U2’s Bono: Yes, Jesus is the Son of God ‘Either He was who He said He was or a complete and utter nut case’
U2’s Bono, a.k.a. Paul Hewson
In a brand-new interview with Focus on the Family set to air Tuesday, the rock star and activist sounded like “Mere Christianity” author C.S. Lewis who argued Jesus was a lunatic, liar or Lord.
“When people say ‘Good teacher,’ ‘Prophet,’ ‘Really nice guy,’ … this is not how Jesus thought of himself,” Bono said. “So, you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who He said He was or a complete and utter nut case.”
“And I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God,” Bono said, according to a transcript provided to Religion News Service. “I understand that for some people and we need to … if I could be so bold, need to be really, really respectful to people who find that ridiculous.”
Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, also discussed one of the most famous biblical characters, King David, who authored many of the Bible’s psalms, which are actually songs in the original Hebrew.
“First of all, David’s a musician so I’m gonna like him,” Bono said.
“What’s so powerful about the psalms are, as well as they’re being gospel and songs of praise, they are also the blues. It’s very important for Christians to be honest with God, which often, you know, God is much more interested in who you are than who you want to be.”
While Bono praised David’s “honest language with God,” Jim Daly of Focus on the Family noted that “sometimes it gets you into hot water with the more orthodox folks, because they see you as edgy, maybe too edgy at times.”
“You’ve gotta be very careful that grace and politeness do not merge into a banality of behavior, where we’re just nice, sort of ‘death by cupcake,’” Bono responded. “Politeness is, you know, is a wonderful thing. Manners are in fact, really important thing. But remember, Jesus didn’t have many manners as we now know.”
U2’s 1983 album “War” features the song “40,” with lyrics from Psalm 40 of the Bible.
The rock star talked about Scripture openly, including the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus told a man not to wait and bury his father, but to follow Jesus immediately.
When Daly noted, “Seems cold-hearted,” Bono replied: “No, seems punk rock to me. He could see right into that fellow’s heart. He knew he wasn’t coming and he was just, it was pretense. We’ve gotta be a bit more cutting edge, not look to the signs of righteousness. Look to the actions.”
Bono, a native of Dublin, Ireland, says his faith has prompted him to fight disease and poverty with the ONE Campaign, a humanitarian group he founded.
“It’s very annoying following this person of Christ around, because He’s very demanding of your life,” he said, laughing. “You don’t have to go to university and do a Ph.D. to understand this stuff. You just go to the person of Christ.”
Since the early 1980s, U2 has dominated rock music across the planet with many songs that include lyrics about God and His coming kingdom.
On U2′s 1983 album “War,” one of the songs was simply titled “40,” and was based on Psalm 40 from the Old Testament, with lyrics stating:
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay …
He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear
On the 1987 smash album “The Joshua Tree,” the gospel-sounding song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” features lyrics specifically referring to Jesus:
I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But, yes, I’m still running
You broke the bonds
And You loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh, my shame, you know I believe it
One of U2′s earliest hits, “Gloria,” (Glory), even used Latin lyrics at times to express their praise for God:
I try, I try to speak up
But only in You I’m complete
Gloria, in te Domine
Oh Lord, loosen my lips
Bono has occasionally expressed his Christianity in previous interviews, as have his U2 bandmates.
In 1985, guitarist the Edge, whose real name is David Evans, told Star Hits, “People seem to think Christians are incredibly pious, arrogant, superior individuals, but that’s not true at all – I’m a very normal, very real person.”
Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. told Time magazine in 1987: “I am a Christian and not ashamed of that. But trying to explain my beliefs, our beliefs, takes away from it. I have more in common with somebody who doesn’t believe at all than I do with most Christians. I don’t mind saying that.”
Time called U2 “Rock’s Hottest Ticket” in 1987.
In the same issue, Time also reported that bass-guitar player “[Adam] Clayton, who alone has not announced formally for Christianity, says simply that for journalists, ‘religion was an easy angle, a hook to hang a story on. We all believe in much the same things but don’t express ourselves in the same way.’”
U2 has released 12 studio albums and are among the all-time best-selling music artists, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. The group has won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band, and in 2005, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year of eligibility.
Also in 2005, U2 topped Billboard’s inaugural Money Makers list, bringing in more than $255 million that year, ranking the band ahead of the Rolling Stones, which generated $152 million.