Friday, February 27, 2004


I was recently asked whether or not I think U2 is Christian, and why or why not. The response got a little long for the comments section, so here it is:
Lyrics from here.

From the song "Peace on Earth", from "All that you can't leave behind":
Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

To tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth

Jesus in this song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on Earth

Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won't rhyme
So what's it worth

This peace on Earth

The message is clear- the peace that Jesus claimed to bring is worthless.

from "If God will send his angels" from Pop-
Hey if God will send his angels
And if God will send a sign
And if God will send his angels
Would everything be alright

God has got his phone off the hook, babe
Would he even pick up if he could
It's been a while since we saw that child
Hanging 'round this neighborhood
You see his mother dealing in a doorway
See Father Christmas with a begging bowl
Jesus sister's eyes are a blister
The High Street never looked so low

From Wake Up Dead Man:
Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
And a f***ed up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

And the clincher, I think, from The First Time, Zooropa:
My father is a rich man
He wears a rich man's cloak
Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming
Gave me a cup of gold

He said I have many mansions
And there are many rooms to see
But I left by the back door
And I threw away the key
And I threw away the key
Yeah, I threw away the key
Yeah, I threw away the key

For the first time
For the first time
For the first time

I feel love

I could go on. But these are the lyrics of someone who has no confidence in God to solve the world's problems or to show real love for people. If they're Christians, this is some new definition of the term. In contrast to these, I couldn't find much evidence of actual trust and faith in God. I found trust and faith in some of the concepts of Christianity like grace and forgiveness, but never actually connected with God.

Hope this helps.

Update: I just read this on the subject, and that makes me wonder if the lyrics quoted above are meant to be ironic, or representing struggles with faith, or something of the like. But it seems to me, if a band's going to publish lyrics like the ones I've quoted above, then he's taking a pretty definite stand. It is, to my mind, up to him to counter that with something. He can't just be coy about his faith. "If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my father in heaven. But if you deny me before men..."

Update 2John has convinced me. Not that they are Christian, but the discussion with him has convinced me that it's not really appropriate for me to make statements about whether they are Christians personally or not. If he claims to be, then absent serious moral failings or major doctrinal problems, I would accept that. But I would have some major questions to ask- why do they claim faith in Jesus Christ, and then express the opposite in their music generally speaking? Some might view that as a sufficient moral failing to merit questioning true faith.

The original discussion was over whether or not it's appropriate to include their music in a worship service. Given the very ambiguous nature of the message of their work corporately, I'll stick by my guns. They do not express a robust faith in God in their music, but doubt, skepticism and criticism, with no converse trust and faith. Again, I'm talking about their music, nor their lives.

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