By Jan White
Recently, I saw a film producer interviewed on a network news program. He made a comment that fascinated me when he pointed out the possibility that John Lennon became a Christian during his later years of life.
According to a soon-to-be-released documentary about the former Beatle and several biographers as well, Lennon enjoyed watching evangelists Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts.
In 1972, Lennon wrote a letter to Roberts reportedly confessing his dependence on and his fear of facing up to the “problems of life.” Lennon also expressed regret for his 1966 comment in a London newspaper about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus, and he enclosed a donation to Oral Roberts University.
Author Steve Turner – in his book The Gospel According to the Beatles – quotes from Lennon’s letter and Oral Roberts’ response. Lennon wrote, “Explain to me what Christianity can do for me. Is it phoney? Can He love me? I want out of hell.” In his reply, Roberts shared Jesus’ invitation to everyone to come to Him and His promise, “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Roberts continued, “You said, John, that you take because reality frightens you,” telling him Jesus, the true reality, is not hard to face. “Remember as you open your life to Jesus, He will take away all fear and give you peace.”
Turner reports that in 1977 John Lennon told his close friends that he’d become a born-again Christian. He wrote Christian songs about talking to Jesus. One song titled, “Amen,” was his musical version of the Lord’s Prayer. Lennon was said to have called the prayer line of Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Easter Sunday of 1977, Lennon and his family attended a local church service.
During visits that John, his wife, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean, made to the Japanese mountain town of Karuizawa, Lennon and Yoko talked with missionaries there about spiritual matters. The missionaries recalled how Yoko questioned the divinity of Jesus, which John also found difficult to grasp.
We cannot know for sure if John Lennon put his faith in Jesus. Only God knows the heart of every person. From reading what some of his biographers have noted, it appears Lennon was seeking for truth. Jesus described Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Interestingly enough, Lennon wrote a song in 1971 that asked listeners to imagine there was no religion. I’ve often heard it said that it’s not about religion, it’s about a personal relationship with Jesus. Pascal has said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
“All you need is love,” Lennon once sang. “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not,” C.S. Lewis stated. Theologian William Barclay put it this way, “The essential fact of Christianity is that God thought all men worth the sacrifice of His Son.”