Seven surprising things Bono has said about Jesus

AP Photo/Odd Andersen

If there's one marmite celebrity sure to provoke strong feelings of love or dislike, It's U2 frontman Bono. The rock star-turned-activist, who recently courted controversy for agreeing to let Apple add his new album onto every iTunes account in the world, makes as many people's dream dinner party fantasies as he does pet peeve lists. I'm very much of the former persuasion; in my head, he'd make for a fantastic conversation over a melon and Parma ham starter, especially seated between Mark Driscoll and Gandhi.

Bono is also a committed and increasingly vocal Christian. While his music has had spiritual overtones since U2's early albums (and appearances at the Greenbelt festival), in more recent years, he's taken to giving in-depth interviews about his faith and theology. Here are just a few of the more interesting - and surprising - things he has to say about his prayer life, the church, and his clear and unswerving love of Jesus.

1. Bono on The Old and New Testament God

"There's nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that's why they're so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you're a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross."

(From Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas)

2. Bono on CS Lewis' Lunatic, Liar, Lord question

"[Jesus] went around saying he was the Messiah. That's why he was crucified. He was crucified because he said he was the Son of God. So, he either, in my view, was the Son of God or he was nuts. Forget rock-and-roll messianic complexes, I mean Charlie Manson-type delirium. And I find it hard to accept that whole millions and millions of lives, half the Earth, for 2,000 years have been touched, have felt their lives touched and inspired by some nutter. I just... I don't believe it."

(From an interview with Gay Byrne, RTE One, June 2013)

3. Bono on... King David: Blues musician

"First of all, David's a musician, so I'm gonna like him. ... And what's so powerful about the Psalms are, as well as their being Gospel and songs of praise, they are also the Blues. It's very important for Christians to be honest with God, which often, you know, God is much more interested in who you are than who you want to be."

(From an interview with Focus on the Family's Jim Daly, June 2013)

4. Bono on... Christians

"Christians are hard to tolerate, I don't know how Jesus does it...I'm one of them."

(From Bono's Jubilee debt campaign diary for Dazed and Confused, 1999)

5. Bono on... his family's prayer life

"I pray to get to know the will of God, because then the prayers have more chance of coming true - I mean, that's the thing about prayer. We don't do it in a very lofty way in our family. It's just a bunch of us on the bed, usually; we've a very big bed in our house. We pray with all our kids, we read the Scriptures, we pray."

(From an interview with Gay Byrne, RTE One, June 2013)

6. Bono on.. church and denominations

"I just go where the life is, you know? Where I feel the Holy Spirit. If it's in the back of a Roman Catholic cathedral, in the quietness and the incense, which suggest the mystery of God, of God's presence, or in the bright lights of the revival tent, I just go where I find life. I don't see denomination. I generally think religion gets in the way of God. I am just trying to figure it out. Everybody wants to make an impact with their life, whether it's small scale with friends or family - that's really big, is the truth - or whether it's on a grand scale, in changing their communities and beyond. I just want to realise my potential."

(From an interview with Christianity Today, March 2003)

7. Bono on... Grace

"...I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. 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. That's the point. It should keep us humbled. It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven."

(From Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas)

Martin Saunders is the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. Follow him on Twitter @martinsaunders