Let’s weigh readings for Christian Universalism and Christian Infernalism!

Do scales exist?

Over the last several years, I’ve been astonished to realize that although we are about 2,000 years into the project of Christian theology, the state of our theological thinking and discourse remains incredibly rudimentary. I’m not just talking about the situation among non-academics, but also the quality of thought in a lot of academic theological discourse. What really woke me up to this reality was David Bentley Hart’s logically and morally compelling case for Christian universalism, That All Shall Be Saved, and the number of entirely incompetent responses to it from academic theologians. I believe I read every published response to the book, following it all in real time with the help of the Fans of David Bentley Hart forum. I came into the experience expecting to find at least some informed and intelligent pushback on the book, and was genuinely surprised to find that the responses very consistently (1) did not engage with the actual arguments in the book, (2) just repeated old arguments that Hart thoroughly addressed in the book, as if the book had never been written, (3) slandered Hart in ways that were obvious to anyone who had engaged with the book at all, but which apparently pleased their audiences. The result was an enormously liberating insight: his opponents here are even more full of it than I imagined, and the problem ran all the way to the very top levels of theology as an academic discipline. Now to be clear, I think there are a lot of theologians who are doing interesting and honest work. My critique of academic theology, as a discipline, is decidedly not a critique of all academic theologians. Rather, the critique is aimed at the failure of a theology PhD, professorship, and chair in a major theology program to indicate even a bare minimum about the quality of work the individual is doing within their field of specialization. Unlike many other disciplines, the credentials and institutions have no real power to signal that high quality work is being done. One would expect a professor to at least engage competently with the content of a book being reviewed in a publication, as if they had actually read it. This is demonstrably not the case in theology today. In short, theology has a very serious problem with hacks playing prominent roles in the discipline. By hacks, I mean people who are pretending to do intellectual work, but who are actually producing propaganda rather than contributing to the pursuit of knowledge.

And while this is a bad situation, I think it is still good news in a few ways. It turns out that the attitude of Jesus toward the scribes of his day still has enormous resonance for us today, and for good reasons. It also means that there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit in theology, and a lot of opportunities to learn and advance our knowledge surprisingly quickly. For example, even a concept as simple as a relative scale has the power to dramatically move discussions in the field forward. In this article, I’ll illustrate how. Surprisingly, at least to me, those who understand how a modern scale works will have basic insights that radically changed our understanding of matter just a couple of centuries ago, but which have not yet migrated to the Biblical theology of hell. It has the potential to rather efficiently clear up a lot of b.s. in the field of academic theology…and in ways that also deeply accord with traditional Christian language, metaphors, and concepts. After all, the idea of even scales is hardly novel. Here’s Proverbs 20:23, for example: “Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, And a false scale is not good”. Nonetheless, a proper understanding of the general principle behind scales remains a striking theological novelty to many in the year 2022.

On the issues people care about the most, like Christian ethics and hell, it remains remarkably innovative for someone to use a Christian Bible (any of the various canons is fine) like a canon, even though the word “canon” itself refers to a measure, like a ruler or a fair weight. The results can be genuinely astonishing when someone does this, especially among religious people who imagine that we at least understand some basic things about the texts we have lived with for millennia. For example, if we approach core Biblical texts about hell and salvation in this way, the Biblical case for Christian universalism turns out to be much weightier than the case for the historically widespread infernalist view. For a bit more context, it helps to know that universalism is a long-standing view among Christians, although it was a minority view for much of church history. (Whether it is still a minority view today is uncertain, depending on how one defines a Christian.) It dates back to the very earliest texts (the letters of Paul) and some of the most central figures to the formation of the tradition (Origen and St. Gregory of Nyssa). Christian universalists think that in Jesus, God will save everyone in the end. Still, they also believe that overcoming evil (in our hearts and the world) remains a problem of the utmost importance and urgency, and in my experience they are generally much more morally serious about the core of Christian ethics than the infernalists I have known. There is both judgment and forgiveness in Christian universalism, to be sure, it is just that God’s justice is ultimately restorative, rather than being endlessly tormenting. The infernalist view, in contrast, holds that some people will suffer endless torment. This view also has a long history in the church, and has enjoyed wide official popularity since Augustine. The view gradually became officially mandatory, on a straightforward reading of church councils, in the period after Constantine. This happened as the hierarchy of the church widely abandoned the deposit of the faith on issues like violence and solidarity with the poor. The slow emergence of an official demand that Christians must accept the most extreme forms of spiritual violence followed the turn toward literal violence, a drastic shift that really took root with Augustine and others, in the generation after Constantine.

