Bono and AntiChrist Allegations...

An article in a recent e-newsletter from Relevant Magazine discusses disillusionment with Bono of U2... and a sense of something more sinister, underlying.

Now granted, the writer, Tara Leigh Cobble clarified, "I don't think Bono is THE antichrist..." but even making such a clarification alludes to some indictment.

At a recent U2 Concert, Cobble discussed her turmoil in hearing Bono point to the Cross, the Star of David and the Crescent Moon on his bandana and repeat: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true.”

I can resonate with a little "discomfort" at the words "all-true," but I was more unnerved by a Christian being "devastated," as she put, at the thought that other religions might have something in common with Christianity. We may not believe in Mohammed, but we certainly worship Allah (despite the differentiation K-Love and Focus on the Family try to make - historically, He is the same God, and if you want to say the God of the Jews and the God of Islam and Christianity are all different, then so is the God of Catholics, the God of Baptists and the God of Pentecostals).

The author goes on to state that Bono is a great man, if still over-idolized. I can agree with this as well. I think our idolatry of Bono is often out of guilt - we see someone who does SO MUCH and think, "wow, I'm a real asshole." Then we go OVERBOARD on patting Bono on the back. The reality is, he works hard, but he's not hurting or suffering (beyond emotionally) for the work he does. He's lauded every day for it. A wonderful man, but there is balance needed. Bono isn't going to die on a cross like Jesus.

Jesus said we would know His disciples by their fruits, and regardless of Bono's personal theology (it's silly we Christians ever tried to claim him as "our own little evangelical icon") his life bears fruits of love and generosity - taking care of the poor, the sick, the widows and orphans. How many fundamentalist Americans are doing that? ...Ouch... myself included.

Please sound off on your thoughts! The full article is posted below:

Editors Note: Bono was recently named one of Time magazine's "Persons of the Year" for his humanitarian work and international efforts.

I’m pretty sure I won’t get much opposition if I say that U2 is the greatest rock band of all time. When I scored two great seats to one of the shows at Madison Square Garden last month, I thought my life had reached its pinnacle. It was a euphoric experience.

During the first few songs, I stood, along with the rest of the stadium, as we pumped our fists into the air and sang along with every word. The energy in the air was emotionally overwhelming. And if you’ve never been to a U2 show, let me tell you that it was everything you’d ever expect it to be. But it was also much, much more.

About five songs into their set, Bono stopped the show and strapped on a headband with writing on it. I stared up at the JumboTron to see that the handwritten lettering said: COEXIST. Coexisting sounds like a great idea. I fully support the peaceful philanthropy that Bono has encouraged, and this seemed like another way that he was trying to spread the message. GOD: Clear and Full - As I looked around the room at these people my age, it was not hard to feel connected and unified with them. Except, it started to feel like more than a political message. The “C” in “coexist” was the Islamic crescent moon, the “X” was the Star of David, and the “T” was the cross of Christ.

Bono pointed at the symbols on his headband-first to the cross, then to the star, then to the crescent moon-and he began to repeat: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true.”

He repeated the words like a mantra, and some people even began to repeat it with him. I suddenly wanted to crawl out of my skin. Was Bono, my supposed brother in Christ, preaching some kind of universalism? In just a few seconds, I went from agreeing with him about Christlike “coexistence” to being creeped out by the ungodly, untrue thing he was saying. What’s going on here? What if he believes that all ways are the same, and he just thinks of Christianity as his particular way? Aren’t universalism and true Christianity mutually exclusive?

I’ve heard the urban legends of amazing things Bono has said about his faith, I’ve read the books, and I’ve peered deep into everything he’s said hoping to find something that makes his beliefs clear. For years, I’ve adored him and clung to the notion that he is believer, too. After all, he identifies himself with Christianity, doesn’t he?

When he stated that lie so boldly, it devastated me. It was, without question, the most disturbing experience of my life; I felt like I’d been covered in bile. As I looked around, I saw all the people standing and chanting with him-it was disgusting and beautiful all at once. Unity can be so enticing. It made me think of the one world religion and how that will probably look benign and beautiful from the outside, too. I even started to wonder if universalism just might be poised to be that religion.

