What is the Gospel?

God created the world good, but humanity plunged into sin. We deserve everlasting abandonment and punishment.

But the “Word became flesh and dwelled among us”, experienced suffering with humanity, and paid the price on the cross for humanity’s sin. Showing he was the true Son of God, and showing that his work was finished and his words were true, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He even ate fish with his disciples.

Now, anyone who stops trusting in themselves or false gods, and instead trusts in Christ alone, is given the free and immediately-starting gift of eternal life, forgiveness, justification, rebirth, the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Their life begins anew and God transforms them to love their enemies and to forgive as they have been forgiven. Now they are to go throughout all the world declaring the authority and work of Jesus Christ, awaiting his return.

Notifying a Screenreader User in Browser Applications

According to the spec, aria-live “indicates that an element will be updated, and describes the types of updates the user agents, assistive technologies, and user can expect from the live region.” But if an element is rendered by JavaScript shortly after page load (even 25ms), or on a transition, then screenreaders will not reliably notice content added to it.

To be clear: aria-live is evidently useless for late elements.

The solution is to have two elements either outside the application root element, or immediately rendered in the application element, dedicated to both aria-live=”polite” and aria-live=”assertive”. You can populate these elements in a number of ways, but the important thing is that these elements are picked up by the screenreader almost immediately at page load.


Thanks to Ryan Florence & Aaron Cannon for bringing this to my attention.

Want to achieve web accessibility? Ignore HTML5’s outline algorithm

“Warning! There are currently no known implementations of the outline algorithm in graphical browsers or assistive technology user agents, although the algorithm is implemented in other software such as conformance checkers. Therefore the outline algorithm cannot be relied upon to convey document structure to users. Authors are advised to use heading rank (h1-h6) to convey document structure.” (HTML 5.1 nightly)

Read more about the drama here and here.

What Firm, Bible-Believing Christians Share in Common With Assertive Atheists

“I want to live in a world of a marketplace of ideas where everybody is busted on their [crap] all the time because I think that’s the way we get to truth. That is also what respect is. What we call tolerance nowadays, maybe always—I’m always skeptical about the “nowadays” thing. I don’t think things get that much different. What we call “tolerance” is often just condescending. It’s often just saying, “Okay, you believe what you want to believe that’s fine with me.” I think true respect… it’s one of the reasons I get along so much better with fundamentalist Christians than I do with liberal Christians because fundamentalist Christians I can look them in the eye and say, “You are wrong.” They also know that I will always fight for their right to say that. And I will celebrate their right to say that but I will look them in the eye and say, “You’re wrong.” And fundamentalists will look me in the eye and say, “You’re wrong.” And that to me is respect. The more liberal religious people who go “There are many paths to truth you just go on and maybe you’ll find your way”… is the way you talk to a child. And I bristle at that, so I do very well with proselytizing hardcore fundamentalists and in a very deep level I respect them and at a very deep level I think I share a big part of their heart. I think in a certain sense I’m a preacher. My heart is there. (Penn Jillette, “Why Tolerance is Condescending”)

The Logic of Peace: Rachel Held Evans vs. Paul the Apostle

Rachel Held Evans essentially argues that:

1. If God is retributive, then we should be too.
2. We ought not be retributive.
3. Therefore God is not retributive.

For Paul the apostle, the logic was the exact opposite:

1. If God will have vengeance, then we ought not avenge ourselves.
2. God will have vengeance.
3. Therefore we ought not avenge ourselves.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” (Romans 12:17-19)

Jesus on Eunuchs and Marriage

“Most people looked down on eunuchs for their impotence or effeminity”, but Jesus uses them as a metaphor to teach “some would indeed be better off not marrying”:

> If… we read the text [Matthew 19:1-12] in sequence, the disciples are concerned about the danger of marrying without an escape clause, and Jesus responds to their question (Carson 1984b: 418–19; France 1985: 282). Ancient marriage contracts typically included arrangements in case of divorce (e.g., P. Ryl. 154.28–33), though this was normally expressed as a “just in case”; it was naturally not the outcome for which parties entering a marriage hoped (cf. P. Oxy. 1273.25, A.D. 260). If a marriage did not work, divorce was a relatively simple option (Terence Lady of Andros 567–69; Keener 1991a: 50–52). Many sages considered it a duty to divorce a “bad” wife (e.g., Sir. 25:26; b. ʿErub. 41b; Yebam. 63b; p. Ketub. 11:3, §2; Gen. Rab. 17:3; Lev. Rab. 34:14); Plutarch ridiculed a man who failed to divorce such a wife as cowardly (Plut. Virtue and Vice 2, Mor. 100E). Parents arranged marriages, and according to tradition, in Galilee at least, one could not spend time alone with one’s prospective spouse until after the wedding (Safrai 1974/76b: 756–57; Finkelstein 1962: 1:45); one could not always know in advance what one’s spouse would turn out to be like. To marry without the possibility of divorce in a painful marriage seemed worse than not marrying at all! Responding to this objection, Jesus replied that some would indeed be better off not marrying; perhaps because of the intensity of their callings, it would be difficult for true disciples to find compatible spouses who would share their commitment (cf. the story of Crates and Hipparchia in Keener 1991a: 64; cf. Mt 10:35–37).

