Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary began its new school year with an opening service on August 25 in Good Shepherd Chapel. Because St. Bartholomew Day is celebrated on that date, Prof. Adolph Harstad based his message on texts concerning the disciple Bartholomew and made applications to the lives of seminarians. The St. Bartholomew Day Massacre of 1572, when Catholic Christians slaughtered Hugenot Christians in France, should cause us to shudder in repentant embarrassment if we harbor a self-righteous superior attitude when thinking about Moslems killing Moslems today.
“Bartholomew” means “son of Tholomaos” and also “son of the furrow” (= plowman). The two names remind students of the help of parents and relatives who contributed to their ability to become seminarians and also of the “humble plowmen” they are training to be. The other name of Bartholomew is Nathanael. His full name was thus Nathanael Bartholomew. Now we know more about the man because of the account in John 1 of the calling of early disciples. Jesus called Philip, and Philip in turn invited his friend Nahtanael (=Bartholomew) to “come and see.” The importance of serving as good brothers and friends at the seminary is a natural application of Philip encouraging Nathanael. Bartholomew/Nathanel was at first an arrogant skeptic. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” He came and saw the Savior, sat at his feet, and witnessed the perfect life and redeeming death that lead to redemption. Seminarians who want to grow in grace and in humble service to God’s people have only one place to go—to Jesus and his means of grace. A personal devotional life is therefore encouraged at the seminary along with a rigorous academic life. Tradition says that after Easter and Pentecost, Bartholomew boldly spread the saving message in India as well as in the regions around Armenia. Finally, he was martyred for the faith and lives forever as “St. Bartholomew” in the presence of his Savior. Praise to God for that saint and all the others who have gone before as humble servants of Jesus.
The teaching staff for the seminary this year is as follows: Thomas Flunker, Adolph Harstad, Thomas Kuster, Michael Smith, and Gaylin Schmeling. Professor Flunker is teaching Hispanic outreach; Professor Harstad is teaching in the areas of Old Testament, counseling, and homiletics; Professor Kuster is teaching communication; Professor Smith is teaching in the areas of New Testament, hermeneutics, and homiletics; and Professor Schmeling is teaching courses in church history, dogmatics, and homiletics.