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Source: (consider it) Thread: "In Christ alone" the wrath of God
Benny Diction 2
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A recent letter writer in the Methodist Recorder (the self styled 'World's leading Methodist newspaper') said that he was pleased the song "In Christ alone" by Stewart Townend would be included in the new Methodist Hymn Book to be published next year. But the writer went on to say that he hoped the editors would alter the verse that goes as follows:

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness 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 every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

The full hymn is here if you don't know it. In Christ alone

I've heard some liberal Christians object to this verse previously. But why?

Or alternatively what is the justification for the use of the phrase "wrath of God"?

For my point I subscribe to what is called I believe substitutionary atonement i.e. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to atone once and for all for the sins of all people. But I believe this is unfashionable in some Christian quarters.

And BTW, if Jesus was God's son, God himself was there on the cross so he was satisfying his own wrath anyway wasn't he?

Finally, if Mr Townend words are valid Christian theology (just not to everyone's taste) what right have the editors of some new unwanted hymn book got to change them?

Discuss!

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Benny Diction

"The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it - a bit like Christians in the Church of England." Tony Benn

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Carys

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This is an awkward one for me. I really dislike people messing with the words of hymns, but that one line ruins an otherwise good hymn for me.

I have major issues both with 'the wrath of God' and that the atonement is about satisfying it. It makes wrath something separate from God.

Carys

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Oscar the Grouch

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Part of my problems with the phrase is that Stewart Townend seems to throw a reference about Penal Substitutionary Atonement into all his hymns - even when it doesn't warrant it.

In the context of the hymn, I find that the line in question just grates. It isn't necessary and if you don't sign up to PSA (and I don't) it becomes a real hindrance to singing the hymn.

So we use an amended version. I think (not able to check for sure at the moment) that we sing "the LOVE of God was satisfied." I think that there are other amendments out there.

I don't see a problem with this - it is a minor change that removes a potentially offensive line.

In many ways it is similar to the problems with Ian Smale/Ishmael's "Father God", with the line "now I am your son...." which many churches changed to "now I am your child..." I did hear rumours at the time that Ian Smale wasn't best pleased with the amendment, but the reality was that it didn't affect the meaning of the song but removed unnecessary offence.

Same thing going on here.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Carys

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quote:
Originally posted by Oscar the Grouch:
So we use an amended version. I think (not able to check for sure at the moment) that we sing "the LOVE of God was satisfied." I think that there are other amendments out there.

'The love of God was magnified' is the version I sing. But I can't argue for changing it in an official version because I dislike other hymns being changed. But I couldn't countenance having the hymn in as it stands, even though it is basically a good hymn and I like the fact the Resurrection is more than tacked on to show it worked.

My ideal would be for Stuart Townend to change it himslef, but I suspect he won't because PSA is such a shibboleth.

Carys

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O Lord, you have searched me and know me
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FreeJack
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There are two separate questions here:

One is whether PSA is correct or valid.

The other is whether other people have the 'right' to alter the composer's words while he is alive and the work is in copyright. I'd say he had the intellectual copyright to his own work, and if the editors of the hymn book don't like it don't include it.

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seasick

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If you read the report to the Conference from the group that prepared the new hymn book, you discover that they have already approached the copyright holders to enquire about the possibility of alteration and discovered that copyright permission for alterations would not be forthcoming. In other words, if it's going in the new hymnbook, it's going in in its original form.

Personally, I have serious issues with the idea that the atonement was an exercise in placating God's wrath. Christ died for me and for the world because of the love of God for all creation not because God has anger management issues.

Furthermore - as another letter in that esteemed organ has also pointed out - it has issues as regards predestination and freewill. Lastly, it doesn't use inclusive language which is not acceptable for a modern hymnwriter, in my view. We can cut the 17th century some slack, but late 20th and 21st century writers should know that "man" does not mean "person".

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Spike

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Haven't we had this discussion before?

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seasick

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Unlike discussions about folded chasubles, maniples, blue-scarfed menaces etc. which we only have once?

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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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dj_ordinaire
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I rather think that we *have* had this exact discussion at some point, but as I'm sure we didn't have the final word on the matter last time, there's certainly nothing wrong with debating it again.

(Bearing in mind that simple statements of opprobrium belong in the Horrible Hymns thread in Dead Horses...)

So please debate away!

dj_ordinaire, Eccles host

PS what are you talking about? We got through last Lent without folded chazzies being mentioned once! I must try harder next year...

