we live our lives? Jesus encouraged everyone to live in a state of readiness, watching for His Return.


Mark 13
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”


To be the watchman at the door puts you closest to the one who is arriving. And yet, it is easy for me to distance myself from my post and lose sight of this coming reality.  It is easy to get lost in speculations, theories and opinions.  We can take the truth and hold it at arm’s length, rather than embrace it fully. An abundance of scoffers and well-meaning speculators leave our head spinning in ‘TMI – too much information’.

There are many sincere attempts to communicate events that are shrouded in mystery.  We have watched the Christian public sometimes move to extreme behaviour in anticipation of the End Times.  We have also watched a distancing from this important truth.


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