Is Bono a Christian?

I like U2, I have three of their albums on my MP3 Walkman here. I remember partying to the Joshua tree after it was released. All my Christian friends loved it, but I wondered how come they were singing that he had “held the hand of the devil” and he said it wasn’t goo… but now he’s with Jesus and looking forward to being in heaven… but he still hasn’t yet found what he was looking for? It was odd to me, but no one around me was bothered about the details of the words in the song. I can exactly remember the room I was in when I was wondering about this.

How ironic that I too would one day say that I also had not found what I was looking for and would go on a long journey that would bring me back to Jesus and to His central message: love. As I read about Bono’s faith, I see him (Bono) stating over and again that we must love one another.

Bono confesses his faith

What a fabulous interview: For those still telling me Bono isn’t a Christian…

He gets it that Jesus died for our sins…

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. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

He gets the nature of this world and the key critical difference between our Christian religion and all the others – the key differences are grace, love, Jesus and forgiveness…

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. 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.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.

He gets who Jesus is…

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.”

And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.

And he goes: No, no, I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.

At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he gonna keep saying this.

So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase.

So that’s it. His language is very “down to earth”, but Bono is probably clearer on the value of the gospel than many Christians are!

But then why is there so much more to my post on this? Why don’t I just wrap it up here? Because it is *US* who are missing Bono’s point!

This interview with Eugene Peterson about Bono (author: The Message Bible) is an eye opener!

I’ve been a part of the institution of religion all my life and have been quite happy doing it. I felt that’s what I was called to do. But I depend for a lot of my insights and language on people who are outside the Church. That doesn’t mean they are outside of Christ, but they are outside of the conventional expectations. I need that. If I’m just around people who talk the way I do, I lose perceptive accuracy, sharpness. And I think Bono is doing that for many.


I think they started out pretty confused and were kind of just messing around. I think they must be as surprised about this — that people like me are calling them prophets — as maybe as I am. But doesn’t that happen a lot? When we’re living with any kind of authenticity, we don’t know what we are doing until, suddenly, moments come of clarification — catalytic moments — and we see suddenly this is what I am, this is what I’m doing. But in the spiritual life, calculation doesn’t work. – Eugene Peterson

Listen to Bono’s heart and hope

Bono believes in the church more than the church believes in the church! Read on and tell me if I am wrong or not.

At first I read John’s post Bono on Christian Music. John then gave me a heads up on this interview Bono Interview by Bill Hybels (available as an MP3 audio download on that page). (Who is Bill Hybels?)

Not content with the MP3, I went in search of some blog posts and found lots of excellent excerpts here U2’s Bono On Celebrity, Jesus, Africa and More.

You might not like his style or his language, but in the end we’re all in a personal relationship with our Lord and it’s just that, personal. No one else can judge my relationship with Jesus and I promise not to judge yours (you… the reader). Can we give Bono the same respect? And another thing, Jesus said that if someone is not against you, then they are for you.

Bill Hybels has convinced me of the importance of the church as the moral force and practical infrastructure for solving the worlds problems. Open the doors of your church and make them an AIDS clinic. Your charity is important, but your passion for justice is needed. I’m asking for your voice and for you to give permission to fix these problems that are fixable. It’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity…it’s an adventure!”

Bono has had issues with aspects of the church in the past – specifically that the church is so rich and so insular, where the gospel demands we help the poor!

“There are 2003 verses in scripture about the poor, second only to personal salvation.

Jesus speaks of judgment only once and that is the passage in Matthew where we are asked: ‘who clothed the naked?’ and ‘who fed the poor?’ and ‘who visited those in prison?’ That defines whether you are a part of the Kingdom or not.”

“The reason the church has been slow to respond is that the church has historically always been behind the curve: civil rights, apartheid…the church is afraid of politics.

The second reason the church has been so slow is less palatable..the church has been very judgmental about the AIDS virus…it believes that it is about people living irresponsibly.