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FreeJack
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quote:
Originally posted by seasick:

Furthermore - as another letter in that esteemed organ has also pointed out - it has issues as regards predestination and freewill. Lastly, it doesn't use inclusive language which is not acceptable for a modern hymnwriter, in my view. We can cut the 17th century some slack, but late 20th and 21st century writers should know that "man" does not mean "person".

But that just amounts to saying that the independent church stream from which Stuart comes has a different world view to the modern Methodist church. Not exactly a surprise, but then the honest thing to do is not to use his songs.
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ken
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I love singing that song. And the original words make sense to me while I am singing them. But not always at other times.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Seeker963
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Yes, we've had discussions about this before.

British Methodism has a deep tradition of singing our theology. And, as someone who doesn't believe in PSA, that's part of the problem to me.

If PSA is a helpful image that brings someone closer to God, then I genuinely don't mind that. My problem is that one could argue that, by including this hymn in the new hymnbook, that we are saying "This is good Methodist theology" which I don't personally think it is.

The thing is that there is nothing to stop any leader of worship or any congregation from singing this song if they want to do so. I'd rather have left it out.

I either sing "the love of God was magnified" or sometimes I'll simply not sing the words that I don't agree with at all. I get especially feisty when I'm pretty certain I'm in a situation of "We'll show those people who we perceive to be luke-warm Christians how real worship is done" as happened one time at Synod when we got a little verbal lesson before the opening worship started about how we all needed to "get with the times" and worship the way we were going to be shown.

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"People waste so much of their lives on hate and fear." My friend JW-N: Chaplain and three-time cancer survivor. (Went to be with her Lord March 21, 2010. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.)

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seasick

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quote:
Seeker963 said:
If PSA is a helpful image that brings someone closer to God, then I genuinely don't mind that. My problem is that one could argue that, by including this hymn in the new hymnbook, that we are saying "This is good Methodist theology" which I don't personally think it is.

The thing is that there is nothing to stop any leader of worship or any congregation from singing this song if they want to do so. I'd rather have left it out.

I totally agree. If it goes in, I will use it precisely the same amount I use it at present but what bothers me is what it is saying about Methodist theology. I'm particularly bothered that the reports have been digging around in very obscure bits of Wesleyana to try and find antecedents for this kind of expression in order to justify it as "Methodist theology". They've found an obscure reference in the Notes on the New Testament and a verse of a hymn where the hymn was in MHB (the old Methodist hymnbook) but the verse they rely on was omitted from that book. ISTM that the inclusion of In Christ Alone in the new book would give all this much more prominence than the tradition warrants and it is a development in Methodist theology that I think is concerning. I wonder if any points will be taken about it in Conference.

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fletcher christian

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I think it's a tiny bit disingenuous to suggest that the psa debate is a matter of 'fashion'. It's been flogged to death, so I don't honestly see the point in dragging up the arguments from a million other threads on the same subject.

In regards to changing the work of a composer of hymns, I can't see an issue. For a musical tradition to survive it is sometimes necessary that changes occur. Different words are often set to hymn tunes written for specific words, hymns are often edited and abridged and different harmonies are often layered on to existing hymns that never had such harmonies to begin with. But then again, I live in a culture where changes to musical tradition are considered to be standard, if not a necessity.

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Benny Diction 2
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
I think it's a tiny bit disingenuous to suggest that the psa debate is a matter of 'fashion'. It's been flogged to death, so I don't honestly see the point in dragging up the arguments from a million other threads on the same subject.


Where? Perhaps I didn't make it clear but I genuinely want to know the Pros and Cons for PSA and why some find it so difficult whereas to me it seems to make sense - though I don't know why!

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Benny Diction

"The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it - a bit like Christians in the Church of England." Tony Benn

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seasick

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Well let's be clear about some terms, because they often get confused in these debates:

Substitutionary atonement: Jesus died in my place.

Penal substitutionary atonement: Jesus died in my place, receiving the punishment that was due to me.

The view of Jesus' death as a sacrifice to God, fulfilling the sacrifices of the law is yet another view.

There are also other models/theories.

All of these have something to say about how we might understand the atonement. For me though, PSA, gets too close to saying God needs to punish and I struggle to relate that to a view of God that I find healthy or inspiring.

[ 18. June 2010, 09:39: Message edited by: seasick ]

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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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dj_ordinaire
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quote:
Originally posted by Benny Diction 2:
quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
I think it's a tiny bit disingenuous to suggest that the psa debate is a matter of 'fashion'. It's been flogged to death, so I don't honestly see the point in dragging up the arguments from a million other threads on the same subject.


