Mainline Church Abandons “In Christ Alone” Hymn

What do hymn choices tell us about a denomination? A lot, it turns out.

First, forgive me for a bit of a personal reflection. When I was in Iraq — especially as casualties mounted, and the IED menace seemed overwhelming — I took great comfort in a contemporary hymn written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. Called “In Christ Alone,” it bucks the contemporary worship trend of shallow, emotional lyrics in favor of a theologically rich presentation of the Gospel. While the entire hymn is outstanding, the last verse was particularly meaningful:

This is the power of Christ in me;

From life’s first cry to final breath.

Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,

Can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home,

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

It avoids shallow promises of earthly comfort in favor of the ultimate comfort — no matter our earthly destiny — found in Christ. And it’s a beautiful song, covered by countless Christian artists.

So it was with some sorrow that I read yesterday in First Things that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to exclude the song from the church hymnal. The reason? The PCUSA Committee on Congregational Song objected to the lyric that proclaims “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied.” The Committee proposed an alternative: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” Getty and Townend refused the change, and the Committee voted to exclude the song.

The core of the dispute is the mainline break with orthodoxy on the very nature of God and mission of Jesus. In orthodox Christianity, sin demands sacrifice. God’s wrath against sin — our sin — was atoned through Christ’s sacrifice. Or, as the Prophet Isaiah prophesied: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

This is the essence of the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, and mainline protestantism is increasingly rejecting it in favor of a doctrine that places Jesus not as Savior in the orthodox sense but more as an example of love and nonviolent resistance, Gandhi on divine steroids.

The importance of rejecting substitutionary atonement is tough to overstate, with ramifications across the full spectrum of spiritual, social, and cultural engagement. In fact, it’s likely one of the key reasons for  the steep decline in mainline churches. After all, when the purpose of Christ’s presence on earth is ripped from its eternal context and placed firmly within (and relegated to) the world of “social justice” and earthly systems of oppression, there’s little that church offers that, say, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Occupy Wall Street, or a subscription to Mother Jones can’t also supply.

If, on the other hand, Christ represents the sole source of our eternal hope, then church offers something that no political movement can replicate or replace. No amount of “social justice” or political liberation can save your soul.

As a postscript, I had the chance recently to meet Keith Getty and his wife Kristyn at a conference in Texas. They were lovely people, and I thanked them for providing me (and others) with hope in a dark and difficult time. Now, if I see them again, I can thank them for refusing to compromise.

For those who’ve never heard the hymn that’s too mean for the PCUSA, I’ve attached it below:

This article first appeared here on National Review.

  • Amanda

    So sad! I truly enjoy singing this hymn as a more contemporary hymn it is powerful! As our country phases out Jesus Christ, the obvious consequences are happening all around us. Christ Alone, as stated in this hymn is the ONLY way to eternal life. Belief in Him, not doing good deeds is our saving grace! God bless us everyone!

  • http://doatney.blogger.com/ David Oatney

    I think it is interesting that the mainline Protestants are abandoning “In Christ Alone.” Oregon Catholic Press ALWAYS includes it in their annual music issue, which I keep a copy of for the purposes of my daily prayers and devotions.

  • Jakeithus

    Although I disagree with your claim that substitutionary atonement is the only legitimate/orthodox Christian position, I agree that the PCUSA should not have rejected the hymn on that basis.

    I think there is value to be found in understanding and singing about Christ’s death from different perspectives. Christ sacrificing himself in our place is certainly part of the gospel message, and the PCUSA should recognize that. That doesn’t delegitimize the other theories, the church should be preaching and singing about those too. The diversity of Christian thought that has always existed as part of Christianity should be celebrated, rather than limited.

  • ckahrl

    Wow, these comments are strange. I am in a PCUSA church and our choir sings the choral version of this every year (not as a contemporary hymn–the choral version is really great). It is not in the hymnal because the last hymnal was published in 1990, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sung.
    It is unfortunate that this entire article is premised upon a story that is untrue. For one thing, apparently, the original version of the song that was seen by the committee was apparently adopted by the committee and only later, months after their final meeting did they realize that the version they had was not the original version. So they chucked it. A couple of points should be made: 1) Apparently a bunch of other hymnals have already published the version so roundly criticized here, apparently in violation of copyright (where is your righteous indignation, there?); 2) in the age of the Internet, authors should double check their facts, instead of just assuming that some guy writing in “First Things” got his facts straight; 3) a Hymnal is a big compromise among a lot of people, and while not as good as the old Lutheran Hymnal, the present Preby Hymnal is one of the best; 4) the new hymnal sounds awful, with half the hymns having melodies and chords (ie, Fake Book) completely ignoring the fact that many people sing the alternate voices, but the criticism here is not about “dumbing down” the hymnal, which is what it should be about, but about cherry-picking criticism of the PCUSA based upon one committee, chucking one hymn, months after their last meeting–why not focus on the pathetic doctrinal messages found in the bulk of popular “praise music.”

