‘In Christ Alone’ blocked from new PCUSA hymnal over atonement language.
The “wrath of God” has kept one of today’s most-popular worship songs from being sung in many Presbyterian churches.
A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) committee desired to add “In Christ Alone” to the denomination’s new hymnal, Glory to God, set to be released this fall. But it first requested permission to avoid theological controversy by altering the modern hymn’s lyrics from “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied” to “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.”
However, authors Keith Getty and Stuart Townend rejected the proposal. So the committee voted six to nine to bar the hymn.
“The song has been removed from our contents list, with deep regret over losing its otherwise poignant and powerful witness,” committee chair Mary Louise Bringle told The Christian Century. The “view that the cross is primarily about God’s need to assuage God’s anger” would have a negative impact on worshippers’ education, according to Bringle.
Atonement theology—including penal substitution, the perspective captured in “In Christ Alone”—has long been controversial. But the exclusion of the hymn, No. 11 of the worship songs sung most often in American churches last year, prompted debate about how Christian doctrine is included in worship music
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