We might also sum up the project here more poetically. For example, we might look at the way Bob Dylan tried to put it on Infidels in 1983, although he ended up pulling the track. He was working on this song as he disconnected from the Vineyard movement, the one I belong to joyfully, although I can see where he was going with this. The cancelled song would then be caged up in “Close Connection to My Heart” but was eventually set free, unleashed on us in 1991 as part of the Bootleg Series. It was one of the few Bob Dylan albums I owned growing up, and I do love these lines. I don’t read them as generally anti-intellectual, but instead as voicing disillusionment with the kind of pseudo-education that is such a problem in theology.

Gettin’ harder and harder to recognize the trap

Too much information about nothin’

Too much educated rap

It’s just like you told me, just like you said it would be

It’s just like Jesus told us, it’s just like he said it would be. At the core of the problem with the educated rap in theology is that people spend a lot of time learning and reciting bad old arguments. This is why something as simple as thinking about how scales actually work is potentially revolutionary today, much as more precise scales were revolutionary in chemistry just a couple of centuries ago.

Scales. How do they work?

Scales don’t present us with an irresolvable mystery of the universe. They work by consistent comparison.

A gram, for example, could be any weight. We don’t even need to know what, exactly, our unit of measure really is in its metaphysical essence. What matters is that the same gram is used consistently from case to case to establish a consistent means of relative comparison. If the weight of your gram is always changing, though, you won’t be able to compare things. You’ll be a measuring hypocrite: adjusting your measure here and there and pretending to measure, but all you’ll be revealing is your hypocrisy and your biases.

Measuring really gets interesting when we have three things: a consistent measure and then two other things that are measured according to it. This lets us do all kinds of things, like set a price per pound and then fairly charge that price per pound. You can weigh some carrots with a weight, and then weigh some silver, and then trade carrots for silver at a consistent rate. Monetary exchange isn’t the only application here, but it is worthwhile to try to surpass an honest merchant, rather than do even worse than one. We should be careful to avoid reducing everything to monetary analogies, but we can’t get beyond the limitations of money by ripping people off and using uneven scales; good theology needs to be more than a market exchange, not less than it.

Astonishingly often in Biblical studies, what people actually do is more like this: some supposed authority takes some carrots and holds them in their hand and says, “Welp, it weighs about that much.” And then other people just point back to them as an authority, as if that settles things. In a bit, we’ll get into this example of one of our scribes doing this in response to Hart’s work, pointing back to Augustine as if this settles anything. If we’re serious about what we’re doing, we need to do better. At the very least we need to weigh a reading and see if we are willing to apply the approach consistently across texts, or if we change our approach as quickly as a crooked merchant changes his weights. As things stand, what constantly happens in theological discussions (even among those who read deeply in the field) is something like this: you have the suckers, the crooks and the cynics. Suckers naively accept “welp, it weighs about that much” as an informative approach. The crooks understand how easily manipulated that process is, and they take advantage of it knowingly; in the land of the suckers, crooks are kings. A natural response to this situation is cynicism: a view that it is impossible to get anywhere, and that all apparent discourse just masks the will to power. The truth is that we can actually engage in powerful relative comparisons with just a bit of effort. That isn’t to say we get to the bottom of everything this way. But there is so much life-giving fruit to be gathered. It is just hanging over here, in a more humble location, and it is hanging so much lower than the naive, the crooked, and the cynical seem to think it is, with all of their supposed knowledge of good and evil.

I may not know good and evil, but I know how to make some simple and straightforward comparisons. What I mean here is this: I don’t need to sort out the suckers, the crooks and the cynics. In truth, we all have some of each in us. Fortunately, addressing the problem with our widespread pretending-to-measure doesn’t depend on me sorting the suckers from the crooks. The corruption doesn’t need to be a corruption of our personal hearts. Often, I think it is more a matter of just being told that two things have different weights by some authority, and then not bothering to check.

