The President and Bono are Wrong.

A blog in which I completely torch what remains of my reputation as a hip Christian figure while simultaneously enraging the other side of my contacts list who think Bono dated Cher but follow GW religiously....

There was a little presidential prayer breakfast action the other day in DC. All the usual cast of characters showed up, including an unusual character, Bono. I've found all sorts of links to Bono's speech all over the usual blogs because, after all, we are dying to find a cool Christian and we think at times he might be the guy.

Likewise, our devoutly Christian president was there and made some very nice remarks that were faxed to him on the drive over (nothing personal, I'm just pretty sure that this is how these things work).

I haven't read Bush's remarks yet. I watched Bono's video clip. It was masterful, as he wove Isaiah and talk of the Spirit with the need for aid worldwide and alluded to the glorious idea of unity among religions. Among other things, he said "I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here—Muslims, Jews, Christians—all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.

Bono, friend, incredible lyricist, phenomenal vocalist, charismatic front man....you are out of your ever lovin' mind. And Bushie, you're not far beind him.

King Abdullah of Jordan opened with talking about comonalities between the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran and invited everyone to pray for the middle east.

He suggested the pray..."That not one more generation will grow up knowing conflict and injustice, nor suffer from poverty or oppression...That not one more family will lose a loved one to war and bitterness, and that, together, Muslim, Jew and Christian, we can create a new future for the Holy Land: a future of peace."

King Abdullah, President Bush, Bono....if any of you genuinely think that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are going to come to terms on the Middle East, then none of you have read any of those books. And King Abdullah, any prayers based out of the Koran are going to be at extreme odds with the prayers based in the other books.. You might be careful what you...er, pray for.

C'mon gang. The sun glasses are cool. The rantings are ridiculous. Anybody got the guts to agree?


ylmurph said...

You are crazy!
Those sun glasses are cool???
come on...
...and the picture of the king on the right looks like a picture of Enos from the Dukes of Hazzard. I guess I'm showing my age while simultaneously being glib.
I'm trying to avoid revolving my life around the Super Bowl.

Gary Lamb said...

Yep, I agree. I am glad someone else finally said it. We want to believe in bono so much that we strain at the gnats trying to get him to be a Christian.

Brent Steeno said...

Let the record show, Ive always thought Bono was nothing but trouble!

captwasabi said...

I agree with you that the outcome is dire for those outside of the ark of safety. Afterall, I peeked in Revelation, and the outcome is rather nasty. It can be a fine line between being in the world and of the world. Isn't it sad we've tried everything but God? I guess we'll not run out of intercessory prayer topics anytime soon. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

I watched the National Prayer Breakfast on C-span. The thing that most intrigued me was not the cool political figures and such that attended, but that the title of the event did not match what happened at the event. There were politicians from both sides speaking aobut how faith and prayer are important. Politician after politician saying how important faith was to them. But you know what, no prayer.

I question the motivation behind any politician/rock star who shows up to a prayer breakfast to speak and not to pray.

Sam Lufi said...

I'm glad that my status as a "Christian" never depends on my getting every comment exactly theologically correct or un-"trouble"some, or because someone else does or does not believe it...

I will firmly say that my salvation is in the person of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, and Islam and Judaism lack the life-giving power that comes from walking in relationship with Jesus.

On the other hand, I'm maybe a bit more hesitant to be more sure of my theology than the Apostle Paul. There is surely a mystery in the way that God chose the children of Israel and their status is a difficult to make definite statements about. Likewise, Ishmael and Abraham were circumcised at the same time, which was the sign of the covenant! And Ishmael was to be blessed by God - the same term that we use to claim Jesus as the blessing of all nations, and a similar theological usage. I'm fully aware of the passages that do, indeed, differentiate between Ishmael and Isaac's covenants...but there is enough evidence that I choose to admit a bit of mystery and to trust in the goodness of the Father and the ability of the Holy Spirit to convict.

All this to say, in the "rantings" of Bono, I hear a call to Christian compassion and Christ-like living that, hasn't, unfortunately been made or heeded by a bunch of really, really good "evangelical" and "orthodox" folks, even though they might have their lines clearly drawn between Islam and Christ. Maybe if those folks had made the call years ago, we wouldn't have folks sitting on the fence between orthodoxy and heresy doing the calling now. Perhaps we, as such wonderfully spiritual Christians, would do well to listen to the heart of God, even if his message comes through a theological "ass*"! And trust to his grace, that he loves us and died for us, even when we are guilty of being the same thing.

*and Randy, if my biblical language and corresponding pun are too offensive, feel free to edit :)

Randy Bohlender said...

