The Gift of Music: Common Grace and Common Ground - page 5


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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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  Fourth, music can increase our longing for a return to home. For believers, this is the longing of the ages, for the final stage of God’s redemptive, four-chapter drama of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation. When a piece of music ends by restating the theme it introduced at the beginning, we find ourselves at home. And that theme’s “at-home-ness” seems even better after having been away. This happens so often in a wide variety of genres—popular music, jazz, folk, and classical—that it suggests a deeply ingrained longing for a return to the way things once had been.
  Robert Greenberg, a music historian and brilliant lecturer about music, says that when we hear the return of the main theme at the end of Bach’s Goldberg Variations,

though, in its return, the Aria is unchanged, we now hear a world of possibilities and experience implicit within it that we could not possibly have heard at the outset of the piece. We are the wiser at this point of the piece, and the serenity and completion . . . are not unlike those one might feel when looking back across a long and well lived life.5

Common Ground

  As mentioned above, music can be the basis for discussions with non-Christian friends that points them toward the gospel. Here are some suggestions for how that can happen.
  Many Christians wonder what activities they can share with non-Christians. To be sure, there may be some party invitations we should decline. But music often can provide common ground. Going to concerts together, listening to music together, or discussing which of their iPhone playlists get the most air time can begin deeper discussions about beauty, creation, and meaning.
T  he question, why do you think music moves us so much?, can launch many conversations that point to a Creator who made life orderly, enjoyable, and rich. But you’ll want to think through how your love for music connects to your faith. You may not be able to come up with an explanation as easily as a jazz musician improvises on the spot.
  If your testimony of coming to faith in Jesus has a C.S. Lewisian component of disappointment that led to the “other world” of the gospel, prepare ways to express that in words. Maybe this is something you could share in writing through social media. Or maybe you can post updates about concerts, art exhibits, or movies you’ve seen and share how the experience pointed you beyond.

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