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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bono on Grace and Karma

Could someone like Bono really be a Christian? Here's his confession of faith:
It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

...At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics - in physical laws - every action is met by an equal or an opposite one... And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that... Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

...I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge... It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

...The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death... It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

...The secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: 'I'm the Messiah.' I'm saying: 'I am God incarnate.'... So what you're left with is either Christ was who He said He was - the Messiah - or a complete nutcase... The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that's farfetched.
And here's the full World Magazine article by Gene Edward Veith if you want to check the context. What I like about this is that Bono seems to have a keen understanding of what grace is really all about, and he is banking on it - that's what he's putting his faith in - Christ's righteousness, not his own. At the end of the day, that seems pretty orthodox to me.

I also found Veith's summary paragraph telling:
What is most interesting in this exchange is the reaction of the interviewer, to whom Bono is, in effect, witnessing. This hip rock journalist starts by scorning what he thinks is Christianity. But it is as if he had never heard of grace, the atonement, the deity of Christ, the gospel. And he probably hadn't. But when he hears what Christianity is actually all about, he is amazed.
Veith nails it here: most people who think they are rejecting Christianity are actually rejecting somthing far different - they are rejecting the religious ethics, the do's and don'ts of people who call themselves Christians on the basis of their moral behavior - they are rejecting religion which distinguishes between the good and the bad on the basis of one's actions, they are rejecting religiousity as something which commends us to God.

If non-Christians have never heard this from believers, one has to wonder how many "Christians" have really heard the message either.

Hat tip: Orangejack


At 6:30 AM, August 10, 2005, Blogger CM said...

I think the article's great... a really conscise and understandable description of Grace, and how it affects us.
I 'wish' I could explain myself so eloquently...

At 2:32 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Christianity Today excerpt that's on their site today is a lot more complete than this version.


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