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My interview with Eugene Peterson… His Perspective on the Christian Response to Osama Bin Laden’s Death

If you’ve been involved at all in the social networking the last few days, you’re aware that the discussion has been based around Osama Bin Laden’s death. Christian bloggers, tweeters, and facebookers have been especially busy. The primary question seems to be, “Should the Christian community be celebrating the killing of someone that ultimately landed them to hell?”
It just so happened that the legendary Eugene Peterson, the author of many books as well as the person responsible for The Message bible had agreed to do an interview with me for this blog. I asked him if he’d mind my asking just a few questions pertaining to this situation. He graciously agreed. Below you’ll see his responses to my questions.
Rick: Many are celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden today. In your opinion, what is the appropriate reaction for those who are followers of Christ?
Dr. Peterson: It astonishes me that so many evangelicals just wanna hate. I went to Ezekiel. God is saying to Ezekiel, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” We should take no pleasure in the death of Bin Laden. That’s not what we should do. I just grieve to know that we have so many people who have lost touch with Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem, forgiving a criminal on the cross that it just makes me sad.
Rick: Why do you think it is human to celebrate when individuals like Osama Bin Laden are brought to justice in this way?
Dr. Peterson: I don’t think it is proper to celebrate. We’re not in the business of celebrating death and damnation. What we can do is give ourselves to love and compassion and justice. Revenge has no part in this business.
Rick: If an unbeliever were to ask you why Christians are celebrating the death of this man, how would you respond?
Dr. Peterson: I’d say, “I’m embarrassed.” We have better things to do with our emotions. We can’t squander our emotions on this kind of stuff.
I am so very grateful to Dr. Peterson for allowing me to get his opinion on this complex issue. I must tell you… I was very, very impressed with him and look forward to giving you more from him concerning his writing career, his work on The Message, and his perspective on the role of the local pastor concerning small groups next week. 
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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.