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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « A Sample Daily Prayer in Preparation for Sunday | Main | Learning from People with Bad Theology »

    Bono the Covenant Theologian

    Bono, the lead singer for the band U2, to my initial surprise, had some important things to say about grace. Not having previously read much else about Bono's theological views or personal life, I cannot comment about them, but I thought this particular quote showed his amazing insight into the heart and essence of grace from the perspective of the Covenant, no less.

    Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

    Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.

    Bono: You see, 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. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. 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.

    Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.

    Bono: That's between me and God. But 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.

    Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

    Bono: But 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.

    My Comment: I believe the points Bono makes are helpful and stand alone. But I wanted to comment about how his points relate specifically to Covenant Theology itself. And my guess is that he has not studied CT, so his insight was likely derived from the plain reading of Scripture.

    At the heart of covenant theology is the fact that God made a covenant with Adam (Hosea 6:7) where he could continue to live in the garden as long as he did not eat or touch the tree of knowledge of good and evil. i.e. grace was his as long as he did not break the covenant. However, Adam appeared to break (as our federal head) the covenant soon after he was created. Even after the fall this covenant continued with the rest of mankind and it essentially tells us, "do this and live" (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:13; 10:5). God's law and standard for us does not change after we fall. He does not change his own holiness to accommodate us, for, in doing so, he would no longer be God. The reason we all die, according to the Scripture, is because of sin ... but hypothetically, if someone did not sin and fulfilled all of God's commands then he would live. Bono, in his interview, calls this the law of karma. Essentially it is.

    Jesus tells the Rich young ruler, "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." (Matt 19:17)

    And Paul when exposing the universal sinfulness of mankind says, "He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." (Rom 2:6-8)

    Problem is, we are all way beyond being able to obey this covenant. We all died in Adam and none are born naturally with the Holy Spirit uniting us to Christ. So, as Bono says, "grace ... interrupts karma" In other words, since we all are striving to enter the kingdom by self-effort but these efforts are utterly futile because we have sinned against God and have no hope save in Christ's mercy alone.

    So what did Christ do to make this possible? He became flesh (one of us) without parting with his deity. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves, that is, he obeyed the original covenant which Adam failed at, that we failed at. He perfectly fulfilled the law of God by obeying it and then bore the full brunt of God's wrath (that we deserved) against us. He both lived the life we could not live (active righteousness) and dies the death we deserved (passive righteousness) so that all who trust in Him would be counted righteous in God's sight as if they themselves had lived a perfect life according to God's law.

    Bono seems to recognize all of these points in his interview. He knows that he is required to obey God's law if he is to live, but recognizes that he is beyond this, that he is a sinner having "done a lot of stupid stuff." and that if he stood before God based on his own righteousness (based on karma as he put it) he would perish. He likewise recognizes the need for the sacrificial lamb (who fulfilled the law and did not sin) on his behalf.

    Related Essays
    Do this and LIve by John Hendryx
    There May be More than One Way to God by John Hendryx

    Posted by John on August 14, 2006 11:43 AM

    Comments

    I like the statement.. "But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge... It doesn't excuse my mistakes"

    Likewise, the covenant of works will not excuse my mistakes. The problem is not with the covenant, but with man.

    I am a big U2 and Bono fan, as well as a lover of Reformed theology. For more on grace, see U2's song entitled, "Grace." Its a bit more of am ephemeral take, but it has its powerful points as well.

    Wouldn't trackback...hmm.

    I will talk and point throughout the day: RT on Bono the Theologian. Eteraz the Moderate Muslim. Halo Party. Dude.

    http://blogginoutloud.blogspot.com/2006/08/talkin-points-081706.html

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