This is my first letter to you as President of Bethlehem College and Seminary. It is a sobering yet sweet assignment to serve this school that I love. I am ready and eager to lead us onward with God’s help, confident that our best years are ahead. In that hope, I am writing to ask you to consider making a generous contribution to The Serious Joy Scholarship. We hope you share our joy in the good work of equipping Bethlehem students with a God-centered education and launching them immediately into life and ministry without the shackles of student loan debt.

I benefited personally from Bethlehem’s God-centered vision as a graduate of what was then called The Bethlehem Institute (2007). It has been a privilege and joy to serve as a professor of biblical studies at this school for the past fifteen years.

Let me share seven of the many reasons why I love this institution and am incredibly excited about its future.

First, I want to champion our glorious mission. Every week in chapel I see these words prominently displayed in the Bethlehem Baptist Church sanctuary: “We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” Our school seeks to carry out this same spreading mission “by equipping men and women to treasure Christ above all things, to grow in wisdom and knowledge over a lifetime, and to glorify God in every sphere of life.” Our mission statement sums up our aim to advance the fame of the Lord Jesus near and far. It reminds us that all of our work is carried out “under the authority of God’s inerrant word.” And it clarifies our spreading focus: teaching students to be mature, joyful disciples of Jesus ready to glorify God for the rest of their lives.

Second, I treasure our God-centered theology. For decades, Pastor John Piper has taught the seminal truth that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” I first read Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist as a Wheaton College student, and statements like this one stirred my heart and have shaped my life and ministry ever since:

“All the works of God culminate in the praises of His redeemed people. The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of the saints. This praise is the consummation of our own joy in God. Therefore, God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are the same pursuit.”

Amen! Christian Hedonism informs our approach to all of life, including what we teach and why we teach. In every class and chapel service and meeting, I want our faculty, staff, and students to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Moreover, Bethlehem professors and trustees gladly embrace and teach the same precious Affirmation of Faith that we share with our founding churches and the Treasuring Christ Together Network.

Third, I value our cohesive curriculum. Each academic program of Bethlehem College and Seminary reflects our fundamental commitment to the coherence of all knowledge in Jesus Christ. As Colossians 1:17 states, “In him all things hold together” (this stunning truth is inscribed on our school’s official seal). So our college, seminary, and evening programs follow an intentional and cohesive sequence of courses. For example, our college freshmen study the New Testament alongside Greek and Roman history, literature, and philosophy, and seasoned professors help them see amazing connections between these disciplines. Our seminary curriculum combines whole-Bible exegesis in the original languages with coursework on the history of Christianity, systematic and biblical theology, preaching as worship, biblical eldership, and more. Our professors understand how each course contributes to the whole program, and they guide students to integrate and apply their studies faithfully.

Fourth, I celebrate our discipleship focus. The Bethlehem faculty teach not merely to inform our students but to form them as mature Christians ready to witness for Christ with wisdom and wonder for the rest of their lives. We know our students’ names and take an interest in their personal and spiritual growth, not just their GPAs. In our classes, we equip students with the habits of mind and heart that Chancellor Piper expounds in his recent book Foundations for Lifelong Learning: Education in Serious Joy. We deploy our seminary students as apprentices ministering alongside experienced pastors who mentor and encourage them in their pastoral preparation. Thus, we seek to put into practice Paul’s charge to entrust the good deposit “to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Fifth, I am thrilled with our first-rate faculty. The most important questions anyone should ask about an academic institution are these: Who are the teachers? And what are they teaching? Think about the instruction in Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Throughout our school’s history, we have aimed to build a faculty with strong academic credentials, a love for teaching, a passion for God’s Word and His glory, and pastoral hearts. And by God’s grace, we’ve assembled a dynamic team of professors with expertise across a range of disciplines who live godly lives and teach what is true. Our professors have recently published important books like David Howard’s Reading the Psalms Theologically; Andy Naselli’s How to Read a Book: Advice for Christian Readers and Romans: A Concise Guide to the Greatest Letter Ever Written; and David Haines’s Natural Theology: A Biblical and Historical Introduction and Defense; Betsy Howard also received the University of Minnesota’s Best Dissertation Award for the Arts and Humanities. In addition to their scholarly excellence, our faculty members have traveled to Cameroon, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Central and East Asia, and various places in North America to strengthen the church through their teaching. What a privilege it is to serve with this amazing faculty!

Sixth, I am grateful to God for our vital partnership with the local church. Bethlehem College and Seminary was established by Bethlehem Baptist Church, and we continue to teach our courses in the unadorned simplicity of Sunday school classrooms and embed our faculty, staff, and students in the life and ministry of the local church. Moreover, we eagerly engage with a growing movement of like-minded churches, including The North Church and the Treasuring Christ Together Network, that share our commitment to the Scriptures and sound doctrine. We champion the local church because the Lord Jesus has promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Seventh, I love our remarkable students and alumni. Bethlehem College and Seminary truly has a special group of students who are earnest for truth and eager to serve the Lord! These men and women of character and conviction will be godly fathers and mothers, faithful pastors and church members, wise teachers and writers, passionate missionaries, and productive business leaders. Since I began teaching at Bethlehem in 2009, it has been a joy to see hundreds of former students launch into life and ministry around the world. At the recent Serious Joy: Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in January 2024, we featured three distinguished Bethlehem graduates as plenary speakers (Steven Lee, Lewis Guest IV, and David Mathis) and also reconnected with dozens of alumni who are faithfully teaching God’s Word and shepherding God’s people in small towns and big cities around the country and indeed the world. In recent days, I have been greatly encouraged by the numerous calls, messages, and letters from former students who reached out when they learned about my appointment as Bethlehem’s third president. As the Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).

We undertake this good work to equip the next generation of God-centered, Bible-saturated, seriously joyful pastors, church members, missionaries, teachers, writers, and fathers and mothers in reliance on God to supply our institution’s needs through the glad-hearted generosity of the saints. We do not accept government funding or participate in student loan programs but endeavor to make this world-class education remarkably affordable to our students. We remain short of full funding for this year’s Serious Joy Scholarships, so I invite you to make a generous gift to Bethlehem College and Seminary by June 30 to equip the next generation with this education in serious joy.

The Lord has strengthened and sustained Bethlehem College and Seminary through pandemic, trials, and leadership transitions in recent years. Now, in constant reliance on the future grace that our great God has promised to supply, I am eager to lead us onward. I want this fine institution to have the sort of God-centered resolve that the apostle Paul speaks of in Philippians 3:12–14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”


Brian J. Tabb, Ph.D.

P.S. If you are acquainted with any current high school juniors or seniors, please encourage them to register for the upcoming Foundations of Christian Worldview course, August 11–15. This course is a fantastic opportunity to taste and see what we mean by education in serious joy. For more information, contact Ryan Deck, Director of Admissions ([email protected]).




a request from
Rick Segal, Vice president of advancement

Last year’s Matching Gift campaign was, by God’s grace, an astounding success.
To him be all the credit, praise, and glory.

An unintended consequence has been a bit of a cash squeeze in these first six months of calendar 2024.

Please pray whether you might be called to make a gift to The Serious Joy Scholarship before the school year ends on June 30, 2024.