Seminary Symposium 2023

Date: January 11 - January 13

The 2023 Seminary Symposium is a continuing education opportunity for pastors, seminary students, and other interested parties. The symposium format replaces the past January Term format and invites presentations on various topics, leaving space for thought-provoking interaction. The 2023 offering will focus on Jesus Christ in the Early Church, turning our eyes to the early church fathers, an area of study called “patristics.”  

“Patristics provides not only a historical context for the work of the church but helps us understand and spread the gospel today,” —President Wade Mobley.

All Symposium attendees are encouraged to stay for the Georg Sverdrup Society Forum on Friday which will conclude with a lunch, along with an opportunity to give a gift to support the Sverdrup Society.


(All sessions located in Student Life Center)

Wednesday, Jan 11

7:00PM Check-in and Dinner Reception

8:00PM Session 1 with Free Lutheran Seminary Dean, Dr. James Molstre.

Thursday, Jan 12

9:00AM–Noon Session 2

  • 9:00 Dr. Daniel Janosik—"John of Damascus on Islam"
    Recent evidence sheds new light on the origins of Islam. Explore the writings of John of Damascus, early church father and apologist, including his firsthand accounts of Muhammad, the formation of the Qur'an, and how they affected the early Christian church. This first session covers John's background as well as his specific work on the Heresy of the Ishmaelites and the Disputation Between a Christian and a Saracen. New cutting-edge information on the origins of Islam will be presented that fits within the timeline of John of Damascus. Dr. Janosic has found this information to be very persuasive with Muslims.
  • 10:15 Coffee Break
  • 10:45 Dr. Daniel Janosik—"John of Damascus on the Trinity"
    This session will introduce some of the other Church Fathers who helped develop doctrine on the trinity and will give insights that come from John's work that are still very relevant today. Also discussed will be the Muslim views on the Trinity and Christian rebuttals that will be helpful for people to use in their discussions with Muslims. 

Noon Lunch in Cafeteria (provided)

1:00–4:00PM Session 3

  • 1:00 Andrew Kneeland—"Holy Book, Holy Readers"
    The earliest readers of the Bible have greatly influenced the way we translate and interpret the Bible today. Pastor Andrew Kneeland will highlight key assumptions that guided early interpretation of the Bible, thus shaping Christian culture.
  • 1:50 Matthew Ballmann—"A Case for Reading Holy Scripture with the Early Church"
    Many American Lutherans practice a radical individualism in how they read and interpret Scripture in isolation from the rest of the Church. In this session Pr. Matthew Ballmann will make a case for why we should strive to read Scripture with the earliest Christians and how tradition plays an important role in the Christian faith.
  • 2:40 Coffee Break
  • 3:10 Steve Mundfrom—"Was Origen's Christology Heretical?"

Friday, Jan 13

8:30AM Coffee and pastries

9:00AM–Noon Georg Sverdrup Society Forum. This year's theme is "Sverdrup and Ministries of Mercy."

Free Livestream and Chat

  • 9:00 New Translation: "Speech at the Opening of the Deaconess Home"—Larry Walker
  • 9:40 Prof. Gracia Grindal"Georg Sverdrup and the Deaconess Tradition"
  • 10:30 Dr. Stanley Quanbeck"Sverdrup and the Ministry of Mercy: Madagascar Medical Missionaries" (Presented by Marian Christopherson)
  • 11:20 Dr. Brent Olson"The Congregation as the Temple of Christ"

Noon Lunch in Cafeteria (Free Will Offering)

Symposium Instructors:

  • Dr. Daniel Janosik—Dr. Janosik is an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics and Islamic Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Columbia International University, Erskine Seminary, and Veritas Seminary. He has written two books, John of Damascus: First Apologist to the Muslims, and A Christian’s Guide to Islam, as well as a number of articles in these areas. He has also spoken on college campuses and in churches throughout the United States as well as in England, Mexico, China and Japan, where he also served as a missionary. 
  • Rev. Matthew Ballmann—Matthew Ballmann is married to his wife Natalie who together have been blessed with five children. He serves as a pastor at Trinity San Antonio Lutheran Church, a new AFLC church plant in San Antonio, Texas. Matthew graduated with a BSBA in International Business from Thomas Edison State University, a Master of Theology (Th.M) from Dallas Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Historical Theology, and a Master of Arts in Theology (M.A) from Concordia University Irvine. 
  • Rev. Andrew Kneeland—Andrew Kneeland graduated from Free Lutheran Seminary and is a PhD candidate at Concordia Seminary-St. Louis. He also serves as editor of the The Lutheran Ambassador.