TLCI-Beirut Meeting 2017

Beirut Meeting April 3-6, 2017

The Core Question

What must be done to prepare the church intellectually for its ministry among Muslims and in Muslim-Majority settings in the Majority World?

The four Project Objectives

  1. Ascertain the current state of Islamic studies and contextualization of theological studies, for the church in the Majority World, based on the experience of 8-10 leading scholars.
  2. Identify key issues facing the church in each context and provide a sense for church priorities among them. Consider the extent to which the church and its theological leaders are prepared to address these priorities. Identify primary gaps in preparation.
  3. Identify key areas to explore, including curriculum and faculty development for contexts substantially influenced by Islam, collaboration among schools of theology, and ecumenical cooperation. 
  4. Recommend a strategy to prepare the church intellectually to address the highest priority issues. Initiate exploratory discussions in the most promising areas.

Sunday, April 2

arrivals Transportation provided from Beirut International to ABTS
6:00 Informal dinner available at ABTS

Monday, April 3

7:30-9:00 Breakfast available: choose your times and partners

9:00 Welcome & prayer

10:00 Comments on the Cairo meeting (ref. ‘2017.01.13 TLCI report & next steps’).New participant introductions: a) personal: life & background; b) current reading & research; c) current projects; d) hopes for this project.New participant reflections on the situation in the church and theological education in their context (please prepare an outline to circulate at the meeting): a) How would you describe Islam as a movement in your context? Does Islam constructively challenge the church? Does it threaten or constrain the church? And if so, how?
b) How have church leaders responded to challenges, threats and constraints?
c) With this in mind, what priorities exist for the church in relation to Islam? What preparation is needed for Christian leaders who intend to address these priorities? Are resources available to prepare Christian leaders?
d) What is the single most important missing element?

1:00-2:00 Lunch: choose your partners.

2:00-6:00 Discussion regarding theological education in each context:
a) What is the state of local theology faculty? What are their qualifications in the area of Islam? Have they completed advanced education in the field?
b) What is the state of curriculum related to Islam in Christian schools?
c) Is there evident cooperation between evangelical scholars and schools? Ecumenical cooperation?
d) Do you have observations or questions regarding shared syllabi?

7:00 Dinner at ABTS

Tuesday, April 4

7:30-8:30 Breakfast available: choose your times and partners

8:30 Depart ABTS

10:00 Sheikh Muhammad, Sidon

12:00 Lunch in Tyre, then visit site of the Byzantine Hippodrome afternoon return to ABTS

7:00 Dinner at ABTS with MEATE executive committee, including Elie Haddad (ABTS) Beshara Awad (BBC), Atef Gendi (ETSC), Camille Melki (Beirut) and others.

Wednesday, April 5

7:30-9:00 Breakfast available: choose your times and partners

9:00 Chapel with ABTS community (Magsood Kamil will share a reflection)

9:45 Theological Initiatives – updates and discussion:

a) emphasis on reconciliation, justice and forgiveness: adequate emphasis within theological education, in context? in the programs you lead? what does Islam uniquely bring? (ref. texts from Sheikh Abu Zeid, Lamin Sanneh)

b) prophetic voice re. justice, versus the “meek and mild” form of Christianity?

c) equal treatment of religious minorities? natural law? cooperation with Muslims in Hindu-India? testing the current law? Are there sympathetic scholarly Muslim voices in your context? In what ways might Christians and Muslims make common cause against injustice?

d) expose and critique Wahabbism? What would be exposed? Is Wahhabism a factor in your context? Are there Muslim scholars interested in this topic? Would an emphasis on this topic be dangerous?

e) integrate textual-theological approaches with anthropological insights (Caleb) What are the two or three most important specific questions to explore?

f) orient churches to ministry realities?

f) other?

12:30 Priorities among theological initiatives.

1:00-2:00 Lunch: choose your partners.

2:00 Continue morning discussion.

3:00-5:30 Ecumenical engagement, to include reflection on the Lausanne Statement, perhaps also Haddad’s NEST lecture on the impact of Protestant Missions in the Middle East on Islam. Participants: Fr. Boulos Wehbeh (3:00-5:00), Fr. Fadi Daou (4:00-6:00), and Dr. George Sabra, President of NEST

6:00 Tour of downtown Beirut.

7:00 Dinner with Martin & family at Accad home

Thursday, April 6:

7:30-9:00 Breakfast available: choose your times and partners

9:00 Infrastructure Initiatives, continued from Cairo – updates & discussion.

  1. a)  consultation and periodical or website, centered in the Majority World, where Christian scholars of Islam can gather, share insights, engage each other and Muslim leaders on topics of shared interest – and continue to reflect on church strategy and equipping theological leaders. Some questions: What forums for consultation and publication exist today in your specific context? Are concerns and topics in your context adequately served by available local or Western forums? Are existing forums ecumenical? If not, what is missing? What would be ideal, in your judgment?
  2. b)  coalition to provide advanced education in Islam for Christian leaders – differentiated from programs worldwide by the depth of its faculty and by their Majority World experience, and by centering the program in the Majority World. Some questions: What would be the advantage of advanced in-context education in Islam for Christian leaders? What about disadvantages? Which Majority World institutions have adequate library holdings? What alternatives exist for granting degrees and accreditation?
  3. c)  an Algerian program in support of emerging national theological leaders to develop their system for theological education and reflection, for the unique context of Algeria, perhaps also for Morocco and Tunisia. (Farida & Paul)Some questions: Is there a core and committed group of leaders with a plan for development?
  4. d)  a West African center for Christian Islamics. (John)
  5. e)  other, esp. for the church in Asia? (Gordon, Magsood, Farhana)

12:30 Priorities among infrastructure initiatives

1:00-2:00 Lunch: choose your partners.


a)  follow-up from earlier sessions.

b)  Is TLCI, an ongoing group? If so, who should be added from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical communions?

c)  What can we learn from the different formational procedures among Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals?

d)  What values unite us? (Martin circulated a list of eight themes, related to his ‘Kerygmatic Approach’, including: Christ-centered, prophetic & scientifically honest, passionate about God’s mission in the world, intentional about witness for the Gospel, always ready to share the hope, respectful of Muslims (acknowledging diversity), loving of all, friendly to different people.)

e)  Raising funds: For those who are part of institutions, please discuss this topic with your advancement associates and gain their counsel. John S. and Paul, can we have a discussion about ways in which this very particular opportunity might be funded? (This is not a request for TBF funding, although that will be welcome, but for counsel regarding funding constituencies and their specific interests.)

7:00 Dinner at ABTS

Friday, April 7

varied Departures

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