God and the Brazilian Nightclub Fire Tragedy

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At least 232 people were killed yesterday by a nightclub fire in Brazil. A band's pyrotechnic spectacle started the blaze, which spread to the ceiling and across the club "in seconds," according to police. Security guards had locked exits, intensifying the panic as people stampeded to the doors. Most were university students; the vast majority of the victims died of smoke inhalation. Others were crushed in the stampede. "It is a scene of horror," one police investigator said. One firefighter told BBC News he had never seen such a tragedy in his life, with the victims "so young."

If you lost someone you love in the fire, wouldn't you be asking how an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God could allow such a tragedy? I would. I would wager that innocent suffering has caused more atheism than any other issue. For instance, atheist Sam Harris states that the suffering of a single child anywhere in the universe calls into question the existence of God.

How are Christians to respond? One approach: When we misuse our God-given freedom, the consequences are not his fault but ours. The nightclub owners apparently allowed far more patrons than building codes permitted; fire extinguishing systems were inadequate; guards initially prevented people from escaping. "Bureaucracy and corruption also cause tragedies," said Andre Barcinski, a columnist for one of Brazil's largest newspapers. God could prevent the consequences of misused freedom, but then we wouldn't be free.

While the free-will approach obviously has merit, doesn't it feel inadequate this morning? If one of our sons had died in the blaze, I wouldn't derive much comfort from a theology that claims God couldn't do anything to prevent the tragedy. King Darius misused his freedom by sending Daniel to the lions' den, but God intervened miraculously by protecting the prophet (Daniel 6). Herod misused his freedom in imprisoning Peter, but God intervened miraculously by sending his angel to free the apostle (Acts 12:1-10). If them, why not the students in Brazil?

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SOURCE: Christian Post
Jim Denison
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