Colorado Christian University's new president, Donald Sweeting.

(Courtesy Colorado Christain University)

A private Christian university west of Denver has turned itself into a national center for conservative thought.

Former United States Sen. Bill Armstrong led Colorado Christian University in Lakewood for the last decade. He helped develop the school's conservative think tank, the Centennial Institute, which hosts the annual Western Conservative Summit. During his tenure, enrollment grew by approximately 250 percent.

Armstrong passed away in July. His successor is Donald Sweeting, who has a very different background.

"He was a politician -- a career politician -- and a business man," Sweeting said. "I am a pastor and educator. So we are very different people in that way. But we have the same convictional commitments as Christians and conservatives."

Related: Former Senator Bill Armstrong Blended Conservative Politics And Evangelical Christianity

Sweeting served as senior pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Greenwood Village for 12 years. More recently, he was the president of the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, which emphasizes a kind of evangelicalism rooted in the 16th century Protestant Reformation

Sweeting's first day at CCU is Oct. 3. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Interview Highlights

On the future of the university's Centennial Institute: 

"Politics isn't everything. It's important, but it's one sphere of life. It's downstream of culture. And there are other spheres that are equally important. A university can serve in all these different spheres. ..."

"I hope [the Centennial Institute] has a good constructive social and political and cultural influence. I hope it has a good influence on the churches, and on businesses. I see that as one of its roles."

On his personal "crisis of faith" as a young man: 

"The crisis was, is my parents' faith my faith? Do I believe it just because they do? Is there really a god? Is Jesus the son of God? Did he really rise from the dead? Is the Bible really true? All of these good questions that every Christian, and I hope every person, will wrestle through. And I came out at the end of that just saying, 'I believe it's true.' "

On college affordability: 

"As a parent of four kids, I've given it a lot of thought. Even as a seminary president, I've given it thought. We've thought of creative ways where students can afford education through partnerships with churches, through condensing programs, or overlapping programs. CCU has a wonderful dual-partnership program that helps parents in a lot of schools save money. We all need to do a lot of creative thinking in this area."