Only 6% of evangelicals felt like they were to act in response to the AIDS epidemic. But the Christ will not let the church walk away from the AIDS emergency…it is like a car crash, we have to act. AIDS is the leprosy of our age.

But then something tragic happened…the church woke up and began to act…and they ruined it for me…I couldn’t hate the church anymore.”

Hallelujah… the church began to act. I think he is referring to the Jubilee project.

On a personal note, I think his glasses are funny… but I’m probably just jealous. hehehe. I think it would be tough to be a public figure and live in the spotlight – but I admire that he has decided to USE his status, not shy away from it!

“What else are you going to do with thing called ‘celebrity’…it’s absolutely ridiculous that it is valued more than being a teacher or more than being a mother…

but it is currency and I decided that I was going to spend mine.

The media loves to mis-portray public figures… and they would even more enjoy mis-portraying a Christian. Look at what they tried to do to Mel Gibson’s film!

He recalled one pastor’s recent advice: Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Find out what God’s doing. It’s already blessed.

“That’s what I want,” Bono said. “I want to align my life with that.”

So is Bono perfect? Is Mel? No, everyone is broken, fallen and human. No one is perfect and everyone needs grace from God and grace from each other.

“Love your neighbor is not advice… it’s a command.”

Let’s just pray for one another and lift each other up.

More links

I also found some more good links:

Respect and honor

Hybels told Christianity Today about his impression of the rock star: “After a two-hour private meeting in my office, I came away convinced that Bono’s faith is genuine, his vision to relieve the tragic suffering in Africa is God-honoring, and his prophetic challenge to the U.S. church must be taken seriously.”Bill Hybels

I respect and honor Bono for the work he is doing to awaken the rich countries to the plight of the poor. His style might be jarring, his language is “down to earth”, but I hope and pray that he will succeed in awakening the church to it’s potential as God’s body on this earth which can alleviate much of the poverty and sickness in this world – if we will just set our minds to it.

28 responses to “Is Bono a Christian?

  1. “The shackles are undone
    The bullet’s quit the gun
    The heat that’s in the sun
    Will keep us when there’s none

    The rule has been disproved
    The Stone, it has been moved
    The Grain is now a groove
    All debts are removed

    Love makes strange enemies
    Makes Love where Love will please
    The Soul in it’s striptease
    Hate brought to it’s knees

    Can’t you see what Love has done?”

    I think he has such a beautiful understanding of faith and love, and reaches so many that might not otherwise be reached. He’s definitely after that one lost sheep. We all know he’s said he’s “held hands with the Devil,” and as that big of a rock star, you can probably bet he has. Rock music is certainly, at it’s core, pretty sinful in nature. Even the words “rock and roll” are a euphimism for sex. But as any musician knows, the power of music itself is essentially one of the strangest and purely blissful things God ever blessed us with. There’s that line in the movie, Witches of Eastwick, where the Jack Nicholson character–who’s supposedly “the devil”–says, “belieive me, I know music…it’s the one thing that makes me humble.” Sometimes I think that’s so true…even when music is sinful in lyric, it’s still a cry out to God. It just can’t be perverted, I think, because it’s so uniting at it’s core. It so transcends everything and is certainly the universal language. If you’ve ever seen U2 live, even when they go into some dark places sometimes, they always rock the house with a grace and beauty that can only be experienced.

  2. Thanks Mark for this blog. My guess would be the fact that he said publicly he believes Christ is the Messiah would make him a christian either way. How close he walks with Christ on world issues could really not be up to any of our judgement. I completely disagree with many of Bono’s beliefs on some issues, but the fact that he will profess Christ is the son of God being a public figure is huge. As christians we all strive to be like Christ and continue to miss the mark. If we were perfect we wouldn’t need a saviour anyway. Non-believers respect him. We should be praying for him to reach the non-believers. blessings to Bono for his courage and faith.

  3. Hi Bill,

    Good work man… I believe Bono is like those ppl who are called to be like the Gentiles inorder to talk the word of God to the gentiles… Bono has a little bad language… but his heart belongs to God… he is a true christian.

