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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