    • David French

      The story is true. The committee did vote to exclude the song. Here’s a post from the chair of the committee: http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2013-04/debating-hymns

      Key language:

      “Because we were no longer meeting as a committee, our discussions had to occur through e-mail; this may explain why the “In Christ Alone” example stands out in my mind—the final arguments for and against its inclusion are preserved in writing. People making a case to retain the text with the authors’ original lines spoke of the fact that the words expressed one view of God’s saving work in Christ that has been prevalent in Christian history: the view of Anselm and Calvin, among others, that God’s honor was violated by human sin and that God’s justice could only be satisfied by the atoning death of a sinless victim. While this might not be our personal view, it was argued, it is nonetheless a view held by some members of our family of faith; the hymnal is not a vehicle for one group’s perspective but rather a collection for use by a diverse body.”

      “Arguments on the other side pointed out that a hymnal does not simply collect diverse views, but also selects to emphasize some over others as part of its mission to form the faith of coming generations; it would do a disservice to this educational mission, the argument ran, to perpetuate by way of a new (second) text the view that the cross is primarily about God’s need to assuage God’s anger. The final vote was six in favor of inclusion and nine against, giving the requisite two-thirds majority (which we required of all our decisions) to the no votes. The song has been removed from our contents list, with deep regret over losing its otherwise poignant and powerful witness.”

      • ckahrl

        You say that the story is true because the committee did vote to exclude the song. But that is not the point of the story (because they also voted to exclude another 12,000 hymns).
        The KEY point of your story is that the committee wanted to change the wording of the song. THAT PART OF THE STORY IS NOT TRUE. And yet, that is the point of these articles.
        You did not publish a news item, you published an opinion piece. Your first and only citation was to another opinion piece. Your version of the story made it seem like the PCUSA cut a hymn out of a previous established hymnal. In fact, this is a 10 year old song. It was originally discovered and voted into a PROPOSED Hymnal in a version that was wrong. ONLY later, AFTER the last and final meeting of the committee did they discover that their version–the same version used in other hymnals–was wrong. Where is your criticism of those other hymnals?
        You say that the “core of the dispute” lies with this or that, when in fact, one can see that there was no core of dispute other than the committee had disbanded, there was a copyright issue, and we are talking about a committee that was choosing 600 hymns from 13,000 submissions. And that was not even the whole issue over time. Other issues involved format of the hymns, format of the music and so forth. Thus, your point was completely inapposite to the overall issues involving a huge undertaking.
        Did you inquire as to how many hymnals included the song with the original lyrics? We know that several hymnals include the altered lyrics, do you know of any including the original lyrics?
        Meanwhile, I have long thought about making my own hymnal. Why? Because hymnals are ALL miserable, because they are all political and compiled by non-musicians.

        • Peter

          Please don’t confuse David with the facts. He is not concerned with them.

        • David French

          I don’t think you read the statement from the committee chair that I posted above. Had the Gettys consented to the changed lyrics, there would have been no dispute. Since they had not, then the theological problem asserted itself, and the PCUSA once again demonstrated that it forsakes the faith of its fathers.

          • Peter

            David, the teaser in the email from your site said that the Presbyterian Church was attempting to make the hymn “politically correct’. That is where the hogwash lies in your argument. Using politically charged language to describe a decision based upon conflicting theological viewpoints as striving for political correctness, and then casting a wider generalization as the reason for declining mainline protestant church membership, was an incredible stretch. Yet, you go on as if you’ve uncovered an essential truth. It’s hogwash.

          • David French

            The teaser I didn’t write?

          • Peter

            The “Teaser I didn’t write” was contained in an email from Patheos hyping the French Revolution. If you are going to disavow it then you should tell those working with you to knock it off.

            The rejection of the hymn not based upon a rejection of Christian Orthodoxy, rather, it was based upon a difference of opinion regarding theology. There are a few below that argue very well that the idea that the original hymn was in fact reflective of true Christian Orthodoxy is specious.

            What I find you do much too often David, as you have done here, is to make a mountain out of a molehill. Your take on the rejection of the hymn is an opinion with which many can disagree, and the extrapolation to a wider rejection of Christian Orthodoxy and it supposedly being the reason for falling membership is a further stretch of what is a debatable point to begin with.

            From my perspective, I think you’d do better if you’d cease trying to make big points out of minutia. I think you would make your arguments better by stating them directly instead of straining for alleged examples that strain credulity.

          • David French

            The PCUSA is rejecting Christian orthodoxy. Not a single commenter here has been able to argue otherwise. Nor do the commenters argue that the hymn as written doesn’t reflect Christian orthodoxy. The Eastern Orthodox view of Christ’s sacrifice is completely irrelevant to this issue — the PCUSA was not rejecting the hymn in favor of Eastern Orthodox theology. Of course the hymn choice is not the only example of the PCUSA’s fall. I could pick many others. As for the teaser, I don’t really care about it one way or the other. It’s quite legitimate to believe that the PCUSA’s devotion to political correctness was part of the motivation for the change.

          • ckahrl

            Mr. French: Show me a good hymnal. Really. Show me one. YOU CAN’T, because they are all put together by dunderheads. This issue is about hymnals. This particular issue is about a 9 to 6 vote of a disbanded music committee. Suddenly, you characterize this event as a PROHIBITION of a song by the PCUSA. My PCUSA choir sings this song every year. Even so, that doesn’t mean it is a good hymn for inclusion in the hymnal. So that is a stretch to begin with. But the copy the committee had in front of them when they met and the copy they voted to approve, was already available in a publicly available baptist hymnal. If I were on that disbanded committee and told there was a copyright problem at time of print proofing, I also would have said: “chuck it.” Just like they said chuck it to the other 12,000 other hymns they rejected.

            Think about that number: 12,000. Hey, I am sure that somewhere in those 12,000 rejected hymns you could find at least 10,000 reasons why the PCUSA was abandoning orthodoxy.

            Personally, I think this a great song, but only for a choir. Why? Because it requires all sorts of dynamics and key changes that congregations feel uncomfortable with. Compare it with Onward Christian Soldiers, a hymn that the congregation can just bellow out with pure joy. (Not my favorite hymn, but it illustrates the point).

            But now, somehow a decision by a disbanded hymnal committee is a “LEGITIMATE” reason to believe that the PCUSA’s devotion to political correctness was part of the motivation for the change. Good Grief!! What is your point of comparison? Name one! NAME YOUR GOOD HYMNAL! You can’t. If you try I will tell you why 90% of those hymns (not Christmas carols) are pure drek.

            OK, this forum is not adequate for the discussion of the orthodoxy of the PCUSA. As for the idea of Orthodoxy, I have a copy of the PCUSA Book of Confessions. The bulk of the so-called “conservative” Christians don’t even know what such a document would be like, because none of them are bound by a wide-scale declaration. Like you, for example, unless you are Catholic.

            But enough of all of this. This is about a hymnal. And from the comments you have made Mr. French, you don’t know much about church music and this issue is about music.

          • David French

            Further, my thoughts on the decline in Mainline membership — the rejection of Christian orthodoxy — in fact represent conventional wisdom across a broad spectrum of both conservative and liberal thinkers. I offered the rejection of the hymn as merely one poignant example.

          • http://doatney.blogger.com/ David Oatney

            I know plenty of “Mainline” Protestant ministers who think that their denominations’ rejection of historic orthodoxies are the reason for their decline. I would would humbly agree with that assessment.

  • Virginia

    God did not turn His back on His Son when Christ died for our sins. God did not have to “protect His honor” like an offended Southern gentleman. God is love and wants us to turn from our sins and be more like him (theosis).

    • David French

      “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” -Matthew 27:46

      • Michael Horsey

        Actually, Mr French, God did not forsake Christ, even as He spoke these words. When thought through, this is really simple theology.

