The Gift of Music: Common Grace and Common Ground - page 3


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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

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  For non-Christians, music can lift them out of the dominant message of our world, which claims that life is an accident in a random universe as a product of chance. Since God has “set eternity in their heart” (Eccl. 3:11 NASB), music can point people in that direction.
  Even some convinced naturalists who have little good to say about religion seem to wax eloquent about music in almost doxological ways. For example, Anthony Storr, an Oxford professor in psychiatry, in his Music and the Mind dismisses religious beliefs as mere attempts to “find comfort in supposing that God meant there to be order . . .”3 But in search of a conclusion to his lengthy naturalistic discussion of music, he proclaimed, “Music is a source of reconciliation, exhilaration, and hope which never fails . . . [and] something for the sake of which it is worthwhile to live on earth.”4 I love music, but I think we need something more substantive to make life “worthwhile.” I wonder if we might have some friends who would want Storr to be right about music but wonder why it sometimes does “fail.”
  Second, music can help us see the richness of life. Put negatively, music can serve as a preventative against reductionism—the tendency to think of anything in just one dimension. For example, we can think of this world as “just” organic matter. We can think of friendship as “just” an alternative to loneliness. We can view work as “just” a means to a paycheck. We can consider prayer as “just” a way to get God to do things for us. The complexities of music force us to see the richness in other things—people, activities, tasks, etc. As we close our eyes and explore the whole of music, which is so much greater than the sum of its parts, we attune our minds to seek similar complexity elsewhere. We become enriched as we appreciate the richness around us.

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