In 2001, Christian songwriters Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend teamed up to produce some inspirational Christian music. Their first joint effort produced the song In Christ Alone. Townsend penned the lyrics which convey the powerful truth of the Cross and Getty wrote the Irish melody that helped carry the message.
In Christ Alone rapidly became a popular song throughout Christian circles and began appearing in hymnals to be sung by congregations everywhere. As you listen to Keith Getty and his wife Kristyn perform the hymn, listen carefully to the words and the truth they convey.
Wasn’t that beautiful and inspiring? Wouldn’t you want to sing that in church from time to time?
Well, the Presbyterian Church USA feels differently. When a committee was updating the official denominational hymnal, they struggled with the powerful words of this song. It was the second verse that evidently made them squirm in their liberal chairs:
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.
I emphasized the lines that the committee could not tolerate. They contacted Getty and Townsend and asked them to change the line about God’s wrath to ‘the love of God was magnified. The committee just could not deal with the fact that a loving God could also be a wrathful God. Fortunately, Getty and Townsend refused to change the lyrics as they felt the message of the song would be weakened. They wanted the song to tell the whole Gospel which included the wrath of God poured out on Christ for all of our sins.
Mary Louise Bringle, Chair of the Committee on Congregational Songs said the committee asked for the lyrics change because they didn’t want people to think that the song was implying that Christ’s death on the cross was an atoning sacrifice that was necessary to satisfy God’s anger over sin. When the songwriters refused, the committee felt they had no choice but to delete the hymn from their hymnal.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, who serves on the Presbyterian Lay Committee, said that they sing their theology and the elimination of this hymn makes a statement about the theology of the denomination. I should say it does. As more worldly liberalism creeps into their midst, the harder it is for them to accept biblical truth. After all in 2006 they ordained their first woman minister and in 2011 they changed their ordination standards to allow homosexuals to be ordained. It’s only a matter time until they’ll approve of homosexual marriages and who knows what else as the Presbyterian Church USA becomes more liberal and worldly, day by day.