        Despite the theological perspective on why Christ died, it is widely accepted in all three predominate theories that Jesus took on the sin of all humanity whilst on the cross. As perfect Light, sin cannot be in the presence of God. It’s understood through Scripture that God would have been right there with Jesus the whole time. Yet, as Jesus took on the cloak of sin, he removed himself from the presence of God. In other words, the perfect communion Jesus had experienced with the Father throughout his life suddenly grew dim as he took on humanity’s sin. Thus, whilst God was still present, Jesus could no longer feel Him. Jesus then felt forsaken, when in fact he wasn’t. This is the same as when we sin. God is still there, yet we remove ourselves from His presence.
        Additionally, there’s discussion on whether Jesus even felt forsaken or He was simply quoting David (see Psalm 22:1).

        • http://doatney.blogger.com/ David Oatney

          Mr. Horsey is theologically correct here. I realize that it might be easy for my view to be discounted on this heavily Calvinist blog since I am a Catholic, not a Calvinist…but even Calvin understood that God the Father did not forsake Christ, but God cannot look on sin. Christ took on the sins of all humanity…we know he had a close relationship with the Father because he called upon the Father constantly.

          Because Jesus took on all of our sin and God cannot look upon sin (as Mr. Horsey has said, when we sin we remove ourselves from the presence of God), that is why Jesus couldn’t feel God’s presence anymore. God didn’t abandon his Son anymore than he would abandon us. Jesus was quoting a Scripture that was ancient even by then, the 22nd Psalm.

          When quoting Scripture, it is important to remember context, lest we fall into the trap of merely using Scripture to tell us what we want it to tell us.

  • AMW

    “The importance of rejecting substitutionary atonement is tough to overstate, with ramifications across the full spectrum of spiritual, social, and cultural engagement. In fact, it’s likely one of the key reasons for the steep decline in mainline churches. After all, when the purpose of Christ’s presence on earth is ripped from its eternal context and placed firmly within (and relegated to) the world of “social justice” and earthly systems of oppression, there’s little that church offers that, say, the Sierra
    Club, Greenpeace, Occupy Wall Street, or a subscription to Mother Jones can’t also supply.”

    For the first thousand years of the Church substitutionary atonement was not the dominant theory of atonement. Are you *sure* Christians can’t change the world without it?

    • Rebecca Trotter

      It’s still not the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church. They teach the far more ancient (and utterly orthodox) Christus Victus concept of the crucifixion. Really, the PCUSA could be seen as taking the truly conservative position of attempting to return to a more ancient, orthodox theology than what is commonly embraced today.

      Honestly, one of the more maddening thing about putatively “conservative” Christianity is that it often has no awareness that it’s not even remotely conservative, but rather often a hodge-podge of some really radical ideas and even heresies. There’s the left behind crowd embracing a virtually made up reading of scripture that is about 200 years old under the guise that it’s “literal”. There are the Calvinists embracing the heresy of the subordination of the son to the father in order to prop up hierarchy. And doing it with no acknowledgement of the long history of theological battles on the issue in the ancient church and the central role they played in the east west schism of the church. There’s a concocted notion of inerrancy which neither the ancient church nor Luther himself would have recognized. There’s the complete abandonment of old ways of reading and understanding scripture. And it’s all got the label “conservative” slapped on it. Meanwhile any move back to ancient orthodoxy gets the pejorative label of “liberal”. Modern Christian theology has become a down the rabbit hole affair indeed. Feh.

      • S. Kyle

        Rebecca, thank you for the excellent points you make here. I’m really, really, quite impressed by what you have said and I very heartily agree. Evangelicalism’s historical amnesia is appalling and gets us into this ridiculous trap where we think the things right in front of us, that are actually quite contingent and relative, are ‘age-old obvious truths,’ when that is often just not the case.

        I discovered your blog and look forward to keeping up with it. I think you will appreciate the blog I wrote on this issue: http://toomuchlovenathanaelkyle.blogspot.com/2013/08/in-christ-alone-and-pcusa-getting-story.html

        • David French

          The PCUSA is not moving towards ancient orthodoxy. It is rejecting substitutionary atonement — unquestionably an orthodox belief, though not the only one — in favor of, what? It is replacing orthodoxy with a progressive theology that diminishes Christ.

          • S. Kyle

            I’m not saying they are headed toward ancient orthodoxy. It doesn’t matter if they are or not. The point is that merely being uncomfortable with the sentence ‘the wrath of God was satisfied’ (by Christ’s death), does not in and of itself make you liberal or unorthodox. I don’t think the Church Fathers would have liked that sentence either, because they did not teach penal substitution. If you can prove that the committee wanted to exclude that line because they all believe in an unorthodox view of the atonement, then we’ll have something to talk about. But merely rejecting that line doesn’t prove anything.

