God the Musical Artist in Irenaeus of Lyons
Some regular readers of DatingGod.org might know well that I have a particular interest in Christology (the theological study of the doctrines of relating to Christ) as well as in theology of creation. Recently, I have been working on some projects in both areas, which has occasioned me to think about one of my favorite early Christian writers: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a second-century bishop and theologian whose work is absolutely stunning and, at least to me, beautiful. He offers us lots of insight on questions related to creation and salvation (two traditionally distinct doctrines that he, rightly, sees as really one divine act). In my recent re-reading of the great Patristic thinker, I thought I might share one particularly moving excerpt that might speak to the more musically inclined among you. Enjoy!
“Created things, in their great number and diversity, fit beautifully and harmoniously into the creation as a whole. And yet, when viewed individually, they appear discordant and opposed to each other, just as the sound of the lute makes a single harmonious melody out of many and opposite notes by means of the intervals between them. The lover of truth must not be deceived, therefore, by the interval between the different notes, nor imagine that this note was the work of one artist and author, and that note due to another, not think that one person fitted the treble, another the bass, and yet another the tenor strings. He [or she] must not forget that one and the same Artist was responsible for wisdom, justice, goodness, and munificence of the whole work. And those who listen to the melody ought to praise and glorify the Artist, and admire the tension of some notes, appreciate the relaxation in others, enjoy the moderation of those between the two extremes. Recalling that some things are symbols, they will consider what it is that each thing points to and what causes it. But they will never alter the rule, nor stray from the Artist, nor abandon the faith in the one God who made all things, nor blaspheme our Creator.”