    God Bless,

  4. Thank you Daniel for your response, I have to say that as a Christian I was pretty shocked at some people’s responses to Bono’s faith.

    I think it’s evident not only in his numerous interviews, but in the music of U2 where the band stands in regards to faith. I do however think their, and more specifically, Bono’s outworking of this faith challenges a lot of us in the Christian camp – I usen’t to be able to reconcile a lot of what I saw in Bono with my idea of faith and Christian community. Having said that, I think it all depends on how you interpret the outworking of faith, and sadly so many of us seem to have rigid structures and ideals that have no correlation with the tension and dichotomy that is human existence.

    I love that Bono accepts and embraces this tension: doesn’t fight it or try and make it one thing or the other. I think it takes great maturity to face life that way, to realise that things are never going to be cut and dried.

    I could stand here and point the finger, but then there would be ten times as many fingers pointing back. Bono has always struck me as incredibly honest about his weaknesses and shortfalls, and I think that’s only possible via a meaningful relationship with God – he knows where he stands before God and never seeks to puff himself up or put himself above others. He has regularly said that he welcomes honest criticism – this strikes me as humility. That he is wealthy speaks of nothing in regards to this, like he says, he has chosen to use this wealth and celebrity to advocate on behalf of those most world leaders don’t listen to.

    Thanks for this post, good to see more people opening up to another side of faith.

  5. Hey,

    So I know this guy who did a lot of bad things. Among other things, he slept with another guys wife, and had her husband killed to cover it up. Turns out that God absolutely loved him for his heart, despite what he’d done. God called him “a man after God’s own heart”.
    Looking at some other responses, I just have to say, who are we to judge if Bono is a Christian? I’d guess from his own words about Jesus being God’s very own son and his acknowledgement that we are saved by grace that he just might be. Yes, only God really knows, but his foundation seems pretty solid.

    Also, I don’t think that we can judge whether someone is a Christian by their stance on pro-choice/life or by how much money they make. If the latter were the case, Job, Solomon, and Abraham among others were probably not christians. I stand towards a pro-life stance, but realize that the issue is far more complicated. Think about this: 65% of human zygotes never get past gastrulation (about 3 days). God himself has also ordered the wholesale slaughter of every Amelakite baby. Of course, the Amelakites were a self-perpetuating system of evil, but this is a case where innocents suffer when justice is wrought. Please people, don’t say Bono is not a christian for not condemning pro-choice. He’s been to places where millions of children die from starvation and disease and are born into… can I say, possibly a “similar” system to the Amelakites. Not to say at all that I am condoning any kind of killing, but I’m just saying, the choice between “choice” and “life” are not simple, clear cut lines. To judge Bono’s relationship with God by his stance is not fair, and probably not accurate.

    And Bono does have a great passion to help the poor in Africa. I’ve heard him talk a couple times, and he regularly makes trips there and is trying hard to bring justice and make things right, something that all Christians are called to do. Sure, he’s not perfect, but like you said Mark, 50% full is better than 50% empty.

    Thanks Mark for your insightful blog.

    Hi Daniel. Yep all good points, no doubt. It would result in a long long discussion if I replied to each point you made – given that I think abortion *IS* a cut and dried issue and it is having a disastrous effect on the country. God looks at our hearts, no doubt. God bless you, Mark.

  6. I have always been a huge U2 fan, and Bono fan because of his desire for social justice. What an exciting piece you’ve written here. I had always heard that Bono was a Christian but never had the real proof. All great to know! Thanks!


    Only God really knows. But that’s true for me and you too. God bless you! Mark.

  7. I’m new to your blog today and was drawn to the post on Bono. I heard him at a Willowcreek Leadership Conference last summer. When I heard he was going to be among the featured speakers, I wondered why. I wasn’t familiar with his music but had heard of him. I must say that, after hearing his interview with Bill Hybels, I have respect for him and his viewpoints. But then, I’ve long been an “unconventional” Christian myself

    You were at that conference?! Wow. That was a watershed moment in a way. Thanks for visiting and sharing Brother Bill! God bless you! – Mark.

