Trying to Live as a Christian in a Polarized Church and Society

Robert Benne

Part of the IFC’s 2017 Two-Day Symposium on Religious and Political Disagreement
Friday, April 21, 2017, 4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
St. Olaf College, Tomson Hall 280

On the religious side of the topic, Robert Benne will argue that differences over core Christian teachings will lead to division — but what is difficult to decide is what belongs in the core, especially since there are shared and non-shared essentials among Christian traditions. Christians can recognize each other as Christians if they share crucial essentials but differ on other items that are essential to them, but probably cannot be in the same denomination.

On the political side, he will argue that — with a few exceptions — Christians should be able to belong to the same church yet hold a wide variety of political positions. Those exceptions are hard to discern, but Benne argues that we are obligated to be alert for them. He will also argue that Christians ought to be able to move in roughly the same general direction on a cluster of issues, including protection of life at its beginning and end, care for the poor, and religious liberty.

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About the Speaker

Speaker: Robert Benne

Robert Benne

Robert Benne is the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus and research associate in the Religion and Philosophy Department of Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He teaches Christian ethics for the online Lutheran Institute for Theology. In 1982 he founded the Roanoke College Center for Religion and Society, which the college named in his honor in 2013. He was the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion and chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Roanoke College for 18 years.

Before that he was a professor of church and society at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago for 17 years. A native of Nebraska and a graduate of Midland University, his graduate degrees are from the University of Chicago. He has lectured and written widely on the relation of Christianity and culture. A recent book was titled Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics. In 2017 Eerdmans will publish his account of Roanoke College’s relation to its Lutheran heritage in a book tentatively titled The Quest for Soul at Roanoke College — Learnings from its 175 Year Venture in Christian Higher Education.