So, did you hear the one about PCUSA and “In Christ Alone”? Apparently someone got his knickers in a knot over the phrase “The wrath of God was satisfied,” wanting it changed to “The love of God was magnified.” When the writers said no, the Committee voted to exclude the song from its new hymnal. I know, right? I mean, who would ever expect PCUSA to do something like that?
Seriously, while the song is not a personal favorite and has its technical faults, both lyrical and musical, theology is certainly not its problem, and it’s a very bad sign for that to be chosen as the reason for its exclusion. As I saw one wag put it, it’s a wonder they didn’t balk at the “In Christ alone” part. Interestingly, the piece I linked recalls a quote about God’s wrath by Brennan Manning which I referred to as well when I wrote a cautionary piece about him after his death. It’s the one where he basically says he just can’t imagine a wrathful God who punishes his own Son in substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world (gulp), because that would just be too mean. While the precise details of how the atonement accomplished its redeeming work are a rich vein for theological debate, the core truth that it was necessary to satisfy the wrath of the Father on our behalf is gospel, period.