A Holy Ambition is Cutting Against the Grain
I’m writing for this newsletter the week after Godward Life, a New Gathering for Serious Joy that we held at our campus in downtown Minneapolis at the end of September. It was an amazing weekend. Over 550 people joined us for interactive workshops, mealtime fellowship, and worship in song and through the preaching of the word.
Over the weekend, we made use of 27 teachers from the Bethlehem Community in the Twin Cities. This included:
ӹ 14 professors: Jared Compton, Lewis Guest IV, Brian Hanson, Zach Howard, Jon Hoglund, David Mathis, Kenny Ortiz, John Piper, Joe Rigney, Tom Steller, Kenny Stokes, Dieudonné Tamfu, Brian Tabb, and Jonathon Woodyard.
ӹ 14 alumni of Bethlehem College and Seminary: Abigail Dodds, Lewis Guest IV, Jordan Hecox, Zach Howard, Scott Hubbard, Steven Lee, David Mathis, Greg Morse, Jonathan Parnell, Joe Rigney, Marshall Segal, Dieudonné Tamfu, Brian Tabb, and Jonathon Woodyard.
22 pastors who are involved at some level in our programs, whether teaching classes, mentoring students, or shepherding them in local congregations.
I highlight those numbers in order to express my gratitude to God for his kindness to us. If teachers are a gift to God’s people (and they are), then the Bethlehem Community has been given many gifts. And we are committed to stewarding these gifts well for the sake of the kingdom of God.
The presence of these teachers and pastors in our midst underscores the importance of this little school for God’s work here in the Twin Cities and around the world. We regard ourselves as a part of the institutional infrastructure that both serves and is served by gospel-preaching churches in the Twin Cities. As Kenny Stokes’ essay in this newsletter indicates, we are committed to raising up the next generation of God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spiritempowered church planters who will establish outposts of the gospel in the Twin Cities, around the country, and around the world.
The weekend was also a reminder of the wonderful partnership that Bethlehem College and Seminary enjoys with Desiring God Ministries. Five of Desiring God’s eight teachers are graduates of Bethlehem Seminary, and not only did they lead a writers’ workshop at Godward Life, but four of us heralded to those gathered to hear the word God’s pleasures in himself, in creation, in the gospel, and in our faith and obedience.
As we cross the halfway point of our semester, I’m struck afresh by the ways that this small school with a holy ambition is cutting against the grain of
higher education in this country.
To begin, we are committed to offering an academically rigorous, Bible-saturated, and God-entranced education that stands in stark contrast to the godless and worldly education on offer at many schools. This includes both the ideological absurdity taught in the classroom and the debauchery, immorality, and triviality of the so-called “college experience.” In both cases, we stand against the tide. In an age of extended adolescence, we are aiming for Christian maturity—a clarity of mind, stability of soul, and readiness to act, rooted in the gravity and gladness that come from knowing Christ. We aim to graduate mature men from our seminary who are ready to shepherd God’s people with biblical clarity and Christ-exalting affection for the rest of their lives. We aim to graduate mature men and women from our college who are ready to witness for Christ—in any vocation—with wisdom and wonder for the rest of their lives.
More than that, we believe that there are no shortcuts to Christian maturity. Maturity takes time, and it is best cultivated face-to-face, life-on-life, in person, in and out of the classroom. For us, the “college experience” is fundamentally about people, both the professors who form our students and the friends that shape them for the future.
. . . we are committed to raising up the next generation of Godcentered, Christ-exalting, Spiritempowered church planters who will establish outposts of the gospel in the Twin Cities, around the country, and around the world.
You may be familiar with our rigorous academic programs. You are likely less familiar with our House System, one of the key ways we cultivate Christian community among our students. The present newsletter offers an inside look at the ways our House System shapes our students into disciples of Jesus who are ready for the world.
What’s more, The Serious Joy Scholarship, funded by the abounding generosity of individuals (and a growing number of churches) who believe in our mission, enables us to offer this high-quality education at a remarkably affordable price, so that our students are able to launch into life and marriage and adulthood and ministry without the crippling burden of student loan debt. Without those shackles, they are able to begin making a disproportionate, Christ-exalting impact from day one.
And so I commend this edition of the Serious Joy Newsletter for your consideration, asking simply that you remember Bethlehem College and Seminary in your prayers. The Lord has been faithful to us in countless ways, and our deep desire is for him to preserve and keep us faithful to him and to establish the work of our hands, for his glory and the good of the world.
