About the Center for Apologetics and Worldviews
What We Do
The Center for Apologetics and Worldviews presents evidence for the truth of Christianity, critiques worldviews that oppose Christianity, fortifies believers with a proper interpretation of Holy Scripture, and engages unbelievers in conversations leading toward the Gospel proclamation of forgiveness in Christ.
Whom We Serve
The center equips Christians with a discernment of worldviews so that they may guard against false teachings, and also with well-reasoned, evidence-rich arguments so that they may recognize the truth of their Christian faith.
The center serves students at Bethany Lutheran College and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, boards and member congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the church at large, while furthermore welcoming all people to consider the evidence for Christianity.
By simultaneously strengthening believers and reaching out to unbelievers, the center seeks to present winsome arguments in a compassionate manner, addressing the doubts and confusions that abound in our post-Christian times and pointing to both the fact of Christ’s resurrection and the salvation message that rests upon that fact.
How We Serve Bethany Lutheran College
The center serve students through a combination of focus-group discussions, classroom instruction, and conferences featuring guest speakers with expertise in the areas of theology, history, archaeology, and other relevant fields. In coordination with the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the center’s director sponsors faculty enrichment opportunities to equip professors to, indeed, “profess” the truth of Christianity across the curriculum.
Where We Stand
The center, as an organization within the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, professes Holy Scripture as the only source and standard for Christian doctrine and practice, while recognizing the Lutheran Confessions, as contained in the Book of Concord, as the correct exposition of Holy Scripture. Distinctive Lutheran theological commitments include:
- the proper distinction between Law and Gospel (emphasizing that God, not man, both saves man and brings man to faith)
- a focus on the Means of Grace (identifying the Word and Sacraments as the unique tools by which the Holy Spirit creates and sustains faith)
- a limitation of human reason to the role of servant, not master, of the Christian faith (ministerial vs. magisterial use of reason)
- distinct, although interrelated, purposes for the church and the civil realm (theology of the Two Kingdoms)
Within this biblical, Lutheran framework, the center follows the examples of the prophets and the apostles in pointing to evidence both within and beyond the Bible and offering well-reasoned arguments when demonstrating the truth of Christianity.
For a more detailed explanation of our distinctively Lutheran approach to apologetics, please refer to “Confess and Defend,” a study document prepared by the Doctrine Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
How We Began
Events leading to the launching of the center stretch back some twenty years, with numerous “Apologetics and Worldview” seminars being hosted at a retreat facility formerly operated by Bethany Lutheran College. A similar series of conferences later was hosted at Faith Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas, served by Pastor David Thompson. Following one of those seminars, Prof. Allen Quist, Pastor David Jay Webber, and Dr. Ryan MacPherson sat down at Pastor Thompson’s dining room table to prayerfully consider the establishment of an apologetics center for the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Meanwhile, the synod’s Board for World Outreach was contemplating similar plans. Pastor Thomas Heyn, the BWO administrator, merged these plans into a formal proposal for the synod.
A resolution adopted at the synod’s annual convention in 2017 established a committee to sponsor short-term programs and explore long-term sustainability. The committee hosted conferences at Bethany Lutheran College in both 2018 and 2019, and in 2019 the convention authorized the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Rev. John Moldstad, Jr., to move forward with the establishment of an apologetics center. Meanwhile, an anonymous donor provided start-up funding through a challenge grant to be matched by other donors. With God’s blessing, the center was established in July 2020. The committee appointed Dr. MacPherson to a two-year appointment as part-time director, 2020–2022.
How We Operate
The center is governed by the Apologetics Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which includes representatives from Bethany Lutheran College and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary. A director, appointed by the committee, coordinates the center’s projects and reports to the committee. As of February 2021, the committee members are Pastor David Thompson (chair), Chaplain Don Moldstad (secretary), President Glenn Obenberger (synod), President Gaylin Schmeling (seminary), President Gene Pfeifer (college), Pastor Thomas Heyn, Dr. Doyle Holbird, and Prof. Allen Quist, with Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson serving as director.
Whom to Contact
Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson, Director
Center for Apologetics and Worldviews
Bethany Lutheran College
700 Luther Dr.
Mankato, MN 56001
507 344 7787
Email Portal: Ryan MacPherson