Thursday, October 13, 2022

In Christ Alone, the controversy for almost a decade about a modern hymn

 And how do you interpret this hymn? "In Christ alone" by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.

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.

In our traditional service this Sunday (Oct. 9) we sang "In Christ Alone" which is a contemporary song, but I do like it and it fit the sermon theme, sort of. After the service I asked one of the pastors who's also a musician about the words in the second verse, “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” Isn't that Calvin's interpretation, I asked. He assured me, it's in Lutheran theology. But it appears I'm not the only one asking.  Some people just don't sing that verse.

After our wonderful Sunday dinner which was sort of like my mom's (over done beef roast because it had to go in the oven before we went to church) I googled it. WOW. All sorts of controversy and that very line kept it out of some hymnals, including a Presbyterian!

I don't think it fits the whole O.T. sacrificial system we've been following up to the Cross, and God does come off sounding kind of nasty and petty, punishing someone for what others did instead of Jesus voluntarily offering a sacrifice we (humankind since Adam and Eve) haven't been able to do. But I know from being at a gazillion Bible studies over the last 50 years, that is how many Protestant denominations see that.

So what does your church do? Just sing it lustily and don't pay attention to the words just the emotion? Revise that verse and violate copyright? Receive it and believe it?

Here's just one article I looked at it. I shook my head and thought, "This is why there are 35,000 Protestant/Bible based denominations."

And this one with a long quote from N.T. Wright, a prominent Anglican theologian: The Bible Guy | “The wrath of God was satisfied”? (  Another N.T. Wright fan: 3a9f50ff-0846-417a-85a2-7623c472877f.pdf (

But I did read a lot of viewpoints, and some fairly lengthy articles on copyright, and how hymns can form theology long into the future.  But this blogger from Australia fit my understanding best:
"Sydney Anglican blogger David Ould helpfully pointed out in the online debate that God’s wrath is not satisfied by severely punishing an unwilling child. Nor is the Father like a sadistic teacher.

“The solution to all this, the Scriptures teach, is that one dies in our place. The entire OT sacrificial system models this and then Jesus Himself comes and does it. He is no “abused child” and there is no “lashing out by God”, rather He chooses Himself to lay down His life (John 10:11, 15, 17-18). Those last two verses are stunning how they tell of the unity of purpose between Father and Son:

John 10:17 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.’” The Wrath against Wrath: “Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” - Eternity News

No comments: