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Amy Spreeman is founder and co-blogger at Berean Research and also a contributing blogger at Pirate Christian Radio’s Berean Examiner blog. She has been a broadcaster and freelance writer for 25 years. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

PCUSA rejects popular hymn “In Christ Alone”

I saw this over at today. Apparently the reason the Presbyterian Church USA doesn’t like “In Christ Alone (one of my favorites), is because of that unpopular, un-politically correct word, “Wrath.” As we’ve pointed out many times here at SUFTT, the more sin is watered down, the less we have of the true Gospel. In other words – no sin = FALSE gospel.  The PCUSA has been going down a concerning path for quite some time now, and it appears that this is just another symptom of the problem the devil delights in: a departure from Truth to appeal to the world. Here’s the article:

PCUSA rejects popular hymn “In Christ Alone”

Timothy George explains why the Presbyterian Church USA has recently rejected the hymn “In Christ Alone” from its new hymnal:

Recently, the wrath of God became a point of controversy in the decision of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to exclude from its new hymnal the much-loved song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The Committee wanted to include this song because it is being sung in many churches, Presbyterian and otherwise, but they could not abide this line from the third stanza: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.” For this they wanted to substitute: “…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The authors of the hymn insisted on the original wording, and the Committee voted nine to six that “In Christ Alone” would not be among the eight hundred or so items in their new hymnal.

There is no surprise in this news. Although not all PCUSA churches are theologically liberal, the denomination by and large is. Liberalism and wrath go together like oil and water; they don’t mix. And historically speaking, one of them eventually has to go. When wrath goes, so does the central meaning of the atonement of Christ—penal substitution. At the end of the day, the cross itself is the stumbling block, and that is why the PCUSA cannot abide this hymn.

You can read the rest of George’s article here. You can listen to the hymn and read the lyrics below.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

“In Christ Alone”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

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33 Responses to “PCUSA rejects popular hymn “In Christ Alone””

  1. The new Passion CD also did this, except they deleted the whole second stanza of the song. This is so sickening to see people run away from fundamental biblical truths. I absolutely love the way Newsboys sings this. This song preaches more gospel than most preachers today. So sad, but not surprising.

    July 26, 2015 at 12:48 AM
  2. John #

    Is anyone aware of Satan's tactics mixing truth with error? The Getty's are building up the one world religion with their practice of knowingly acting as bridge between "young and old," "Protestant and Catholic." Yes, the liberal church is wrong but so is ecumenism.

    September 3, 2013 at 8:36 AM
  3. This is one of my favorites too, and it definitely lines up with Scripture. The part about the wrath of God being satisfied when every sin was laid on Christ brings me to remember the following passage: "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him….[the Lord made] His soul an offering for sin….He poured out His soul unto death….and He bore the sin of many". (Isaiah 53:10-12)

    August 11, 2013 at 1:56 PM
  4. lyn #

    Kevin,

    The problem with stating that righteousness and wrath are interchangeable is this – when God's righteousness and holiness are profaned by sin, He responds in wrath. Wrath is a result of righteousness being broken, an 'effect' of the 'cause'. God avenged His righteousness by pouring out wrath on His own Son. So the Getty's lyrics seem to be correct.

    A. W. Pink wrote an excellent book on the attributes of God, which includes His wrath. I invite you to read, if you haven't already, the chapter on God's wrath – pbministriesdotorg/books/pink/Attributes/attrib_16.htm

    We are in agreement as far as the reason behind the opposition to wrath; may God richly bless you this day brother.

    August 3, 2013 at 4:27 AM
  5. I'm not sure that this is quite fair to what actually took place at the PCUSA. I don't deny the liberalism that exists there. My home church left the PCUSA and I agreed with and still agree with that decision.

    But to be uncomfortable with the idea that the wrath of God is satisfied by putting Christ on the cross such that God is punishing the Son in our place is not to be liberal or unorthodox. This was not the teaching of the Church for 1,000 years until Anselm and later Calvin. C.S. Lewis shied away from this description in Narnia. None of these people had any problem with God's wrath. You are free to think that the early Church, and Lewis, is wrong for not describing the atonement in terms of God punishing the Son – but there is nothing new about such a perspective. The Christus Victor model is an important part of Christian tradition.

    Do we know that the PCUSA committee is uncomfortable with God's wrath in general, or merely that they were uncomfortable with a hymn that says that God punishes the Son in our place, an idea that many orthodox Christians deny? From what I have read, it looks like the latter is the case. And that is different from being liberal or a heretic.

    I go into this into an article I write here, if anyone is interested: http://toomuchlovenathanaelkyle.blogspot.com/2013

    August 1, 2013 at 10:16 PM
  6. Kenny #

    God's righteousness is one of His attributes, or you could say His character. He is righteousGod. Therefore His wrath is what needed satisfied. He always is in perfect righteousness. I know this seems like semantics, but it's actually very important. We must contend for every part of our precious gospel. Paul illustrates the distinction in Romans:

    Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

    August 1, 2013 at 2:38 PM
  7. Marie #

    May I also add this……In the case of Paul and Silas, our brothers in Christ, were they in need of a leader to initiate worship? Did they wait for the band's instruments to be fine tuned before they began singing? Did they receive an applause from man after their performance? Did they get any "high fives", "pats on the back", "praise from man to flatter their egos" after their performance?

