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Benson, called ‘model scholar & gentleman,’ dead after stroke

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor known for his scholarly example and graceful demeanor has died.

Warren Benson, 72, died Feb. 15 in Chicago, due to complications from a stroke suffered eight days earlier. Benson, senior professor of Christian education and leadership, had served at Southern Seminary since 1998. He is survived by his wife, Lenore, and two sons, Scott and Bruce.

The funeral will be held Thursday, Feb. 21, at Libertyville Free Church in Libertyville, Ill. Burnett-Dane Funeral Home in Libertyville is handling the arrangement.

“Warren Benson was a model Christian scholar and a wonderful Christian gentleman,” Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said. “He brought a great heart and unquestioned expertise to every class and task. His impact on Christian education was huge and is best seen in thousands of faithful ministers who bear his influence as a teacher.”

Benson began teaching in 1970. In 1995, while serving at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., he was awarded the Distinguished Educator Award in Christian Education by the North American Professors of Christian Education. He also served churches in California, Minnesota and Illinois.

Benson lived in Chicago but flew to Louisville once a week to teach.

“Our hearts are greatly saddened by this great loss to our faculty,” Mohler said. “We are praying for Lenore and for the Benson family in their grief. A great man has left a great legacy.”

One of Benson’s closest friends at Southern was Dennis Williams, who was dean of the School of Christian Education and Leadership — now known as the School of Leadership and Church Ministry — when Benson joined Southern’s faculty.

“Dr. Benson was one of the most respected Christian educators in the United States,” said Williams, who now serves as dean of institutional assessment. “His contributions, both as a practitioner and scholar, were indeed significant. This came through his ministry in churches, in conferences, in professional organizations, in teaching, in administration and in his writing. We were privileged to have him on our faculty. He was a blessing to our students.”

Williams said Benson enjoyed teaching at Southern.

“He loved Southern, and some time ago he told me that he wished that he were 10 years younger so that he could have taught here longer,” Williams said. “We rejoice in the remembrance of our dear friend and colleague.”

Benson earned his Ph.D. at Loyola University in Chicago, graduating in 1975. He had master’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and Dallas Theological Seminary. He also did graduate studies at Pasadena College in California. Benson graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern College in Roseville, Minn., in 1952.

For most of his teaching ministry, Benson served at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He began teaching there in 1970 before serving as an associate professor at Dallas Theological Seminary from 1974-78. He went back to Trinity in 1978, staying there until coming to Southern. When he left Trinity four years ago he had three titles: vice president of professional doctoral programs, director of the doctor of ministry program and professor of Christian education.

Benson coauthored “Christian Education: Its History and Philosophy” and co-edited “The Complete Book of Youth Ministry.” Both were published by Moody Press. He was book review editor for the Christian Education Journal.

He also served as president of the National Association of Directors of Christian Education and the North American Professors of Christian Education.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WARREN BENSON.

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  • Michael Foust