A scale helps us check both the reality of the situation and our hearts. Plenty of people say that they accept the infernalist position even though they hate it. They embrace it mournfully, regretfully, because authorities have told them that the Bible just leaves them with no other choice. In many cases, I really think they feel that way. They’ve just inherited a long tradition of non-canonical reading and have never thought or been taught to weigh things consistently. People who are sincere about that are extremely likely to change their minds on this issue over the course of this article, if they actually read and comprehend it. People who say that, but don’t really know themselves or who are insincere, will not change their minds in the face of sound analysis. So it goes. This article will still help you sort out which is which, by observing how they respond to it. A scale is a very useful tool to have around: even where it doesn’t persuade, and even where it doesn’t reveal all, it can still reveal enough about a merchant to inform our next choice. Do you want to do business with people who get mad when you bring out an even scale?

Letting the Canon Measure Us

So let’s weigh our reading strategies against the canon. We’re going to study two texts that seem to lead to diametrically opposite conclusions: one yielding Christian universalism, the other yielding Christian infernalism. I’ve chosen the texts that I consider to be the strongest for each side in the dispute, with the hope that a detailed engagement with our readings of these texts (in their context) will let us address the much wider project microcosmically. That is to say, I have carefully chosen two texts that can suggest the shape of the whole dispute.

First, there is a verse that has been read in a universalist way for almost two millennia, 1 Cor 15:22 (NASB):

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Second, a verse that has been read in an infernalist way for almost two millennia, Matthew 25:45–46 (NASB):

Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’ These will go away into eternal (aionion) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionion) life.

One of the core arguments that Augustine advanced involved this passage, from a part of Scripture that he cited especially often. His claim was that the punishment must be endless because the life is endless. The argument has been repeated thousands of times, maybe hundreds of thousands of times, ever since. Even our scribes repeat it as if it is a sound argument. Anyone discussing these issues is bound to encounter it in short order. There’s a fundamental problem with the measure by which Augustine tries to weigh the canon, though: nouns modify their adjectives, even in parallel constructs like this. Consider this sentence, for example:

My grandmother lived a long life, but my uncle died a long death.

What does “long” mean here, exactly? Is Augustine right that in a parallel construction the adjectives must carry the same meaning? No he is not. “Long” could mean all kinds of things, and I can speak with a special kind of authority on that sentence because I wrote it. The point is that my grandmother lived a full and long life, relative to the length of a life. And my uncle died a long death, relative to the length of a death (maybe a couple of years?). There’s nothing to even suggest that the ‘longs’ are comparable durations. But even more, the broader phrasing invites us into a deeper reflection on life and death themselves, and we’re also being invited to consider their entire lives here. Part of what is being said is that my grandmother lived a good life focused on the goodness of life itself, but my uncle’s life was a kind of dying. This semi-fictional uncle was a Rush Limbaugh fan, and so you can understand how his entire life was a kind of balled up rage bound for death: he spent his whole life dying, while my semi-fictional grandmother was telling tall tales and leaping on rollercoasters to the end. This is the sort of thing that normal language is doing all the time, drawing us out from the particular words into broader and deeper and richer linguistic structures: into the phrases and sentences and paragraphs and chapters and books and bodies of literature and lives and communities that produce them. By the time we’re trying to read more than isolated words, which is to say by the time we’re truly reading at all, we will be a hundred miles down the road from Augustine’s absurd, and absurdly illiterate, idea that a parallel structure requires (or even desires) that adjectives have the same meaning. His approach to exegesis doesn’t allow us to enter into the life of language, but instead is a kind of deadly linguistic vivisection.

That’s a simple illustration of the point, and I used my own sentence first because authorial intention enters into these discussions (even if it cannot determine them.) You can’t credibly claim that I don’t understand the explicit intention behind my own sentence, if I’ve elucidated it for you. So that was the warm-up round, and if you still respect Augustine’s method it is because you also don’t respect me enough to let me tell you how my sentence works. Make a note of that, either way.