All these things were running through my head. After the show, I ran into a friend who had been sitting in the back row. “What did you think of that headband thing?” I asked. “Well, I couldn’t hear what he was saying because it was bouncing off the wall behind me, and I couldn’t read the headband, because I wasn’t near a JumboTron. But honestly, I felt like I was witnessing an antichrist.” I stood frozen as she spoke. I’d had the same feeling.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying that Bono is the Antichrist. Perhaps he’s just guilty of being overzealous about his politics. But I hope that if he is a believer, the Holy Spirit will convict him that equating Christianity with other religions is false prophecy. 2 Timothy 3 tells us to avoid people who have a form of godliness but deny the true power of God. And I believe that the most deceptive thing of all is to identify yourself with the truth and preach a lie. For a long time after the show, I couldn’t talk about it. And I still don’t know what to think because I don’t know Bono’s heart. All I know is what he said from that stage and how it shook my footing. God used that to show me something ugly in myself that needed to be fixed. It felt like He was saying, “If you’re looking to Bono, you’re looking to the wrong place.”

The reality is that Bono held too high a place in my heart. And I don’t think I’m alone there. I’ve wrongly held him up as the heroic ideal-the cool representative for Christianity; he may have been my “Christian idol,” but he was my idol nonetheless. And that’s not OK. Yes, it should bother me to think that Bono might not be a believer; but it should not bother me any more than if a random guy on the street does not believe. I pray for Bono more lately, and I pray for the hearts of the millions of people who he impacts on a daily basis. He is, without question, the most influential person in the world, and he has an unparalleled opportunity to speak the truth to the lost world. This year alone, he was nominated to be the president of the World Bank, and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And by the time the Vertigo Tour ends in April, it will have grossed twice as much as any political campaign anywhere, ever.

If Bono has a saving faith in the one true God, I can only hope that he would speak the Truth without ambiguity. I pray that the name of Jesus would grace his lips, without being equated with Judaism or Islam or any other religion. And I’m praying that God will help me to put things in the right place in my heart.

Tara Leigh Cobble

Consumerist America and the Church...

"In a look at pastoral pay, including housing, the National Association of Church Business Administration found the average annual salary to be $91,200. The low side in the survey was $13,700 a year, and the high was $249,600. A pastor's pay plus benefits was directly linked to the size -- both budget and attendance -- of the congregation." --The Washington Post

$249,600 for a pastor? I get that $91k isn't all that much in some parts of the country, but this is becoming ridiculous. I'm not carte blanche against megachurches, per se. After all, I attend one currently. But there is something seriously wrong when churches begin functioning like corporations. It's not a good thing that church success can be linked to a pastor's salary. It is the symptom of a disease... I'm afraid the disease is consumerism, and I don't know the cure. Democracy and a free economy, while empowering people, may be the key to universal Christian complacency.

I believe in a free society, above most other values, but wealth can be a faith-killer. Give me poverty and intellectual freedom over riches and free-trade.
Thanks to Matt Brown for identifying the above church photo - Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio.

No More Bridges to the Past!

I had an epiphany at our church's college group Bible study last night. This will probably have occured to everyone else already, but sometimes I'm slow in coming. I think it's going to be my battle cry for The Church and for Christianity and for my own theology in the coming years...

Ready? Brace yourself? Here it is:


I know, I know, monumental isn't it? Paradigm-shifting! Yes? Well, maybe it sounds obvious, but here's why it isn't: for the last 26 years of my life (that would be ALL of my life) I have attended churches of some kind or another in various denominations. Throughout that time, I have gone to home groups, Bible studies, even a few home churches. In every instance of every church or Christian group I have been involved with, a common underlying sentiment reigns, echoing through all that we initiate: we have to get back to the 1st Century Church. We have to reclaim an Acts-type of community!

We have so-romanticized the first Christian Church that we've come to believe that such a church was meant to be universal and unchanging. As if a First Century Jewish counter-cultural spiritual revolution under the oppression of the Roman Empire should somehow translate to every era, every context, every nation.

We have not only put God in a box, we've kept Him from manifesting or revealing Himself in new ways (forgive the male-centric pronouns). We've made the future bad and the past good. But the past wasn't so good. Countless times in Acts and throughout the New Testament we read of the faults and shortcomings of the Church. And all that caring and sharing and selling off everything that takes place for TWO CHAPTERS? It didn't last.

The church NEEDS the future. We NEED change. We need to learn to adapt. Maybe if the Church actually pushed adaptation and ecclesiological evolution forward, we wouldn't keep having these socio-spiritual crises (like post-Christian Europe). Maybe we could be paradigm shifters and cutting edge philosophers instead of sad remnants of desecrated empires.

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