Today it was hard not to hear, see or read more about the death of bin Laden since Sunday’s breaking news that he is dead. Killed to be precise. That piece of news has eclipsed many other things worthy of better contemplation (Beatification of John Paul II, anyone? How ’bout the ongoing situation in Japan, which is reduced to listings on newspaper stock pages about how its slow recovery is impacting the market).
Rather, there seems to be a global obsession with OBL and his demise, people dancing in the streets and gathering flash mobs at Ground Zero—and there’s a lot of blogging being done. I’m most interested in those blogs posing questions about what this type of reaction says about us, not just as Americans but as Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I believe this man was pure evil. I also believe that it was right to pursue him and, ultimately, end his reign of terror. If you want to read more about my conviction, I’ll point you toward the Just War Theory of the Catholic Church. In studying that document, I’m okay with this historical and fundamental principles that helped our military and government to make the decisions that led to bin Laden’s demise. It needed to be done.
But I am concerned about the atmosphere of “celebration” that’s being portrayed in this country in response to this news. I know my comments here may strike a certain nerve with some, whether those who lost loved ones in the 9-11 attacks on our soil, or patriots who have protected this country—that’s not my intent. My concern lies in something that I’ll bet many Christians share but may not voice, and that is the realization that it’s not without difficulty that I try to find a level of understanding for how this piece of history is best interpreted within the scope of faith.
There’s a lot of discussion across chat rooms and blog pages about God invoking His justice in response to terrorism. Are we as Christians to believe that terrorism, tragedy and trauma are God’s direct response to our fallen world? Is God benevolent and vengeful? We read of both in the Bible.
After reading through a myriad of posts today, it’s clear that there likely will be no consensus on that question among those of us reading and posting, nor will there be within the global discussion. Whether God plays any part in seeking His justice now, or whether justice was given over long ago in a garden, not to be seen till the End Times, we can’t know. And I don’t think that’s the point of our earthly woes.
RBC’s Mart De Haan wrote about this today on his blog. He included a very telling statement about the claim of victory in bin Laden’s death as “a sobering moment for followers of Christ.” His statement is more to the point of what the aftermath of discussion should be; it holds each of us accountable to what we should be paying attention to. Are we using moments such as this in preparation for what God revealed we should ready ourselves for?
When Judgement comes, I don’t think it will be a matter of His justice as much as it will be the question of were the things we carried out here on earth done for His Glory. Large or small. Good or bad. Celebratory or contemplative. This current sobering moment is also a teachable one for all believers. Thanks, Mart, for bringing that to the forefront of the current news cycle.