What Were the First Baptist Church Victims Praying For?

I have little doubt that last week’s mass shooting in Sutherland Springs made even many religious people question their faith. How could such a thing happen in a church, to people who were worshipping? Where was God? One preacher, however, explained it in a way that even those of us who’ve pretty much heard it all might find surprising.

According to Hans Fiene, a Lutheran pastor from Illinois, “When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them.”

Yes: Fiene essentially argues that the victims were praying to be murdered — praying for God to deliver them “out of this evil world and into his heavenly glory.” And that the massacre is “proof that Christ has counted us worthy to suffer dishonor for his name.”

I heard a bishop criticizing this lunacy in one of the weekend television talk-shows. Good for him. But here’s the thing: from the point of view of Christianity, why are the pastor’s comments crazy? After all, there must be a reason God allowed the massacre. And people do pray “thy will be done.”

This is the price one pays for the comfort that religion provides. It means one must rationalize away even the greatest of evils as somehow justified.