Middle East (MNN) — How should Christians react to problematic leadership? Is there a right way to protest? How does the Church witness in the Arab world?
In an effort to answer these and other questions, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) is assembling their annual Middle East Consultation. This year’s conference, titled “The Gospel in Public Life: Biblical Foundations for Engaging Politics and Society in the MENA Region and Beyond, will continue a trend of bringing together guests and speakers from the Middle East and all over the world to talk politics, theology, and Christlike living.
“Like every year, we want to invite people to learn more, reflect on Biblical passages, talk about current issues, and try to answer some questions that will help the church have a vibrant witness in society,” says Loulwa El Maalouf of ABTS. “So some of the questions that we are trying to answer this year will be, for example, how does a pursuit of the common good contribute to a theology of public life? What is the Biblical posture towards governance and how does faith direct our allegiances toward the authorities?”
The five-day consultation is a tradition that started in 2004. Every year, highly qualified speakers give lectures and lead conversation for around two hundred participants from the Middle East and other parts of the world. The conference, translated into both Arabic and English for maximum accessibility, gives participants a chance to engage with one another, with the Gospel, and with political complexities. Their goal? Equipping the Church to effectively share the Gospel in a tumultuous time.
“When we read the evaluations and what people, what participants share about what they learned, it’s always about a change of heart and the longing to learn more about the topic and try to be more effective in their ministry or in the true witness to others,” El Maalouf says.
For many believers, this is not hypothetical. In places like Lebanon, division has become so much a part of daily life that daily demonstrations regularly protest corruption. That means the local Church has to critically engage with their role in public policy, and they need to do it right now.
Whether you’re interested in the Church’s role in public life, economics, politics, or any other social issue, you can learn more about ABTS and the upcoming Middle East Consultation right here. In past years, consultations have sparked the writing of books based on their topics, so keep an eye out for informative literature.
And whatever else you decide to do, pray. Pray that speakers would have wisdom and guidance as they prepare and present their lectures. Pray for participants to come with open hearts and leave with enhanced minds. And pray for believers in the region searching for answers in challenging times.
NOTICE: The following message was released by ABTS in regards to COVID-19’s impact on the Middle East Consultation
Important Announcement Concerning Middle East Consultation 2020:
In response to the unprecedented situation brought on by the coronavirus crisis the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary has decided to enact major changes concerning plans for MEC. Like much of the world, Lebanon is taking swift and drastic action to mitigate deteriorating public health conditions brought on by the virus and it is no longer deemed viable to organize a global gathering at the seminary. We are aware of the gravity of the situation and committed to taking responsible measures to protect individuals and communities in Lebanon and around the world.
Work is currently underway to reconceptualize MEC 2020 in light of recent events. ABTS intends to facilitate an urgent discussion on The Gospel in Public Life and the team is investigating ways to craft MEC in a way that will allow for remote participation. Details of development will be communicated in the weeks ahead as modified plans come together.
Header photo courtesy of ABTS.