Where? Perhaps I didn't make it clear but I genuinely want to know the Pros and Cons for PSA and why some find it so difficult whereas to me it seems to make sense - though I don't know why!
There was a very long thread about PSA in Purgatory, last year I think. It is either in Limbo or Oblivion - if you can't find it I can try and dig it out, but it went in to many of the issues surrounding models of Atonement in different traditions in great depth.

dj_ordinaire, Eccles host

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No stranger he; it was our eyes Which failed to see the stranger's guise/The Lord who, risen from the dead, met us when ready to be fed.

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Dinghy Sailor

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quote:
Originally posted by Oscar the Grouch:
Part of my problems with the phrase is that Stewart Townend seems to throw a reference about Penal Substitutionary Atonement into all his hymns - even when it doesn't warrant it.

Sorry Oscar but that's simply not true.

Why should I gain from his reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.


Link to "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"

Note the agnosticism over the question in line 2, followed by espousal of a different model of atonement, in one of his most popular songs!

[Link fix. tinyurl.com is your friend. Mamacita, Host]

[ 18. June 2010, 15:01: Message edited by: Mamacita ]

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Yerevan
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I also have issues with the inclusion of "man" and of one or two vaguely calvinist lines (though IIRC they also work nicely for universalists [Devil] ), but I'm not sure why referring to to the wrath of God is such an awful thing. By and large its a good song with the odd dodgy line. Ditto lots of other things we sing. And from what I've heard of the new Methodist hymnbook, it can't exactly be accused of excessive evangelicalism. If liberal Methodists are going to dissect every song line by line in search of theological thought crimes then just about everything the Wesleys ever wrote is in the bin too.
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Yerevan
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PS Sorry. Missed edit window. I don't think the inclusion of 'In Christ Alone' implies anything about Methodist theology, given what seems to be the new hymnbook's overall liberal slant. And saying that a reference to "the wrath of God" isn't good Methodist theology implies that evangelical Methodists aren't Proper Methodists, which seems a bit exclusive to me.
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Dinghy Sailor

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Oops, could someone fix my code for me thankyouplease?

Yerevan, I agree. For all the theological justifications they produce, most of the people I know who've objected to this song IRL* have basically been squeamish about talk of the "wrath of God". This isn't an acceptable grievance for a Christian to have about the song, since God's wrath makes appearances right through the bible. If 'Wrathgate' teaches us anything, it's that British Christians and especially liberals are lacking in biblical literacy**.


*I worship at a church that changes the words. I am not happy about this.
**This is a generalisation. If you, dear reader, have read the bible cover to cover 16 times, it's not meant to apply to you. Okay?

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Preach Christ, because this old humanity has used up all hopes and expectations, but in Christ hope lives and remains.
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la vie en rouge
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Has anyone asked Stuart Townsend how he feels about his song being altered?

(Personally, if I was him, I'd say that you can choose between singing it the way I wrote it, or going without. But maybe that's just me.)

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Yerevan
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Going back over the lyrics its a lot less calvinist than I remember. Lines like "every sin on Him was laid" and "scorned by the ones he came to save" don't sit easily with limited atonement and irresistible grace. And I can't find the non-inclusive language either.
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Dinghy Sailor

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quote:
Originally posted by la vie en rouge:
Has anyone asked Stuart Townsend how he feels about his song being altered?

(Personally, if I was him, I'd say that you can choose between singing it the way I wrote it, or going without. But maybe that's just me.)

Yes they have and he said basically the same thing as you.

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Preach Christ, because this old humanity has used up all hopes and expectations, but in Christ hope lives and remains.
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seasick

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quote:
Originally posted by la vie en rouge:
Has anyone asked Stuart Townsend how he feels about his song being altered?

(Personally, if I was him, I'd say that you can choose between singing it the way I wrote it, or going without. But maybe that's just me.)

You might be able to infer that he's not desperately keen from the fact that copyright permission for alterations will not be granted, as I posted earlier.

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seasick

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quote:
Originally posted by Yerevan:
PS Sorry. Missed edit window. I don't think the inclusion of 'In Christ Alone' implies anything about Methodist theology, given what seems to be the new hymnbook's overall liberal slant. And saying that a reference to "the wrath of God" isn't good Methodist theology implies that evangelical Methodists aren't Proper Methodists, which seems a bit exclusive to me.

