'Wrath of God' Keeps Popular Worship Song Out of PCUSA Hymnal

Religion Today

'Wrath of God' Keeps Popular Worship Song Out of PCUSA Hymnal

One of Christianity's most popular worship songs has been deemed too controversial to be included in the latest edition of the hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (USA), Baptist Press reports. The decision made waves this week as people learned about it from evangelical bloggers and through social media. "In Christ Alone," a modern hymn written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, consistently ranks in the top 20 songs sung in churches of all stripes, yet it contains one line that the PCUSA's Committee on Congregational Song did not wish to include in the denomination's hymnal. The line in question is from the song's second verse: "Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied." Not wishing to portray a wrathful God, the committee asked to change the line to "Till on that cross as Jesus died/The love of God was magnified." The song's writers denied their request. In a May article in the Christian Century, Mary Louise Bringle, a member of the PCUSA committee that rejected the hymn, discussed the decision. According to Bringle, in reviewing other recently published hymnals, the committee discovered the revised lyric, "The love of God was magnified." These hymnals had changed the line, apparently without the authors' permission. When the PCUSA group sought permission from the authors and were denied, the song moved from the "yes" pile to the "no" pile by a vote of 6-9. The committee decided "it would do a disservice to this educational mission [of the new hymnal] to perpetuate ... the view that the cross is primarily about God's need to assuage God's anger," Bringle wrote.


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