            (in my mind, the issue is penal substitution, not substitution per se. To reject that line does not mean you are rejecting substitution, merely penal substitution. That line is not consistent with the Christus Victor model, but Christus Victor is still substitutionary. To put it frankly: to reject ‘the wrath of God is satisfied’ (on the cross) DOES NOT mean necessarily that you are rejecting substitutionary atonement. That line is an expression of PENAL substitution. But there are other substitutionary models. Like the Christus Victor model which is substitutionary but has nothing to do with paying a debt back to God’s justice.

            If you read the accounts of the people on the committee, they say their decision was because the song expressed the Anselm/Calvin view but that their denomination includes people with different views, and it is not the only view that has been orthodox in Christian history. Their committee disagreed with whether it is the place of a hymnal to have a song that expresses a view of the atonement that everyone has not agreed on in Christian history. Their disagreement had nothing to do with whether they believed in God’s wrath, or substitutionary atonement. Heck, they didn’t even discuss if penal substitution was correct or not. They just discussed whether the hymnal should be exclusive in its view of the atonement.

            That is a far cry from saying they are rejecting orthodoxy. Maybe their underlying motivation is unorthodox. Heck if I know the true condition of their heart. But you can’t prove that merely from this decision.

      • David French

        Without question, rejecting substitutionary atonement is rejecting orthodoxy, and they are not replacing it with any other form of orthodox Christian teaching. Commenters who commend to me Eastern Orthodox or Catholic teaching neglect to mention that the PCUSA is not moving towards Orthodoxy or Catholicism — it’s moving towards a progressive quasi-theology that rejects every form of Christian orthodoxy, not just its Presbyterian, Reformation roots.

  • Peter

    This is shallow and ultimately inaccurate account of what took place David. For the life of me, I cannot understand how you consistently manage to conjure up fantasy and write about it as if it were fact. To characterize the Presbyterian Church USA’s action as wishing the hymn to be “politically correct” is hogwash. As someone that is able look at facts with at least some objectivity and to reason, I am offended. As an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, I am disappointed at your cheap shot.

    • David French

      Here’s the actual chair of the committee’s comment on the matter (http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2013-04/debating-hymns):

      “Because we were no longer meeting as a committee, our discussions had to occur through e-mail; this may explain why the “In Christ Alone” example stands out in my mind—the final arguments for and against its inclusion are preserved in writing. People making a case to retain the text with the authors’ original lines spoke of the fact that the words expressed one view of God’s saving work in Christ that has been prevalent in Christian history: the view of Anselm and Calvin, among others, that God’s honor was violated by human sin and that God’s justice could only be satisfied by the atoning death of a sinless victim. While this might not be our personal view, it was argued, it is nonetheless a view held by some members of our family of faith; the hymnal is not a vehicle for one group’s perspective but rather a collection for use by a diverse body.”

      This perspective of course stands at odds with Presbyterian orthodoxy and the Reformation tradition. Nor is the denomination moving toward any other orthodox view of salvation.

  • Honoring_Honore

    A beautiful hymn! But, I’d really like to see the congregation that could stay with this beautiful melody! Too many are trying to rationalize Christ’s sacrifice. He died that we may live. He was put below everything so we could rise above it all.

  • Jerry Lynch

    This is an opinion piece and, David, you are of course entitled to see things as you do. Yet your politics, as usual, are showing: concern about “social justice,” a liberal theme, is seen by you as evidence of a church in decline and missing Christ. Here is what I see in nearly everything you write, a quote from a source I failed to note:

    “I’m worried when their conservative family values are sometimes
    equated with a jingoistic, uncritical American patriotism and
    militarism. Why are they so often silent about the assault on the
    environment, the plight of immigrants and the widening wealth
    disparity in the developed world? Why do we hear so little about
    their involvement in the fight against hunger and solidarity with the
    poor? Why are they so often dismissive and hateful of everyone not
    like themselves?”

    The question about the theological disparity again seems like just a foil for you to promote a conservative agenda, making liberal organizations, movements, and publications trends or symbols of “Christ’s presence on earth being ripped from its eternal context.” Your thorough enmeshment with conservative politics appears to be that of which you caution: a relegation to “earthly systems of oppresssion.”

