When I read that the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) decided to exclude from its hymnals the song “In Christ Alone” (see video below) because the second verse mentions God’s wrath, I knew it was more evidence of doctrinal slide. The PCUSA, which takes a “progressive” view of Scripture, asked the song’s writers, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, if the church could change the 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.” The songwriters refused.
Why would a denomination want to remove a hymn’s reference to God’s wrath? Mary Louise Bringle, a member of the PCUSA song committee, attempted to explain:
“People making a case to retain the text with the authors’ original lines spoke of the fact that the words expressed one view of God’s saving work in Christ that has been prevalent in Christian history: the view of Anselm and Calvin, among others, that God’s honor was violated by human sin and that God’s justice could only be satisfied by the atoning death of a sinless victim. While this might not be our personal view, it was argued, it is nonetheless a view held by some members of our family of faith; the hymnal is not a vehicle for one group’s perspective but rather a collection for use by a diverse body.”