Serious Joy: The 35th Bethlehem Conference for Pastors January 30-February 1, 2023 Saint Paul RiverCentre, St. Paul, MN
Spring Preview Day
April 21-22, 2023
In conjunction with Engaging Truth Conference Downtown Campus, Minneapolis
13th Annual Commencement Exercises Friday, May 19, 2023 7:00pm
LEADERSHIP UPDATES AND NEWS
Tom Lutz has been named Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Greg Morse (M.Div. ,18) has been named to the Board of Trustees
Jonathon Parnell (M.Div. ,12) has been named to the Board of Trustees
Jonathan Hoglund, Ph.D., Wheaton College, has been named Assistant Professor of Theological and Global Studies
Jacob Smith, (M.Div. ,20) has been named Senior Pastor at Desiring God Community Church, Charlotte, NC
Andrew Johnson, (M.Div. 18) has been named Pastor at Faith Baptist Church, Cornell, WI
To Highways and Hedges: A Vigor for Church Planting
hrist has committed himself to the advance of the gospel through building his church. The foundation upon which Christ builds the church is the apostolic testimony of the gospel, namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Thus, what we see in the book of Acts is that as the gospel spreads and people believe in Christ, they are gathered into churches led by qualified elders. Thus, Christ builds his church through church planting.
In my role as Associate Professor for Church Planting, and in my pastoral role, it has been my privilege for several years to assist and oversee the planting of churches led by graduates of Bethlehem College and Seminary, through Bethlehem Baptist Church. The seminary has been irreplaceable in helping to prepare ‘faithful men’ (2 Timothy 2:2), who have the character, training, and biblical convictions to plant and pastor healthy churches by the grace and power of Christ.
Pastoring any church has its challenges, and all the more, the prospect of pastoring a new church entails its own additional challenges and threats. Yet, we venture into church planting, believing the promise and protection of Christ: “...I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18b). No other Christian venture or enterprise or campaign or institution can claim this direct commitment of Christ, but the church.
Christ’s commitment to build his church is seen over and over again in the history of the early church. In Acts, what looks to be a setback for the gospel and the church is turned, by the power of Christ to build the church. Here is a sampling:
In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested for proclaiming Christ in the temple. Setback? No. Christ is building his church. Acts 4:4, “But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” And after they were released, the Spirit granted all the church boldness to speak the word of God (Acts 4:34).
In Acts 5, a Satanic conspiracy is exposed. A married couple, Annias and Sapphira, agreed to lie about their offerings to the church. They wanted to be seen as more generous than they really were. Upon being confronted by the Apostle Peter, Ananias dropped dead. Peter, likewise confronted Sapphira, and she too
immediately dropped dead. Acts 5:11 tells us, “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” Setback? No. Christ is building his church. The account closes with this, “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women…” (Acts 5:14).
In Acts 6, ethnic tensions arise between the Greek and Jewish believers. The Greek widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. Hearing the complaint, the Apostles prayerfully appointed seven presumably Greek men (judging from their names) to oversee the distribution for the Greek widows. Setback? No. Christ is building his church. The account concludes, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
Then in Acts 7, after a long, provocative, fiery sermon, Stephen is stoned to death, while Saul, the Pharisee, looks on with approval (Acts 8:1). That incident sparks a great persecution against the church and the believers scatter. Setback? No. Christ is building his church. Acts 8:4, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” For instance, the Apostle Philip then proclaimed Christ in Samaria and then to an Ethiopian court official, who presumably took the gospel back to Ethiopia. And as for Saul the great persecutor of Christians, he was savingly confronted by Christ himself who changed his name to Paul (Acts 9). And he becomes the greatest church planting missionary who ever lived.
Jesus said, “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The gates of hell will not prevent Christ from saving his people and gathering them into his church. Not sin. Not the devil. Not arrest, nor persecution. Not ethnic division. Not the schemes of Satan inside or outside the church.
As Jesus declared, and has demonstrated for over 2,000 years, “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Please pray that God would continue to prepare and train biblically qualified church planters, to plant new churches for the advance of the gospel.By Kenny Stokes, M.Div., Bethel Seminary, is Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, and Associate Professor of Church Planting at Bethlehem College and Seminary.
And the master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.”
A Christ-Exulting Cropmap
Bethlehem Baptist Church has had a long-demonstrated energy for churchplanting that has been accelerated since the inception of The Bethlehem Institute (TBI) and Bethlehem College and Seminary.
1 HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH
(1996) Bethlehem sent four-year apprentice, Steve Treichler, and a team of 14 leaders to start Hope Community Church on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The plant eventually relocated to the corner of 7th Street & 10th Ave in Minneapolis. By Fall 2008, Hope Community’s regular attendance had grown to 600 people. As of 2020, Hope Community has planted five churches in the Twin Cities, and Steve Treichler has continued collaborating with Bethlehem in its church planting efforts.
2 DESIRING GOD COMMUNITY CHURCH
In 2002, a group of Bethlehem members moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to work with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. These members and Bethlehem’s elders desired to plant a church in Charlotte, and they called Coty Pinckney (TBI) to join them in prayer regarding his involvement as lead pastor. In Fall 2002, God confirmed Coty’s call as lead pastor. Desiring God Community Church held their first service on March 9, 2003, at the University City Hilton.
