September 11 & 12, 2023

The Year of the Self: Finding Our Identity in Christ Alone

Our society is obsessed with identity and self. We are living in the midst of a post-modern identity crisis where "the self" has become the center of the universe, and human nature is now viewed, not as fixed, but as plastic. Many are now defining and redefining identity solely in terms of sex, gender, race, and tribe. How did we get here? What are the dangers of this rising concentration on the self? This symposium will direct us to the Holy Scriptures to discover God's eternal wisdom about where we find our true identity and how to apply that wisdom in many areas.

Colorado Christian University is committed to seeking truth and will devote this year's Symposium on September 11 and 12, 2023, to the topic of Finding Our Identity in Christ Alone.

Event Overview

Monday, September 11, 2023

6:30 - 8:30 p.m. MST

  • Dr. Donald W. Sweeting will give an overview as to why this topic is important.
  • Professor Michael Plato will focus on the topic of "How did we get here, and why are we so self-absorbed?"
  • Dr. Ryan M. Burkhart will address the topic, “Beyond Therapeutic Man: The Lost Self”
Tuesday, September 12, 2023

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MST

  • Dr. David Kotter will discuss the biblical approach to self.
  • Dr. Derek Jones will speak on being self-grounded according to the gospel from Colossians.

1:30 – 3:15 p.m. MST

  • Workshops - After lunch, attendees can choose two workshop options to more closely examine special topics related to this issue.


Dr. Ryan M. Burkhart
Ryan Burkhart

Dr. Ryan M. Burkhart is a leader in the Colorado professional counselor community. Burkhart has been instrumental in establishing a high level of professional counselor practice in Colorado through legislative efforts and advocacy. Burkhart's legislative efforts helped establish the Licensed Professional Counselor – Candidate, or LPCC, designation in Colorado, renew and strengthen clinical supervision in Colorado, establish minimum qualifications for clinical competency and psychotherapy, pass suicide prevention legislation, and align Colorado's professional counseling profession with national standards of practice.

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Dr. Derek Jones
Derek Jones

Dr. Derek Jones was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado, and accepted the Lord when he was 17 years old. While attending CSU, God provided an opportunity to minister within the local church. Soon after, he felt God calling him to full-time ministry and he has been serving ever since. Derek has served at three different churches in Ft. Collins, Boston, and Denver and recently completed his 20th year of ministry. A lifelong Colorado sports fan, he believes sports is one of the best evangelism tools. As someone who began ministry at the age of 19, Derek has a heart to empower young leaders to use their gifts to serve the local church and build God’s kingdom. He and his wife, Firdaus, have been married for 15 years and have 3 boys.

Dr. David Kotter
David Kotter

Dr. David Kotter serves as the dean of the School of Theology, but began his career at Ford Motor Company as a financial analyst at its world headquarters and eventually as a plant controller at a manufacturing plant in Spain. After graduating summa cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, he was invited to join a church-planting team for CrossWay Community Church and served as the pastor of discipleship for seven years.

Kotter's primary research is focused on the areas of intersection between theology and economics. He has been invited to lecture on related topics around the United States as well as Asia and Europe. Kotter has contributed to five books along with numerous journal articles and book reviews. He is also active in biblical archaeology and has taught on five summer expeditions for CCU students to dig at Tel es-Safi (Gath), Shiloh, and throughout Israel.

Dr. Kotter co-founded the Faith and Work Project to train future pastors in the principles of economics and finance. He also writes as a senior research fellow for the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics.

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Michael Plato
Michael Plato

Michael Plato believes Christian academics are called to be modern "men of Issachar" (1 Chron. 12:32), who understand the times so that they may better instruct others.

Plato was an instructor at Ryerson University, Humber College and Seneca College. He was also a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Tyndale University. He is also a review Editor for Contemporary Religion and Culture at

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Dr. Donald W. Sweeting
Dr. Sweeting portrait photo

After serving as Colorado Christian University president from 2016-2022, Dr. Donald Sweeting was appointed by the Board of Trustees as Chancellor of the University. As chancellor, Dr. Sweeting is responsible for amplifying the University's educational mission, convictions, and strategic priorities inside and outside CCU. He is the University's first chancellor, following in the footsteps of Dr. David Beckman, who was chancellor of CCU's heritage school Colorado Christian College.

Before coming to CCU, Dr. Sweeting served as the president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando from 2010-2016. As an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), Sweeting served as senior pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Greenwood Village, a Denver suburb, for 12 years and for 11 years as the founding pastor of Chain of Lakes Community Bible Church in northern Illinois. Sweeting also served as an assistant to Chuck Colson with Prison Fellowship in Washington, D.C.

Sweeting studied Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute, earned his B.A. degree in History from Lawrence University, a B.A./M.A. degree from Oxford University in England, and his Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He also speaks and preaches around the country and has published numerous articles for well-known magazines and scholarly journals. He has co-authored several books, including How to Finish the Christian Life: Following Jesus in the Second Half of Life.

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