It isn't that there's a reference to the wrath of God, it's the particular theology of the incarnation that it invokes. I have no problem singing with Charles Wesley:
quote:
O how shall I the goodness tell,
Father, which Thou to me hast showed?
That I, a child of wrath and hell,
I should be called a child of God,
Should know, should feel my sins forgiven,
Blessed with this antepast of Heaven!



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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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Yerevan
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Its also worth asking whether the days when hymnbooks defined a denomination's theology are long gone anyway (I agree with the OPers "unwanted" comment btw). Methodist congregations of a more evangelical/contemporary bent will sing 'In Christ Alone' whether its included or not.

quote:
It isn't that there's a reference to the wrath of God, it's the particular theology of the incarnation that it invokes.
Sorry if I'm being dense, but whats the theology of the incarnation in question? I don't think there's anything controversial in saying that atonement is at least part of the reason for the incarnation.

[ 18. June 2010, 13:07: Message edited by: Yerevan ]

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seasick

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Sorry, that should read "atonement" not "incarnation".

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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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Yerevan
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But Methodism is still a broad church with an open evangelical minority who like the song and aren't tres bothered about its atonement theology. Why shouldn't their preferences be represented in the hymnbook too?
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seasick

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Because as a statement of Methodist theology it should be something that we hold in common - I have a devotion to the BVM, as do some other Methodists I know, but I don't expect them to put the Salve in the new hymnbook.

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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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Yerevan
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Given that evangelicals don't hold that much in common with the further reaches of liberal Christianity, that could be difficult. The solution is to either accept a range of viewpoints on issues like the atonement or enforce a single norm, which realistically is going to be a fairly liberal norm. Its a long time since I looked over the draft contents of the hymnbook, but I remember finding it more to liberal than I was comfortable with. Ditto other people I know. And none of us is exactly conservative (if we were we wouldn't be in contemporary Methodism). So if we have to put up with some stuff we'd rather not sing, why shouldn't other people?
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seasick

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There's clearly going to be a range, but it seems to me that that range has to have limits. FWIW, part of my response when the book was out for consultation was objecting to the large number of hymns from a particular writer who tends to be too far off the liberal end in my view. I see that that has been addressed to some extent since then.

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quote:
But Methodism is still a broad church with an open evangelical minority who like the song and aren't tres bothered about its atonement theology.
True, but do they use the book at all - or are they into "Songs of Fellowship" and the ubiquitous data projector, so beloved of Evangelicals?
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leo
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# 1458

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I sit down when this sort of garbage is sung.

Or sing loudly an alternative phrase such as 'love of god'

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Yerevan
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quote:
Originally posted by seasick:
There's clearly going to be a range, but it seems to me that that range has to have limits. FWIW, part of my response when the book was out for consultation was objecting to the large number of hymns from a particular writer who tends to be too far off the liberal end in my view. I see that that has been addressed to some extent since then.

I've just looked at the final list too and you're quite right that some of the more OTT liberal stuff is now gone. I still think that excluding an incredibly popular song over one or two lines is excessively purist, but am happy to agree to differ.

quote:
True, but do they use the book at all - or are they into "Songs of Fellowship" and the ubiquitous data projector, so beloved of Evangelicals?
Which is why the whole project is doomed to irrelevance anyway. And its not just the evangelicals. If I understand correctly most circuits already supplement the hymnbook with Songs Of Fellowship or a circuit songbook of contemporary stuff, including in our circuit's case the dreaded 'In Christ Alone'. The days of imposing orthodoxy from the top down through denominational hymnbooks are long gone....its just worrying how slow Methodists have been to realise that [Frown]
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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
I love singing that song. And the original words make sense to me while I am singing them. But not always at other times.

I think this inconsistency may illustrate a particular "fit" between PSA and human psychology on the one hand, but a disjunction between PSA and current rational/intellectual theology on the other. At a primitive level of so-called "psychic reality" PSA may exert a certain pull, with its image of the wrathful Father and the successful appeasement of this Father. However, the theory doesn't sit well with contemporary values and with our conscious moral sense and our post-Enlightenment notions of the Deity. There's quite a lot of such examples in traditional hymnody, I think. "Just as I am without one plea" and in the hymn Rock of Ages the line "In my hand no gift I bring, simply to thy cross I cling..." both speak to a theology of total depravity that may be emotionally satisfying in some sense, yet is contrary to catholic and arminian notions of man's ability to actively co-operate in his own salvation and with the idea of natural virtue operating even apart from "justification in Christ".