3 TREASURING CHRIST CHURCH
Graduates of The Bethlehem Institute (TBI), Sean Cordell (TBI ’03) and Kent Capps (TBI ‘06), along with Travis Williams, planted Treasuring Christ Church in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Treasuring Christ Church has a reputation in urban Raleigh as a church that loves the city, yearns for racial harmony, and is devoted to the worship of Christ.
4 CELEBRATION COMMUNITY CHURCH
TBI graduate Matthew Molesky (M.A.B.P.S. ‘12) joined with local pastor Gregg Heinsch to plant Celebration Community Church near Orlando, Florida. TBI graduate Chris Lent later joined the church planting efforts. Celebration Community Church seeks to make worship a way of life, respond to the Spirit of God, connect with the people of God, and join in the mission of God. The church’s regular attendance grew to 200 people by Fall 2008.
5 JUBILEE COMMUNITY CHURCH
After a year of preparation, John Erickson left All Nations Christian Fellowship (ANCF) with the blessing of the elders in order to plant Jubilee Community Church in South Minneapolis. Jubilee Community Church currently meets in Bethlehem’s 16/33 Center where they aim to reach minority groups in the Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods. Lewis Guest (M.Div. ’15) serves as Pastor for Preaching and Vision.
6 CHRIST REDEEMER CHURCH
Bethlehem church planting resident Brett Louis planted Christ Redeemer Church in Woodbury. The church meets at East Ridge High School and works to advance the kingdom of God on the east side of the Twin Cities.
7 THE HEIGHTS CHURCH
Beginning in 2011, the 89-year-old Hayden Heights Baptist Church in St. Paul underwent a revitalization effort and was renamed The Heights Church. This effort culminated in the calling of Weyland Leach (TBI ‘03) as the lead pastor in July 2013.
Parnell, M.Div. ’12
8 CITIES CHURCH
Bethlehem Seminary graduate Jonathan Parnell (M.Div. ’12), along with Bethlehem elders Joe Rigney (M.A.B.P.S. ’12) and David Mathis (TBI ‘06), worked together to plant Cities Church. They began by build ing Community Groups in Fall 2014. Cities Church currently meets in St. Paul and aims to make disciples of all nations.
9 NORTHFIELD COMMUNITY CHURCH
In May, Jonathon Woodyard (M.Div. ‘16) graduated from Bethlehem Seminary and completed the Church Planting Residency at the South Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church. On June 1, the South Campus elders approved Jonathon and his wife, Gina, to plant Northfield Community Church. Publicly launching in April 2017, Northfield Community Church desires to “know Christ and make him known within the context of Northfield, Minnesota, and ultimately the nations.”
10 WORD OF GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH
In October, the Downtown Campus elders approved Bethlehem pastoral resident Paul Pryzbylowski and Bethlehem Seminary graduate Tyler Mykkanen (M.Div. ’18) to revitalize Word of Grace Baptist Church in South Minneapolis. Word of Grace approved the re vitalization plan, which called Paul and Tyler as elders. Word of Grace set out “to glorify God by making disciples who love Jesus, one another, and the world.”
Due to unforeseen challenges and after much prayer, counsel, and meeting with the congregation, Word of Grace, along with Bethlehem leadership and all involved, determined that God was leading them to close the church in 2018.
Bethlehem Seminary instilled in me the local church’s central priority of ministering the Word of God.
11 REDEMPTION CITY CHURCH
The Downtown Campus elders approved Bethlehem Seminary graduate and church planting resident Adam Pohlman (M.Div. ’17) and his wife, Molly, to plant Redemption City Church in Rochester, Minnesota. The church officially launched in April 2017. Redemption City Church strives to “Glorify God through the re demption of his creation in Christ.”
12 TABLE ROCK CHURCH
In October, Bethlehem Seminary graduate and North Campus church planting resident Ryan Eagy (M.Div. ’17) and his wife, Katie, were approved by the North Campus elders to plant Table Rock Church in Boise, Idaho. On April 21, 2018, twenty-six founding members affirmed both the church covenant and the founding elders Ryan Eagy and Luke Miller. Table Rock Church “exists to spread a passion for the glory of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.” Don Straka (M.Div. ‘18) joined the church planting team in 2018 and is now the lead pastor.
13 NEW CREATION CHURCH
In Spring 2018, Joel Aubrey (M.Div. ‘15) moved to and planted a church in Granville, NY. New Creation Church is a community of Christians committed to lov ing Jesus, serving people, and telling the good news about Jesus both in Granville and around the world.
14 ALL PEOPLES CHURCH
In Summer 2018, Sam Choi (M.Div. ‘17), joined by Bethlehem alumni Dale Gruber (B.A.T.S. ‘15), Daniel Simmons (B.A.T.S. ‘17), Ross Tenneson (M.Div. ‘18), and Scott Hubbard (M.Div. ‘18) planted in Roseville, MN. The mission of All Peoples Church is to follow Jesus in everyday life while helping others to do the same, especially those far from God.