Sam* -

Bono's message of syncretism (indeed, that of most of public Christendom right now) is not the message from the heart of God. The Christ-like living that he makes an appeal for is one that asks us to stick our head in the sand regarding Christ's troublesome statements about exclusivity. I can never figure out how compassion and heresey became perceived to be joined at the hip. Is it the price we now pay to feed the poor?

This post is really more a reflection of the pitiful state of a church so hungry for a hero that we'll hitch our wagon to what sounds good but is spiritually and intellectually vacant. While much of what Bono says does make sense, most of young, American Christianity is only listening because he's a rock star. That doesn't negate his right to speak - but it says a lot about our lack of judgement when it comes to listening. Couple this message of compassion with a call to holiness (or even theological correctness) and watch the church abandon it in droves.


*In the interest of full disclosure: Many moons, a hairline and two earrings ago, I was Sam's youth pastor. I ran off to church plant and join the prayer movement. He landed in seminary. We've both gotten quite the education in the process. :)

Alaska1 said...

Excellent post Randy,

My wife (a great hunter btw) read this first and said "I totally agree".

I was clueless about the prayer meeting while I was battling furnace troubles.

After reading your Sunday Evening Post, I say I agree too. I remember when U2 first came out and everyone was buying thier albums and tooting their horns about the new 'Christian' super group. I never bought their albums, not one. I never bought them as being Christian spokes people either. I will say I like several of their songs, but I like a lot of music of varying types for entertainment. Leave the theology to the theologians, and us bloggers.

Sean MacNair said...

"Leave the theology to the theologians, and us bloggers." (emphasis mine)

(wiping away tears from my laughter) Oh man, that's a good one. Leave theology to bloggers? We might as well leave theology to my autistic 6-year-old son- he's just as qualified and would make a lot more sense than some of the bloggers I've read.

Randy Bohlender said...

Sean - in all seriousness, you are probably entirely correct about your son. As for the comment about leaving the theology to 'us bloggers'....I'm thinking there was a bit of tongue-in-cheek there that got lost in the broadband.

Still trying to decide if I'm a theologian or a rock star...apparently there is some cross over in the two fields.


Mikie3toes said...

I thought I could wax really philosophical, but I just decided to say I agree with you Randy. That old Church marquee saying really does ring true. Know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace.

Greg said...

Hey... every knee will bow, every tongue confess that only One Man has ever come into the world and conquered sin and death. I respect Bono's compassion but it remains true that the phrase "antichrist" does not simply mean "against christ" but also "instead of Christ" so to imply that His message is on par with 'other faiths' is disastrous. (Consider that Mother Theresa lived and breathed to serve Jesus in "His distressing disguise", the poor). I suspect he (Bono) was attempting to venture into a peacemaker's role, but Jesus looms high above all needs of man as the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We have no other hope, though Hope has come into the world. Well, I'm done here. Do I leave the chalk in the tray, Randy? :)

anita said...

the sunglasses are cool and so is the music...but you are right about the defiled sentiments. i am saddened by the numbers of church people that thought this was cool. just because the church has fallen short in many places doesn't mean we can shore it up with 'whatever works'. i am fast moving backwards from the 'pragma' of my early christian years to the 'dogma' of the word (which does demand praxis)no more generous orthodoxy for me.

Chad said...

Judging from the time stamp on this post, it was written during the Super Bowl.

Where are you priorities, Randy?! ;)

Looks like you've got a lot of folks coming out of the woodwork to pat you on the back, so perhaps the tables are a bit turned now. Actually, I've got the guts to disagree.

Randy, I love you as a brother in Christ. I respect you. I believe your heart is in the right place. And I agree with you on so many things. But I think you are flat wrong in your asessment of Mr. Hewson (that would be Bono) and his words.

Just to be clear. Did you read the entire text and/or watch the entire video of Bono's "ridiculous rantings," Randy?

Ok, for those that don't know me, I will confess that I am a rabid U2 fan. And I understand the very real possibility of being influenced by the "halo effect" (google it if you need to) when it comes to all things Bono.

I'm not sure I even want to get into a "discussion" here. Don't have the time or energy to expend on this, really. I'm certainly not relishing the flaming backlash that might come for hold my view.

But, I will say this: I don't believe Bono has said anything that makes him a syncretist or a universalist. I think those claims are unfair and unwarranted. Bono is looking to establish common ground in the fight for social justice for people dying of AIDS in Africa (among other issues). And he might not use this word, but I believe he's looking for, what Francis Schaeffer called, "cobelligerents" (google cobelligerents and schaeffer for more) which is a different thing than looking for "allies." In other words, they don't share our truth, but they share the same foxhole.

