Monday, August 08, 2005

Bono's Salty Dogma

This week's issue of World Magazine contains an article by Gene Edward Veith entitled Salty Dogma about Bono, the lead singer of U2.

As a long ago fan of U2, I have often wondered about the state of Bono's faith. This article leaves no question. Bono gets the Gospel. Bono believes the Gospel. Bono tells others about the Gospel.

Because it's short, here's the article in its entirety. . . .

Is Bono, the lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2, a Christian? He says he is and writes about Christianity in his lyrics. Yet many people question whether Bono is "really" a Christian, due to his notoriously bad language, liberal politics, and rock star antics (though he has been faithfully married for 23 years). But in a new book of interviews, Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas, Bono, though using some salty language, makes an explicit confession of faith.

The interviewer, Mr. Assayas, begins by asking Bono, Doesn't he think "appalling things" happen when people become religious? Bono counters, "It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma."

The interviewer asks, What's that? "At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one," explains Bono. "And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff."

The interviewer asks, Like what? "That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge," says Bono. "It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."

Then the interviewer marvels, "The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that."

"The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death," replies Bono. "It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven."

The interviewer marvels some more: "That's a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it's close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has His rank among the world's great thinkers. But Son of God, isn't that farfetched?"

Bono comes back, "Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: 'I'm the Messiah.' I'm saying: 'I am God incarnate.' . . . So what you're left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that's farfetched."

What is most interesting in this exchange is the reaction of the interviewer, to whom Bono is, in effect, witnessing. This hip rock journalist starts by scorning what he thinks is Christianity. But it is as if he had never heard of grace, the atonement, the deity of Christ, the gospel. And he probably hadn't. But when he hears what Christianity is actually all about, he is amazed.


Brian Wong said...

That's awesome!

Jeff Martin said...

Wow. Very stoked. Long time fan here and it's been great to watch the changes in him (Bono) over the years. Also watched some interviews and he consistently stays the course. You bet - he does get it. Not only that, but he is doing the big thing and witnessing in light of the hollyworld and showbiz opinions. Have you listened to his lyrics in the last year? Do a lyric search for his recent songs... What is with Mel Gibson and Bono? Whatever is happening with these guys I love it!

Bill Lindahl said...

the wheat and the weeds come to mind... commendable that he's struggled with the hard questions, thought it through and how clearly he can articulate his beliefs... thanks for sharing...

Lisa Lewis said...

"Lights go down and all I know
Is that you give me something
I can feel your love teaching me how
Your love is teaching me how
How to kneel

Lyrics from Vertigo first song on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Yes Bono gets it, and has for many years.
Perhaps the reason we don't appreciate Bono is we stop listening when the music isn't "our style". Or perhaps we ignore a person when they don't look like we do? Or do what we deem is appropriate in their approach to God? Maybe, just maybe, each one of us needs to engage more with the culture and really trust God that He does want us to be in the world and not of the world (the tension Pastor Tim speaks of so often)

Anonymous said...

"Test everything, hold on to what is good." not "Ignore everything outside of your comfort zone" Yes, let's listen to U2, and to lots of other music. Let's see movies, really see them, and make sure to think about them so our comments can be deeper than "unfortunate amount of language in that one"

torokun said...

As a U2 fan... I kinda don't know what to say.

does Bono really get it? or not?

I have no doubt that he "understands" the message of the gospel and knows even how to articulate it.

But, in his publicized private life, I just don't see the life that is regenerated. But, not knowing Bono personally, I can't really hold my opinion about his faith based on that.

Here is what I'm concerned about his faith that makes me questioin his completion of justification. And It's very simple at the core. What is THE truth that Bono holds on to?

Students of Bible knows that if you take just one thing (or add one thing) to the truth, it is no longer "the truth" anymore. It becomes a lie. In Bono's publicized collection of faith, it is clear that his cause for reaching out to the third world countries is the priority. And it overrides everything else. His ecumenical view on multiple religions also makes me question his faith.

If we start researching and listing all these things, it would be a long discussion.

What I'm ultimately amazed about is how quickly people credit other people for having a "true faith" and being a "true christian". Under the umbrella of modern evangelical, man-centered gospel presentation, I guess it's an obvious reaction. I myself was there for many many years.

And at the heart of it, Bono reminds me so much of one of my friends. Understanding of the gospel, the world view, political bias... It is uncanny how much he reminds me of Bono. I love him dearly. And I know he can argue and make the same confession of faith that Bono made about his understanding of the gospel. But, is his life the one that is truely a regenerate one? Is his faith the one that is reflected in many of our
Lord's teaching? About complete surrender to God's will? Somehow, I have this drop of doubt and uncertainty that holds my tongue back from giving him such credit...

let me know what you think...

Jeff Martin said...

This is in kind response to torokuns blog.

Using the words bono used in the subject interview - I will leave the final judgement "between he and God" whether he get's it or not. The interview showed a very compelling "gets it"... Now whether or not his heart is really convicted, I certainly cannot comment.

In this light, none of us can judge really to well where his real faith lies beyond the statements from his lips. But I find a heck of a lot enjoyment in hearing it as his real conviction. Speaking for myself, I don't think I even know a glimpse of his so called public private life beyond a few interviews. You may have more real experience in this regard but considering the source of most of his interviews I would tend to say they are largely taken out of context for their own reasons or he could possibly make mistakes in judgement. Man - Poor decisions, speech without enough thought, and just simple error happen to me more often than I would care to share. But as you stated in your blog, this could be a long discussion. Trust to some extent we are all in this position.

You may have more facts in this regard to support your point of view here and much of what your say about his life may be valid. However, I think the focus of Pastor Tims Blog was to show an articulate understanding of the Gospel. Not neccessarily for stating that our teenage and adult rock star was a "true believer." Hearing the Gospel articulated by Bono and countless others just helps alot of folks with their journey. Especially those with possibly less knowledge than yours.

Your point is a good one, and our walk should always be evaluated. However, hearing a gutteral Gospel discussion by Bono (or anyone for that matter) is great for the soul...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Bono's private life raises some problem? Is it his giving massive amounts of money to charity? Going on a mission trip with World Vision for a month? Staying faithful to the same woman since the late 70s? Refusing to have an entourage, limos, and other perks of celebrity? Volunteering thousands of hours at great personal expense and cost to seek justice for "the least of these"? I wish I had a private life that were that stellar a witness for Christ.

Anonymous said...

Phil 1:18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

The fact remains, the man actually proclaimed Christ.

Check this out...Numbers22:28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"

29 Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."

30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?"
"No," he said.

Sometimes the Truth can come from the oddest places!