1 The Reformed View of Music by Timothy Peng Abraham Kuyper calls music the gift of the Holy Ghost, 1 and the Church of Jesus Christ has been blessed tremendously as she uses music to bring her devotion and prayers to God throughout the ages. However, Christians have engaged in great controversies over the use of music in the church, with extreme diversity of opinions ranging from Zwingli s total rejection of music to Rick Warren s complete embrace of every style of music. The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance on how we can use music for our benefit, and impart wisdom on the way to discern the dangers hidden in its usage as we live in this fallen world. To do this, I will briefly trace the development of music theories to the ancient Greeks, then compared the ancient wisdom with the insights from the Reformers (especially John Calvin), and finally explore the natures of music in order that we can enjoy it. Since it is part of aesthetics, it is difficult to draw philosophical and mathematical equations on what music constitutes good music. The Greek Philosophers have long ago paid attention to the nature and power of music. What makes music beautiful? Can good music be described by mathematical equations? According to legend, Pythagoras (Sixth century BCE) was the first philosopher who discovered mathematical numbers underlying musical pitch. One day as he was passing a blacksmith's shop, he was captivated by what he heard: every now and then, the clattering from the sounds of the blacksmith's hammering would blend into a harmonious unity. It turned out that each hammer was a different weight and each produced a distinctive 1 See Abraham Kuyper, Calvinism and Arts in Stone Lectures, Lectures on Calvinism: Six Lectures Delivered at Princeton University Under Auspices of the L. P. Stone Foundation [The Stone Lectures]. Dearborn: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953, 153
2 pitch; the most "agreeable" musical pitches--that is, pitches that were pleasing to the ear when sounded together were formed by the simplest mathematical ratios (1:2, 2:3, and so on). Later on, Pythagoras found not only that different lengths of string produced different pitches but also that the most consonant interval, the octave, was produced by string lengths of the ratio 2:1; the next most consonant, the fifth, by lengths of the ratio 3:2; and so on. This led to a vision that was at root numerical, rational the harmony of the universe can be expressed in mathematical ratios or proportions apprehended by the mind, and musical sounds can mediate these ratios. 2 However, Pythagoras mathematical analysis of musical harmony did not cover every criteria of what constitutes pleasant-sounding music. Plato definitely thought that some instrumental music are harmful for a republic s soldiers and citizens, as they may become weak and melancholic after listening to these types of music. 3 Moreover, Plato links music with morality, stating that music can help build a balanced soul. 4 Plato took music seriously and suggested extensive rules on what kind of music should be allowed and what kind should be banned. Begbie explains: "Therefore, heard music for Plato has positive ethical, political, and social potential. The contrast with some dominant present-day attitudes to music for example, that music is essentially a matter of private individual taste, with little lasting or profound effect could hardly be greater. But odd as it may seem to us, the power of musical sounds to improve our individual and social behavior was something taken for granted in virtually all ancient Greek 2 Jeremy Begbie, Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Engaging Culture). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007, Plato, The Republic, Book III. 4 Begbie, 80
3 musical philosophy and in a vast amount of subsequent Christian thought." 5 In contrast with Plato s diligence in studying and categorizing the effects of music, modern people express a cavalier approach to the nature and power of music. The ancient wisdom is clear on this: music is powerful and it has the potential to influence the listeners to various effects. Studies have shown that music often plays a pivotal part in the formation of young people's identity, self-image, and patterns of behavior 6. The commercial sector knows that music can affect, among other things, the time people spend in a shop 7, the amount of money spent 8, and the choice of product. 9 Begbie recounts his own experience with the power of music: "Music not only reflects and emerges out of our social-cultural world but up to a point it also constructs it. On a trip I took the United States recently, a music video was playing as we boarded the plane, with images of rivers fading into each other, accompanied by slow melodies and whale song. It was all very soothing. The images and music together helped transport me into a world of calm security. The sounds and pictures of the natural world with its slow and ancient rhythms were designed to help me forget the world I was actually entering--a recently built, wholly artificial, and potentially faulty mechanism, which was shortly to project me at over five hundred miles per 5 Begbie, 81 6 Andy Bennett, Popular Music and Youth Culture: Music, Identity, and Place (New York: Macmillan, 2000). Mark Tarrant, Adrian C. North, and David J. Hargreaves, "Youth Identity and Music" in Musical Identities, ed. R. A. R. MacDonald, David J. Hargreaves, and Dorothy Miell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), R.E. Milliman, "Using Background Music to Affect the Behavior of Supermarket Shoppers," Journal of Marketing 46 (1982): C.S. Areni and D. Kim, "The Influence of Background Music on Shopping Behavior: Classical versus Top-Forty Music in a Wine Store," Advances in Consumer research 20 (1993): Adrian C. North and David J. Hargreaves, "Music and Consumer Behavior," in The Social Psychology of Music, ed. Adrian C. North and David J. Hargreaves (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997),