Ok, I told myself I wasn't going to get into this, but I guess I did. Perhaps I'm going to come off looking like the hip, hero-hungry, intellectually vacant Christian (strawman) that the American church is filled with. Guess that's the chance I'll take.

Peace, Randy.

Randy Bohlender said...

Hey Chad...

As for the back pats, Bono's got a few more fans than I do...and probably will gain more than I will in this exchange. I'm in the 'got-nothing-to-lose' catagory! :) Besides, surf all the blogs of the cool kids. I'm not exactly in the crowd on this one.

I did read the transcript and watch the video. My comments were based on it and more that I've seen in the last year or so.

We need to be careful who's foxhole we're jumping into. We do not share a foxhole with Islam. We may both want to stamp out poverty, but we're shooting from radically different perspectives. They do not have our back, and neither do we have ours.

as for flaming - I officially declare Chad's comment flame-retardent and will bounce any post that tries to.


Sean The Red said...

I actually agree with Chad. I dont think it takes guts to agree. Most people that read your blog arent trying to be cool anyway.

If I were in his (Bono) position, I would try to navigate it the way he did as well.

The people that were there that were Muslims, arent really Muslims, or at least are only behind the scenes. They are more akin to the typical Christian than anything else. They dont know the reality of what they profess, nor the intensity of the core.

Most of them were there to show their face, and nod towards something that looked cool.

I bet Bono went there figuring he would do anything he could to fulfill his commitment to what he believes. And he didnt make any theological statements in your excerpt. All he said is those people there wanted peace.

We all do, whether we will get it or not. How many firends and family have any of us lost in the middle east conflict? If we were confronted with that day in and day out, I bet there would be a lot more effort trying to find out some relief, even if it were misguided.

I guess all Im saying is Bono is smart. He uses what he has, and does whatever he can, to address the issue most dear to his heart, and something I beleive is probably from God. And he doesnt affiliate spiritually with the other folks, but simply took the opportunity to push his cause, regardless what anyone thinks.

Bush is in a hard spot. I dont agree with his language, and the concepts he seems to intimate. I also know he is a politician, and his role is not to define morality, nor is it to direct faith. If he tried, he would be out of his role that God called him to. I do see that he is only capable of getting a few things done, and seems to tread carefully. I wish he was more hard core, but Im not sure that is the right position for him to play on the team.

However, I also agree with Randy about the ridiculous position of secular muslims. I think that is the real piece under this. The idea that somehow all this can be together in oxymoronic. Unless of course you take it all passively, and then you really dont actually beilieve any of it anyway.

Dont mean to offend at all. I agree and disagree with Randy. And I REALLY like and RESPECT him too.

chuck said...

Forget Bono and Bush. Focus on the Family has endorsed Bambi2!!

That is something to get up in arms about:)

Speaking of arms and Bambi......

Chad said...

In hindsight, I guess I should've stayed away from the foxhole terminology. I don't know that war metaphors -- foxholes and shooting -- are the wisest to use this situation.

But when you write about jumping into somebody else's foxhole, why are you assuming that it's the Muslim foxhole that we're being asked to jump into? I would argue it's just the opposite.

Listen, you're probably not going to find a person more willing to die on the hill of absolute truth than myself. I'm no pomo-Christian. So I tread will a little bit of fear here, because I know I'm probably coming off like one. I do believe, like our good friend C.S Lewis, that we need to be willing to recognize the other religions do contain some truth:

"If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth."

To laud Off-the-Map for hiring an atheist and yet blast Bono for seeking common ground with Jews and Muslims in the fight against extreme poverty, leaves me scratching my head as to how you choose the positions you do.

I'm not trying to pick a fight, Randy. Honest. :)

Mikie3toes said...

I'm aghast at what appears to be the near total lack of knowledge concerning Islam; it's tenants, its unbelievably dedicated adherents and its desire to wipe out Christianity from the face of the earth.

Randy Bohlender said...

Jim Henderson paid an atheist to be able to ask him questions. It's a consulting fee. Everyone knows what his perspective if - Jim was very upfront about it.

Chad said...

Just to clarify: I'm cool with what Off the Map is doing.

I understand it and I think it's rad, too. :)

Katherine said...

Your post is dead on. I always shutter when GW says things like Islam being a "nobel faith." Anyone who reads the Koran can tell that it is not that. Especially in its passage that allow domestic abuse and murder in the guise of martyrdom. The Bible forbids all of those.

jan@theviewfromher said...

Interesting post, and I think your points are very valid. I wanted to let you know I linked to your post - I was trying to provide a variety of views on this subject, and thought you had a good discussion going here.