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  9. I enjoyed reading what you wrote about Bono. What spoke to me, is that God can use people that seem to be different than others. Also that the church needs to be chalanged to get out there into the communities and make a difference practically.
    Kyoto, Japan

  10. I am a non -christian posting here who is a U2 fan. The majority of the posts here have made me angry. I cannot believe how judgmental many of you so called Christians really are. You people practice hypocrisy to the highest degree, yet here you are calling Bono a hypocrite. I cannot believe that most of you Christians expect to have “credibility” in this world with your judgmental hypocrisy. It’s laughable!

    In addition, he does donate privately but doesn’t believe in bragging. However, if he did brag, that would make him more like the church.

    Hi mike. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. It means that you can speak your mind about Christians, and conversely Christians can speak their mind about Bono. What’s good for you is good for them too. You mentioned hypocrisy a few times. I give to the poor. My ambition is to build many orphanages. I have opinions just like you do. I could be a better person, you could too, Bono could too – we’re all in the same boat. I don’t so where the hypocrisy it. God bless you! – Mark.

  11. I was blown away listening to the Bono / Hybels interview. Is Bono a Christian? It’s not for me or anyone else to judge, that is the domain of God and God alone.

    Bono is right that WE should be doing everything in our power to help the poor, the sick and the downtrodden. What have you done to help them today, last week, last year…

    Your energies are wasted trying to figure out if someone fits your image of a Christian. Use those energies to help those in need and then you will truly understand what it takes to be a Christian.

    Hi Jim. Yup. I couldn’t agree with you more. Let’s just get on and do what He said: love the poor. If we do that He will work through us. It’s really NOT rocket science. We just make it so much more complicated that it needs to be. God bless you Jim! – Mark.

  12. Bono may be a believer and I am sure God is using him in some way as an instrument but if he were not a celebrity and would have said what he said in the Bill Hybels interview, Bill Hybels would have corrected him. But he was so in awe of the celebrity that he must have switched off.

    Bono slams corporate greed yet apparently U2 moved its corporate empire out of Dublin to avoid higher taxes. I am sure that Ireland could really use those taxes to improve the services for the Irish people.

    Bono seems to minimize sexual immorality as something “the church” historically condemned but sexual immorality has ulitmately led to AIDS. Sexual immorality destroys marriages, families and individuals.

    Bono himself has a number of homes and lives in luxury yet he slams “the church” for being insulated and wealthy? I wonder who “the church” is? Does he mean some evangelical western churches, does he mean the world wide body of Christ? Does this include churches in China, churches in Africa? He has no idea of what some churches are doing and have been doing long before he even began his campaign. In fact he is terribly judgemental and virtually condemns all churches.

    Bono is naive about Africa. Yes, we ought to help and pray and reach out to the needy as Jesus commands but not with our eyes closed. Billions of dollars of financial aid have been stolen by corrupt African leaders, misspent by governments, organisations and local chiefs and warlords in Africa. Tons of food from Live Aid in the 80’s rotetd in the harbours. Robert Mugabe has destroyed Zimbabwe. Why won’t Bono visit him and talk to him about the many Zimbabweans with AIDS that Mr Mugabe does not care one iota about?

    Bono says “the church” is judgemental. Yet he seems to despise the church, Judges millions of christians whom he has never met or known. How can he know what indicdual churches are doing for the Lord.

    Bono says he hated the church yet Jesus loves the church and we ought to love the church. Why won’t he love and be gracious to fellow christians seeing that he apparently has so much love for humanity? Jesus loves the church with all its faults and weaknesses. Bono says he hated “the church?”

    Bono does not enjoy worship music? Its not real he says. Christ in us, the hope of glory is very real, so worship is just so natural for the born again believer.

