This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Half a century ago, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle-church door in Wittenberg, which kicked off the modern Protestant movement that, among other things, clarified the gospel and helped to get the Bible into people’s everyday vernacular. To mark this anniversary my wife and I, along with another fellow Christian, recently went to Germany to visit the places that were key to the life of the great reformer Martin Luther. We experienced lots of interesting places but probably the most memorable was the Lutherhaus in Wittenberg.
Martin Luther was 41 by the time he married the 26-year-old former nun Katharina von Bora. The couple immediately took up residence in the former dormitory and educational institution for monks studying in Wittenberg. This “house” was a wedding gift from John Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, one of Luther’s protectors.
As a former monastery the building, even by today’s standards, is rather large for a house. But the size evidently became necessary for Luther and Katharina. Besides their own large family, their home quickly became an epicenter of Christian life with a constant bustle and stream of students and visitors. Besides regular times of teaching, Martin Luther often would have “table talks” after dinner, answering theological and ministerial questions.
With so many people seeking audience and teaching from the famous reformer, Katharina took upon herself the herculean task of administering and managing a vast household by running an almost around the clock kitchen and bakery, as well as operating a small brewery (the water in Wittenberg was unsanitary at the time), as well as breeding and selling cattle. With someone needing to be in charge of such a large and ever changing group of people who continuously needed to be fed and housed, it was no simple joke when Luther would lovingly refer to his wife as “Lord Katy.” So the Luthers were evidently very intentional in using their home for Christian students.
Visiting the Lutherhaus, it was hard for me not to see parallels with Bethlehem College & Seminary today. Just like the Luthers, many of our own faculty have students living with them, or regularly have students over to share meals with their families, or just have simple get-togethers. And like the Luther family, it’s not uncommon for theological and ministerial “table talks” to happen.
As a church-based school, we purposefully seek to “live life” with our students, including through small cohort gatherings and intentional mentoring. The Luthers understood that a Christian education was more than just reading, writing, and attending lectures. Here at Bethlehem College & Seminary we also understand that an education in serious joy is holistic and lived out in every facet of life.
With the prayerful support of many faithful Christians, we the faculty are so thankful that we are able to carry on the spirit of the Luthers and the Protestant Reformation here at Bethlehem College & Seminary. May the gospel of Christ continue to grow as we all seek to live it out in our various church communities.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Theology
- Please pray for our students and faculty as they enjoy the summer break. Pray that they would be able to accomplish both work and times of refreshment with their families in order to recharge for the fall.
- Please continue to be in prayer for our college admissions processes. We are still assembling the fall Freshman class at the college and we need wisdom from the Lord to bring in just the right class for this coming Fall. We want the students that the Lord wants to be here.
- Please be in prayer for our graduates. Many of them already are employed or have been accepted to graduate schools. Pray for their transitions out of college/seminary life and into full time employment and ministry. Pray also for those who are not yet settled on what they will be doing in this next phase of life. Pray for the Lord’s clear leading for them.
- Please continue to be in prayer for our financial growth. We have been blessed by the Lord in so many ways so far! Now, we are asking him to provide for us some substantial gifts that would help make us strong for the long-term future. Please pray that the Lord would be gracious to us as we have an important meeting this Friday pertaining to this goal.