A Look Ahead on the New Seminary Year

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
  — II Timothy 2:15

With this directive of the Apostle Paul to Timothy as their focus, our seminarians — all three of them now full-time students — embarked upon their third year of study in our theological curriculum on September 12th.  Their class load, especially in the first semester, is arduous, to say the least.  While “full-time” study at most universities requires a load of twelve credit hours per semester, our students are taking nineteen; and their courses involve intensive academic labor more typical of graduate study than of undergraduate work.  Yet, by the grace of God, all three are maintaining outstanding grades, and the quality of their work is exemplary from day to day.

This fact, coupled with their diligence, zeal, and love for this work that can be properly motivated only by the Gospel, makes the work of their professors equally joyous in the Lord!  It is the solemn duty of the instructors to commit to faithful men what they themselves “have heard” (II Timothy 2:2), correctly understood and sincerely embraced in the course of their own theological training and subsequent pastoral work, namely and chiefly the pure teachings of God’s Word as these have been established and confirmed by the sedes doctrinae or “prooftexts” of Holy Scripture.  It is therefore our “job description,” solemn duty and great privilege, both moved and enabled by the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16; II Corinthians 5:14; I John 4:19; II Corinthians 3:6), to declare unto our students “all the counsel of God,” as St. Paul  exemplified the fulfillment of this responsibility in his preparation of the pastors in Ephesus (Acts 20:27).  And, since Scripture, and not merely church tradition, makes this a priority for us, thorough theological training is the fifth object of our Concordia Lutheran Conference according to its Constitution (Article III).

Our student body consists of Jason A. Mabe and David J. Mensing, both of Oak Forest, Illinois, and Daniel P. Mensing of Tinley Park, as full-time students.  In some courses they are joined by way of a computer hook-up by James E. Bielefeldt of Sauk Village, who is still auditing courses as his time and circumstances permit.

This year, the course load includes two taught by Professor Lietz: Dogmatics III (Soteriology through the Preservation of Faith) and Symbolics I (the study of the Lutheran Confessions, notably, in the first course, the three Ecumenical Creeds through the Smalcald Articles) — and four taught by Professor Mensing:  Exegesis (Interpretation) of Romans, which is a first semester course, Church History II (the Reformation era), Homiletics I (the construction, outlining and writing of sermons), and Basic Hebrew.  In addition, there is the Practicum or internship in the local congregation under the supervision of Pastor Mensing (2 credit hours per semester).

Professor Lietz’s classes meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from nine o’clock until noon.  Professor Mensing’s classes meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from one until three o’clock, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  There is also a Practicum Consult scheduled on Saturday mornings as needed.  All the classes meet at Peace in Oak Forest, since that is the area where the students and their families live; and Professor Lietz very graciously accommodates this plan by driving 34 miles each way from his home in Oak Park three times a week to teach his courses — for which we all are very grateful in the Lord.

We humbly thank God for the “faithful men” He has given us as students in our seminary and for the opportunity we have to instruct them; and we eagerly look forward, each and every day, to both the challenges and joys of teaching these young brethren.  Let all of us keep them and their families in our daily prayers regarding their health, well-being, and stamina, that they may pursue their studies with unflagging zeal and diligent labor for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of all our congregations.  Your professors also beg your prayers for the health and strength needed to carry out their responsibilities, as well as for the diligence and faithfulness required of them as stewards in this important work.  May both our students and we professors remain, by God’s grace and always moved by His precious Gospel to His glory, “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as [we] know that [our] labor is not in vain in the Lord!”  (I Corinthians 15:58).  God grant it for Jesus’ sake!

Professor David T. Mensing