Bono, U2 and Religious Pluralism

John ArmstrongMusic

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.)