A Look Ahead on the New Seminary Year

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many
witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men,
who shall be able to teach others also.”
— II Timothy 2:2

This directive of the Apostle Paul to Timothy is the directive that is ours as theological professors in these latter days of sore distress. We are to commit to our students what was once committed to us, namely in particular, the pure doctrines of God’s precious Word, the teachings set forth by “the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20) in clear and certain sedes doctrinae (Bible prooftexts), correctly understood and sincerely embraced in the course of our own theological training and subsequent pastoral work. And this we are to do so that they, in turn, are able to teach them, first of all, “to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost [will have] made [them] overseers” when they are, God-willing, called into the pastoral ministry, but secondly then also to other “faithful men” who, in the future, may “desire the office of a bishop” (I Timothy 3:1) and need to be trained for such work (II Timothy 2:15).

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).

On September 17th, following a special summer session to complete the work of the previous spring semester, our seminarians, Jason A. Mabe and David J. Mensing, both of Oak Forest, Illinois, and Daniel P. Mensing of Tinley Park — all three of them full-time students thanks to the consecrated offerings of our people to support them — embarked upon their fourth year of study in our theological curriculum, all of them carrying a class load of sixteen credit hours per semester, involving intensive academic labor more typical of graduate study than of undergraduate work.

This year, the academic load includes two courses taught by Professor Lietz: Dogmatics IV (Sanctification through the Lord’s Supper) and Symbolics II (the study of the Lutheran Confessions, notably, the Formula of Concord) — and three taught by Professor Mensing: Church History III (Pietism and Enlightenment through the Nineteenth Century), Homiletics II (the construction, outlining, writing and delivery of sermons), and Liturgics and Hymnology. 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 two 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 eagerly look forward to our student’s initial sermons during the first semester, as they put to practical use virtually ALL of the knowledge they have been accumulating over the past three years and more in the art and skill of producing with due care and delivering with power textual, orthodox, and edifying sermons with the help of God (cum auxilio Dei) and in the name of Jesus (in nomine Iesu)! All three students will deliver their initial sermons between Advent and the close of the Epiphany season. Then, in the second semester, all three students will write and deliver two sermons (in addition to their regular coursework): One Lenten sermon to be delivered in one of the seven midweek Lenten services at Peace, and one festival sermon thereafter (Easter, Ascension, Pentecost or Trinity Sunday). They may also be assigned to write and deliver a sermon during their summer hiatus (to keep them active in their homiletical skill). Then, in their fifth and final year, they will be preaching on a regular schedule, probably twice a month, delivering those sermons in the pulpits of all three congregation in the area, at the invitation and with the approval of the respective pastors and their congregations. This will hopefully broaden their experience also with respect to the venues in which they preach and increase their comfort in different pulpits. We ask our people to keep the students in their prayers, specifically concerning their preaching, that the Lord grant them joy and gladness in the undertaking of this great privilege and the chief duty of the pastoral office (II Timothy 4:2a)!

Professor David T. Mensing