Wednesday, August 3, 2011


An article titled “Jesus, Reagan, and John Lennon” came out on recently that was as stunning as it was hopeful (if you’re a Christian apologist). According to the article’s author, John Lennon’s life near the end was one keenly interested in Christianity. In the book, The Gospel According to the Beatles, rock biographer Steve Turner claims that in his later years, Lennon at one point professed to be a born-again Christian. The point of the Fox News article, however, was to highlight that Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, might just have kept all this a secret after his death.

Although this article was news to me, the information gathered for it came from an excerpt from Turner’s book, which was published in in 2007. According to Turner, John Lennon’s interest in Christianity was both significant…and brief.
“Over the following months he baffled those close to him by constantly praising "the Lord," writing Christian songs with titles like "Talking with Jesus" and "Amen" (the Lord's Prayer set to music), and trying to convert nonbelievers. He also called the prayer line of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson's program. The change in his life perturbed Yoko, who tried to talk him out of it. She reminded him of what he'd said about his vulnerability to strong religious leaders because of his emotionally deprived background. She knew that if the press found out about it they would have a field day with another John and Jesus story. John became antagonistic toward her, blaming her for practicing the dark arts and telling her that she couldn't see the truth because her eyes had been blinded by Satan.”
Lennon’s story takes a turn, however.
"Those close to the couple sensed that the real reason she was concerned was that it threatened her control over John's life. If he became a follower of Jesus he would no longer depend on her and the occultists. During long, passionate arguments she attacked the key points of his fledgling faith. They met with a couple of Norwegian missionaries whom Yoko questioned fiercely about the divinity of Christ, knowing that this was the teaching that John had always found the most difficult to accept. Their answers didn't satisfy her, and John began to waver in his commitment."
As an apologist, this part of the story intrigues me the most. The author does not supply us with details about their interview with the Christian missionaries, but I am tempted to speculate that as eager as Lennon seemed to embrace Christianity, that the missionaries could not adequately explain to him, despite Ono’s skepticism, the most fundamental truth of the Bible was a great apologetics blunder. In my opinion, of all the essential Christian doctrines, the divinity of Jesus is the one that demands our greatest commitment to its defense by all believers. How might things have turned out differently for John Lennon if the missionaries could quote historians that affirmed that Christ was revered by His followers as Deity? What kind of impact could they have had if they couched Jesus in the Jewish monotheistic culture of that day, who put Himself in the very place of God to make the legal and moral pronouncements which the Jews recognized that only God had the right to make? How might Lennon’s perception of Christianity have been different if they could show that Jesus’ own identity claims were understood as claims to be the Creator God of Israel and Judge of the living and the dead? How might evidence for Jesus’ resurrection have kept his mind open to faith in Christ? As influential and introspective as John Lennon was, I can “Imagine” what a few good answers might have done for him.

The Gospel cannot be fully expressed without acknowledgment of Jesus’ divinity. It behooves us to know and be ready to affirm Jesus’ identity as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the universe, not just for devotional significance, but as an objective truth we publicly proclaim and defend. Sometimes the window to faith in others opens for us to recognize a divine appointment for the Gospel. Can a little apologetics make a difference? I believe it can.

(Look for this article on the International Society of Women in Apologetics website, August newsletter.)

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