Thursday, August 11, 2005

Judging Bono

I'll admit that I've been up and down in my thinking about U2 lead singer, Bono. I recall the early 1980s when the Irish group burst on the scene of hip music (read: MTV) and it was openly discussed that three of the four members were actually Christians. I can't remember another time the word "Christian" was uttered on MTV until maybe a new Christian Slater movie was released. So I immediately took notice of this band riding through the countryside on horses singing, "All is quiet on New Year's Day".

Later I heard the names of the band members.

"Bono? Are you serious? Just one name? Spelled like Sonny and Cher Bono?"

The name screams "PRETENTIOUS ROCK STAR" almost as loudly as "The Edge" screams "WEIRD ARTIST NOBODY CAN FIGURE OUT". "These guys are Christians? Yeah, right."

My skepticism faded a bit as I watched the early years of U2, but later on it returned in full force. I believe it was the Zoo tour when I saw some of the nasty rock star antics I'd seen in anti-Christian bands come to the forefront with Bono and his mates. I wrote him off as a Christian. I had already written off his music a few years earlier. It just didn't appeal to me. And the prima donna attitude really turned me off.

Over the past few years, I've run across Bono in small doses -- a TV appearance here, a song on the radio there. These days I see him more as what he probably is: a struggling Christian. Sure, we all struggle in our Christian walk, but Bono lives in a world where Christianity is completely alien and worldliness is king.

The reason for all the thinking is this synopsis at World Magazine. Read it. It's a comment on a snippet of an interview with Bono by a rock journalist, this section concerning grace and karma. (A tip of the ol' ball cap to Stephen of Doggie's Breakfast.) (Late add - I also see that Quotidian Grace guest-blogged about this synopsis at Locusts and Honey.)

The author points out that many people question Bono's faith. Yet in a private interview, Bono sounds a little like C. S. Lewis using the Lord or Lunatic argument with his interviewer. At one point, the journalist says simply, "The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that." It's really an eye-opener for those of us who doubt the sincerity of the singer's Christianity. I wish every member of my church could witness like Bono did.

Of course there is always the question of someone who can talk a good game, but doesn't live the life. And that's a good point. I know my fair share of people who could explain substitutionary atonement, but don't live their lives in light of that fact. Knowing about God isn't enough. We must actually know God.

But it's not my place to judge whether or not Bono is really a Christian. That's God's job. My job is my own salvation, my own faith, my own repentence, my own relationship with Christ Jesus. I don't have the information to judge Bono or anyone else, nor do I have the mental capacity. I can judge his teaching, which in this interview is right on the money. I can judge his actions, some of which are good and some of which are evil -- just like the rest of us. But I must resist the temptation to relegate someone to heaven or hell without a knowledge of that person's heart. It's not my definition that's important. It's not a liberal definition or a conservative definition that matters. A Christian is defined by a person's heart and judged by an all-knowing and perfectly just God. Our own contemplation over a celebrity's salvation is worthless unless we have the opportunity to be the evangelist.

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