Born in the United Kingdom, Dr Bennett was raised in Australia where he also worked as a civil servant in Sydney, New South Wales. Dr Bennett took his BA in Theology at Manchester University (1978) and trained for ministry at the Northern Baptist College, Manchester (1974-1978). He was ordained as a Baptist minister in July 1978. 1979-81 he was a missionary in Bangladesh. After working as a community organizer for a Birmingham charity in predominantly Bangladeshi neighborhoods and for a year as Free Church Chaplain at Aston University, he became executive secretary for inter-faith relations at the British Council of Churches (86-92). During this period, when he was also associate pastor of a multiracial congregation in Birmingham (85-92), he was a member of the the Birmingham Baptist District executive committee, of the General Committee of the regional Baptist Association, of several ecumenical and interfaith bodies and of various not-for-profit management committees. He completed his MA in 1985 and his PhD in 1990 (both from Birmingham University). His MA and PhD research analyzed Western approaches to Islam against the background of colonialism and Christian mission, especially in India. His special interest focused on how ideological presuppositions influenced scholars’ assessments of Islam. In 1992, he started teaching at Westminster College, Oxford becoming a Senior Lecturer. He was also a Resident Tutor and Assistant Chaplain. From 1998 to 2001 he was an associate professor of religion at Baylor University, Texas. There, he was cross-listed as a member of Asian Studies faculty. Dr. Bennett has taught courses on Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Methodology (in Religious Studies), Ethics, World Religions, Area Studies (Asia and the Americas), World Cultures and on aspects of theology and Christian ministry during his career. For several years, he taught on-line for the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge, was an honorary Visiting Research Fellow at Birmingham University and worked as a principal officer (local government rank) and clerk to governors at a community school. He has taught as a member of interdisciplinary teams. He has supervised Masters dissertations on a wide range of topics. While at Westminster, he gained the Certificate of Professional Studies in Education from the Oxford University Delegacy of Local Examinations and an M.Ed from the University of Oxford in Adult and Distance Teaching and Learning. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and a Member of the American Academy of Religion. He has served on consultations and working parties of the World Council of Churches, helping to draft Issues in Christian-Muslim Relations: Ecumenical Considerations (1992). Combining academic work with practical engagement in bridge-building between communities, he has chaired a school governing body and advised local and national government on religious education and race relations. He has assisted several mosques with funding, charitable status and planning applications. He has traveled and researched widely within the Muslim world. He has taught at various centers in India during extended study visits. Dr Bennett has represented an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) at the United Nations.
Dr Bennett has authored ten books, co-written one and has edited and guest edited journals. He has advised Oxford University Press, Routledge International, Ashgate Press and Continuum International. He currently teaches Religious Studies part-time at the State University of New York at New Paltz and and writes for various publications. He also teaches, sometimes on-line and sometimes in residence, for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, based at Madingley Hall. Between 1979 and 2011 he was an accredited minister of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. In 2012, he became a recognized clergyperson of the Alliance of Baptists and a naturalized United States citizen. In 2014, he was named by the Alliance to serve on the National Council of Churches Interreligious Relations and Collaboration on Topics of Mutual Concern Convening Table. He also participates in the National Muslim-Christian and Jewish-Christian dialogues.