Still, does Scripture work this way? Of course it does, and extensively. Here’s one example, from Jeremiah 34:17 (NASB):

Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release (דְר֔וֹר), each one to his brother and each to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release (דְּר֜וֹר) to you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to the sword, to the plague, and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

If Augustine were the measure of Scripture, rather than Scripture being the right measure of Augustine, we would need to insist that the word translated as “release” has the same sense and implications. But how should we read this? Is the text saying that because we (the audience) didn’t liberate each other from slavery and bondage, God will liberate us to plagues and death? That’s not liberation. Wait, wait, no. Maybe it is saying that because we didn’t expose our slaves to the horrors of freedom with their family, God will expose them to plague. What is the meaning of “release” here, liberation or catastrophic exposure? Hopefully you’re laughing at least a little bit inside, even amid the horror of what we’re discussing.

The beauty and power of the Biblical language here depends, precisely, on a kind of punning wordplay that contrasts two sides of the word’s range of possible meaning. The force of the parallelism lies entirely in the ironic contrast between the two senses of the word, captured fairly well by “release” in English. This is just how the text expresses a deeply ironic, poetic justice. This helps us see the real damage done by Augustine’s exegetical principle. To accept his approach is to become less literate. People sometimes say that Augustine didn’t know Greek, but this isn’t true, he did know it. The problem ran much deeper than that. Augustine didn’t know how to read well, regardless of the language. Or more precisely, the Augustine who tried to weigh Matthew 25 arbitrarily in his hand here, without any serious effort to let the canon test his method, was just rationalizing his own personal opinion. He was like a merchant grabbing a bunch of his carrots, saying, “Welp, it weighs about five pounds … that’ll be $20.” Then you put it on a scale and find that his carrots only weigh about a pound. Except in this case, we have almost 2,000 years of people saying, “Augustine said they weigh five pounds so they weigh five pounds…”

So Augustine’s exegetical premise is not only unsound, but actually damages our ability to read well. His premise is bad. Having said that, there are still more problems here. Suppose we grant his premise for the sake of argument, and we live in a vastly inferior parallel universe called “The World of Wooden Prose.” Here, adjectives in parallel constructs necessarily have the same meaning. Nonetheless, what if “aionion” doesn’t mean everlasting? (That is to say, what if we don’t assume Augustine’s conclusion for him?) For example, what if “aion” means “lifetime” (as it does, by the way), and “aionion” is following Plato’s Timaeus. In that case, “aionion” is a special philosophical term that refers to particular lifetimes that are the copies of the general form of a lifetime. Then we might well translate the verse this way. (The article linked above goes much deeper into this.)

Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’ These will go away into their lifetimes’ punishment, but the righteous into the life of lives.

But you don’t need to accept that particular translation for the general point here to hold, which is that aionion could mean any number of things here, and that Augustine has simply assumed his conclusion. I should add that a Christian can still affirm that aionion life lasts forever, while aionion punishment (or correction, if we follow Aristotle’s usage) is temporary. For example, we might view the life as endless because it is life in Jesus Christ, who is God, who is therefore endlessly alive. And we might view the correction or punishment as having an end because it is also correction in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, and therefore the corrective effect is endless even as the pain of correction is not. Or again, we might follow another interpretation with real warrant and see “aion” as relating to the Messianic Age and a great transition between two ages. Currently, the standard Biblical translation for “aion” is as “age” in Matthew 24, and so this approach has the charm of being relatively conservative at the moment. It is the approach Hart takes in his New Testament translation. If Jesus is talking about the “life of the age” it can easily be endless for a variety of theological reasons, even as “punishment of the age” is not.

Still, we don’t even need a good translation, like these options, to point out one other way in which Augustine’s argument is wrong and wrong-headed. For the sake of the illustration, let’s just say that “aionion” means “ionized” or something arbitrary. The point is that this alternative meaning doesn’t matter, so think of anything you want. Whatever the text would then be saying about ionized punishment and ionized life, the church’s full doctrine of endless life wouldn’t hinge on this verse. The verse can just be talking about something different than endless life in Christ, and we can affirm that life in Christ is endless for other reasons. For example, we can suggest that Christ’s life is endless because he is fully God. Based on this alone (and not the weight of the word aionion), we can then say that life in Christ must therefore also be endless life, because his life is endless, because he is fully God. In other words, Christians don’t need the word “aionion” at all, and they don’t need it to mean anything in particular at all, to build their case that life in Christ is endless. Surely the doctrine doesn’t hang on the contestable translation of a single strange word invented by a philosopher in a philosophical context. To make it seem like our faith dangles from a single word is to give Christian faith astonishingly short shrift. Just as the argument damages our capacity to read well, if accepted, it also damages our capacity to understand how Christian doctrine relates to Christian faith and to the Bible. It is to become something even worse than a bibliolator: it is to become a worshipper of a single stoicheion, a single basic element of the text.

