Update on Our Seminary Program
“Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever!” (Revelation 1:5-6).
Thus we cheerfully and humbly credit our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with the success of our mutual endeavors as we here review the second year of full-time instruction in our Seminary and as we reported the same to the recent convention of our Conference. We gratefully praise Him for His abundant grace manifested to and in both professors and students as they “put [their] hand to the plow” (Luke 9:62) and labored diligently over two demanding semesters of challenging academic course work.
Last September, the students began a schedule of classes that ran six days a week — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from one to two o’clock in the afternoon, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from ten in the morning to two in the afternoon, and on Sunday and Thursday evenings from seven to ten o’clock. The Practicum course (our on-going internship in the local congregation, which takes the place of the single year’s “vicarage” in other institutions) met in a weekly consult on Saturday mornings from ten until noon.
The present academic year came to a close on Friday, June 3rd, with the administration of the last final examinations for the second semester; and the students immediately began gearing up for their interim colloquy by the Plenary Pastoral Conference at the time of the Sixtieth Annual Convention of our Conference.. It had been a very productive year for both the students and their professors, during which the two full-time students, David and Daniel Mensing,“caught up” with our part-time student, Jason Mabe, in completing the second-year curriculum in its entirety. Beginning in September, all three matriculated students will, God-willing, be studying full-time on the “same page” in the third year of our five-year seminary program. Mr. James Bielefeldt of Sauk Village, Illinois, again participated in courses as an auditor since he is not at present a matriculated student and has not taken to date all of the prescribed courses.
We are pleased to report that the pastors of the Conference, having orally examined our full-time students on June 19th and 20th, particularly in Dogmatics but also somewhat in Catechetics, found them well prepared in those subjects; and the Committee on Theological Education, which had selected those subject areas for the colloquy, also received copies of all final examinations for their information and evaluation, as well as for the official record.
This year Professor Lietz taught Dogmatics II (3 credit hours each semester) and Old Testament Isagogics (2 credits each semester) to the two full-time students and to our auditor, Jim Bielefeldt. The second year Dogmatics class covered Anthropology (the Doctrine of Man before and after the fall into sin — man’s state of integrity and his state of corruption), the Doctrine of Sin (original sin and actual sin), the Grace of God in Christ toward fallen mankind, and the Doctrine of Christ (His person, His states of humiliation and exaltation, and His threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King). The primary text source for this class was, of course, the Holy Scriptures, while the supplementary texts were Christian Dogmatics by J. T. Mueller and Christian Dogmatics by Francis Pieper.
Old Testament Isagogics is a survey course over the content of the Old Testament. The chief emphasis was laid on the rectilinear or direct Messianic prophecies with their fulfillment in the New Testament and Messianic-related references in the Old Testament with their parallels in the New. Thus the overall theme of the course was the revelation of the Gospel in the Old Testament Scriptures, as capsulized in Augustine’s characterization (translated from the Latin): “The New Testament lies in the Old concealed; the Old Testament is in the New revealed.” The primary text for this course was the Old Testament itself, with a thumbnail sketch of its content in a handy supplementary text by Christopher Drewes entitled, Introduction to the Books of the Bible. In both semesters of both courses taught by Professor Lietz, the students received A’s as their final grades. (Auditing students do not receive either grades or credit.)
Professor Mensing taught the third and final semester of New Testament Greek (3 credit hours) from September to January, and the anticipated course in the Exegesis of Romans was dropped from the second semester because of an already heavy schedule. It will be offered, God-willing, this coming September along with the Third Year curriculum with the consent of the Committee on Theological Education. Professor Mensing also taught Church History I (3 credit hours), covering the record of God’s providential preservation of the Means of Grace in outward Christendom from the Apostolic Era through the rise and decline of the “Absolute Papacy” to about 1500 A. D., and Principles of Teaching (2 credit hours), including Catechetics as the practical application of those principles. He also supervised the Practicum course (2 credit hours), which included for the first time our students’ participation in the liturgy of divine services. Student Mabe, still studying part-time this year, completed Church History and the Principles of Teaching, and thus closed the gap with the others, completing the second-year curriculum. All of the students received A’s in all of the above course work.
All three matriculated students have maintained excellent grade-point averages, and they continue by the grace and with the help of God to demonstrate diligence, faithfulness, scholarship, and true humility before God and His Word as workmen that need not to be ashamed (II Timothy 2:15).
Since the Conference continued this past year to underwrite the work of full-time students with a subsistence-level stipend each month, neither Dave nor Dan was compelled to hold down secular employment in addition to their studies; and this contributed in large measure to their success under the Lord’s blessing. The Lord willing, Jason Mabe will soon be terminating his secular employment to join the others as a full-time student, so that, beginning with the Fall Semester, all of our men will be able to devote full-time to their studies, undistracted and unencumbered by secular work. For this blessing from the Lord of the Church through the generous, Gospel-motivated sacrifices of the members of our constituent congregations in this endeavor, both the students and their professors are truly grateful. May the Lord continue to work in our people both to will and to perform the doing of this much-needed support to His glory!
Especially regarding married students, it is worthy to note that understanding, dedicated, and committed Christian wives truly contribute to their success, cheerfully holding up their husbands’ hands, lending a sympathetic ear to their frustrations, insulating them from as many distractions as possible, and supporting them in their desire for the pastoral office. All three of our students, Jason, Dave and Dan, have the blessing of such virtuous women as their mates — Gina Mabe, Missy Mensing, and, as of July 9th, Megan Mensing respectively. We share with our students their gratitude for their exemplary Christian spouses — dedicated and committed Christian wives, faithful, patient, loving and steadfast to the glory of God, serving the Lord Christ to the praise of His grace (Colossians 3:24)! Moreover, their dear children, little lambs of the Savior, add to their abundant joy in the Lord every day (Psalm 127:3-5). Let us continue to remember these precious families in our prayers!
We earnestly beseech all of the brethren to bring the Seminary program of our Conference daily to the Throne of Grace, that the Lord bless abundantly the faithful labors of both of the professors and their students, that He endue them with energy and zeal, health and strength, with diligence and patience, with tenacity and endurance, that, at the conclusion of their training, our students will be properly equipped and “able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2) and, at the call of the Holy Spirit, be fit and prepared to undertake the ministry of the precious Word of God and the Holy Sacraments as shepherds of Christ’s flocks, “that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children, that they might set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:6-7). We pray also that the members of our congregations Conference-wide, motivated by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of His Word, cheerfully and enthusiastically continue to support our joint work with their generous gifts and sacrifices, always abounding in the work of the Lord, that none of our precious flocks may ever lack a faithful shepherd’s leading.
— Professor David T. Mensing