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March 26, 2015

Identity, Reconciliation, Persecution and the Challenges of Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa


The Institute of Middle East Studies in Beirut, Lebanon was featured this week in the latest issue (31:4) of the respected International Journal of Frontier Missiology (IJFM).

1) “The Challenges of Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa”

First, IJFM published a report by IMES on last year’s Middle East Consultation 2014 – Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa, which includes an outline for the upcoming Consultation in June 2015. The following is an excerpt from that report:

The Challenges of Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa: The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lebanon, has been a hub for the formation of leaders for church and society in the Middle East and North Africa region since 1960. Throughout those years, it has been cognizant of the tremendous challenges that constantly face the church in the region in the area of discipleship. ABTS’ Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) hosts the annual Middle East Consultation (MEC) to provide a context whereby people from around the world can explore issues of critical importance to the Middle East and beyond, in ways that seek the transformation of individuals and communities in line with the prophetic message of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this document is to highlight a variety of the day-to-day challenges facing disciples of Jesus in the MENA region today, as transpired from the 2014 Consultation. It also provides a foundation from which the Institute of Middle East Studies will seek to further develop the conversations first begun during MEC 2014. It is anticipated that some of the recommendations deriving from this document will inform our ongoing discussions on the theme of discipleship over the next two or more years. Early on, we will also attempt a definition of what we mean by the term discipleship.

Read more about identity, reconciliation, persecution, and the challenges of following Jesus today in the Middle East and North Africa here:…/31_4_PDFs/IJFM_31_4-MEC2014Report.pdf (PDF; 103Kb).

2) “Towards a Theology of Islam: A Response to Harley Talman’s “Is Muhammad Also Among the Prophets?”

In addition, IJFM featured IMES Director Martin Accad’s response to Harley Talman’s provocatively titled piece, “Is Muhammad Also Among the Prophets?” wherein Dr. Accad writes:

Towards a Theology of Islam: In this article, Harley Talman is dealing with what I believe to be one of the most important topics of Christian-Muslim relations today. It should therefore not be viewed as some exercise in intellectual gymnastics. Evangelicals have been divided over three major issues during the last decade: (1) the legitimacy for Muslims who become followers of Jesus to remain largely within their community (the so-called “Insider Movement(s),” often domesticized as “IM”); (2) the legitimacy of highly-contextualized, reader-driven Bible translations for a Muslim audience; and (3) the legitimacy of dialogue as a complementary approach to Christian mission to Muslims.

Generally, I have observed that evangelicals are quite consistent in being either supportive of all three issues, or systematically against them. What is striking is that despite the amount of ink already spilled on these questions, proponents on both sides seem to have a very hard time defining the terms of the conversation. I have arrived at the conviction that the essence of this disagreement is completely unrelated to the extent of one’s motivation for God’s mission, or the amount of one’s experience in ministry, or the technical aptitude and effectiveness of one’s missional methodology. Indeed, most people on either side of the spectrum have unquestionable pedigrees as missionaries, and most have a passion for mission that is next to blameless. That is what makes these disagreements and splits even sadder. Instead, I believe that at the heart of this unfortunate divide is one’s “theology of Islam.”

You can read more about Dr. Accad’s call for evangelicals to develop an adequate theology of Islam here: (PDF; 197Kb).

3) Middle East Consultation 2015 – Identity and Belonging in the Middle East and North Africa and The Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies

Finally, IJFM offered to highlight IMES’ Middle East Consultation 2015 Discipleship Today: Identity and Belonging in the Middle East and North Africa and our innovative Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies program. You can see our full page advert below:


(Hi-Definition: BW IFJM adv)

The MENA History, Politics and Economics module for the MRel in MENA Studies program begins April 2015. For more information about IMES programs, please contact:

Click here to register for MEC 2015.


  1. profjmrood says:

    Dear Martin,

    Thanks for sharing these articles with us, they are very helpful.

    In response to your article, I want to mention the huge impact of Marshall G.S. Hodgson, author of the three volume set “Venture of Islam” which shaped the University of Chicago’s Islamic Civilizatons Courses and the education of scores of scholars. His was a secularized Christian perspective, framed along the lines of Jasper’s Axial Age and utilizing the idea of oikonomea (household/dispensation). He framed Islam within the religious and intellectual context of its origins and saw it as an expression of monotheism that emerged out of the late Classical Period. Perhaps one day I can give a lecture on his contribution at your institute. Keep up the good work, my prayers are with you. The essays you publish help me in my engagement with Messianic Jews and Palestinian evangelicals as they meet together to learn about one another and advance the cause of reconciliation in the shadow of the Cross.

    With all my best wishes, Judith

    Judith Mendelsohn Rood, PhD Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies Department of History 13800 Biola Avenue La Mirada, CA 90639 562-944-0351 x5587

    To make an appointment on campus: Appointments link

  2. Martin Accad says:

    Thank you Judith. The work of Hodgson seems interesting. I will look for it. Hope we can meet some day.

  3. […] The International Journal of Frontier Missiology (IJFM) published a report by IMES on last year’s Middle East Consultation 2014 – Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa, including an outline of MEC 2015. Check it out here. […]

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