4 hour through the thinnest of air, thirty-five thousand feet above any river what is going on here? Music, principally through managing our moods, is not only reflecting an existing social reality; it is helping to create and sustain a new one. It is organizing the group, ordering our social world, setting parameters of appropriate reaction, helping to elicit trust and structure desired response." 10 In short, music has the power to organize its listeners, creating new experiences in life. Brown puts this way: "We should be careful not to imply that music simply replicates in an audible medium the preexisting social and inner realities of our world. Rap music and the hiphop culture of which it is an integral part are not just an expression of contemporary African American urban life as it already exists they constitute a new dimension of that life." 11 However, is music s power contained in itself or music is only powerful when combined with the power of the words? I think there is not an either/or answer, but we must recognize that music is powerful in itself, but yet it is even more powerful when combined with words. This issue of the power of music combined with power of the words is extremely relevant in the church worship setting. Can one worship God with good lyrics yet utilize inappropriate musical tunes? At least four possibilities are present: 1) Good lyrics with good melody, 2) good lyrics with inappropriate melody, 3) bad lyrics with good melody, and 4) bad lyrics with inappropriate melody. No one will debate whether options 3 and 4 are suitable for church worship, the answer is obviously no, for it is easy to judge whether the lyrics are sinful or even heretical. And there will be little debate on whether option 1 is suitable for worship; most people can enjoy a good music containing wholesome and Biblical thoughts. Where the most debates are generated is in 10 Begbie, Frank Burch Brown, Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 162.
5 the matter of adopting option 2, when clearly the words of the song are wholesome and Biblical, but the taste or style of the music may not be agreed upon as good or appropriate. The Reformer John Calvin certainly was aware of the issue of good and bad music. However, he was more worried about the possibility of option 3 bad lyrics with good melody. Brown remarks on Calvin s introduction to the Genevan Psalter: As we have seen, however, Calvin also seems to suggest that even a beautiful melody can be harmful when its words are unedifying. In that case the melody can intensify the evil effect of the words and make the text more seductive or debilitating, as though acting as a funnel for wine. 12 Calvin is well aware of the power of music being able intensify the power of the words. Calvin however did not really rule on the issue of whether good lyrics could be ruined by bad melodies. While Calvin worries about the effect of combining attractive music with dubious words, he does not discuss the effect of combining good or devout words with immoderate or trivial music. 13 To explore the possibility of option 2 (good lyrics with inappropriate music), Brown experimented singing Psalm 23 to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Brown noted that the King James Version of the Psalm is not metrical, and therefore not susceptible to being sung to regularly metered music such as "Rudolph". One possible procedure therefore is to read the King James text as a voice-over, with a small group humming the tune of Rudolph in the background. Even when this is done, Brown notes that it is impossible to 12 Frank Burch Brown, Religious Music and Secular Music A Calvinist Perspective, Re-formed. In Theology Today, 60, 2006, Ibid., 15.
6 have a softer and slower rendition of Rudolph to fit the image of Shadow of Death, as this Psalm is often thus used in funeral services. 14 Brown concludes: " the music can be heard as reinforcing the trivializing tendencies this is prancing and dancing music, with scarcely any sobering thoughts that might arise when walking through valleys dark as death, the music at that very point has us imagine a pleasant valley detour that is little more than a lark such an attempt to accompany the veritably classic version of the Twenty-Third Psalm with the music of "Rudolph" will leave little doubt that the reindeer music the music itself stays in a much lower orbit than the poetry of Psalm 23 it must be said that this music is not, after all, infinitely malleable or suited to all purposes." 15 Brown has concluded that although Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not an evil song in itself, it is however not suitable for worship services. Music has its quality in its tonal melody, harmony, tempo, and phrasing, and we must learn to discern the differences between a joyful or funeral song. It would be not only laughable but disrespectful for someone to play President Obama s inaugural music at President R. Reagan s funeral service or vice versa. Music has its own qualities in and of itself; it is not just a product of a certain social setting or culture, but it has universal qualities that people from any culture will be able to grasp. Begbie argues: "Is music to be explained entirely in terms of human actions, its social and cultural contexts and uses? Is Music no more than the product of this or that social group, this or 14 Frank Burch Brown, Christian Music, More than Just Words Theology Today 62 (2005): Ibid., 228.
