Symposium on Religious and Political Disagreement: Robert Benne
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Friday, April 21, 2017
at 4:30 PM
Tomson Hall, 280
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Edmund Santurri


The St. Olaf College Institute for Freedom and Community will host a Symposium on Religious and Political Disagreement April 20 and 21 featuring a panel of experts.

To conclude the symposium, Robert Benne will deliver a lecture on April 21 titled Trying to Live as a Christian in a Polarized Society: Friendship, Church, and Political Life.

On the religious side of the topic, 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.

Benne is the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus and Research Associate at Roanoke College.

The Institute for Freedom and Community encourages free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. By exploring diverse ideas about politics, markets, and society, the Institute aims to challenge presuppositions, question easy answers, and foster constructive dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view.

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