U2 Frontman Bono: Christian or antichrist?

Pope John Paul II and Bono

By no means do I ever want to make the serious mistake of so many Christians in times past of calling any given public figure the Antichrist. We are to be exceedingly cautious in these matters of Bible prophecy. Based on the fact that the Bible says there are “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18) and the son of perdition will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped and show himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4), we ought to be especially alarmed and watchful when a public figure like U2 frontman Bono manifests such a blasphemous spirit of antichrist in conjunction with musical worship, idolatry and political power.

Bono and President Barack Obama

Bono’s star status has enabled him to secure meetings with a variety of influential public figures including Tony Blair, George Bush, Barak Obama, and Dmitry Medvedev. The scope of Bono’s religious and political influence makes him one of the most powerful men on earth.

With Bono’s anti-poverty work with DATA then ONE then RED, he has made many allegiances in the evangelical community as well by meeting with people like Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Billy Graham.

Bono and Blair

Even today’s celebrities, politicians, presidents and world leaders turn to Bono as the “world leader” that can “save the world.” In an autobiography, Tony Blair says that Bono has world leader potential. Blair writes:

(Bono) could have been a president or prime minister standing on his head. He had an absolutely natural gift for politicking, was great with people, very smart and an inspirational speaker… motivated by an abundant desire to keep on improving, never really content or relaxed (online source).

Bono and billionaire Bill Gates

Emergent Church Icon

At the 2006 Shepherd’s Conference, Phil Johnson of Grace to You made a stunning statement about the Emergent Church. In his commissioned studies of the Emergent movement, he states, “This may help you more than anything I have said so far to understand the flavor of the “emerging church movement”: Bono—the Irish rocker and politico of U2 fame—seems to be the unofficial icon of the movement.” Johnson continues, “If you’ve been tuned into pop-culture at any time over the past two decades and know anything about Bono, that might help you to grasp something about the look and feel of the movement.” In studying the Emergent Church and seeing the leaders of the movement like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Campolo, Leonard Sweet and even Mark Driscoll quoting and exalting Bono, I can agree with Phil Johnson that “Emergent types seem to quote Bono all the time.” Johnson concludes that Bono “seems to be the chief theologian of the ‘emerging church movement’” (online source).

In an Emergent book called Get Up Off Your Knees, several contributing authors including Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible translation, praise Bono and U2 as a prophetic voice. One contributor, Brian Walsh, believes U2 lyrics should be taught in seminaries and that U2 concerts demonstrate how worship should be done in a postmodern Emerging culture. Walsh states:

Why isn’t the U2 catalog integral to the curricula of theological seminaries around the world? Why aren’t there courses on biblical interpretation where Bono’s lyrics are set side by side with biblical texts and their commentators? Why don’t liturgists study concert footage to see how worship really happens in a postmodern world?” (online source).

In the book, Bono is likened to John the Baptist (p.xi,xii,23). If Bono had a ministry like that of John the Baptist, he would have been beheaded decades ago. By the way, Bono said the following about John the Baptist: “Not since John The Baptist has there been a voice like that crying in the wilderness. … Every man knows he is a sissy compared to Johnny Cash” (online source). What an irreverent comment to make when Jesus says: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).

Bono with Bill Hybels

Not only does the Emergent Church point to Bono as their leader, but the seeker driven church leaders like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels have also forged ties with the musician. Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, hosted the 2009 annual Leadership Summit and among the 17 speakers that appeared, Bono was interviewed via satellite (online source).

Bono arranged to make Rick Warren the official pastor of the 2004 Live 8 concert in Philadelphia (online source). One New York Times article states, “people like Rick Warren and Bono who are trying to step out of the logic of the culture war so they can accomplish more in the poverty war” (online source).

Bono Claims Deity

A world leader who claims to be God? In a question and answer session, Bono likenins himself to God and prides himself in his nickname of “the Antichrist.” When asked, “Would you play in Omen 5?” Bono responded, “Omen 5? Now you’re talking! It’s funny, my mother used to call me the Antichrist.” When asked, “Who’s closer to God, Blur or Oasis?” Bono answered, “Well first of all, I am God. And Liam is my only son. (online source).

