“I think it’s the defining question for a Christian: who was Christ?”
Bono is the lead singer of U2, one of the most successful rock ‘n roll bands ever, and he was responding to a question about his Christian faith in a 2013 interview with Irish news channel RTE.
“And I don’t think you’re let off easily,” he continues, “by saying, ‘A great thinker,’ or ‘A great philosopher.’
“Because actually, he [Jesus] went round 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…”
The interviewer interrupts him: “Not?”
“No, no. Nuts!” Bono corrects. “Forget rock ‘n roll messianic complexes. This is like, Charlie Manson type of delirium.”
A bit later, the interviewer is direct: “Therefore, it follows you believe he was divine?” And Bono is clear in his response: “Yes.”
Bono was invoking a version of Lewis’ Trilemma, named after C.S. Lewis who popularized it in his apologetic writings.
The argument is meant to show that, if one accepts the Scriptural account of Jesus as accurate, one cannot reasonably consider Jesus to simply be a good teacher who wasn’t divine, since he made radical claims about himself (e.g. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14.6).
Though Bono only offers two alternatives (that Christ was either God or “nuts”), Lewis offers three possibilities: that Christ was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. The implication is that if Jesus wasn’t the Lord, he wasn’t a “good teacher” or someone worth following
Bono has been very public about his Christian faith, invoking it as the primary motive for his philanthropy and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and global poverty.
Here’s a video of the relevant part of the interview:
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