Regardless of where you come down on the actual subject of this discussion, you should reject Augustine’s argument because to think like him is to think far worse about all kinds of things. To sum up the case on Augustine’s argument: even if we grant his false premise his conclusion still doesn’t follow from it, and the conclusion he assumes about the meaning of aionion is also bad. So the premise is bad, the conclusion wouldn’t follow even if it weren’t bad, and he doesn’t competently address the semantic meat of the matter. The argument is rotten from snout to tail. So in the end it is true that Augustine didn’t know how to read Greek, but this wasn’t a peculiar deficiency when it came to Greek. His Greek was as passable as any of his language skills. The problem was that he simply didn’t know how to read well. Period. And over the last 1700 years, he has spawned countless proud imitators of his utter incompetence. Still, it needs to be said that St. Augustine is both a saint and a Doctor of the Catholic Church, and I’m all for it. The moral of the story might not be the one that was once imagined, though. The point is that if they’re even letting this guy in, everybody gets to be a Doctor of the Church. As Jesus said, who are you calling Rabbi? We’re supposed to have one teacher, and that is God. But I hereby award, by logical inference, an Honorary Doctorate of the Church to whoever has read this far in the article. Congratulations! It is worth at least as much as the status of Augustine, or the doctorate of one of his many little parrots.

What’s fascinating here is that Augustine nonetheless had some kind of an inkling of how a scale might work. He was smart, at least, to focus on a passage that gives us a relationship between two things (aionion life and aionion correction/punishment). It really is illuminating to compare and contrast! But what if we had another text that didn’t just provide us with a parallel construct, which can invite all kinds of rich comparison and contrast, but it actually used logical language to make an explicit and clear comparison between the two parts? By some miracle or luck, the canon does, in fact, provide us with just such a text for our consideration! Here it is again, with the key logical terms in Greek written out:

For as (hosper gar) in Adam all die, so (houtos kai) in Christ all will be made alive.

The point is really quite straightforward: literally everyone will be made alive in Christ, because this is the human condition, at least as much as Adam characterizes the human condition. It isn’t that everyone is in Christ now. There are some now who are not yet in Christ. But in the fullness of time, all will be made alive in Christ, which must be the endless life of Christ because Christ lives forever.

Here is where our scale analogy really kicks in. If someone was convinced by Augustine’s very light argument from parallelism, and they are using even weights, they will be vastly more convinced by the logical connection between the two parts of this verse. The explicit logical parallelism shows us the kind of text for which Augustine’s premise would actually carry some weight, even though it doesn’t with respect to Matthew 25. We can state it explicitly: where a direct logical parallel is drawn, parallel language should be read in a comparative and analogical way rather than in a contrasting way. Where this kind of logical analogy isn’t provided, we need more context to understand the play between parallel language, which is much more loose and generative in those cases. (This lies at the heart of Hebrew poetry and the poetic structure of the Christian canon itself: a tale of two temples that invites comparison and contrast, and which leads us to the third and final Temple, Jesus.)

To draw this out a bit more fully, whatever we say about Adam here, we must at least say about Christ. Insofar as there is a divergence between the power of Adam and Christ, Christian theology can only ever attribute infinitely more power to Christ, and cannot attribute to Christ a diminished power relative to Adam’s. To do so would literally be infinitely worse than Arianism, which erred (according to St. Gregory of Nyssa at least) in failing to see Christ as eternal God. But Arianism is extremely close to Trinitarian theology compared to the theology that places Christ beneath Adam.

(Notice the scaling method at work here in the comparison with Arianism as well. The argument doesn’t require that we know, exactly, how wrong or right Arianism was for it to work. I think it was wrong, but the scale doesn’t depend on my knowledge of good and evil. Instead, as throughout our discussion, it is about relative weights and our capacity for comparison. Incidentally, this is how knowledge in a vast array of fields has been progressing over the last several centuries: rigorous comparison is enormously powerful, at least in pulling planks out of our eyes and helping us spot our own voluminous human b.s.)

