Tim Keller | March 3, 2002
This talk includes comments from a Christian perspective on Bach’s Wedding Cantata.
Open Forums are specifically designed for skeptics or those wrestling with the claims of Christianity. Each Open Forum included a brief concert by guest artists followed by a talk and open mic Q&A with Timothy Keller. This audio recording includes the talk only.
Some might question how a Bach’s cantata, a piece of music, can reflect Christian beliefs. But if you listen closely, you’ll find Bach’s faith subtly expressed in it. He presents marriage in a way that is both romantic and adventurous, challenging both old and new ideas. By studying Bach’s music, we can learn more about Christianity, marriage, and how our beliefs can deeply influence our art.
1. Marriage as a romance
In Bach’s cantata, marriage is like a love story, highlighting the joy and attraction between two people. This idea started in the Middle Ages, especially among Christians. Before this, marriage was more about family interests and duties. But since Christianity recognizes the value of being single, marriage became a choice. This allowed for love to become a part of marriage. The cantata also emphasizes the importance of commitment and lasting love in marriage, comparing it to the fleeting nature of spring. This reflects a very Christian view of marriage.
2. Marriage as a journey
Christianity views marriage as a life-changing journey and a promise, different from the old family-centered and the new self-centered views. It stresses personal growth, commitment, and the power of marriage to change us. It’s like the journey of getting to know Christ, which brings us joy, freedom, purpose, and hope. Christianity offers support and resources for both married and single people, reminding us that no human partner can fully satisfy us like Jesus, who has promised to never leave or forsake us.
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