When Bono was awarded the an honorary knighthood by the British crown for his humanitarian work, he said, “You have permission to call me anything you want except sir.” Bono then suggested the following titles for himself, “Lord of lords, your demigodness.” (online source). How dare Bono refer to himself as the Lord of lords when Jesus alone is King of kings and Lord of lords? We know from Scripture that Jesus Christ is the one and only Messiah. Bono boasts of a “messianic complex” (online source).

Nicknamed the Antichrist

In the book U2: A Musical Biography, Bono’s biographical sketch tells us “he was a mischievous and rambunctious child who earned the family nickname ‘the antichrist’ for all the disturbances he caused around the house” (p.2).

Bono’s “COEXIST” message coupled with his messianic complex to save the world makes him one of the most dangerous false prophets of our time. On U2′s 2005 Vertigo tour, Bono sought to bridge all faiths into a global religion. The word “COEXIST” appeared on a giant screen—the “C” in the symbol of the Islamic crescent, the “X” as the Jewish star of David, and “T” as the Christian cross. Bono led their fans in a chant singing, “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed—It’s True”

Singer/songwriter Tara Leigh Cobble wrote about her experience at a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden as “COEXIST” was displayed on the JumboTron and Bono chanted, “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed—It’s True.” She said, “He repeated the words like a mantra, and some people even began to repeat it with him. I suddenly wanted to crawl out of my skin.” She asked, “Was Bono, my supposed brother in Christ, preaching some kind of universalism?” After the show, her friend stated, “I felt like I was witnessing an antichrist” (online source).

Eugene Peterson’s Emergent Bible paraphrase called The Message is the Bible translation often promoted by Bono (online source). Notice what Bono says about the Holy Spirit in relation to his favorite Bible translation The Message. Bono says, “The Spirit is described in the Holy Scriptures as much more anarchic than any established religion credits” (Christian Scharen. One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press. p.53).

What “spirit” is Bono talking about? Anarchy has everything to do with lawlessness and rebellion. It is in Bono’s favorite Bible translation that the Antichrist is described as the “anarchic” one, not the Holy Spirit. Eugene Peterson’s translation of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12 about the Antichrist, whom he calls “the Anarchist,” says:

You’ll also remember that I told you the Anarchist is being held back until just the right time. That doesn’t mean that the spirit of anarchy is not now at work. It is, secretly and underground. But the time will come when the Anarchist will no longer be held back, but will be let loose. But don’t worry. The Master Jesus will be right on his heels and blow him away. The Master appears and—puff!—the Anarchist is out of there.

The Anarchist’s coming is all Satan’s work. All his power and signs and miracles are fake, evil sleight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them. And since they’re so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it—gives them what they want. Since they refuse to trust truth, they’re banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions” (Peterson, Eugene. The Message Bible).

Devil’s Advocate

Pope Bono

For decades, Bono has been playing the Devil’s advocate personifying such characters on stage as Mirrorball Man, the Fly and MacPhisto, all of which are depictions of the devil. For instance, Bono tells about walking through the Vatican dressed up as the devil. He says: “Macphisto walking through the Vatican. That was great. I really enjoyed that. Walking through the Vatican with my stick thinking, ‘One day this could all be mine’” (online source).

Bono as Mr. MacPhisto

As Mr. MacPhisto, a cross between Elvis and a cartoonish devil caricature, Bono speaks in the first-person as Satan. The crowd cheers for Bono as he says in reference to Jesus, “We used to be so close.” He continues, “People think I’ve forgotten about Him but I haven’t. I used to find Him so inspiring back then. He invented me. I was His most magnificent creation, the brightest star in His sky. Now look at me, a tired old pop-star in platform shoes.” Bono then asks, “Who can I get to help me make peace with him? Who will mediate for me? Shall I call the United Nations?” Bono proceeds to call the United Nations on stage as the crowd cheers for his devilish performance (online source).