    • David French

      “Social justice” ideologies have a real-world effect of oppressing the poor and widening the wealth gap, so I’m opposed. If you don’t think I write about poverty, then you haven’t read this blog for long.

    • sg

      LOL

      what plight of immigrants? They come here because it is better than where they came from. Duh. Also, immigrants increase the assault on the environment because when they come here, they adopt a lifestyle that has little regard for the environment. Immigrants are not moving here so they can buy hybrids and electric cars. Oh, heck no. They aspire to SUV’s and air conditioning and plasma TV’s and all manner of American excess. There is a widening wealth disparity because we are importing unskilled labor and depressing wages while increasing profits for the top. We hear so little about the involvement in the fight against hunger because tons of poor people are not hungry. In fact, they are obese. Your saying they are hateful and dismissive of everyone not like themselves doesn’t make it so. In fact, you sound pretty hateful and dismissive of them going so far as to blame them for not solving problems far far away and not of their making. They aren’t oppressive. Good grief. You can’t oppress the incompetent. Oppression implies that if they were left alone, they would be better off. That is going to be a pretty hard case to make. Better off without food and vaccines supplied by the west? Unlikely. Sorry, but you are the self-righteous hater.

  • David French

    Substitutionary atonement is a key element of Reformation theology. Many mainline churches were born in the Reformation, and are rejecting Reformation orthodoxy in favor of no other form of Christian orthodoxy, whether Orthodox or Catholic. When you reject a key orthodox belief and replace it with essentially nothing Christ-exalting, then decline follows.

  • moujahid

    For the first thousand years of the Church substitutionary atonement was
    not the dominant theory of atonement. Are you *sure* Christians can’t
    change the world without it?

    proxy gratuit

    • sg

      No, the orthodox do not have different understanding of the atonement.

      http://www.worldvieweverlasting.com/?s=christus

      What do you mean by change the world? Hmm?

      Preach repentance and the Gospel and eternal salvation?

      That kind of change the world?

  • Earl

    It seems way beyond peculiar that, first, the creator of the
    universe should be compelled to jury-rig such a barbaric system for getting
    even a few human beings into whatever it is we call “eternal life”, and,
    second, that what Jesus accomplished in the moment of his death should
    overshadow – perhaps even negate – everything he accomplished in his
    ministry. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, not the magic wand that gets us into heaven.

  • Raith

    I knew there was a reason I liked the Presbyterians.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    If Christ isn’t everything…then we’d better get busy. And that’s where so many “churches” are going. Causes. Social gospel.

    But this is serious business. God’s law will not be mocked. The wages of sin are death. Sin isn’t even talk about in so many mainline churches.

    If you’re not a sinner, then you have no need of Jesus. He said as much. “I have come for the sick. The healthy have no need of a Physician.”

    • Marie

      Kind of like how Jesus was, you know, socially engaged with the people around him, building the kingdom of God?

  • elio

    PCUSA!! that church lost the focus long time ago!! they reject that wonderful hymn but it they are very open to ordain gays and lesbians!! :O…

  • MainlineP

    Would the leaders of the sixteenth century Reformation approve of the easy conflation of secular politics with faith engaged in by some of today’s evangelical Christians? One of the “crimes” attributed to the Papacy in those days was its relentless secular power plays, its military alliances, its scheming intrigue with kings and princes, its insistence that the church was not merely a spiritual power but must be the supreme political one as well. Doesn’t faith and the saving grace of our Lord have a universal quality which utterly transcends grubby worldly partisan politics, particularly the politics of but one nation, the U.S.? You’d never know it reading blogs like this.
    Thus, tossing charges of heterodoxy against mainline churches (as if they are all the same!) for their alleged adherence to secular politics over othodoxy is the pot calling the kettle black. Where would many evangelical preachers be if they didn’t take a vow never to contradict today’s talking points from “red state” America, as if the USA was the depth and breadth of Christendom.

  • DC

    In my own theological view, Hell is an existence without God. Not necessarily the “wrath of God,” but since God cannot abide with sin we cannot abide with God (outside of the saving work of Christ). Could the PCUSA have been protesting on these grounds?
    I don’t know if my understanding of Hell and God’s Wrath is necessarily correct and I am open to hearing other viewpoints.


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