201915 GRACIA SOBRE GRACIA
In January, South Campus elders endorsed Bethlehem Seminary graduate Michel Galeano (M.Div. ‘16) and his wife, Gaby, to plant Gracia Sobre Gracia (Grace Upon Grace) in Weston, Florida. Gracia Sobre Gracia is a community of disciples who seek to see lives transformed by the gospel of Christ so that they make an impact among their family, church, and com munity. They also desire to treasure and proclaim the glory of God in Christ through his Spirit to the nations.
16 EKKLESIA CHURCH
In Spring 2017, Bethlehem Seminary graduate Dan Shambro (M.Div. ‘15) and his wife, Angela, were called to join a local group of believers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to plant Ekklesia Church. “Ekklesia is a Christ-centered community on mission to love and serve God, one another, our neighbors, and the nations by making disciples of Jesus.”
17 ECHO CHURCH
Downtown Campus elders approved Bethlehem Seminary graduate JD Hettema (M.Div. ‘16) and his wife, Lauren, to plant ECHO Church in Chino, California. ECHO is an acronym designating the church’s primary ministry focus on the communities of Eastvale (E), Chino Hills (CH), and Ontario (O), California. ECHO Church “exists to glorify God by gathering in worship, training to love and preach the gospel, and sending for the joy of all people.”
18 ÉGLISE BAPTISTE BETHLÉEM
In 2018, Jubilee Community Church of Minneapolis, a daughter church of Bethlehem, sent out Dieudonné Tamfu (TBI ‘10) and his wife, Dominique, to plant Église Baptiste Bethléem in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Simultaneously, Bethlehem College and Seminary commissioned Dr. Tamfu to start an extension site of the school. Église Baptiste Bethléem exists to “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things through a gospel-preaching and church-planting local church with church-based theological education in serious joy.”
19 RIVER OF GRACE CHURCH
In May 2020, Bethlehem Seminary graduate and Downtown Campus church planting resident Andrew Sheard (M.Div. ’20) and his wife, Lida, along with fellow Bethlehem Seminary graduate Elliot DeLorme (M.Div. ’20) and his wife, Olivia, were approved by the Downtown Campus elders to plant in Henniker, New Hampshire. The new church mission statement is: “... to mature and multiply followers of Jesus for the glory of God through the power of the Spirit unto eternal life, joy, and peace in his presence.”
20 EMMAUS CHURCH
In June, the Bethlehem North Campus elders approved Tom Boyer (M.Div. ’20), a Bethlehem Seminary graduate and the North Campus church planting resident, to plant Emmaus Church in White Bear Lake. Tom and his wife, Emily, have been joined by several North Campus members, families, and small groups. Emmaus Church exists for the purpose of “seeing, savoring, and sharing Christ in all things.”
21 WESTVIEW CHURCH
Westview Church was planted in 2020 by Brett Toney, M.Div. ‘12. Westview Church aims to commend Christ wherever they go, filled by the Spirit, knowing a shared joy is a doubled joy.
22 GOOD NEWS CHURCH OF EAGAN
In September 2022, the Bethlehem Baptist Church, South elders commissioned Haddon Anderson (TBI ‘04) to plant Good News Church of Eagan. Caleb Figgers (M.Div. ‘22) is partnering with Haddon in this work as a fellow elder. The Andersons and Figgers are joined by a number of members from all three of Bethlehem’s campuses. Good News Church of Eagan exists to be “Christ’s redeemed people, loving one another as blood-bought family, making disciples of Jesus together.”
My education at Bethlehem Seminary has given me a robust, clear, compelling understanding of God’s Word. My personal life and pastoral ministry have been deeply shaped and greatly helped by Bethlehem.
Adam Pohlman, M.Div. ’17
God has built up Redemption City Church to be a faithful and fruitful congregation in less than six years. With the generous training at Bethlehem and the support of Bethlehem Baptist Church, we have been able to support missionaries, plant more churches, provide support for other churches, train up future leaders, and begin planning for a new school and counseling programs.
Don Straka, M.Div. ’18TABLE ROCK CHURCH, BOISE, ID
In the classroom at Bethlehem, I continually met the big and happy God of the Bible, and we love proclaiming that very God here at Table Rock Church. My family went straight from seminary to help plant Table Rock in large part because The Serious Joy Scholarship meant we did not have to worry about paying off debt first.
Sam Choi, M.Div. ,17ALL PEOPLES CHURCH, MINNEAPOLIS, MN
One of the greatest miracles of All Peoples Church is that despite some tremendous trials over the last few years in our nation, city, and church, all five pastors have an even greater affection for each other and unity in the spirit. And each pastor also happens to be a graduate of Bethlehem. Together, with our strengths and weaknesses, we have seen God steadily build a vibrant church family who loves one another deeply and spread a passion for Jesus throughout the Cities through everyday disciple-making from ordinary Christians.
