Bono, Universalism, and the Emerging Church? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Commentary Opinion by Brannon S. Howse
Perhaps you are not very familiar with Bono, the lead singer of the rock group U2, but you need to become familiar with him now! Bono was recently named as one of TIME Magazine's persons of the year and appeared on its cover. Weeks later, Bono was a keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast along with the President of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />United States and other national leaders. A week later, Bono and his band received a Grammy for album of the year and song of the year.
Bono has been to the Oval Office, traveled to third-world countries with then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and conferred with many of the world's political and religious leaders. During the early part of 2005, credible publications wrote about whether or not Bono had a chance at being appointed President of the World Bank. While that did not occur, Bono continues to gain lots of press attention as he gives interviews for his campaign to have rich countries forgive the debit of third-world countries and calls for the nations of the world to fund a more aggressive campaign to deal with the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
I lay out this history so you will realize we are talking about a man that is well-spoken, media-savvy, and respected by many for his humanitarian efforts. This is not just another rocker.
Now, put all this as the backdrop for what you are about to learn. On Relevant Magazine's website, Tara Leigh Cobble gives an interesting report of what she says she witnessed at a Bono concert:
About five songs into their set, Bono stopped the show and strapped on a headband with writing on it. I stared up at the JumboTron to see that the handwritten lettering said: COEXIST. Coexisting sounds like a great idea. I fully support the peaceful philanthropy that Bono has encouraged, and this seemed like another way that he was trying to spread the message. Except, it started to feel like more than a political message. The "C" in "coexist" was the Islamic crescent moon, the "X" was the Star of David, and the "T" was the cross of Christ. Bono pointed at the symbols on his headband-first to the cross, then to the star, then to the crescent moon-and he began to repeat: "Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true."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.
While some at the concert dispute exactly what Bono said, media outlets have reported Bono wearing the Coexist logo.
The Coexist logo is certainly about promoting the worldview of pluralism and universalism. Pluralism is the belief that all religions are equal, and universalism is the belief that all religions are true and everyone will be saved because all roads lead to God.
The worldwide acceptance of pluralism and universalism will eventually lead to a one-world religion as discussed in the Bible. However, it appears that not everyone is opposed to the Coexist message. Who am I talking about? Well, it happens to be the Emerging Church. In the words of Gomer Pile I say, "Surprise! Surprise!"
According to numerous websites and authors, Doug Paggtt is a leader of the Emerging Church. Here is what Doug has written on his website: Bono - my man.
If you are a reader of my blog you may be aware that I am not a Bono fan, at least not in the way that one needs to be to call themselves a fan. Not only would I not pay to go to a concert but every time I hear the name U2 I can't help but mouth the phrase "over-rated". I think Rattle and Hum was really good and Joshua Tree was a classic, but other than that, well. And I have pushed for Paul to use his real name and not persona when calling people to causes of humanity. But, today I am a fan. Through an email I read an article on the Relevant website of one person's experience at a concert. I can't find the article on the website, but I read it in the email. It is called "How to Dismantle an Idolized Bono". She was disturbed by Bono's call to Coexist (which is as much a marketing effort of a line of products as anything else, it seems to me). But the article's author raises concerns about Bono not being what she thought because of his call for "oneness" and his use of the Coexist logo which included the Crescent Moon, Star of David, and Cross. The article makes statements that made me groan aloud, and yell in frustration a couple of times. It drove me to Bono's side, to come to his defense, to join the Coexist crowd. So, here's to you my man Bono.
On August 10th-12th, Pastor Bill Hybels, and his Willow Creek Association, will be sponsoring their Leadership Summit 2006. Bono will be featured at the conference in a videotaped interview with Bill Hybels.
Is this the point we are to set aside our Bibles, our doctrine and convictions and join hands and sing the song, We are the World? After all, one singer reportedly said the song was not so much to feed the starving people of Ethiopia, but "it was to create a sense of globalism and unity and oneness in the children."
Since "oneness" seems to be the goal of the Emerging Church, I am confident that this should be their movement's theme song. Perhaps all the EC leaders could get together and film their own music video of them singing this song and wearing the Coexist T-shirt?
I know that sound fundamental Christian doctrines are not really on the radar screen of the Emerging Church or their leaders, but let me remind them of what Jesus Christ said in John 14:6 that flies in the face of pluralism and universalism:
I am the way, truth and life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Act 4:12: Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
It does not get any more exclusive than that my friends.
The Coexist logo can be seen at this website: http://coexistonline.com/
Willow Creek's Website discusses Hybels' interview with Bono:
Tara Leigh Cobble's article can be found at this link:
Here is the website link to Dough Pagitt's blog where he discusses this issue: http://pagitt.typepad.com/pagittblog/2005/12/index.html
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