Recently, the Presbyterian Church USA rejected the hymn “In Christ Alone” from its new hymnal. The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song took offense to the second stanza in which the song proclaims “Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied.” Wanting to remove any taste of the wrath of God against sin, the committee wanted to change the words to “as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The authors of the hymn stood by their words and therefore the hymn was eliminated by a vote.
I have to say, removing the wrath of God for sin did not start with this recent decision by a committee but has slowly and surely been removed from many of our mainline denominations and evangelical churches (both pulpits and songs). You cannot rightly read the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, Peter, and Paul without clearly hearing them proclaim the wrath of God against sin. This is a solid truth that demonstrates that we have a just God, who will rightly carry out justice against all transgressions in the Highest Court. To remove this truth is to remove a true understanding of God’s lovingkindness towards us on the cross and therefore idolatry.
But as I stated before, this is not new. If you watch this video from Passion 2013, Kristian Stanfill beautifully sings almost all of the hymn In Christ Alone. He also removes this second stanza either strategically or in ignorance, leaving the young crowd and all his listeners with an emotional high, but without the profound truth of penal substitution.
I would rather have the entire hymn as is shown in the video below and proclaim that although I scorned Him, mocked Him, blasphemed Him, and sinned against Him; Jesus Christ, God Himself, took on His own Father’s wrath against my sin on that cross 2,000 years ago; was raised from the dead demonstrating that the sacrifice of Christ satisfied God and therefore I am “In Christ.” Amen.