On Sunday night I waited anxiously for the President's unprecedented late-night speech. Clearly something unusual had occurred. Newscasters speculated. Finally, the President spoke and announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a group of elite special ops soldiers.
The reaction to Osama's death has caused a theological debate in the minds of many. If Osama Bin Laden is in hell, should we rejoice? How can we say that he is in hell? How does God feel about Osama's death? Is it wrong for a Christian to be glad Osama Bin Laden has been killed? Let me tackle these questions in hopes of shedding some light on the subject.
In answering these questions, we need to understand the ground rules. The Bible makes it clear that ALL people are deserving of death and hell. Romans 6:23 states that the payment for our sin is death. Death is separation. Physical death is separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is separation of the soul from the love of God. Such separation occurs when a soul enters eternity without Christ.
It is debates like the one over Osama Bin Laden that reminds me that many people do not believe this truth: ALL people deserve death and hell due to their sin. Many still think Mother Teresa should go to heaven because of her good works and Osama Bin Laden sent to hell because of his heinous terrorism. However, such thinking is not Scriptural. If Mother Teresa never placed her faith and trust in Jesus Christ as her Savior, she deserves hell just as much as Osama Bin Laden. The converse is true. If, Osama Bin Laden repented of his sins, called upon Christ to save his soul, he will be welcomed in heaven.
Our sense of justice does not like such scenarios because we want to believe that "good" people (as we define it) go to heaven and "bad" people go to hell. Yet, the Bible teaches that there is not one good person deserving of heaven. ALL who are in heaven are there because they have repented of sin and called upon God's Son to save them. NO ONE is in heaven because he/she was a good person or did good works.
With this foundation in place, let me answer some of the questions. First, if Osama Bin Laden is in hell, should we rejoice? Some may not like how I framed the question, but it is legitimate. Only God ultimately knows a person's heart. Was there any fruit to suggest Osama Bin Laden was a Christ-follower? No. Do I believe he was a follower of Christ? No. Osama Bin Laden did not produce any fruit in keeping with repentance. Given his Islamic belief and actions, I have every reason to believe he is in hell. However, I do not have complete knowledge so I must at least allow for the possibility that he repented and changed (although I am very, very doubtful he did as there was no evidence of it whatsoever).
Assuming Osama is in hell, should we rejoice? No. For all his evil-and he was evil-he is still a soul; an eternal soul. He will spend eternity in hell separated from God's love. However, we must remember that God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). It grieves the Lord that people reject His salvation.
All this leads us to our last question: Is it wrong for a Christian to be glad that Osama Bin Laden has been killed? To answer this question let me review. Based on his actions and belief, we assume he is in hell. Thus, we should NOT "rejoice" that he failed to repent and respond to God's love because God does not rejoice when any person fails to repent and respond to His love.
However, we can be glad that justice has been served. The Bible repeatedly calls for justice to be carried out against the wicked (The Psalms is a good place to start). The Bible makes it clear that God has ordained government for the express purpose of carrying out justice (Romans 13:1-7). Our government carried out justice by killing a man who had been responsible for the death of many around the world.
Christians can and should be glad justice was served and Osama Bin Laden was killed; however, we should not rejoice that another soul went out into a Christless eternity in hell.