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Pradžioje buvo Žodis. Tas Žodis buvo pas Dievą ir Žodis buvo Dievas. Jis pradžioje buvo pas Dievą. Visa per jį atsirado, ir be jo neatsirado nieko, kas tik yra atsiradę.

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seasick

...over the edge
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quote:
Yerevan said:
I've just looked at the final list too and you're quite right that some of the more OTT liberal stuff is now gone. I still think that excluding an incredibly popular song over one or two lines is excessively purist, but am happy to agree to differ.

I'll be surprised if it does get excluded. I'm happy to agree to differ too [Smile]

In the two churches I serve, I can't imagine us buying it - in one we project everything and the other has a very small mostly elderly congregation and is already equipped with Hymns & Psalms and Songs of Fellowship 1 - 3 (in the combined edition).

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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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PD
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I can understand why some folks do not like the doctrine of PSA. Unfortunately for them, it has a long history in Christian thought and is a valid way of explaining at the atonement. On the other hand, I would say that is just one aspect of a far more complicated mystery, the dominant element of which is the love of God for humanity that has been made in his image being revealed through the Cross, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I would have thought a more useful question here is why people wish to dictate that everything in the service passes muster with their "internal Inquisition." That always seems akin to remaking Christianity in your own image, whereas we should be open to grace of God through Christ remaking us in his image. Part of that process of being "remade" involves dealing with theological theories that I don't find useful but someone does. It isn't a bad thing to be jolted or challenged once in a while.

At the end of the day, it isn't as though they have put PSA in Creed! If they were trying to do that then I would be out on the barracades too if only because I find PSA on its own too crude and too simplistic an explanation of the atonement.

PD

[ 18. June 2010, 17:10: Message edited by: PD ]

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Panda
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# 2951

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I take your point, PD, but in many ways, the words we sing often seem much stronger than the words we simply say. There is a sense of unity present in the singing of a well-loved hymn/song that you don't generally detect in the recitation of the creed, for instance.

PSA is a strong element of many churches' theology and worship, but also - validly - something that makes a lot of people deeply uncomfortable about the nature of God it portrays, because, as you point out, it is so limited.

This leads on to the whole relationship of a person to God, and ISTM it is a more important point than many which come up in hymns. I can manage to sing 'veiled in flesh the Godhead see' at Christmas because I can cope with differing interpretations of 'veiled'. But there's no getting away from wrath, chiefly (for me anyway) it is the only adjective used about God the Father in the whole song. Everything positive is reserved for Christ the Son.

Here we sing 'the love of God was opened wide'.

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fletcher christian

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# 13919

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Indulgences also have a long history in Christian thought and in the church. It doesn't really come as a surprise that semper reformanda is applied to just about every doctrine and thought except those considered to be quintessentially 'Protestant'

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Sean D
Cheery barman
# 2271

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Stuart Townend is one of the 40 or so (all male [Eek!] ) endorsers of the book Pierced for our Transgressions, one of the more recent salvos in this particular debate, the best part of which is its discussion of PS in church history.

I don't subscrbe to the model of PSA in that book, but I do quite happily sing the hymn because the wrath of God is an unavoidably biblical doctrine, and it needs to be 'dealt with' in some way in order for humans to enjoy renewed fellowship wih God (as per Romans 1-3). Whilst I think a greater emphasis on our incorporation in Christ is a much more Pauline way of expressing this (rather than saying 'Jesus died in order to be punished instead of me') the outcome therefore needs to be the same, i.e. God is no longer angry with me (because in Christ I died on the cross to sin and in Christ I am raised to new life with God rather than because someone else has been punished on my behalf).

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Boogie

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# 13538

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It's a great tune. Shame about the words.

There are similar well loved hymns like 'There is a green hill far away' which speak of a doctrine I don't hold myself.

Ah well - just less good hymns to choose from :/

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365

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shamwari
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I shall be patient and wait till it is out of copyright and then use an alternative wording.

By which time I shall be out of life's copyright anyway.

I note that one defence of the hymn is that the "wrath" of God is biblical. Notably Rom 1

But C.H. Dodd has shown that "wrath" can have an alternative reading ( or rather interpretation) which renders the idea of an angry God requiring appeasement redundant.

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Psyduck

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# 2270

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shamwari
quote:
But C.H. Dodd has shown that "wrath" can have an alternative reading ( or rather interpretation) which renders the idea of an angry God requiring appeasement redundant.
Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthan
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uthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthank
youthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouth ankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou
thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthank
youthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyo uthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthank
youthankyou....

for mentioning that.

