Syria and the Church

Today in my Sunday school class, we started off talking about the separation of church and state, and by the end we were talking about Syria. Syria also came up in the sermon, which was on Psalm 3, the first lament in the Psalter.

I found my thoughts turning to Syria in one of my classes at Butler University as well, as we discussed one of the readings for that day, which was Clifford’s classic essay “The Ethics of Belief.” Since most of those of us pondering and puzzling over what is going on in Syria, and what our nation might do in response, are not privy to things like the evidence for chemical weapons having been used, how do we make a judgment about what has transpired and what we should believe? Clifford’s challenge that we need to test claims for ourselves seems unhelpful in situations in which we have no way of testing them, and neither believing nor disbelieving the claims of others who say they know will be without consequences that lead to loss of life.

Christians in other countries ought to be aware of the situation of Christians in Syria. The Melkite Patriarch’s appeal provides a perspective that needs to be heard. And most will probably be aware that an ancient Christian town, which includes one if the rare groups that still speaks Aramaic, is under threat. But the stance of Christians in the United States and elsewhere should reflect a Christian commitment to peace, justice, and reconciliation, and not a tribal allegiance to Christianity.

What are some of the best sources of information you’ve found about what is going on in Syria? How do you assess conflicting claims? And what do you think should be done in this situation in which every course of action, including doing nothing, seems to have terrible consequences?


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  • Thanks James – I have added your link to a very short list of Biblical Studies bloggers that I compiled just a few minutes before you posted. We are in the same situation as prior to Iraq. But one difference – Obama is playing a role (at least I hope so) and through a clever maneuver has given ‘the world’ some time for reflection and has submitted his authority to congress. Now what creative approaches do we have open to us to act without attack – even if attack is justified?

    I searched – but the search is occluded by the number of lunatic prophecy blogs by people who have never read a historical or theological word in their lives.

  • I’ve written several posts on the Syrian War. I had been planning to write one long one (about 3000 words) since May or June 2013, but that didn’t happen. The longest post I’ve written so far (on the antiquities situation) is this one. My post on the strike rumors is here. My next long post will probably be on the causes of the Syrian uprising.

    Remember, I predicted that the U.S. won’t directly attack Syria on August 27.

  • Hello James.

    Assad is probably a Moral Monster, but if the West interverned so that he would be defeated, it is delusory to believe that the Country would become a peaceful Democracy.

    It seems much more probable that Islamists would take over the whole land so that the People would much more suffer than under their current president.

    So this war would be a mistake perhaps even greater than that in Irak.

    Do you agree or do you rather think that my fears and concerns are groundless?

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    • Probably not the “whole land”. If the rebels take Damascus, there will be Druze, Kurdish, and Alawite enclaves for quite some time.

  • To stay up to date with the Syrian war, look at this map every day:
    Follow this blog:
    and follow this Twitter account:
    The Syrian army has begun a successful offensive in the Idlib area in the past two weeks. I think this is a pretty smart move, clearly meant as a prelude to the capture of Maarat al-Numan.