    I think his interview led to more young people probably purchasing a U2 CD than going to Africa to hel;p hands on.

    But hey, Bono is a celebrity, he can say wacky outrageous things and we just dare not judge him, or discern if what he is saying is true.

    Howzit Bernard. Ja, I agree that his money-making and tax reduction talents seem to leave a funny taste in the mouth. I agree that Bono is doing a great job. I also think that no one is perfect… and even if he’s not doing a PERFECT job, at least he is doing SOMETHING. You are also right in saying that so few people ACTUALLY do something and make a difference. So I’m in favor of cutting Bono some slack and being grateful that his glass is 50% full, rather than 50% empty. IT isn’t 100% full, but hey, it’s 50% full and thank God for that! Goed gaan Bernard! – Mark.

  13. Hello, Mark.
    I’m a Japanese Christian.
    I like U2 very much, too.
    And I think Bono might be a Christian.
    I used Google to know if he is really so,
    and I reached your blog.
    But my English is not enough to know he is,
    even though after I SAW (not read) your text.
    Would you let me know the point of your text
    with easy words and sentences?
    Jesus, please help Mark to reply to me.

  14. You will know them by their fruit.

    Bono would not be popular in the least if he would do what a Christian should do……preach Christ alone. Bono does not.

    The world hates Christians. The world loves Bono.

    Do not be surprised when you see Bono thrown in hell unless he repents, believes, carries his cross, and follows the Christ.

    I’d love to see Bono get up on stage at his next concert and tell everyone there that Christ is the only way. That if you are Muslim, Jew, or a cat worshipper, you will go to hell unless you repent and believe in Jesus Christ.

    No, he won’t do that because 99% of the people at his concert would either leave or would start a riot.

    Mmmm… you make some good points. Thank God He has grace to balance out His law. Bless you! – Mark.

  15. Helen, I agree with you. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into heaven.

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  17. I guess my disturbance is when we make so much of ‘celebrity’ confessions, when there are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t need or want a spotlight while doing the work of the LORD….taking HIS LIGHT into the world.
    It is easy to be generous when you have more than you personally can ever spend. But what about the widow who feeds the neighborhood children, even when she herself may not have enough to eat?
    I appreciate Bono’s works, but again, it is a matter of fully submitting to CHRIST, not just paying lipservice or joining the club because it is popular. His (Bono’s) profane language says there’s some more ‘dying to self’ he needs to do. And as for his prochoice views, somebody didn’t tell him that life begins in GOD’s MIND, not in the womb. Therefore, as is written in Genesis, the blood of man, the life of man, is precious to GOD because we are made, even in the womb, in HIS Image and Likeness.
    I think this all stems from a carnal relationship with CHRIST. We can still drink, smoke, do drugs, hang out, encourage rebellion, and JESUS will understand.
    I pray at some point in time, it becomes more important to be the light than discuss ithe LIGHT as an abstract.

  18. Hi Gabriela

    Great questions and great points. A little emotional, but I understand why. hehehe. Am *I* the “far right” that you’re referring to?

    About why the question in the first place. I think that a discussion about Christianity and what it means to be used by God is a useful thing.

    I am trying to illustrate that people are Christian even if they are not culturally identical to me. Like you, I intensely dislike trying to box people in. My writing tries to discern the CORE beliefs or values that make us christian… and then I try to show that the rest is “fashion”. It’s not our music that makes us Christian.

    So much of the church says: if you go to church every week you’re a Christian and if not, you’re somehow UNSAFE. Or. Every christian should picket outside mormon churches etc. But I disagree. I think the bible speaks about love.

    Are you noticing that I am varying my C’s? Little c this time not big C… just as a wink in your direction Gabriela with a big G… hehehe.

    So I think that many of my posts try to illustrate that what it takes to be a christian is faith in the God who sent us Jesus. I make no apology of the statements of faith, even if it upsets you. Jesus is Lord and He is God’s on begotten Son.

