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Robert Benne to Lead 2012 CMU Lecture Series

February 29, 2012 – CMU Welcomes Professor and Author Robert Benne as guest lecturer in Proclaiming the Unique Claims of Christ Lecture Series.  

What are the extraordinary claims of Jesus Christ that resonate with us today? What do these claims mean for Christian practice and involvement in the world? Such questions are the focus of Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) Proclaiming the Unique Claims of Christ Lecture Series, led in 2012 by Dr. Robert Benne, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus and Director of the Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia. The lectures will be held at CMU on March 12 to 13, 2012.

Dr. Benne is one of America’s foremost experts on church-state relations,” says Dr. Pierre Gilbert, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at CMU and organizer of the lecture series. “These lectures offer a wonderful opportunity to hear Benne speak about the nature of the Gospel, how followers of Jesus Christ can make a real difference in the world, and how Christians can and should position themselves in relation to the political sphere.

The Proclaiming the Unique Claims of Christ series began in March 2007.  Guest lecturers are invited to address various dimensions of Christian apologetics, such as theory, evangelism, Gospel and society, and the singularity of Christ in a multi-cultural context. 

A native of Nebraska, Benne received his BA from Midland Lutheran College and his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago. He has been a Fulbright Scholar to Germany (Erlangen, 1959-60) and has done post-doctoral research at Hamburg University in Germany (1971-72) and at Cambridge University in England (1978-79, 1985-85, 1992-93). Benne is the author of 11 books, his latest being Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics (2010).

Each of Benne’s lectures will be presented in the CMU Chapel. The first, titled “The Unique Gift of Christ,” takes place on Monday, March 12, from 11:30 am-12:10 pm. In this opening lecture, Benne addresses God’s gift of Christ as our saviour, matters of grace and law, and how we are called by the Spirit to turn from ourselves and amend our lives by serving others.

His second lecture, also on March 12, 7:00-8:30 pm, is titled “The Unique Claim of Christ – Living as Christ’s Ordinary Saints in the World.”  Benne speaks about the “Christian difference,” encouraging Christians to live out their obedience in ordinary places of life, demonstrating their faith, love, and hope in practical ways. 

The final lecture, “The Unique Claim of Christ – Living as Christ’s Ordinary Saints in Political Life,” will be held on Tuesday, March 13, from 11:30 am-12:10 pm.  In this lecture, Benne presents different ways to think about religion and politics, and he reflects on practical ways that organized religion can engage the political world.

“This event is ‘a must’ for any Christians, young or old, who want to think more deeply about how  they can make the best contribution they can to this world as partners with and representatives of Jesus Christ,” says Gilbert.

The Proclaiming the Unique Claims of Christ lecture series is sponsored by Canadian Mennonite University, the Institute for Theology and the Church, and the Winnipeg Centre for Ministry Studies, an inter-Mennonite partnership facilitating the offering of graduate and professional theological studies in Manitoba.