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  • Edwin Shank

Thy WORD is Truth

Photograph taken on our farm land by Wesley Shank

Thy WORD is Truth ~St. John 17:17

Top of this Saturday morning to you friends! You all have been sending some tough questions! :) But that is fine, no question is a dumb question and I welcome them all. Bring 'em on! Just reply to this email. I enjoy hearing from you... But for today, I thought I’d do some easy questions. In part because it’s best to get the easy out of the way before going more complex... but also because some of these questions are also related to one of the foundations of our faith... The WORD of God. So let’s get at the first questions. I combined a few because they were so closely related. Q. We would like to know how your Bible is set up. Does it start with Genesis to Revelation like other Bibles? In what language do you read the Bible? If in English, what version do you use? The Bibles our family and local church congregation use are King James Version Bibles. So yes, our Bible is set up like many other Bibles. It is a collection of sixty-six separate, smaller books. The first book is Genesis, and the last book is Revelation. And yes, the KJV is in the English language. The reason I clarified that the above answers are specifically for our local church and church conference is that not all plain people use the KJV. For example, my daughter-in-law Jeanette, married to our son Rodrick, grew up in a Mennonite church in Guatemala. There they and many other Biblical churches use the Reina-Valera version which is a Spanish version. The KJV is simply not an option in Spanish cultures because the KJV is only an English Bible. Also, some of the most conservative Mennonite church groups, (Horse and Buggy Mennonites we call them because they drive horses and carriages rather than cars) use German Bibles. Some of our work team here at the farm and at our butcher shop are a part of these groups. They usually use a German version called the Martin Luther German Bible. They use German Bibles because their church services, including their songs, sermons and prayers are all conducted in German which is their ancestral tongue. These German Bible user groups includes the Old Order Amish, Old Order Mennonites and some Hutterites. There may be more German speaking and German Bible reading plain people. I’m only telling you the ones that I know of for sure. Remember, I never profess to be the final authority on these questions… I’m only a Mennonite farmer sharing what I know. :) Q. Do your plain people read Hebrew or Greek Bibles? Most of our people are not fluent in either Greek or Hebrew so no, we do not regularly use Bibles in those languages. But as you might expect, there is a sprinkling of scholarly types among us who do learn Hebrew and Greek and enjoy reading the Bible in its original language. For those of us who are not Greek or Hebrew students, if we want to do deep Bible study, we will often use the help of reference books like the Strong's Concordance to explore into the original meanings of the actual Greek or Hebrew words in the ancient texts. Q. Do your children study the Bible in your schools? Yes absolutely! Each teacher has a time of Bible reading and spiritual study with their class before beginning the day. Usually, this time includes some acapella singing of Bible and God themed songs and is concluded with prayer. After prayer, there is usually Bible Memory. The lower grades may learn easy passages like Psalm 23 or Psalm 1. But the upper grades will learn harder passages like Acts 17 or Acts 2. The rest of the school day is academic classes like Math, Reading, English, Penmanship, History, Literature, Science, etc but even then, we use educational curriculum that is Biblically sound. It is important to our faith that nothing, even in our academic education be dishonoring or disrespectful to The Truth of The Word of our all-wise, all-knowing, all-loving Father God! I’ll have more to say about our schools some other day. But for now... this will do :) Q. The Catholic Bible has more books than the Protestant one... do your people have the extra books in your Bibles? Good question. And again, I’ll have to qualify my answer by saying that the Bibles that Dawn and I and family and our local congregation and church conference use do not have the “extra books.” In case some of you don't understand why this writer is asking, the Catholic Bible contains seven more books than the King James Version Bible. These other books are biblical-aged Jewish history and are sometimes called the deuterocanonical books. Many protestants refer to them as the apocrypha. The Amish and some other plain people who use German Bibles do often have the apocrypha in their Bibles. I have a collection of the apocryphal books in my personal library and have read them. The books I have were translated at the same time as the King James Bible that we use, so the language sounds a lot the same. And since the stories and writing are Jewish history and from Bible times, they have much of the same feel as the rest of the Bible. Even though our particular church conference does not consider them an actual part of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, some of our people are familiar with them and many over the years have studied them. The important point is that even if they were to be taken as the Word of God, there is no doctrinal difference they would make in our beliefs. The historic stories and writings and teachings that make up the apocrypha do not conflict with the doctrinal truth of the Bible. They neither detract nor add so therefore would not affect our faith one way or the other. For that reason, we are fine with our German-speaking plain church brothers and sisters using a Bible with the ‘extra’ history and wisdom books in it. We still respect them and love them all the same. Their German Bible still teaches the same life giving and soul saving truth and faith as ours. It’s still the same core message of Good News of Jesus who heroically came to earth save His people from their sins and to set up His Kingdom! Blessings until next time! Your Mennonite Christian friend, Edwin Shank


Introducing... Song of the Week!

Acapella singing is a huge part of our plain-people faith and culture. So, I have an idea! To better understand our Faith, as a bonus point what if I’d include a song each time? Would you like that? I’ll try to type out the lyrics as well because sometimes depending on the recording or the clarity of the singers the words can be a little unclear.

(Click on the title to hear the song. It may take a minute to open.)

The Music of God's Word In the deep, deep waves of sorrow, ‘Mid the strong, swift tides of grief, Hark, a sound of hev’nly music, Bringing sweet and sure relief! Precious music of the Bible! Music saints and prophets heard! Bringing hope in times of anguish; Wondrous music of God’s Word! Hear it singing, “I am with thee!” Hear again “Be not afraid.” Can’st thou fear, when He is near thee, He, on whom thy trust is stayed? Precious music of the Bible! Music saints and prophets heard! Bringing hope in times of anguish; Wondrous music of God’s Word! Art thou weary? Hark, the echo: “Come, thou weary one, to me;” Art thou troubled for the future? “As thy days, thy strength shall be.” Precious music of the Bible! Music saints and prophets heard! Bringing hope in times of anguish; Wondrous music of God’s Word!

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