Bono’s Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

Can a rock star preach? Apparently those who head up the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. think Bono can. Last week, he spoke at the annual event with President Bush sitting close by (for a transcript click here). I would argue, however, that although there was much to commend in Bono’s remarks, there was also much to be concerned about.

We can all appreciate and affirm Bono’s desire to see the Christian church get more involved in addressing poverty and disease in Africa. We welcome the challenge that he gave to Americans to be more generous in their giving to charities that help bring relief to those who are suffering there. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has the responsibility to care for “the least of these,” and Bono has rightly called all our attention to the needy in Africa.

I fear, however, that with Bono and with many others the gospel message gets muddled in the murky waters of religious pluralism. That is, the distinctive Christian gospel too often gets shuffled to the side so as not to offend well-meaning people of other faiths with whom Christians cooperate in acts of mercy. At the breakfast, Bono’s appeal to Christian Scripture and to the Koran is a case in point of this danger. Yet, Christians derive their impulse for mercy directly from a gospel that teaches God is merciful to us through Jesus Christ crucified (Romans 12:1-2).

I’m concerned that Bono’s language can send the wrong message to a listening world. Many will hear Bono’s call (and those sympathetic with him) and will wrongly conclude that all religions are equal. They will also miss the truth that God is reconciling the world to Himself exclusively through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I don’t think of Bono as an evangelical spokesman, but I do think that he has the ear of many Evangelical Christians. An article in Christianity Today, for example, called Bono’s remarks “prophetic.” Even though Bono and others may appeal to the Bible, Evangelicals should listen critically when considering messages such as his. When it comes to extending mercy to the least of these in Africa, let’s all say “amen” to Bono’s call and give until it hurts. Let us cooperate with others in extending this mercy in so far as we can do so without compromising the gospel.

But let us never forget that for Christians the centrality of Jesus Christ crucified is a non-negotiable (1 Corinthians 2:2). We should never compromise this focus in the cause of mercy. Rather, our acts of compassion should bring it into sharper view (Matthew 5:16). I’m not sure Bono has grasped this yet. Let’s hope and pray that Evangelical Christians do.

See my previous post on Bono: “Interview with Bono in CT.”

See Christianity Today’s coverage of the National Prayer Breakfast: “Bono Waxes ‘Prophetic’: Rock-star/activist inspired by Leviticus and Isaiah.”

8 Responses to Bono’s Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

  1. Mark February 8, 2006 at 5:03 pm #

    Thank you sir, very well said. Most likely I will link to this post.

  2. Josh Orr February 8, 2006 at 6:38 pm #

    I am reading a book right now called “in conversation with bono” which is an amazing book. In the book bono explicitly tells the gospel, I would recommend picking it up. My myspace has an excert from it. http://www.myspace.com/joshorr... it is under “about me”

  3. Denny Burk February 8, 2006 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks Josh,

    Or you can just clink the link above and read my previous post on Bono.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  4. Bruno W February 8, 2006 at 8:42 pm #

    I hear this kind of religious pluralism frequently from politicians. They have to say stuff like that (the reason I could never be a politician). The governor of SD (my home state) said at a commissioning service that the great thing about the USA is that allowed everyone to worship the “One God” anyway we want to. Yikes. I’ve heard Bush also speak in these terms. It shouldn’t surprise us.

  5. Josh Orr February 8, 2006 at 8:46 pm #

    I just did a post on the pub about it, check it out.

  6. Josh Orr February 9, 2006 at 2:53 am #

    i fixed your last post on the pub, you have to upload pictures for them to work. It is retarded but oh well. you should write some more on it.

  7. Kristie February 12, 2006 at 11:29 pm #

    Hi, I still don’t know how to do trackbacks, but this is just to let you know I linked to your article on my post about Bono. Thanks so much for the article!!

  8. Brett February 13, 2006 at 12:23 pm #

    Denny,

    If you haven’t already, you have got to read this from Relevant magazine’s website regarding Bono: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/pc_article.php?id=7089

    I have a personal friend who also confirmed this story.

    Very scary. We need to be careful before jumping on the bandwagon of praising a celebrity’s “faith.”

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