Are they Christians and what about that song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"? Surely Christians have found what they are looking for. Bono has really lost it now.
There are a few things that are wrong with thinking that this song is somehow backsliden heresy. Firstly, it is a very flimsy listening to the words of the song and secondly, it is very bad theology. The words of this 4 week number 1 in America goes:
" You broke the bonds You loosed the chains Carried the cross And my shame You know I believe it But I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
There has never been a more concise theology of redemption, atonement and the substitutionary death of Christ. No clearer proclamation of the Gospel has ever sold so many copies. Bono and the boys were, far from rejecting their faith in this song but courageously proclaiming it. I can remember sitting in Earls Court in 1992 during the first leg of the Zoo TV Tour and watching and listening intently to seek clues as to the band's spiritual condition, an addiction I have craved for coming on 15 years. "Still Haven't Found" would be a pretty good yardstick, I thought, and was not let down when at the end of the theological thesis on the crucifixion, Bono sang "You know I believe it" and then screamed out, "And I still do..."
Bono's conviction in Christ is not at all in doubt even though he may not be your common or garden Northern Ireland evangelical. Even in the most recent biography about the band, the highly to be recommended AT THE END OF THE WORLD, Bill Flanagan concludes, "I would aspire to be a soul singer", Bono once said, "A singer becomes a soul singer when he decides to reveal rather than conceal." For all the sunglasses and photo approval and image shaping that they have learned since then, U2 still believe in their hearts that the truth will justify and set them free. They still reveal everything when they play their songs. They are soul singers now." It is the traces of the truth and freedom both of which Christ said went together that drives this band.
But he hasn't found what he is looking for. I remember speaking in Dublin and seeing this rather exuberant Christian at the front of the hall. I began my address by asking had anyone found what they were looking for. "Amen brother. Yes Hallelujah!" I am not sure how my dear brother came to earth as he discovered that for the next hour I was exposing that to have found what we are looking for has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity. As I look at Rwanda, Angola, Mozambique, Sarajevo or Belfast city I do not see what I'm looking for. As I look at a Church filled with gossip, malicious lies in the name of truth, guilt building Pharisees, bigoted hypocrites I do not see what I am looking for. As I look into my life and see the egotistical, selfish sinful, husband son or friend I do not see what I am looking for and the fact that he broke the bonds, loosed the chains, carried the cross and my shame makes sense and become the good good news of the gospel. If I had what I was looking for, it could be discarded as something I had no need of. But the cross is my greatest need.
And so we look at Philippians chapter 3 and find St. Paul was a U2 fan or maybe Bono has read Paul! Paul finds contentment in the justification that comes in Christ's righteousness, not his own legalistic finding of what he was looking for but then he goes on to to make it so clear that he hasn't found the holiness he wants to find and that forgetting what is behind he strives on towards the prize. He makes it clear twice that what he is looking for is not what he has but that the gospel gives the springboard to head towards it.
So my conclusion is that U2's I Still Haven't Found What I Am Looking For is probably the best hymn written in this century, it has the theology of the cross but is centred in the reality of a fallen humanity and is about striving towards a better man and a better world. Bringing the kingdom. As Bono himself said in a Hot Press interview a few years ago "I love that bit in the Lord's Prayer about being on earth as it is in heaven. Now we could all do with a whole dose of that.
Keep on lookin'!