Michel Galeano, M.Div. ’16
Church planting has been a wonderful experience and yet a growing season in my life. It has been a journey where I am using constantly all the things I learned while a student of Bethlehem. I cannot imagine what I would have done in the difficult situations where I have been confronted with my own sin or leading God’s flock, if it wasn’t for the time in Bethlehem studying the Book.
Tom Boyer, M.Div. ’20EMMAUS CHURCH, WHITE BEAR LAKE, MN
Church planting is always going to come with its challenges. Any pastor that can plant without debilitating seminary debt hanging over them is freed from many of those challenges—The Serious Joy Scholarship is a gift to pastors, families, and the church at large.
Dan Shambro, M.Div. ’15EKKLESIA, EAU CLAIRE, WI
As a church-based seminary, Bethlehem trained me to love both God’s word and His church. I can’t imagine persevering as a pastor the last 7 years without that training.
JD Hettema, M.Div. ’16
The exegetical training I received at Bethlehem has been a tremendous gift to me now that I am preaching every week. This school gave me the foundation to preach the text of Scripture with boldness, confidence and clarity.
Joel Aubry, M.Div. ’15NEW CREATION CHURCH, GRANVILLE, NY
I look back at my time at Bethlehem Baptist Church and Bethlehem Seminary with gratitude to God for those four precious years. The classes, the conversations, the friendships, have had a huge impact on who I am and how I shepherd the flock of God in Granville, NY.
Dieudonné Tamfu, M.Div. ’12ÉGLISE BAPTIST BETHLÉEM, YAOUNDÉ, CAMEROON
God is working in Cameroon. Since the launch of Église Baptiste Bethléem, membership has grown; seminars, pastors conferences, and workshops have been hosted attracting hundreds. A first cohort of seminarians is preparing to graduate. Thanks to God for The Serious Joy Scholarship that made my seminary education and this ministry possible.
Brett Toney, M.Div. ,12WESTVIEW CHURCH, CRYSTAL, MN
I praise God for his work in planting Westview Church and how he used Bethlehem College and Seminary to equip me. Through my time in seminary, I didn’t gain everything I need to know to effectively lead a new church (“Church Planting Amidst a Pandemic” wasn’t in the course catalogue!), but I was prepared with the tools and character to lead in dependence on the Word and Spirit to highlight my weakness as the Lord’s power was made perfect.
A HIGHLY RELATIONAL STUDENT EXPERIENCE: THE HOUSE SYSTEM AT BETHLEHEM COLLEGE
Aunique aspect of Bethlehem College is the close-knit community among the student body. One way Bethlehem cultivates this community is through the House System. The House System is put in place to deepen community through promoting friendships across the classes, lively competitions, leadership development, and encouraging students to grow closer to God.
First, the House System is put in place to promote friendships across the classes. Coming into Bethlehem, students are placed into a class and typically divided into two cohorts. Students spend most of their time in their cohort and get to know their classmates well throughout their time at school. However, they do not interact much with other classes. But through the House System, students can develop meaningful friendships across different classes. The House System is split into six different houses: three houses for women, and three houses for men. Students are sorted into one of these six houses and are introduced to students from all of the different classes at Bethlehem, from freshmen to Master’s students. Promoting friendships between the classes provides new opportunities for students. It gives new students people to go to for academic help, it gives older students leadership opportunities, and it brings together the different parts of the student body, presenting them as one.
Second, the Bethlehem community deepens through the lively competitions the school has throughout the year. At these events, the six houses come together to compete against each other for points. These competitions highlight the diverse skill sets and talents among the student body. There are athletic events, trivia nights, speeches, performances, art showcases, and more. We have had a live
band in a skit, we have had someone get ahead in trivia for knowing the zip code from Adventures in Odyssey—we have even had people shave their heads in order to win costume dodgeball. What better way to deepen friendships between house members than exciting competitions where people can invest in extracurricular interests, showcase their talents, and work together to forge memories that will last beyond their time spent at Bethlehem?
Third, the Bethlehem House System promotes community through fostering leadership development. Every year, the students of each house elect three house officers, who will lead their house. The officers are responsible for directing house meetings, organizing competitions, and giving their house an opportunity to grow close together. Furthermore, these house officers are guided by selected advisors, men or women of older age who help mentor the officers. The advisors help encourage the officers and enable them to grow into godly leaders. Each of the house leaders plays a large role in shaping what the student community looks like, as well as the direction of the House System as a whole. In this way, the House System provides a unique opportunity for students to develop as leaders and influence each other for the good of the larger community.
