Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Finding God In U2

The Christian Post reports that Samford University's Professor of divinity, Steven R. Harmon, dubbed U2's latest album as their "most thoroughly Christian" project to date. U2's newest album, "No Line On The Horizon" was just released this week.

For some reason U2 has kind of become the heros of 21st century liberal pop-evangelicalism. All of the hippest ministers, it seems nowadays, can't say enough good things about U2. They love the quasi-Christian messages in some of the songs, and they've made Bono the poster boy for humanitarian aid and social justice. Whatever. Fine. U2 has certainly had a big impact on the music industry, and I like a lot of their songs.

My issue comes in when we start trying to "find God" in their songs and messages, and we use them as a means of spirituality. But it isn't just U2 we're talking about. I hate (a strong word, I know, but it accurately describes my feelings) all of the new books that come out that encourage you to "find God" in the latest movie that has been released, or in some band, music, or artwork. For example, we had "Finding God in Lord of the Rings," and "Finding God in the DaVinci Code" (yes, I really did see that one). I even just saw a book entitled "Finding God in Harry Potter." Maybe this is oversimplifying the issue, but wouldn't it be far more productive to "find God" in the Bible, the only place where he has truly revealed himself? I suppose you could "find God" in Lord of the Rings, but I think it would take quite a bit of work - at least a heck of a lot more work than cracking open a Bible. The same is true with U2: although it's a lot easier to pop in a U2 CD than it is to actually study the Bible, the "thoroughly Christian" message you receive is nothing compared to scripture (it's sad that this point even needs to be made).

There's also a serious problem (in my opinion, anyway) in "finding God" in places where you also find evil, sin, and perversion. In fact, quantifying U2's latest release as their "most thoroughly Christian" album should tell you something right there: if someone/something is indeed Christian, and adheres to biblical principles, shouldn't all of their work be "thoroughly Christian"? That's certainly not the case with U2. You don't have to read too many lyrics or listen to too many interviews with Bono to realize that the man (and presumably the rest of the band) do not adhere to scripture, and are most likely not born again. Would you take a preacher seriously who's messages were sometimes "Christian" and sometimes not? Would that be someone that you would go to for spiritual insight? I think not. Why then do so many Christians do so with U2? Also, if some of your pastor's messages weren't "thoroughly Christian," what was it about them that made them so? Did they contain cursing? Heresy? False teaching? You'd be a fool to sit under the spiritual authority of a man who didn't preach "thoroughly Christian" messages week in and week out. But apparently for some Christians, U2 gets a pass. I think, at least to some extent, Christians gravitate towards U2's music because they've got at least some messages that seem Christian, so it's a good enough excuse for Christians to engage pop culture.

This is not to say, however, that we can't appreciate Christian messages in art, books, and music. It is to say that we need not go searching for God in obscure places and try to force him into our view of artwork, because he has already readily revealed us to himself in scripture. If it ain't broke, why try to fix it with U2?

Call me old fashioned, but I still think the best place to find God is in his word.

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