The ABTS Blog: A New Brand for a Long-Established Platform

Summer Repost- Standing on the Edge of a River: Palestine, Israel, and Identity
August 12, 2021
Are We There Yet?: Thinking Through Perplexities of Lebanon
August 26, 2021

By Elie Haddad

The stated purpose of our blog is to “provide theological reflections by ABTS voices about pressing matters of faith and witness in the Middle East and beyond.” There is no shortage of high-quality theological reflections on pressing matters of faith and witness around the globe. We read a lot, and we learn a lot. We are grateful for the many voices that help us think biblically and theologically about what is taking place in our world, especially those voices that come from a context different from ours. They help us appreciate how other faithful followers of Christ, far and near, understand, experience, and live out their faith in a changing world.

Our blog, conversely, is our opportunity to present to the global Church commentary on issues of our region (recent examples: local reflections on faith in politics and nationalism, and a regional reflection on the Nile dispute). It is our opportunity to provide a Middle Eastern perspective on many contemporary issues of the world (recent examples: commenting on the COVID-19 vaccine and speaking truth to power). It is a platform for us to express our emotions, to articulate our prayers and praises, and to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness (recent examples: a reflection on the first anniversary of the Beirut blast, a prayer, and battling to find joy in Lebanon today). It is also a platform to explore theological issues and their practical implications (recent examples: thoughts on movemental ecclesiology and mission in the Muslim world), including bold arguments that provoke thinking (a recent example on using ‘Isa in Bible translations and our two highest read posts of all time on wishing Muslims a blessed Ramadan and whether Allah is God).

The Arab Church continues to face hardships as our region goes through perplexing times. Especially in Lebanon these days. As I write this article, we are experiencing an unsurpassed low. We are facing conditions that are incomprehensible and intolerable. How do we cope with such conditions? How should the Church respond? These conditions make our blogging even more urgent and potent. We need to reflect, to explore, and to urge the Church to persevere while growing its impact.

Every blogging platform has specific objectives and purposes. Our blog posts are not intended to be Bible studies or theological treatises, even though they are frequently filled with theological arguments and quotes from Scripture. They are not position or doctrinal statements either, and they are not written to be conclusive or indisputable. They are opinion pieces that humbly provide commentaries based on a biblical worldview and explore ways to walk biblically in a world adrift, all the while inviting others into a conversation. Our target is to raise the right questions, and together with the global body of Christ, explore approaches that can shape our responses.

Our blog posts are intended to be:

  • Prophetic: They are designed to provoke our thinking, to challenge our conventions, and to call out our deficiencies and shortcomings. They are written to call us back to God and to the ways of God.
  • Apostolic: They are intended to confront our indifference and to call out our passivity and inaction. Our blog posts frequently contain a call to action, seeking creative and innovative ways to think and act biblically.
  • Respectful: They may be provocative, but they are never meant to be offensive. They are designed to avoid partisan politics or fanning the flames of ideological fires. We respect those with theological differences. We want to listen to them well, affirm what we believe can be affirmed, and humbly raise concerns when we believe that they are warranted. We have strong opinions on many matters, and we realize that others do, too. We want to argue our opinions with love and respect, not with cynical or disparaging words.
  • Truthful: They meet academic expectations although they are not scholarly articles. They are designed to provide valid information and sound reasoning with an effective presentation of ideas. In this internet age, there is no shortage of conflicting information on any topic. Our blogs are meant to assess and validate information that can be used to inform the way we tackle issues.

These are very high standards and criteria for any blog. It can be difficult to commit to them given the passionate nature of blogging and the diversity of voices included. Therefore, we have a rigorous peer review process by our faculty to proofread each draft, test for its readability and understandability, engage its arguments and scrutinize its rhetoric critically, identify its strengths, and offer additional insight. The review process ensures that each article retains a personalized voice while maintaining ABTS values.

Our blogging platform started almost ten years ago as the IMES Blog. Our Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) team started it as a space for team members and guests to write on topics that serve the mandate of IMES. The team has written hundreds of posts on topics relevant to the Middle East and beyond. They were sometimes controversial and challenging, but always educational, respectful, and conforming to the values of the Kingdom and the teachings of Jesus. The IMES blog has changed me personally. It has challenged many of my assumptions and attitudes, and it has helped shape the ethos, approaches, and curricula of ABTS.

With the recent changes at ABTS, and with the merging of IMES initiatives and programs with the theology department, the blog now presents the voice of ABTS faculty. With the authors being more diversified and divergent, the writing now covers a wider range of topics while striving to maintain the same high-quality content that our readers have become accustomed to.

The change started taking shape at the beginning of 2021. Now we are formally rebranding the blog to become the ABTS Blog. It can still be reached through our website or directly at abts.blog. New blog posts are still published weekly every Thursday in English and Arabic. We invite you to continue following our blog and engaging with our material. We love having invigorating conversations on things that matter.

Elie is President of ABTS and an aspiring blogger.

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