Finally, the Bethlehem House System encourages groups to be intentional in growing closer to God. Each house is given a role model, also known as their house namesake: C.S. Lewis, Elisabeth Elliot, Perpetua, Augustine, Anne Dutton, and Jonathan Edwards. Throughout the year, houses spend time together, led by their elected house officers and guided by selected advisors, to decide how to embody
THE BETHLEHEM STUDENT
The Bethlehem College and Seminary student is a man or woman whose character and lifestyle increasingly reflect knowledge of, love for, and joy in the Triune God and who
• submits to the authority of Scripture and rightly handles God’s inerrant Word
• enjoys relationships marked by love and guided by wisdom
• is an active participant in the worship, community, and ministry of the local church
• is committed to spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ
• inclines toward the six Bethlehem “Habits of Mind and Heart” as a lifelong learner.
The Bethlehem House System enriches college student life by fostering a community that promotes spiritual growth, academic flourishing, and leadership development. Each incoming college student is assigned to a gender-specific, non-residential “house,” which meets regularly to deepen friendships and strengthen each other’s faith through life together, events, and competition with other houses.Bethlehem House System Communities AUGUSTINE Theologian and Philosopher Ordered Love, Chastity, and Friendship JONATHAN EDWARDS Revivalist Preacher Steadfastness, Honor, and Joyful Service C. S. LEWIS Author and Christian Apologist Courage, Meekness, and Joy ANNE DUTTON Poet and Calvinist Writer on Religion Honesty, Humility, and Hospitality PERPETUA Martyr Honesty, Confidence, and Faithfulness ELISABETH ELLIOT Missionary and Author Wholeheartedness, Modesty, and Grit The Bethlehem college student becomes, by God’s grace, a certain kind of man or woman, exemplified by the lives and virtues of those whose names identify the communities of the Bethlehem House System.
their house namesake’s Christian life. They ponder and apply their namesake’s most prominent virtues. How do they go about this? Well, different houses have different activities to pursue virtue and more importantly grow closer to God. Some of these activities include prayer groups, devotionals, worship nights, or meeting one-on-one to connect on a deeper level. By encouraging groups to be intentional about their walk with God, the House System serves the larger Bethlehem mission: to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things, for the joy of all peoples! That is the ultimate goal of all the activities and gatherings. Through the House System, students can spend time in the Bible, worship, pray, and support one another as the school year progresses.
Taking everything into account, the House System deepens the community throughout the student body of Bethlehem College through promoting friendships across the classes, lively competitions, and encouraging groups that are intentional about growing closer to God. If you come to Bethlehem, the House System will undoubtedly aid you in your time at school.By Caleb Lyda, College Senior and Daisy Schmitter, College Junior leaders of the House System at Bethlehem College
Shown below: The Bethlehem College Student Life Team and House Advisors, members of the faculty, staff, and church dedicated to the care and shepherding of Bethlehem College students: (L-R)Tyler Ester, Cody Sandidge, Hud and Tammy Peters, Adrien Segal, Betsy Howard, Jackie Thorne, Cindy McGlothlin, David Haines, James McGlothlin, Timothée Davi.
Status, Society, and Suitability: An assessment of advantage in Austen’s world
This section features some of the best writing by undergraduate students who are studying “Great Books in light of the Greatest Book for the sake of the Great Commission.”
“It is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him.” Throughout Pride and Prejudice, a reoccurring theme surfaces through the narrative of the story: advantage. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Mr. Collins, and Lady Catherine each, in turn, inform the reader that monetary gain and superior social status are the bread and butter of an advantageous marriage. However, Austen reveals through the refreshing voices of Elizabeth and Jane, and her own authoritative narrative, that true security and happiness is with a partner of superiority character instead of financial or societal position.
Originally derived from the the Latin word abante, “from before, or in front of,” advantage comes into English from the Old French avantage which translates “profit or superiority,” and so the lexeme connotates positive forward motion, an advancement. An important point to note is that “advantage” necessitates two objects, one with comparative advantage over the other. The friction of Pride and Prejudice sparks with this kind of comparison.
The first scene of Austen’s story portrays an ideal circumstance: the entrance of a wealthy single man into society filled to the brim with marriageable single women. Mr. Bennet’s first question of Mr. Bingley regards his marital status, and his wife cannot help but throw in Bingley’s secure financial situation of “four or five thousand a year” with her answer. Mrs. Bennet is solely concerned with getting her daughters securely married, as is evident by her response to Lydia, Elizabeth, and Jane’s partners, respectively. Austen herself writes that after Lydia’s union with Wickham, “the marriage of a daughter, [decades anticipated] was now on the point of accomplishment,” and “her thoughts and her words ran wholly” on the achievement of such a day. Mrs. Bennet’s partiality for monetary advantage is shown when Jane’s engagement quickly succeeds Lydia’s. Her encomium of Mr. Bingley narrates again his excellent position of having “four or five thousand a year.” By their own speech, the Bennets clearly have great regard for advantage being related to financial and social position.