7 that culture? Might there not be something, so to speak, "in the notes" and perhaps even in the makeup of all human beings that plays a key part in musical experience?" 16 One of the arguments Begbie uses is the human body s natural connection to music. "Crucial also are the integrities of the human body. Music is a very bodily business, whether or not the human voice is used. Our physical, physiological and neurological makeup shapes the making and hearing of sound to a high degree the body is deeply implicated in hearing and listening to music. Vibrations in the air enter our auditory canals, stimulate microscopic organs, provoke foot tapping and head swaying. Indeed, it would seem that music's first appeal is to the body, and certainly not to the ear alone." 17 Our bodies built-in connection to music is so great that it has been exploited by therapists in various degrees. A story was told that a six-year-old autistic boy who could not tie his shoelaces even after repeated demonstration was treated by a therapist, who put the process of tying shoelaces into a song, resulting in the boy succeeding in the second attempt. 18 Music by itself (without the words) has its own meanings. Begbie calls it the musical sense. He explains: Music has one more dimension beyond sound-producing materials, sound waves, human bodies, and time, and that is the patterns of sounds that make up music. The 16 Begbie, Ibid., Anthony Storr, Music and the Mind (New York: Ballantine, 1992), 33.
8 sounds of music are configured, arranged in particular ways, and as such interact with me in particular ways so as to make sense. 19 In other words, the way the sounds are arranged creates built-in meanings. There cannot be any music that is without meanings; people may come to various conclusions of what meanings are contained in a particular music, but music cannot be music if it is completely senseless it would be just pure noise. Anyone can bang on the piano and make noises, but one must be trained to arrange notes on the piano to make 'sensible' music. The example of joyful and funeral musical senses mentioned earlier is still applicable here. Three categories of musical senses are identified by Begbie as follows: 1. Aesthetic Integrity Any piece of music must at least possess some aesthetic integrity for it to be considered of any worth, and this aesthetic integrity is built within the creation order. "When I listen to a Schumann symphony to appreciate its shapely melodies I am listening to it for aesthetic enjoyment. This aesthetic integrity, from a Christian theological point of view, will be seen as grounded and embodied in God's created order, made and remade in Jesus Christ." Surplus of Meaning Music (and arts) operates in ways that it is metaphorical, generating a "surplus of meaning as he calls it. Begbie explains: "The surplus of meaning is not to claim that [it] can mean anything at all, any more than the metaphor 'he is a tiger' can mean anything. But it is to say that it can generate multiple meaning, disclose more and more of something, evoke more and more as we are drawn into it Musical sounds are related whether 19 Begbie, Ibid., 50.
9 by nature or convention to states of affairs outside of music. Music is not wrapped up in itself it makes connections it has immense power to gather connotations and associations." 21 In other words, any listener listens to a piece of music will associate it to a particular meaning, whether it be sad, joyous, magnificent, extravagant, romantic, and etc. A listener may conclude in various ways how this music is sad, but no one with any musical sense will confuse a sad music with a joyful one. 3. Structural properties Different pieces of music are structured in different ways, giving them different capacities. Music is not an 'empty sign' to which any meaning can be attached. He explains: Marches and lullabies, for example, have very different structural properties, which accounts in large part for their different uses. Marches tend to be loud, regular in tempo, their beats at a marching pace in groups of two or four. A lullaby one of the most universal forms of music is usually slow, quite, and gentle; the melody moves in small steps, often in a rocking pattern, and the sounds are gentle, not angular or harsh. This is music, after all, for comfort and rest. 22 Indeed too many worship songs writers have ignored the musical sense and then attached solemn words to loud and rocking music. It is a confusion of the musical sense with the lyrics. Along the same line, other than musical senses, figures of music also were employed by Baroque composers to further integrate music and words to maximum effect. Figures were devices that were thought to give music a greater rhetorical force, analogous to the 21 Ibid., Ibid., 52.
