The terrible tragedy of the recent fires (in Victoria, Australia) literally leaves one speechless. Given that a Royal Commission has been announced, any public comment must be made with care. It is with some sadness and despair that I note that not
all Christians are capable of this. It is true that the expression 'natural disaster' begs theological questions. However, announcements of judgment from God on relaxed abortion laws or any favourite target of some elements of the church does little but bring the gospel into disrepute.
An event like this is complex in its causes and its ramifications. Fire has been part of the Australian landscape for a long time, and we need to learn how to fit in with this (once more Germane Greer may have had a valid point but made it in a less than helpful manner). Sometimes the clash is tragic. Humanity is called to till and tend the Earth. In a drying and warming climate this is a big ask. Likewise, arson points to the evil ever present in the human heart. Likewise, the reactions do not necessarily point to all that is good in human nature. The accused in question is still a human being who deserves justice and not lynching, and there has been a great deal that has been said that has simply been irresponsible.
The role of the church in all of this is clear, to pray for the good of the whole of the society in which we live, to show love to all who have suffered, to work for the preservation and care of God's world, and to point forward to its setting free from the bondage of decay even as we look forward to our own (Romans 8)