Charlotte Lucas embodies the Bennets’ value system, and she explains to Lizzy that a woman should snatch up a man of wealth and good-breeding such as Bingley, and “once she is secure of him,” worry about falling in love later. This procedure is precisely what Charlotte does and marries for advantage in the cultural sense, preferring a man who, despite his position, possesses a “deficiency of sense.” It is clear that Mr. Collins echoes her in this regard later, wishing Elizabeth as much felicity as the two of them possess, for “Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking.” That much is evident: financial and social security place Charlotte in good standing, most importantly, in the good graces and benefice of the distinguished Lady Catherine.
Lady Catherine likewise shares the Collinses’ ideology on advantageous marriages. The high-ranking benefactress holds the opinion that someone must marry to secure connection in society. “You will be censured, slighted, and despised,” says she, if Elizabeth marries her nephew Darcy, as if a disgrace from Lady Catherine’s acquaintance were the deepest woe which could befall a young woman of her status. By assessing the individualized speech of these prominent characters, it is clear that the achievement of happiness and security is found in securing a wealthy and high-ranking husband.
Elizabeth’s priorities differ from the cultural notion of advantage. “Your plan is a good one,” Elizabeth tells Charlotte upon hearing her scheme. “If I were determined to get a rich husband, I would adopt it.” But Elizabeth explains how Jane—and she too—values quality of character. This is clear from her repulsion of Darcy’s and Collins’s conceited pride in the first half of the novel. “I am the last woman in all the world who could ever make you happy,” she states
to Collins. To Darcy’s proposal she replies, “You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” As the narrative progresses, the reader comes to realize along with Elizabeth that a marriage with Darcy, exceedingly humble and generous, far outweighs Wickham’s charm or Mr. Collins’s pretentious security. Austen avoids contradicting the voices of the Bennets, Collinses, or Lady Catherine outright because her aim is exposing the common cultural understanding of advantage as faulty through Elizabeth’s sensible voice. In this way, Elizabeth acts as Austen’s implicit counterpoint against the society norms.
In conclusion, Austen portrays, through Elizabeth’s sensible responses to love, that an advantageous marriage, one that will bring the most happiness, is the possession of an equally or superiorly matched partner in exemplary character and temperament. The rest of the characters, and the culture of their world, entertain marital felicity and advantage in terms of security, both financially and socially. If one does not follow in Elizabeth’s example, it is exceedingly plausible that one’s happiness in marriage will be entirely a matter of chance.By Emily Stuck, College Senior
Austen portrays, through Elizabeth’s sensible responses to love, that an advantageous marriage, one that will bring the most happiness, is the possession of an equally or superiorly matched partner in exemplary character and temperament. The rest of the characters, and the culture of their world, entertain marital felicity and advantage in terms of security, both financially and socially. If one does not follow in Elizabeth’s example, it is exceedingly plausible that one’s happiness in marriage will be entirely a matter of chance.
Brian J. Tabb, Ph.D.
Faculty Leader, PastorScholar, Lifelong Learner
It wasn’t one of those fashionable ice-breaker questions that now so often begin a meeting, but rather a serious one posed at the end of a two-day retreat of the members of the school’s presidential cabinet and their wives in 2021.
“Tell us one thing about your husband?”
Kristen Tabb answered, “Brian loves his Bible,” explaining just how perpetually proximate God’s word is to her husband’s heart, mind, and even his person. The tether is short and tight.
“That love was really sparked and cultivated when I was a college student,” Dr. Tabb says. “Love of the Bible was and remains at the core of my call to ministry. What a privilege it is to study it, talk about it, teach it, and occasionally preach its great truth. I want to be a Psalm 1 kind of person whose delight is in the instruction of God’s word. The study of God’s word is more than study, de-coding, or even mastery. It is about delight.”
The product of a loving Christian family in Oklahoma, son of a law school professor and charge of
pastors and members of faithful Bible churches, Tabb left high school for Wheaton College where he pursued a liberal arts education. “I subjected my attention to the full range of subjects, lectures, reading, and assignments required of a liberal arts student. I did so because at the same time I was coming to know God’s word better, I was coming to see and understand that there was much to know and discover of God’s world.”
are not enough. I need to see through the eyes of others.’ My colleagues here love old books. For many of them that’s the Puritans. For me it’s really old books, those of classical antiquity. I’ve lingered there to contextualize the book I love above all others, for these were the ideas with which Christ’s first missionaries had to contend and, given their influence, his missionaries still contend, today.”
“Brian Tabb instilled a Christcentered hermeneutic in my classmates and me. He equipped us to rightly handle God’s word and steered us away from the exegetical fallacies we can so easily commit. Now, as a senior pastor, I utilize those skills in every sermon, every Bible study, and every discipleship meeting.” says David Lund, M.Div. ’18.