10 embellishments orators use to make their speeches more persuasive and drive their points home. 23 Begbie explains: Some figures are very closely allied to the sounds of speech. Pairs of notes, very close in pitch, were thought to heighten a sense of sighing or lamenting think of the sound of a sigh. The viola da gamba's sighing in "It is finished" is a good example. Sometimes the figures could take the form of word-painting (hypotyposis). When Handel in Messiah sets "Glory to God in the Highest," he uses high, brilliant sounds; for "peace on earth" he uses low, subdued sounds. In Bach's Mass in B Minor, in the "Et in unum" we find words descendit de coelis ("came down from heaven") set to a falling melody. Examples of this kind could be multiplied many times over. What we should not miss is that what drives this more than anything else is the assumed link between music and language. Not only did composers believe these devices worked like rhetorical gestures in speech but they also used the devices to drive home a meaning or emotion already conveyed by the words." 24 Moreover, composers were aware of the Theory of Affects (Affektenlehre). Musical materials and forms for example, styles, keys, instrumentation, meters, melodic shapes--were correlated with certain affects, or emotional states, such as sadness, hate, joy, and love. The composer, it was thought, can move the affects (i.e. emotions) of the listener. 25 This did not develop into one widely accepted scheme, but some techniques became very common: for instance, wide intervals between notes became associated with joy and confidence, the French overture style with a sense of stately grandeur, trumpets with triumph and elation. It is not hard 23 Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., 131.
11 to detect such links in Bach. Trumpets, or trumpet-like music, frequently appear in the context of joy (the "Et Resurrexit" of the Mass in B Minor); oboes are often associated with love. D major becomes linked to majesty and splendor (again, the "Et Resurrexit") and E minor to grief and suffering (as in the St. Matthew Passion, where E minor plays a critical role). Again, we should not miss the very close links presumed here between music and the way words operate. The Reformed tradition beginning with Calvin is well aware of the power and musical sense of the worship songs. Calvin was more cautious compared to Luther and the Lutheran tradition in choosing the songs for worship. Rather than Luther s sweeping embrace of musical culture, Calvin called attention to the significant assets and dangers of music 26, and thus he would never accept the assumption that every form of music human beings find somehow pleasurable is healthy and good since in his view there is nothing that is untouched by sin. 27 Calvin is more apprehensive than Luther about the potential dangers in music. He has an especially vivid sense of the vulnerability of all human activity to sin. Spiritual joy, of which music can be a reminder, was part of our endowment prior to the fall. But the catastrophe of sin has turned music into a very mixed blessing. Music can poison and disfigure the heart as much as uplift it, and thus it can cause disastrous moral consequences. It is true that every bad word perverts good character, but when the melody is added, that word pierces the heart much more 26 Brown, Religious Music and Secular Music--A Calvinist Perspective, Re-formed." Theology Today 60 (2006), Ibid., 20.
12 strongly within. there is hardly anything in the world with more power [than music] to turn or bend, this way and that, the morals of men, as Plato has prudently considered." 28 Calvin s attitude toward music influenced his decision to remove musical instruments in his worship services and his insistence on the development of a distinct style of sacred music. According to Blankenburg, Calvin through his Psalter developed a Protestant musical stilus ecclesiasticus, much as Palestrina might be said to have developed a correspondingly Catholic one. 29 Copious research has also been done to track down the sources of, and influences on, the tunes of the Psalms in the Genevan Psalter. Although the results are inconclusive, we do know many of the composers and arrangers of the tunes (the most famous being Loys Bourgeois). 30 One of Calvin s purposes in creating a Psalter is to allow believers to pray without ceasing through the memorized singing of the Psalms, whether they are in the homes or in the fields. 31 Calvin explains that public prayer is of two kinds: with words alone and with song. 32 Calvin s practicing of singing Psalms in church and at home was intended to the eventual elimination of all secular vocal music. 33 Garside adds: In the ideal future, when men and women sang, not only at public worship, but in their private prayers and everywhere else, even in 28 Calvin, "Genevan Psalter: Foreword," Walter Blankenburg, "Calvin," in the encyclopedic Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Kassel und Basel: Barenreite, 1952), 665., quoted in Brown Religious and Secular Music, Blankenburg, Church Music in Reformed Europe, , quoted in Brown, Religious and Secular Music, John Calvin, Forward to the Psalter, trans. By Charles Garside, in John Calvin: Writings on Pastoral Piety, ed. Elsie Anne Mckee, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 2001), Calvin in Garside, Garside, 24.
