Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind: A Lifelong Intellectual Project

Bob Benne

Robert Benne is the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus and a 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 was named in his honor in 2013. Prior to that, he was the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion and Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Roanoke College for 18 years, as well as Professor of Church and Society at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago for 17 years. He is a native of Nebraska, a graduate of Midland University and has graduate degrees from the University of Chicago. He has lectured and written widely on the relationship between Christianity and culture. Titles include Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics and Keeping the Soul in Christian Higher Education – A History of Roanoke College. He has been married to Joanna Carson Benne for 58 years and they have four children and eight grandchildren.

Loving God With Our Minds in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Perhaps there is no work of imaginative literature in all the Western canon more preeminently about loving God with our minds than John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This session will highlight three ways that Milton’s poem invites its reader to consider what it means to love God with our minds. Practically, the poem presents several vivid episodes which ask whether and when a mental act is a sin. Philosophically, the poem has a deeply Christian epistemology that challenges our enlightened liberal notions about intellectual freedom with the idea that our reasoning is limited by foundational assumptions we make about the world. In other words, “Believing is seeing.” Poetically, Paradise Lost invites us to identify with Satan to find his bitterness tragic and his unconquerable will heroic. This imaginatively leads us to the inevitable result of this rebellion — vileness must be embraced if we will continue in sin. That’s heady stuff, but students love it when presented in the right way. This session will focus on how to bring this famously difficult poem to life for our students so that it can become relevant to their spiritual and mental lives.

Jeremiah Forshey

Jeremiah Forshey has been with classical Christian schools since 2004, teaching literature, logic and rhetoric classes for Redeemer Classical School in Harrisonburg, Virginia, The Geneva School in Winter Park, Florida, and now at New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, Virginia. He currently teaches American literature, British literature and senior thesis, and serves as lead teacher in the School of Rhetoric. He holds a master’s degree in English literature and languages from James Madison University. Jeremiah lives with his wife, Elisa, and their three children in the “Seven Hills” of Lynchburg, Virginia, which can be found in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. They live in a house that was finished the same year as The Great Gatsby.