A TBI Man
After completing work in biblical exegesis at Wheaton College Graduate School, Tabb moved to Minneapolis to join The Bethlehem Institute (TBI), predecessor to Bethlehem College and Seminary, to be equipped for biblical eldership. It was a dream team season at TBI that produced, among others, three of the five current leaders of the school: Tabb, President Joe Rigney, and VP/CFO Jason Abell. When TBI became a degree-granting institution in 2009, Tabb became a member of the founding faculty. Since then he has earned a Th.M. from Luther Seminary in Minneapolis
Tabb Family: Brian, Kristin, Jeremiah, Julia, Judson, and Jonah. That photo was taken upon his promotion to full professorship.
Elder Affirmation of Faith, syllabi, grammars, style guides, punctuality, deadlines, and employee and student manuals. “Boundaries, obligations, and commitments aren’t particularly enjoyable in themselves, but they are part of clarifying for the whole community our life together. People, homes, churches, schools all flourish more when such things are clear.”
“Dr. Tabb is a careful scholar, admirably-clear writer, and competent and much-loved teacher. He gives himself for the good of the people God’s placed in his life.” says faculty colleague, Dr. Jared Compton.
Tabb’s discipline has borne fruit in multiple orchards of his ministry and scholarship. He served well and honorably as an Elder of Bethlehem Baptist Church during a trying season of transition, and continues today as a Sunday School teacher of elementary school students. Recently, he traveled to Malaysia— accompanied by his eldest son, J.J.—to serve the church there and teach pastors and others there on the Book of Revelation. Since 2013, Tabb has been the General Editor of Themelios, the peer-reviewed international evangelical theological journal of The Gospel Coalition. Tabb has also distinguished himself in the publication of five books since 2014 that have proven commendable by his peers, helpful to the church, and magnetic to prospective college and seminary students.
Lord willing, Brian Tabb has years of service yet ahead, but even now it can be said of him that he is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season” (Ps. 1:3). In seemingly all that he has thus far done, he has prospered. To God be the glory.
The writings of C.S. Lewis exerted substantial influence on Tabb’s personal, spiritual, and academic life.
“Lewis was for me the bridge from the Bible to a life of wonder, even longing,” says Tabb. “He, perhaps more than any other influence, spurred me to love reading and to read rightly and widely.” Lewis wrote, ‘My own eyes
and a Ph.D. from the London School of Theology. By 2016 he was the Academic Dean, responsible for overseeing the recruitment, care, and retention of what has emerged as a truly world-class faculty.
Tabb exhibits a discipline and intentional formality characteristic of the truest of scholars, a glad affection for things like The BethlehemBy Rick Segal, Vice President of Advancement, Lecturer of History and Political Philosophy
After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ BRIAN
Make Bethlehem College and Seminary your charitable beneficiary. Go to www.smile.amazon.com to learn how.
Buy over-the-counter, and the school benefits even more. THE BETHLEHEM BOO KSTO RENew By Faculty and Alumni Authors What Is Saving Faith: Reflections on Receiving Christ as a Treasure JOHN PIPER A Student’s Guide to Womanhood ABIGAIL DODDS Romans: A Concise Guide to the Greatest Letter Ever Written ANDREW DAVID NASELLI Called by Triune Grace: Divine Rhetoric and Effectual Call JONATHAN HOGLUND J. TABB
“I need to see through the eyes of others.”Brian
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From the President
A Holy Ambition is Cutting Against the Grain
To Highways and Hedges: A Vigor for Church Planting
A Highly Relational Student Experience: The House System at Bethlehem College
In Light of The Greatest Book Status, Society, and Suitability: An assesment of advantage in Austen’s world
To Study, Practice, and Teach
Brian Tabb: Faculty Leader, Pastor-Scholar, Lifelong Learner
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We Thank God for You
My fellow Bethlehem alumni met last May for a class reunion. We laughed at how each person’s quirks and mannerisms seemed untouched by the past decade. We gave thanks to God for the faith he sustained in us. One couple now does ministry in Asia; others are involved in full-time ministry or in local churches with careers in the secular workplace. I ended up doing IT consulting and, with my family, am grateful to be at home at Jubilee Community Church in Minneapolis. All individuals from that class have taken on the responsibility of becoming producers rather than consumers.
The Serious Joy Scholarship served as a springboard into productive life, helping us graduate debt free. Yet keeping tuition low was only part of its value: I remember the sense of surprise when I learned as a student how much of my tuition came from donors. It is a reminder that my education was a gift, not an entitlement. It emphasizes that our education is not about ourselves, but a part of the gospel partnership (or fellowship) that exists in the body of Christ for a common goal. As one who benefited from that partnership and seeks to make good on it, thank you.
Joshua Schmitter, B.A. ,14 Joshua, Elise, Clara, Leah, Boaz, and Gabe Schmitter