    Or was their worship purely focused on the Glory of Christ?

    And now we sent people to "worship leadership classes" designed to perform many functions in the church system….we must now have trained performers in charge of worship for after all, the sound must be perfect in order to enter into the "presence of a god", no average Joe will due…….they must have perfected voice and instrument training. And if the planned worship does not pluck at the strings of the pew sitters hearts in the form of emotion, then the coffers may not be filled to the brim, so we must appease to the senses in order to manipulate the desired outcome….more and more money! And are those "performers" really worshipping our LORD in Spirit and in Truth…….or are they watching you, the pew sitter, to see if their "performance" musters up any emotion in your heart…..after all, are they not there to show us how wonderful they are in their, I mean God's eyes?

    And in the end, we now pay "music ministers" to lead us in churches……..I wonder if the prisoners threw trinkets at the feet of Paul and Silas when they were finished.

    So what has "church" really become?

    For some, singing praises, psalms, and hymns to our LORD, out in the city park while walking my dog, has been some of the most pure worship I can even describe.

    Praise Jesus for His freedom and liberty…..He has come to set the captives free!

    August 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM
  8. Marie #

    Acts 16:25 "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."

    Author: God

    This one simple Scripture from the very Word of God is such an inspiration to my faith in Jesus Christ. For while Paul and Silas were imprisioned, they were still free to sing as God, the Holy Spirit, led them….with no inhibitions (they did not worry about what the prisioners thought of them.) Such freedom in Christ!

    The Psalms are a lovely book of Songs that address every aspect of a person's being and God, the Holy Spirit inspired David to write these for us today. There is no greater writing than that of our LORD.

    I have but a few concerns…..does it really matter if this organization chose to eliminate the hymn from their hymnals which are more likely worshipping the "self" or the works of man? Can we not sing praises, hymns, and songs….just like Paul and Silas did in prision regardless of a carnal organization's choice of word play? And in the grand scheme of things, how often do we go and sit in a church building and worship the "worship"? Case in point, "Boy, that worship band sounded great today"…."The music was so loud, causing my head to pound, so I had to get up and leave."….."The church choir did a really good job and their robes looked so neatly pressed"….."That piano player made so many mistakes, it was so hard to follow!"….etc., etc., etc……..

    We have made an idol out of "worship" and it grieves the Body of Christ that we had put people on platforms to lord over us in "leading" and "performing" worship, often hiddenly desiring to be praised for "their" performance.

    I learned recently that the word "worship" actually means to "fall prostrate or to fall on one's face." How often do we see this in church systems? I have never witnessed this in the religious system, sorry to say…..only boasting and bragging/enormous pride in so called worship. No repentance. No humility.

    In the end, it is just fine with me if the word "wrath" is eliminated from a song as most of us are aware, if we are truly honest, that the words "sin" and "repentance" and "humility" have been eliminated from the church of man altogether. This is what we now hear from pew sitters…."I don't do anything wrong" ….thus the "church" is no different than the rest of the world….it is the world.

    We have the liberty to sing praises to our LORD as the Spirit leads us…..inside or outside the prison walls.

    Praise our LORD Jesus Christ throughout all eternity!

    August 1, 2013 at 2:59 AM
  9. Kenny #

    Fwiw… The new Passion CD also did this, except they deleted the whole second stanza of the song. This is so sickening to see people run away from fundamental biblical truths. I absolutely love the way Newsboys sings this. This song preaches more gospel than most preachers today. So sad, but not surprising.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:38 AM
  10. Diana #

    Jeremiah 5:31
    The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?

    July 30, 2013 at 2:03 PM
  11. HERES ONE YOU NEVER HEAR IN CHURCH,ITS the most unpopular of all, in every church in america,…REPENT OF YOUR SINS A MAKE AMENDS WITH THE LORD AS YOUR REDEMPION DRAWS NEAR,and this time you better do it, cause OBAMA THE ANTI-CHRIST is about to bomb america back into the stone age and NO ONE will admit it could happen,in such a godless country as america is, but not much longer cause its going to be completely destroyed….OH,almost forgot,a message from the lord,1start calling each other every day,2.start going over each others house and become familar with where each other live,3start having meetings in groups to decide how to avoid the mark of the beast,and being put into a fema death camp….THE LORD WANTS ALL HIS CHILDREN TO START ON THIS RIGHT AWAY……he says your out of time………

    July 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM
  12. Bill #

    their is no hope for these vermin, they rejected christ and his truth and exchanged it for a lie of the devil. they will be judged harshly then the ones that are not christian.

    July 30, 2013 at 12:49 PM
  13. Kevin O'Neil #

    It's a pity that nobody thought of changing the line to:

    God's righteousness was satisfied.

    July 30, 2013 at 9:03 AM
  14. As The Lord will allow us to behold His mighty hand, I hope He will not find offence in my remembering the lines to an old Martha & the Vandellas song from the '60s:

    "Nowhere to run baby, nowhere to hide."

    May His Presence shine upon you!

    July 30, 2013 at 3:55 AM
  15. Fred #

    When I opened this article, I was expecting the objection to be to the first line.

    July 30, 2013 at 3:30 AM
  16. vanessa #

    This is one of my favourite hymns.
    And well done to the authors, for not changing this beautiful and truthful song.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:04 PM