This October the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Lebanon is launching a new module as part of its Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program, MENA Islam.
MENA Islam will be co-taught by internationally respected evangelical scholars Colin Chapman, Martin Accad and Fouad Masri. The MENA Islam module seeks to develop within students a coherent knowledge of the rise of Islam and its development up to the present time, the ability to read Islamic texts with greater sympathy and critical awareness, and an appreciation for the wide diversity among Muslims. This course also explores the diversity of responses by Christians to Muslims and Islam and the ways Christian thinkers have articulated their understanding of Christian witness, as well as conflict transformation strategies and frameworks for Christian-Muslim dialogue.
The MRel in MENA Studies program is organized into modules rather than courses, allowing for more effective multidisciplinary enquiry and learning. In addition to MENA Islam, modules in the program include MENA History, Politics and Economics, MENA Christianity and MENA Cultures. Each module focuses on providing a strong theoretical understanding of the region and the issues that it faces, combined with an emphasis on developing applied skills needed to work in the region and among MENA communities worldwide. It is based upon a strong theological and Biblical framework in that each module weaves scripture and theology into its theory and practice. No module is a prerequisite for another and students may enter the program at any time.
Students from as far away as North and South America, East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Australia study together via an online learning platform and travel to Lebanon each module for intensive two-week residencies. Chris, an MRel student from the U.S. working in the Middle East, says “The modules have really helped me improve the way I do ministry in every way. In the MENA History, Politics, and Economics module, Rupen Das taught us project management, project proposal writing, and fundraising. This has taken our ministry in Lebanon to a whole new level. My vision of my role in ministry has altered and the program helped me become more professional in the way I assist people. The latest module, MENA Christianity, has also changed my perspective on the Eastern Church and Eastern Christianity, encouraging me to network in my ministry with the existing churches.”
For those interested in learning more about IMES and the MRel in MENA Studies program, please visit: http://imeslebanon.wordpress.com/mrel/.