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Religion Killed Osama Bin Laden

May 4, 2011

Usually, it is difficult to be happy about someone’s death.  In the case of Osama Bin Laden, it is difficult to be sad.  The impulse within us all to feel safer and to gain closure from the devastation this man and his cohorts created is so very strong.

As I reflect on his death, what still amazes me, more than anything else, is that Bin Laden was a deeply religious man.  In fact, he believed himself to be a deeply moral man.  His attack on the West was justified in his circle not only by Allah’s mission in the world, but by the wickedness of America and other westernized countries.  He and others like him associate Christianity with all of American culture, including pornography, materialism, and substance abuse.  

Religion killed Osama Bin Laden way before any Navy Seal had a crack at him.  It also killed thousands of people through acts of terror.  Morality blinded Bin Laden and deluded him into immorality and injustice.  These words are haunting since, generally, we seem to think of morality and religion as good things.  Apart from Christ, they are an offense to God. 

Religion and morality without Christ is the highest form of human pride.  They are essentially the bringing of our trophies and waving them before the face of God.  They are human being’s greatest attempt at righteousness and gaining acceptance by God.  Our righteousness is like “filthy rags” compared to the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.  Christ is not religion or morality.  Christ is gospel.  Instead of morality, He “knew no sin but became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God.”  Religion and morality apart of Christ push us further from God.  They give us the false sense that somehow we are good before God.  They blind us by building pride in our view of ourselves and hate for the supposed sins of others.  That’s why the poor in spirit are blessed – they have given up on the hope that they can do good or be good and are desperate for the One who truly is good and can make us good.

So much of the argument of atheism is based upon the evil that religion has caused; Christopher Hitchens makes this sort of argument.  It is a logic that centers around judging an object by its outcome.  If, for instance, Christianity has produced wars, prejudice, and injustice, then it must be bad.  The problem with this is that Hitchens and others are not really judging Christ, they are judging religion without Christ.  Christians would be wise to admit that Christianity without Christ is simply dead religion that will cause more evil in the world. 

The gospel of Christ is not morality or religion.  It is salvation.  It is being made right by Christ, not doing right for Christ.  It is grace along with pure desperation.  The gospel strips the delusional dignity that morality and religion bring. 

It is this delusion that we see so vividly in the life and death of Osama Bin Laden.  In the name of morality, he became a monster.   Religion blinds us from our need for salvation, even if that religion goes by the name “Christian.”  Religion blinds us, even to the point we may harm others and justify it in the name of our cause (e.g. KKK, genocide, Crusades, and the Third Reich).  Just like the Pharisees, who built their fortress out of morality and religion, we become self-justified, ignorant of truth, and accidentally working for the wrong side in the name of the right side.   This is what happens even to Christianity without Christ.

Religion kills.  Morality is a grave.  But Christ is life.  Christ is truth and transformation.  Christ is anti-religion.  Christ is the admission of the futility of ourselves and any morality we can produce so that we “wholly trust in Jesus name.” 

Religion will kill you if you give it the opportunity.  It will kill your church, too.  It will blind you and delude you and you will miss Jesus.  Maybe you will never become a terrorist, but you certainly can become a holy terror.  Christ is the answer.  He is the wisdom of God and the power of God.

The death of Osama Bin Laden is a warning for us all.  In Bin Laden, we see the “holy terror” that is religion’s ultimate extreme.  Through Him, we learn how religion kills us all, but also how Christ is life.

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