Who We Are
The Institute for Religious Research (IRR) is a nondenominational, evangelical Christian ministry of apologetics and discernment. It was founded by Roger Hansen, a Christian businessman who serves still today as Chairman of the Board of Directors. IRR, which was originally known as Gospel Truths Ministries, was established as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization in 1986 and officially changed its name in 1989. From that time until his passing in November 2007, Luke P. Wilson was IRR’s Executive Director. Throughout this entire period Luke worked alongside Joel Groat, who continues as IRR’s Director of Ministries. In September 2008, Rob Bowman, a veteran of nearly twenty-five years in apologetics ministry, joined IRR and serves as its Executive Director.
We desire to promote — in a thoughtful and gracious manner — the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, as revealed in the Bible. For more information about what we believe, please read our Statement of Faith.
Robert M. Bowman Jr. has been with IRR since 2008 and is IRR’s Executive Director. Previously he served as Manager of Apologetics & Interfaith Evangelism for the North American Mission Board (2006-2008). For ten years Rob taught graduate courses in apologetics, biblical studies, and religion at Luther Rice University (1994-99) and Biola University (2001-2005). He has also worked with other apologetics and discernment ministries, most notably the Christian Research Institute (1984-91), the Atlanta Christian Apologetics Project (1994-99), and Watchman Fellowship in Alabama (1999-2000). Rob has spoken at over a hundred churches and at some three dozen conferences and debates. He has five years of experience hosting call-in radio talk shows focusing on apologetics, including the nationally famous Bible Answer Man show.
Rob Bowman earned the M.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, did doctoral studies in Christian Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, and earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at South African Theological Seminary. He is the author of roughly 60 articles (e.g., in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Review of Biblical Literature, Christian Research Journal, Moody Monthly, Pastoral Renewal, Mission Frontiers, and Journal of Evangelism and Missions) and 13 books pertaining to apologetics, religion, and biblical theology, including two winners of the Gold Medallion Award, An Unchanging Faith in a Changing World (1997) and Faith Has Its Reasons (2001; 2d ed., 2006). His most recent books are Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (co-authored with Ed Komoszewski, 2007), which received numerous endorsements from such scholars as Ravi Zacharias and Richard Bauckham, and What Mormons Believe (2012).
Rob and his wife, Cathy, have been married since 1981 and have four children, three of them still living at home.
Joel B Groat
Director of Ministries
Joel B. Groat has served with IRR since 1987, first as a Research and Counseling Associate, then as Coordinator of Spanish Language Ministries and now as Director of Domestic and International Ministries. A missionary kid and later a missionary himself in Venezuela, Joel has spoken hundreds of times for IRR throughout North, Central, and South America as well as in Spain, Central Europe and Madagascar. On his numerous trips to Latin America he has distributed hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature on Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other apologetics-related issues, and has been the featured guest on various radio and television programs.
Joel earned a Master’s degree (MTS) in New Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 1990. He has contributed to and translated many of IRR’s tracts, authored numerous web articles, contributed articles to the Christian Research Journal, and the Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue journal (Fuller Theological Seminary) and has extensive experience speaking to the media and at conferences. He has been an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University and is active in his church’s missions program and youth ministry.
Joel and his wife, Lois, have been married since 1983 and have eight children and two grandchildren.