13 their entertainment at table and in their homes, they would sing only the divine and celestial hymns of David. 34 Whether this intention of Calvin s was successful or even possible is unknown, but at least the contrast is stark when we compare Calvin to the effects of modern Christians in eagerly absorbing and adapting virtually every style from the world outside (the reverse of what Calvin desired). 35 Even though Kuyper would not have followed Calvin entirely to search for a sacred music, he definitely would not have agreed with the inclusion of every style of music by modern Christians. Kuyper emphasized that the music used in worship must be the finest, the most exquisite, the most perfect that you can imagine. Our spirit is not moved by the song of a sparrow but by the lark, not by the starling or crow, but by the thrush and the nightingale. When music for itself is wanted as a part of the worship service, it should be outstanding." 36 Calvin would certainly disagree with Rick Warren s stance on music: Worship has nothing to do with the style or volume or speed of a song. God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don t like it all, but God does! If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship. 37 Brown comments on Warren s stance: Such a statement, welcoming as it is, forgets entirely that certain kinds of music may be driven whether by nature or by culture and social construction towards 34 Ibid. 35 Brown, Religious Music and Secular Music, Abraham Kuyper, Our Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies) (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2002), 65.
14 feelings and outlooks far removed from either Christian worship or the Christian life in general. 38 Reformed Christians must learn from Calvin to wisely discern the styles of music and choose the appropriate ones for the use of worship and even for personal enjoyment. Brown offers his advice: The church must be discerning as it searches for music that, in the larger culture, gives voice to human feelings and transformative beauty, with or without words, and in a way that can likewise be enjoyed in God, and offered up to God. 39 What Brown has suggested is a step beyond what Calvin had allowed in his Geneva church, however, it is in the right trajectory of Calvin s search of sacred music. Kuyper would also agree that what Calvin did in Geneva was not to set an uniformity of music style, but to set the church free in searching of the most outstanding style of music. 40 Excellent and pleasant music not only enhances the worship experiences, but it also enriches Christians spiritual reflections and devotion. Begbie suggests two more wise uses of musical power for the benefits of Christians living. 1. Tensions and resolutions. "Tension and resolution is one of the most basic psychological patterns governing our lives." 41 "From traffic lights on red to lights on green, 38 Brown, Religious and Secular Music Ibid., Abraham Kuyper, Calvinism and Art in Lectures on Calvinism: The Stone Lectures of Calvinism frees the musicians from the controls of the state church and [they] were able to find inspirations among the people: "The men who first arranged the music of the Psalm for the Calvinistic singing were the brave heroes who cut the strands that bound us to the Cantus firmus, and selected their melodies from the free world of music. (168) 41 Jeremy Begbie, Theology, Music, and Time (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), chaps 2 and 4.
