Many people have argued that U2 is really a Christian band that has achieved the ultimate crossover success. Others say they were a Christian band that have fallen away from their faith. I argue that they are a band that express their whole lives in their music, faith, love, dirt, everything. It shouldn’t surprise people when someone who has a lot of faith then expresses it in their music.
Many people see the Joshua Tree album as the defining moment in the argument, particularly the song I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
Critics point to this song as U2’s declaration of faithlessness (This was a hot topic when I was younger and one of the reasons my mom didn’t want me to listen to U2). I say it is only a natural response to the difficulties of maintaining faith.
If you start at the top of a mountain traveling to a village in the valley, as you wind your way down the trail you sometimes reach points you don’t see your destination anymore. Sometimes during these times it seems hard to travel on but when you see your destination again you receive renewed energy and pick up the pace. Some think U2 in …Looking For are describing one of those moments you find yourself on a particularly long stretch of road were you can’t see the village below. The point is, though, you keep walking and you will reach it eventually. The best list of bible references has been maintained Angela Pancella( @U2).We have included some of Angela’s work here.
“We’ve found different ways of expressing it, and recognized the power of the media to manipulate such signs. Maybe we just have to sort of draw our fish in the sand. It’s there for people who are interested. It shouldn’t be there for people who aren’t.”—Bono on faith, quoted in “U2 at the End of the World”
“It was a joyful noise” — Psalm 100:1: “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” (King James; see also Psalm 66:1, Psalm 81:1, Psalm 95:1-2, Psalm 98:4,6)
“Justified till we die” — the concept of being “justified” shows up all over the place, particularly in Paul’s letters, see for instance Romans 8:30: “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (King James)
“You and I will magnify” — Luke 1:46-55 is the song of Mary known as the Magnificat for its first line, rendered in King James as “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
“Moment of Surrender”
“It’s not if I believe in love/But if love believes in me” — echoes 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
“At the altar of the dark star” — See “Slide Away” (below)
“3:33 when the numbers fell off the clockface” — see the cover art for All That You Can’t Leave Behind and its reference to Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Bono told Rolling Stone, “It’s known as ‘God’s telephone number.’”
“Cease to speak that I may speak” — may reference Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”
“Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear” — more 1 John 4, this time 18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
“Stand Up Comedy”
“I can stand up for hope, faith, love” — 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (See “Elvis Ate America.”)
“God is love”— 1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (I’m just going to start calling this album 1 John 4 from now on.)
“White As Snow”
“Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not/Only the lamb as white as snow” — John 1:29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (Also see Exodus 12 for a description of the sacrificial lamb of Passover being without blemish.)
“Cedars of Lebanon”
Oh gosh, mentions of the cedars of Lebanon are scattered throughout the Bible. See Song of Solomon 5:15: “His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.”
Go, shout it out, rise up -