Beauty, music and Christ

Published 5:29 pm Monday, January 7, 2019

Imagine a world with only one color? Or one musical note? Or one musical instrument, playing that one note? Or one number? The beauty of our earth and universe is its incredible diversity.

You’ll likely remember the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras and his Pythagorean theorem, “the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides?” What you might not remember was his interest in the relationship between math and music.

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.” He, like Plato, Confucius and many others, realized and explored the relationship between math and music.

We all assume we hear music, but what we really “hear,” or rather “sense,” are sound waves. Those sound waves are collected by our ears and funneled down to our ear drums and translated by our brain into sounds.

We assign a particular note to each frequency — middle C is 261.625 Hz, and the A above middle C is 440Hz. And along comes a composer and strings those frequencies or notes together to “make music” or “math for the ears.”   

One of the “Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith“ by Phil Tallon asks, “Who is God?” And the answer is, “God is the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three persons in one God” from 2 Corinthians 13.

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God the Father, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.”

The two foundation stones of our faith are never explained in the Bible. We never read that God is, and we never read about a trinitarian God. Both are assumed by the Biblical writers and so the Bible is saturated with them — as is all creation. There is a problem; how do we understand the Trinity? How can three persons be one God?

Maybe math and music can help; you can play a song with one finger playing one note at a time, but it’s so much fuller and richer when both hands play multiple notes or chords. And you can play a song on one instrument, but it’s so much fuller and richer when there is an orchestra playing all the various parts. Try it at the piano. Now press and hold those keys in order beginning with your thumb. It’s a harmonic chord, three different notes making one harmonious sound. The diversity in our world and the musical harmony we hear reflects the Trinity. So, the church for 2,000 years has said, “God is three persons in one God — father, son and Holy Spirit.”