Beelzebub, the prince of devils (Mark 3:22) and another name for Satan, is a distortion of the Philistine false god Baal-Zebul, also known as “lord of the fly.” In playing The Fly, Bono described it as a phone call from hell in which he, the senior demon, was sharing the secrets of his trade. This theme is drawn from C.S. Lewis’ twisted novel The Screwtape Letters, which tells of a chief demon by the name of Screwtape instructing a younger demon, Wormwood, how to distract and tempt the human that has been assigned to him by, for example, twisting the truth in almost imperceptible ways (online source). Bono appeared as the The Fly in the 1994 Zoo TV tour, the Vertigo tour in 2005, and the film U23D.

Bono as the FLy

The U2 phrase, “Mock the devil and he will flee from thee” appears in the Zoo TV performance of “The Fly.” Other words and phrases were rapidly flashed on screens several stories high such as, “666,” “Guilt is not of God,” “Everything you know is wrong,” and various obscenities (online source). On the Vertigo tour in Hawaii, other messages were displayed like, “The secret is your self,” and “Sell your soul” (online source). But the Bible says: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Mocking the devil, either in words or in costume, is also spoken of in the Bible in a very negative way. Both Peter and Jude speak of those who would mock or speak evil of the devil as “brute beasts.” They say:

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet (2 Peter 2:9-16).

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core (Jude 1:8-11).

According to Bono, we must consult his songs in order to understand what he’s really about. It is his music that is important and it is his music that is worship. He says, “I lie all the time I only always tell the truth in my songs” (Johan Conrad and Amy Nickell. “Almost Better than the Real Thing,”  Gadfly, August 1997, p. 14-15).

Recently, Bono has continued to bring the devil into U2′s live performances. When performing, “Until the End of the World,” Bono confesses, “Jesus, this is Judas.” In the song, Bono sings in the first-person narrative as Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus after the Last Supper. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47).

Bono sings:

Haven’t seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold just passing time
Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world
I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You…you were acting like it was
The end of the world (online source).

However, another diabolical element surfaces when we consider that it was Satan that entered into Judas at the Last Supper:

When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:21-27).

Surely Bono is aware of this unspoken undertone of the song. When played live, the band performs an ensuing battle between good and evil played out on the ramp where Bono plays the devil by making horns with his fingers over his head and guitarist the Edge plays Jesus

In U2′s song “In God’s County”, Bono sings, “Naked flame / She stands with a naked flame / I stand with the sons of Cain.” Jude speaks of those who were in the way of Cain that were spots and blemishes in the Christian love feasts to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core” (Jude 11). “Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).

U2 also covers purely wicked and worldly songs like the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter” which became Charles Manson’s theme song in his murderous rampage (online source). In a live performance of Discotheque, Bono jumps into singing the INXS song “Devil Inside” which states “Every single one of us the devil inside” (online source). They also cover the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the Devil” which plainly aligns with the kingdom of darkness (online source). Bono sings, “As heads is tails just call me Lucifer.” This is not the type of language reflective of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Lucifer is also another name for Satan: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12).

Some have defended Bono by saying that he is not embracing the dark side but exposing the dark side. This argument is foolish when we consider that Christians are exhorted to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Furthermore, Bono’s playing devil’s advocate isn’t limited to his musical entertainment. In many interviews with Bono, he very soberly professes his allegiance to the kingdom of darkness. Speaking of his philanthropic efforts to change the world, Bono said, “Hey, I’d meet with Lucifer if I thought it would do any good,” (online source).

Conclusion

Can Bono save the world? Bono is dangerous and cannot be trusted. Based on his diabolical and blasphemous claims about himself, Christians ought to at least be aware and watchful for developments in Bono’s political and religious power in the world and professing Church.

Resources:

Rober LeBus. Personal interview. 2012.

The Emergent Church and the Bono Screwtape Connection. DVD. Director: Joe Schimmel. 2012.