The Gift of Music: Common Grace and Common Ground - page 1


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Knowing & Doing

From the Winter 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

The Gift of Music: Common Grace and Common Ground

by Randy Newman, Ph.D.
Senior Teaching Fellow for Apologetics and Evangelism,
C.S. Lewis Institute

  Portions of this article first appeared in blogs at

ot too long ago, I was browsing in a used bookstore I had never before visited. Since the conglomeration of books was new to me, I had the ridiculously unrealistic goal of viewing every book and purchasing quite a few of them. But my task was halted by the sound of beautiful music. From behind the cashier’s counter came the ineffable strains of Puccini’s aria O Mio Babbino Caro. My book scanning came to an end as I stood motionless and allowed the music to wash over me. I looked at the sound system from which the music came and caught the eye of the only other person in the store, the manager standing next to the speakers. She, too, was captivated and said, “It takes you to another world, doesn’t it?”

  “It does indeed,” I responded in a soft voice, so as not to overshadow the beauty of the moment.
  Music does indeed take us to another world. Or, more accurately, it points us there. For me, music is one of those stimulators of desire that reminds me of what C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”1   Before coming to faith in Jesus, I “worshiped” music as my ultimate god. My weekly service occurred every Saturday night at the temple of the Philadelphia Academy of Music. My minister was Eugene Ormandy and sacraments were provided by Beethoven, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and other “patron saints.” But the repeated pattern of letdown after each and every concert became undeniable and the growing disappointment was palpable.
  During that time, I read the New Testament, thinking that perhaps music was an inadequate messiah. God used Matthew’s Gospel to convince me that Jesus was the true Messiah, the one who fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, and all the other parts of the Old Testament.

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