> Jesus’ remark about celibacy is graphic and would certainly seize the attention of Jewish listeners; the first two eunuch images prepare the reader for the “eunuch for the kingdom” (Malina 1981: 5–6). Jewish teachers could distinguish those who were born without sexual organs and those on whom an operation was performed (Manson 1979: 215; cf., e.g., t. Yebam. 10:3; Sifre Deut. 247.1.1–3; p. Yebam. 8:5, §1), but Jewish people were horrified by castration (e.g., Test. Jud. 23:4; Ps-Phocyl. 187; Jos. Apion 2.270–71; p. Yebam. 8:1, §11), and those who “made themselves eunuchs” were viewed as morally depraved (Jos. Ant. 4.290). Most people looked down on eunuchs for their impotence or effeminity (cf., e.g., Juv. Sat. 1.22; Epict. Disc. 3.1.31; Ps-Lucian Affairs of Heart §21; Babrius 54.4; Lucan C.W. 10.133–34; Jos. Ant. 4.290–91) and recognized that their desires would never be fulfilled (Sir 20:4; 30:20); some recognized that eunuchs were at a disadvantage (Phaedrus 3.11.4–5) but through no fault of their own (Phaedrus 3.11.6–7; cf. Aul. Gel. 4.2.6–8). “Eunuch” (lit. “half-man”) could function as an insult (Virg. Aen. 12.99). Whereas some Gentiles equated Jewish circumcision with a form of castration (cf., e.g., Herr 1978; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 3:6), Jewish people did not allow eunuchs into the covenant, based on Deuteronomy 23:1 (though cf. Is 56:4–5).

> The figurative sense of celibacy in which Jesus means the language (cf., e.g., Ach. Tat. 5.22.5; 6.21.3) would have been less jarring, but nonetheless offensive, to most of his contemporaries (see especially Tannehill 1975: 136–37). Although some pietists in the wilderness may have preferred celibacy (Jos. Life 11; War 2.120; Ant. 18.21; Philo Hypothetica 11.14; Pliny of such shame and sacrifice testifies to the value of the kingdom of God for which anyone would pay such a price (Tannehill 1975: 138–40); by embracing both shame and self-control, Joseph to a lesser extent models the nature of this demand (1:25).

Keener, C. S. (2009). The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (471-472). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Cumulative reasons to believe that Jesus wasn’t going to John the Baptist out of a need for authority

1. In Matthew 21:23-27 Jesus is asked about his own authority by none other than the “chief priests and the elders of the people.” Jesus replies by asking if the baptism of John was from heaven. This is an odd question if it could simply be settled by asserting John’s birthright to the Aaronic priesthood.

2. Jesus saw himself as above the priests of Aaron and the temple priesthood system. In Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus likens himself to David, who had, as the Anointed King, implicit authorization to enter the temple — something otherwise expressly prohibited. David “entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests.” (12:4) In verse 6 he says, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.” Implicit: Something greater than the priesthood is here. Move along, Pharisees. The boss of the temple is here and he is also boss of the Sabbath.

3. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus’ whole life is seen as a giant parable. He is the Immanuel born of a virgin (1:23). He is the Son who travels to Egypt and is called out of Egypt (2:15; think of Abraham and Israel). He is the one over whom the wicked leader kills the baby boys (Matthew 2:16-18; in addition to fulfilling Jeremiah 31:15, this reminds us of Exodus 1:22). He grows up in Nazareth to fulfill the words of the prophets (Matthew 2:23). The flow of Jesus’ pre-ministry life smells like the Old Testament.

4. In addition to literally smelling, John’s life parabolically smells like the Old Testament too. He ate bugs and wore an “Elijah custume” [1], with “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist.” (Matthew 3:4) Jesus confirms that John was the Elijah to come:

> “‘Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:11-13)

John had jettisoned Jerusalem and went “back” to the Jordan River and the desert, showing he believed the Jews were still wandering and needed another “circumcision.” This reminds us of when Joshua led the Israelites out of the wilderness across the Jordan River to begin the conquest. After a generation of rebellion, Israel’s re-circumcision was a sign of repentance and covenant-renewal. John the Baptist’s baptism of repentance at the Jordan River is no coincidence. Instead of doing baptism near the temple under the direction of the priesthood regime, John was spurning the temple/priesthood regime and ushering the arrival of the kingdom with repentance.