15 sexual arousal to orgasm, nerves before the interview to the relief of a job offer. In the Western Tonal music, the dynamic of tension and resolution is pervasive. Tensions are set up that demand some kind of release or rest." 42 One of the most important tension-resolution is harmonic tension and resolution. All chords needs to be resolved and cannot be left hanging on the tension chord. 43 If you were to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and stop on "And the home of the", the listeners will be expecting for the resolution of Brave. The full pattern of equilibrium-tension-resolution (ETR) gives music a forward-moving feel. Western tonal music is teleological, or directional. It is not circular, though it may involve much repetition. It drives toward future rest and closure, often leading to some kind of goal or gathering together of a musical process. 44 Begbie pointed out that relating this ETR pattern in Scripture is not hard, to say the least, the Scripture has patterns of creation-fall-redemption, promised land-exile-return, orientationdisorientation-reorientation in the Psalms. 45 Tensions and resolutions (ETR) teaches us three things (1) Life cannot be rushed. God's timing and our lives cannot be rushed; in the same way, music will become unintelligible when it is rushed Begbie, Resounding Truth, Ibid. 44 Ibid. 45 see Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984). 46 Begbie, Resounding Truth,
16 (2) Music s ETRs invite us to live on many levels. "Music is not an art of straight lines. It is never simply a string of ETR's, one after the other, on one level. If it were, we will soon lose interest. Music's ETRs work at many levels simultaneously, and this is one of music's strongest powers, one of the prime ways it gets under our skin and holds us." 47 Music is measured by meters and marked by time signature (2/4, 3/4, etc.). Each measure contains the number of beats indicated by the time signature, a wave of tension and resolution is set up, repeated measure after measure. The measures are grouped and they can also be grouped into larger groups of measures (tensions-resolutions). "This process continues up, level after level, higher and higher, until the whole piece is covered. This can be a highly complex process, but this basic multileveled pattern is present in one form or another in virtually all types of Western music, from Bach to Brahms, R.E.M. to Eminem." 48 In the same way, this multi-leveled tension-resolution is necessary in Christian life, or in Biblical exegesis. Begbie gives an example: "There is a certain kind of 'fundamentalism' that reads the Scripture in flat time, where every word of the Bible is treated as if it were literal, plodding prose about events on one level alone, where every prophecy has to come true at only one single time and in one unambiguous way. But if we think on many levels, this habit of thinking dissolves. When God promised to Abraham that he would make "a great nation" (Gen. 12:2), how is that fulfilled? In the people who settled in Canaan? In the kingdom of David? In the community who returned from exile in Babylon? In the Church at the end of time? The answer is surely yes, in all of them. A single 47 Ibid., Ibid., 281.
17 promise can have many different fulfillments. As long as we limit ourselves to single straight lines, we will struggle hard to conceive of that. But music, with its multiple waves, embodies it for us in even the simplest song. 49 (3) ETRs teach us to wait. The gospel gives us this already-and not yet tension. The resolution is coming, but not yet. This theme is also prevalent is music. "The handling of delay is a crucial musical skill maintaining the 'not yet' of resolution through deferred gratification is generally reckoned to be one of the most important things to be learned by any composer." Sound mix: Two or more notes can sound simultaneously. "This seemingly innocuous phenomenon is in fact one of music's greatest powers, and it is of huge significance from the perspective of Christian faith." 51 If one plays a middle C on a piano, what she hears fills the whole of the heard space. If she plays an E along with the middle C, that second note also fills the whole of the heard space, the same space as the C. The notes interpenetrate, occupy the same heard space, but one can hear them as two notes. Music has come to depend massively on the interpenetrating and resonating features of sound, and it exploits them to powerful effect." 52 This sound mixing nature of music can serve to illustrate the Trinitarian nature of God. "What could be more apt than to speak the Trinity as a three-note chord, a resonance of life; Father, Son, and Spirit mutually indwelling, without mutual exclusion, and yet without merger, each occupying the same space, 'sounding through' one another, yet irreducibly distinct, 49 Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,
18 reciprocally enhancing, and establishing one another as other? Early Christians wrote of God's perichoresis (co-inherence), the interchange and mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Spirit, paraphrased by Cornelius Plantinga thus: 'Each divine Person harbors the others at the centre of His being. In a constant movement of overture and acceptance, each Person envelops and encircles the others.'" 53 We often treat the Trinity as a mathematical problem to be solved, rather than a reality of harmony to be enjoyed: "our tendency is to treat the Trinity as essentially a problem to be solved a mathematical conundrum about three-ness and oneness to be agonized over on Trinity Sunday rather than a reality to be enjoyed has been exacerbated by giving pride of place to the eye in telling us what is permissible and impermissible. Then it is hard to avoid the dangers of the supposedly easy ways of solving the problem: imagining God as blandly one (Unitarianism), or a celestial committee of individuals (tritheism), or as outwardly three but internally without distinction (modalism). 54 The illustration of the Trinity by music is indeed superior to that given by visual arts. And one must begin to contemplate why "faith comes from hearing the Word" rather than seeing the Word. The Reformed tradition grants us a richer and wider field for enjoying and contemplating music; it also sets up boundaries and warns us of the hidden danger of music due to the result of the Fall. Reformed Christians are better equipped to search for and develop more outstanding and excellent musical pieces for the glory of God and our enjoyments. 53 Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), Begbie, Resounding Truth, 293
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