When I told my fourth and second grade children this morning that American troops had finally caught Osama bin Laden, I discovered that they had no idea who he was. That’s either a testament to my parenting skills, the quality of public school education, or the sheltered, peaceful lives that Americans enjoy. We must have it pretty good when our children don’t know the name of our country’s #1 enemy.
If bin Laden is our generation’s version of Hitler, then his death may provide a provocative conversation starter about the topic of hell. As I explain in Christ Alone, the question of hell must be determined by Scripture rather than by emotional arguments. However, the death of bin Laden may cause some supporters to reconsider the message of Love Wins.
As I see it, here are the different views of where bin Laden is right now:
a) American cultural view: he is certainly (and happily for us) in hell because of his evil acts. This is the dominant view in America—I would be surprised if any American leader suggests that bin Laden is anywhere else but hell.
b) Evangelical view: he is probably (and tragically) in hell because—as far as we know—he never repented of his sins and received new life by trusting in Jesus.
c) Love Wins: he may already be in heaven. Bin Laden has always been a son of God, and when given the stark choice between going to hell or rejoicing at his Father’s party, he may have already chosen the latter. If not today, then maybe tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then whenever he finally wants it. God tends to get what he wants, and so bin Laden will probably give in eventually and go to heaven.
Obviously, merely stating these options doesn’t prove anything. We must rely on what Scripture tells us about such things—but framing the question like this may motivate some people to take a harder look at the message of Love Wins and to take all of Scripture into account—including what it tells us about both the justice and love of God—as we think about “heaven, hell, and the fate of everyone who has ever lived.”