Good for Keith Getty and Stuart Townend! They refused to change the lyrics of their contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone.”
Here’s the story: According to a report from One News Now, the Committee on Congregational Songs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are in the process of putting together a new hymnal for the mainline denomination. When looking at which songs to include, they requested that Getty and Townend change one line of their immensely popular hymn. Some of the committee members didn’t like the line that says, “On that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” Why? Because they don’t like the idea that the death of Christ “assuaged God’s anger” over sin. They suggested an alternative lyric – “the love of God was magnified.” If the lyrics were changed, the song could be placed in the hymnal. If not, it would be left out.
“In Christ Alone” will not be included in the new PCUSA hymnal. To their great credit, Getty and Townend refused to change the line. They said they wrote the song to tell “the whole gospel.” Getty and Townend know what the committee members apparently don’t – the death of Jesus as a substitutionary sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath against sin, and it’s a crucial part of the whole gospel. Romans 5:8 says it clearly: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), along with the other mainline Protestant denominations, continue to give evidence that they’ve left the faith and have apostatized. When you outright deny, or are seriously uncomfortable with, what is known in theology as the penal substitution of Christ, you no longer have the gospel.
A couple of other thoughts: “In Christ Alone” is my favorite modern hymn, precisely for the reason Getty and Townend say the wrote it – because it tells the whole gospel and includes the concept of God’s wrath, which is frequently left out. This incident shows how important lyrics are in the songs we sing. Songs perform the function of teaching alongside the role of reaching our emotions. Therefore, what we say and sing matters because words mean things.