5. John the Baptist tells us why he ultimately baptized[2], and that is to reveal Jesus to Israel:

> “I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’” (John 1:31-33)

6. John himself thought the baptism should have been reversed! (Matthew 3:13-17) “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus insisted, wanting to fulfill all righteousness. This insistence is humble, because the baptism is otherwise a baptism of repentance. Jesus didn’t need to repent. And it certainly wasn’t clear to John that Jesus needed John’s authority. If anything, John felt the opposite: “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me!” (John 1:15)

Summary: Jesus saw himself as above the temple priesthood system, was fulfilling a parabolic life, was intersecting with John’s parabolic life, was illustrating humility, was revealing himself to Israel through John, was honoring John as the promised Elijah to come, was endorsing John’s rejection of the temple/priesthood regime, and was endorsing his ministry of repentance. He was fulfilling all righteousness. He was not, however, receiving or depending on authority from another human being.

[1] I love this phrase. I got it from my friend Ariel.

[2] Thanks to Jeff for pointing this out to me

Addendum: Craig S. Keener on the baptism of Jesus and his “fulfill[ing] all righteousness”:

> John’s location suggests that the biblical prophets’ promise of a new exodus was about to take place in Jesus. So significant is the wilderness (3:1) to John’s mission that all four Gospels justify it from Scripture (3:3; Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4); some even suspect that John himself used this text (Is 40:3) to explain his own sense of mission (Jn 1:23; Robinson 1962: 13). The meaning of John’s location would not be lost on Syro-Palestinian Jews. Israel’s prophets had predicted a new exodus in the wilderness (Hos 2:14–15; Is 40:3; later interpreters properly understood such passages as applicable to the time of Israel’s restoration—e.g., Ps. Sol. 11:1)…

> Although Jesus alone did not need John’s baptism—he was the giver of the true baptism (3:11)—he submitted to it to fulfill God’s plan (3:14–15). In a traditional Mediterranean culture where society stressed honor and shame, Jesus relinquishes his rightful honor to embrace others’ shame. After Jesus’ public act of humility, God publicly identified Jesus as his own son (3:16–17; cf. 2:15)—that is, as the mightier One whose coming to bestow the Spirit John had prophesied (3:11–12)…

> Jesus humbly identifies himself with John’s mission… Jesus “fulfills all righteousness” by identifying with his people (3:15)… Matthew’s readers familiar with the Scriptures would already understand that Jesus sometimes “fulfilled” the prophetic Scriptures by identifying with Israel’s history and completing Israel’s mission (2:15, 18). This baptism hence represents Jesus’ ultimate identification with Israel at the climactic stage in her history: confessing her sins to prepare for the kingdom (3:2, 6). Jesus’ baptism, like his impending death (cf. Mk 10:38–39 with Mk 14:23–24, 36), would be vicarious, embraced on behalf of others with whom the Father had called him to identify. This experience prepares Jesus for testing by the devil (4:1–11)—perhaps part of what it means for Jesus to fulfill all righteousness. No less plainly, this text makes Jesus an example of humility (cf. 11:29; 12:19; 21:5).”

Keener, C. S. (2009). The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (116–117, 131, 132). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

The Principle of Disillusionment

Scripture is dark and pessimistic over humanity. Throughout life I have been both blessed and burned by people whom I deeply love.

I believe that:

1. Those I most look up to, if truly known, will at some point deeply let me down.

2. Those who look up to me, if they get to know me, will at some point be deeply let down.

Negatively, this makes relationships risky.

Positively, understanding it helps me be realistic in my expectations and pre-emptive in my empathy.

I can give others the benefit of doubt, yet assume that there are unknown things about them that are disappointing, and simply decide beforehand to love them anyway.

Humanity was a deep disappointment to God. I have been a huge disappointment to God. Yet he loves me. And delights in me. Deeply.

Where Ember Data Does Not Follow JSON API

This is a heads-up for those using Ember Data. As of 1.0.0-beta.7, it doesn’t seem to conform to the following prescription of JSON API for creation of records:

“Its root key MUST be the same as the root key provided in the server’s response to GET request for the collection.” (jsonapi.org)

Also, Ember Data expects:

JSON API prescribes:

Update: The documentation is out of sync with the code, evidently. There seems to be support for “links” but not “linked.”

Goodness and depravity, cynicism and optimism

Ironically, part of human carnality is our general unwillingness to give others the personal benefit of doubt. We are called to be optimistic about others in our relationships, and avoid undue cynicism and conspiracy theories, etc.

But another part of human carnality is our undue optimism over the goodness in our own hearts. More caution is needed. Our hearts need to be carefully guarded. We are so bad that we need to be forgiven and born again. We are needy for a Savior and Counselor.