What’s In A Pastor’s Bible?

Have you ever paged through a pastor’s Bible? The Bible of my father – Rev. Ray McGinnis, who faithfully served as a beloved pastor and chaplain in the Jamestown area for decades – contains a treasure of quotes, notes and clippings. On the inside page, summarizing the words of theologian Carl F. Henry, dad wrote, “The Bible is authoritative and divinely revealed. It is inspired. On these three statements one should never bend.”

His well-worn Bible goes back to Brockport, NY over 40 years ago when a man and his wife felt that my dad’s worn-out Bible then needed replacing. That man, Chuck Johnson, a Gerry native, was present at dad’s funeral at Gerry Free Methodist filled to overflowing on October 20th.

As a history major, dad’s Bible quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said, “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good news of the Savior of the world is communicated through this book.”

As a patriot, he duly honored America’s servicemen and women. “For they were all mighty men of courage” was underlined in his Bible referencing the valor of the soldiers in David’s army.

As a father, there was hardly a higher priority than family faith. In his Bible, he wrote, “May 10, 1969 – We are a Christian family,” signed Dad, Mother, Dixie, Melvin, Merlin, Mark and, born in 1970, Max, who added his name later with the comment, “wasn’t able to sign in the year of 69.”

As a pastor, he operated under a principle original with him written in his Bible: “Find people where they are and take them -by the grace of God – where they ought to be.”

Never one to skirt around moral issues, dad inserted a clipping into his Bible at Psalm 139, which esteems the sanctity of human life beginning at conception. The clipping, citing unusual situations, questioned “the-lesser- of- two-evils” option to justify abortion. In one situation, a teenager is pregnant. She’s engaged but her fiancÈ is not the father of the baby. Hearing about it, he’s ready to break off the marriage. Would you recommend an abortion, If “yes” is your answer, you’ve just recommended the murder of Jesus.

Circling back to the front pages of his Bible, dad wrote, “I am in the forgiving business. May 7, 1969.” For something as evil as abortion, the guilt of it is not unforgivable. In his Bible, underneath John 1: 29 where John the Baptist says, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” dad wrote, “Sermon: There is the Lamb of God.” That’ll preach today as it did yesterday and will forever.

The Rev. Mel McGinnis is a Frewsburg resident.