Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Middle East and our Pilgrimages

by Steve Ray on July 18, 2006

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The next pilgrimage Janet and I will lead is the Legatus group headquartered in Naples Florida. I will be having a conference call with the registered pilgrims on Thursday and Friday to update them on the status or our pilgrimage in light of the fighting in Lebanon and northern Israel. Gary Rosaasen and John Lemmer will join me.

Our pilgrimage is moving ahead full steam. We would never take pilgrims into harm's way and we are watching the situation carefully. We are also in close touch with our friends and associates in Israel.

We expect the hostilities to subside shortly with a negotiated settlement. We are still three months out and we expect things to be safe and ready for our pilgrimage well before we leave. However, In the unexpected chance that the Lebanese border and northern Israel is still in turmoil, then we will provide an alternative itinerary to avoid the tense areas.

This alternative itinerary would be full and exciting — and far from the hostilities in the north. We would substitute two and a half days in the north with a full and biblical intinerary around Jerusalem, Masada, Qumran, Jericho, the Dead Sea, Emmaus, Tel Aviv, Ancient Joppa, Yad Vashem (Holocost Museum) and more. 

For the full expected itinerary, click here. For the full "alternative itinerary", click here. If you an't access them, send me an e-mail and I will send them to you.

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To Stop Destruction of Embryos

by Steve Ray on July 18, 2006

Action Alert: MR. PRESIDENT: VETO THIS BILL

WASHINGTON, DC – The following is Congressman Mike Pence's statement today made in advance of a Senate vote that would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"We gather today in respectful opposition to the Castle-DeGette bill:  A bill that authorizes the use of federal tax dollars to fund the destruction of human embryos for scientific research. 

"Assuming H.R. 810 passes the Senate today, on behalf of millions of pro-life Americans, we say, Mr. President, veto this bill.  

"To date, embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single medical treatment, where ethical, adult stem cell research has produced some 67 medical miracles. Physicians on our side will make the case for the ethical alternative of adult stem cell research and Congress today will greatly expand funding in this area.

"We are here simply to decide whether Congress should take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund the destruction of human embryos for research.

"This debate is really not about whether embryonic stem cell research should be legal.  Sadly, embryonic stem cell research is completely legal in this country and has been going on at universities and research facilities for years. 

"You see, I believe that life begins at conception and that a human embryo is human life.  I believe it is morally wrong to create human life to destroy it for research.  And I believe it is morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans, who believe that human life is sacred, and use it to fund the destruction of human embryos for research. 

"And it is my fervent hope and prayer, as we stand at the crossroads between science and the sanctity of life, that we will choose life. 

"Let us do as Americans have always done in the face of the frail and vulnerable.  Let us choose life, reject federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, that we and these precious children may live."

Please call President George W. Bush at: 202-456-1414 and tell him to veto this bill.

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Jimmy Akin on Christ’s Lineage

by Steve Ray on July 18, 2006

Descended From David

(Jimmy Akin)

A reader writes:

Jimmy, I have been bothered by the question of Jesus' geneology.  A lot of scripture refers to Him as son of David, descended from David's line etc., and I think it traces the geneology down through Joseph, who was not Jesus' natural father.  Can you help me here?

A lot of folks have this question, and it's natural to wonder about this.

It's true that Jesus was not physically descended from Joseph and thus could not have been physically descended from David via Joseph. However, physical descent is not the only form of descent there is.

There's also adoptive descent or legal descent.

This occurred in a variety of contexts in ancient Hebrew society. As members of a patriarchical society, everybody in Israel needed to be related to somebody in order to know their place in the world, and this led to a lot of adoptions, including adoptions that were done posthumously–after the death of the person "doing" the adoption.

That's essentially what's going on in the case of the levirate marriage. If a man died childless, his brother was expected to marry the widow in order to produce a son who would legally be the son of the dead man. That's a kind of posthumous "adoption" of the son by his deceased legal father, who happens not to be the same individual as his biological father.

Yet this didn't stop the son's sons from being reckoned as the dead man's grandsons. Legal descent was counted as descent in a real and binding way. In fact, in the case of the levirite marriage, legal descent was more important than biological descent, for producing a legal heir to the dead man was the whole reason for the levirite marriage to being with.

There is some evidence that levirite marriages occurred in the genealogies of Christ.

SEE HERE.

So if legal descent of that kind doesn't interrupt the descent of Christ from David then Christ being legally but not biologically the son of Joseph wouldn't either.

This, then, may be how we are to understand Christ's descent from David: He was a legal heir of David and so he was a son of David. Period. The biology doesn't matter.

Or it may be that there is more to it.

St. Paul says in Romans 1:3 that Christ was "descended from  David according to the flesh." There's a question here about how literally he means the word "flesh." He may just mean it to mean "humanly," in which case he could just be thinking of Christ's legal descent from David via Joseph.

But he may mean the term more literally than that. If he does then . . . well . . . Christ got flesh from Mary, so perhaps Mary was also a descendant of David and Christ received biological descent from David in that fashion.

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