Pentecost and Musical Pluralism
purpose and diversity of expression. The author is Harold Best.
PENTECOST AND MUSICAL PLURALISM
Pentecost is Babel turned right side up: all speech is unified because it is
God, no longer people, who is building toward the heavens.
The story of Pentecost goes further than its historical reality. It is also
a parable that urges us into the knowledge that the gospel is comfortable in
any culture and its message finds easy residence in the languages, cultural
ways and thought styles (but not thought systems) of countless societies. In
other words, whoever seeks to move a culture towards transformation by Christ
must join it, participating in the transformation from within.
God is not Western; God is not Eastern; God is not exclusively the God of
classical culture or primitive culture; God is the Lord of the plethora, the
God of the diverse, the redeemer of the plural. Likewise, God calls for
response in different languages, dialects, and idioms, accepting them through
the Son. Pentecost tells us that one artistic tongue is only a start and a
thousand will never suffice. There is no single chosen language or artistic
or musical style that, better than others, can capture and repeat back the
fullness of the glory of God. This truism cannot be avoided. Cultures are not
infinite. No single one can hold the wholeness of praise and worship or the
fullness of the counsel of God.
- Harold Best, in MUSIC THROUGH THE EYES OF FAITH, Chapter 3, "Musical
Pluralism and Diversity," Harper Collins, 1993, p. 66.
["O for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer's praise." Lord, show
us our chains of linguistic and artistic elitism. Set us free to hear and
respond - to know your ways and worship you in spirit and in truth. AMEN!]
Have a great week,
Pastor of Worship and Music
Chapel Hill Bible Church
Chapel Hill, North Carolina