A few weeks ago I wrote some brief, but very positive, comments about Bono and his U2 band. A common criticism of Bono’s confession of the Christian faith, which reputable people take very seriously and his music and actions clearly do support, is that he is a pluralist. I am increasingly inclined to believe there is considerable misunderstanding about what Bono is saying and why. Not only does this misunderstanding impact those who falsely judge Bono but it impacts the entire Christian, Jewish and Muslim discussion in the wider culture and throughout the world.

Bono believes that Jesus is the Messiah and that true peace is found in Jesus. What he also believes, and so do I, is that there are multiple religions in the world and we are going to have to deal with this fact the more we become a globalized community. A friend informs me that a writer who knows Bono says he has repeatedly suggested that the best way for these different religions to be brought closer together is for all Christians, Jews and Muslims "to meet the prince of peace." Amen! This is the kind of pluralism I spoke about several weeks ago. It is not a compromise of John 14:6 at all. It does refute the typical fundamentalist rant: "You are all going to hell unless you . . . . " (Fill in the blank.)

It would best serve world peace, without which we will have little or no opportunity to truly share the gospel with Muslims, to first recognize that denying the kind of Christian pluralism that I wrote about will surely end the opportunity for fruitful contexts for incarnational evangelization. I think Bono probably understands this point. I hope I do as well. I am not sure many conservative American Christians get it quite yet. They still want to get in the face of their neighbor and tell them where they are going and believe this is preaching the good news. If you don’t believe me about this then watch Jesus Camp, a most distressing and powerful documentary film. (More on the film later.)

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  1. Susan March 21, 2007 at 1:21 am

    I met one man who is a leader in a prominent Interfaith organization. One of the goals of the group is to promote dialogue and co-working between religious groups. While I was initially skeptical, I came to realize the necessity of relationships in order to evangelize them.
    And your discussion of the typical “fundamentalist rant” remind me of an article I read a few weeks ago. A picket sign-holding Christian screamed in a megaphone, “Repent, you faggots!” at a pro-gay parade, smiling smugly that he had completed his “duty.” We may shudder at that image, but unfortunately this illustrates the perception many of my non-believing friends have towards Christians.
    Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Lord, help us to remember this!

  2. John H. Armstrong March 21, 2007 at 9:21 am

    I saw Rob Bell’s video in the Nooma series titled “Bullhorn Man” and it underscores your point precisely. We tell ourselves that we are doing evangelism when what we are really doing is yelling at the world as they pass by us with no interest.

  3. Brandon Creech March 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I was just wondering. Do you consider Anglicans to be Chrisitians?

  4. John H. Armstrong March 21, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Are Anglicans Christians? Of course they are if they are trusting Christ and they are his disciples. The same holds true for Baptists, Methodists, Catholics and Orthodox. I am unsure how to respond to a question such as this. Are your serious or trying to set up some kind of false category that excludes historic Christian groups from being followers of Jesus and thus not within Christianity?

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