So what is the best infernalist response to this argument? Interestingly, it runs parallel to discussions about the meanings of “aionios”, and rightly so. After we look at the logical premises of our analysis and the logical structure of the statement, it makes a lot of sense to pay deep attention to the particular words and how they work. Importantly, every word in this verse is a very common word with relatively unambiguous meaning, unlike “aionios” which has a fascinating history of contestation around its meaning because it is, properly speaking, a philosophical term that Plato apparently invented in the Timaeus. Against the weight of this clear language, a worthwhile rejoinder is consistently raised: “all” doesn’t always mean “all”. This is undoubtedly true, in the sense it is usually used. For example, if I point at a jar of marbles and say, “Give me all the marbles,” you’d probably be right to think that I want all of the marbles in the jar and not all of the marbles in the universe. All does mean all, it just means all of some set. And it is worth exploring what the set is, whenever “all” is invoked. (Precisely because all is a common word in both Greek and English, this is all very intuitive.) Here’s where the strict logical parallelism kicks in all the more strongly, though. Adam is used to refer to all of the human condition, that which all humanity shares. And while there are some traditions about some people not dying (such as Enoch), Paul’s usage here would seem to either be all-inclusive, or to make room only for an exception like Enoch who was directly taken up into heaven as a sign of God’s approval. The “all” in view here is either entirely inclusive of humanity, or else Enoch is the exception and Enoch did not get consigned to endless torment. And so by the direct logical structure of the parallel, and by the simple language used, and by the theological relationship between Christ and Adam, the implication is clear: according to 1 Cor 15, literally everyone (except maybe Enoch? but that’s a serious stretch) ends up in Christ in the end.

From here, the main infernalist rejoinder with respect to this particular text might be an appeal to some fascinating and strange theology. Perhaps, having taken all of this on board, they might suggest that some will be tormented in Christ forever. If that’s true, it means that even as they are tormented, it is also the very torments of Christ that also carry on without end. To be clear, there’s a longstanding tradition in Christianity, which holds that the fire of judgment is precisely the fire of God’s love as well. It’s just that the very same fire is experienced differently by different people: in resistance to reconciliation, it is experienced as horror, but in the work of reconciliation it becomes sweet and warm. In other words, the true nature of God’s restorative justice is the joy of reconciliation, and only the denial of that work makes it seem to be torment. Still, if Christ is God-with-us, wherever someone is in torment he is there with them. As Elder Sophrony reportedly told Olivier Clement: “You may be certain that as long as someone is in hell, Christ will remain there with him.” To this, I’d add that if we follow 1 Cor 15:22 it isn’t that he is beside them, but they are in fact within him, and he is therefore suffering whatever they suffer. In the wake of any decent reading of this text, I think the only real solution for an infernalist is to develop some horrifying and novel doctrine that Christ himself is endlessly tormented there in the fire with Satan and all of his angels, if torment truly is endless and those who are in him are forever there. Infernalists often try to suggest that universalists are coming up with a new and non-Biblical doctrine, but they aren’t. After this discussion, I think that the scales really are very much going just the other way. If they hope to salvage their position after this, they are the ones who need to come up with a horrifying novelty: that Christ is tormented without end with the Slanderer and Death and all of their angels.

Now in this discussion, I haven’t done a broader contextual reading of 1 Cor or Matthew’s Gospel. You’ll find my extensive discussion of Matthew’s Gospel here. I hope to write a similarly comprehensive analysis of 1 Corinthians later. Here I would suggest that reading a single pair of verses well, however, is already much better than trying to read a pile of prooftexts poorly. Based on my work on the broader contexts of both verses, both the cotexts of Scripture and the social context of history, I think that our microcosmos (our little ordering of the texts here) is deeply reflective of the broader order in which they are embedded. Like the stars and the lifeforms in our remarkably transparent universe, it is there for anyone to see if they care to look closely and slowly enough. But those who just glance will miss almost all that there is to see.

I hope that this has helped illuminate Scripture for you. And I hope that it has also sparked a kind of joyful hope in you. What if it isn’t all a matter of suckers, crooks and cynics? What if scales exist, and what if the canon of Scripture is just such a scale? We could use it to help root out the cynic and the crook and the sucker in us, and find someone else whispering beneath the din: a reconciler at work within.

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Daniel Heck

Daniel Heck

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.