    Suck it up, them’s the facts and I don’t aologise for it. HOWEVER… I do realise that the “meaning” behind those and other statements changes from generation to generation of course. So that is why I am so glad that God will judge the heart… He knows that we don’t know the absolute meaning… as the generations go by we learn more and more.

    I’ve just returned from Israel and yet again my faith has changed. I could say “deepened” but in fact it changed. Shifted. Morphed. This is reality, as we mature we will change in our undersstanding of Him, His ways (higher than ours) and we’re only learning more and more about Him. In the 1500’s we learned more. Then we learned about baptism. About the bible. This most recent 100 years we’ve explored praise, the Holy Spirit and more. Now some people are exploring all kinds of things like soaking and third heavens – which I don’t approve of at all… but that’s their thing, not mine.

    So I’m glad I wrote about Bono. He has views that I don’t agree with and no doubt he has views that might make the “far right” convulse. hehehe.

    Is he a prophet? I don’t know. We’re all in a personal relationship with God and it’s not for me to judge Bono’s or yours.

    I look forward to hearing your reply.

    Bless you,

  19. I’m wondering how you reconcile Bono/U2’s more liberal/left wing views with your “Is Bono Christian?” paradigm. Bono has always worn his heart on his sleeve and obviously, per discussion above and years of documented statements is a believer. But what about his views on homosexuality and abortion? Is he less of “Christian” because doesn’t hate *fags* and supports pro-choice? More to the point, why the question in the first place? Why do you have to establish once and for all his “Christian” credentials? I am just curious about the far-right’s need to to adopt or co-opt the music and message of a critically-acclaimed and mainstream band like U2.

    Why not stick to whatever bands are coming out of
    Nashville–or, you pick the appropriate Bible belt state–and be done with it. That way, you won’t have to worry about anybody being a “Christian,” small c, big C, whatever that may mean.

    I like your blog, you are obviously an intelligent, thoughtful guy (l. My comments are not meant to offend you. I just really want to understand your point of view. Cheers.


  20. Hi Bill

    You’re so right.

    Hi Gadg!

    We need to reach out, that’s for sure – and yet church and fellowship is a MUST. I think prophets can only formed outside the church they are called to serve (but yet they will still be in a fellowship) because they are trained in NEW things, not in existing things.

    Hi Abiding

    You’re so right. Bless you!

    Cheers guys!

  21. This post was really cool because it shed light to something that I think alot of ppl over look. Just because someone is a secular artist, doesnt mean that they cant accept and know the life of Christ.

    I remember an R&B artist getting upset when he was criticized about singing a “quote unquote” gospel song when majority of his songs are about loving a woman, and other mainstream worldly topics. (NO, it wasnt R. Kelly). But this guy’s rebuttal was that he was a Christian that made music.

    I think thats kinda where entertainment is going…Christian. And not necessarily for Christians but for the unsaved. Christians doing good business in secular realms. Hmm. Ponderable.

  22. this is kinda like a mirror, shows me what i’m really doing-cellular, introverted, missing opitunity, playing christian but whats a real christian look like?- interesting stuff- reminds me of my friends church(i think this was maybe right) where the pastor said to the church, stop being so bussy doing churchy things, and get out and get sone NON christian friends, thats where the ministry is!- i’m not sure if this is the greatest advice but there is world we need to effect out there, and it doesnt come to us!, my old pastor used to say, were becoming a bunch of fat lazy sheep, who need to get out of our pens and get our hands dirty.
    I think this man is a testimony to a the church- that we can go into the world and not be overcome by it. he has always been a challenge to me- a stelf christian, not too super spiro that he wont hang with others who arent churchy, who do bad stuff, and he isnt intimidated by them, he lives as if he’s overcome the world and it cant hurt his faith or his God
    Glad you mentioned it, cya(hope tis made some sense)

  23. This is an excellent post, Mark! In my estimation, Bono is outside the church establishment just like Jesus and Paul would probably choose to be if they came into the world today. Great work here, my friend!! -bill

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