This is one of a very small number of hymns that make me feel physically sick. The only possible justification for even replicating its text is that it's such a clear exposition of the way in which the cilinically-extreme PSA mindset totally and systematically misses the point of the Gospel. ME ME ME ME ME. It's all about ME!

A world of darkness, injustice, cruelty, abuse of power, abuse as such, a discounting of the small, weak, vulnerable - and God comes into it, in love, openness and vulnerability - and all that is turned into a myth that Jesus dies on the cross to let God forget who we used to be when we drank, smoked, gambled and had promiscuous sex, or wanted to - or even worse were the Wrong Sort of Christian, (which is the same, only worse, as not being a Christian) and by the way, the whole point of Christianity, having been "set free" like that is to believe in an infallible Bible and live like it tells us to, which might or might not mean telling women to shut up in church, because that might or might not have been Paul's private opinion, but definitely does mean making life miserable for gays, because that suer as hell wasn't anyone's matter of opinion, but What God Wants.

In other words, Jesus didn't die, as Paul mistakenly suggests, to take us into realms of freedom-in-Christ inconceivable to a dead legalism, but basically so that God wouldn't be bound, for the sake of divine consistency, to be cross with us when we ate shellfish and black pudding. Because just about everything else is still in force.

But of course, if you deny this, you are just heaping your own sin back onto Jesus on the cross, and being terribly ungrateful, which is worse than making the baby Jesus cry.

I'm not sure which aspect of this hymn I hate most - that it takes such a trivial, tiny-minded theology, utterly unworthy to stand beside what the New Testament actually prolaims, or that it comes over all outraged and magisterial with us when theree's a possibility we won't buy into its vindictive little world-view. Of that vindictive little world view is wrapped up and presented as how things really are with the God who made heaven and earth, and who raised Jesus from the dead. It's utterly unworthy of its subject-matter.

If you think I'm being over the top, read it, and ask yourself again whether there is anyone in it - anyone in its whole universe - other than God and "me". Apart, of course, from the "scorn[ing]... ones he came to save." And they don't count. As Augustine reminds us, the joy of the saved is increased by the contemplation of the torments of the damned. So that's OK.

"I'm sorry I was so naughty, mummy! I really am your favourite, aren't I?"

[ 20. June 2010, 05:38: Message edited by: Psyduck ]

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The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.
"Lle rhyfedd i falchedd fod/Yw teiau ar y tywod." (Ieuan Brydydd Hir)

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Psyduck

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# 2270

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That was maybe a tad splenetic. (Gee, Psyduck - ya think?) I was imputing certain opinions that may not be held, and I shouldn't do that.

My main point - which I may or may not have obscured - is that PSA is a highly selective abstraction from the Scriptures, ignores and suppresses what doesn't fit in with it, explicitly denies the plain truth that there are numerous other thoroughly Biblical models of atonement - to say nothing of scriptural understandings of sacrifice, and of Jesus' death as sacrifice, which render a thoroughgoing PSA understanding untenable.

As regards this hymn, it isn't at all grounded in the Biblical, but in just exactly the kind of shonky second- and third- order theologizing I've just described.

And the really toxic bit is its fusion of self-hatred with a self-glorifying collapsing of the whole universe of theology into a "personal relationship" with God. Google for narcissism, and see what comes up, especially along the self-love/self-hatred axis.

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The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.
"Lle rhyfedd i falchedd fod/Yw teiau ar y tywod." (Ieuan Brydydd Hir)

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Benny Diction 2
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quote:
Originally posted by shamwari:
I shall be patient and wait till it is out of copyright and then use an alternative wording.

By which time I shall be out of life's copyright anyway.

I note that one defence of the hymn is that the "wrath" of God is biblical. Notably Rom 1

But C.H. Dodd has shown that "wrath" can have an alternative reading ( or rather interpretation) which renders the idea of an angry God requiring appeasement redundant.

Please say more. This sounds interesting.

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Benny Diction

"The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it - a bit like Christians in the Church of England." Tony Benn

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Psyduck

Ship's vacant look
# 2270

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Sorry to triple-post! Here's a Townend hymn we've been saddled with in our new CH4 hymnbook. [url= http://www.ap0s7le.com/list/song/28/Stuart_Townend/How_Deep_The_Father's_Love_For_Us/]How deep the Father's love for us[/url] It seems to me to intensify all these characteristics, and to be completely naive of all the theological problems it throws up along its way.
[Projectile] [Projectile] [Projectile]

[ 20. June 2010, 06:44: Message edited by: Psyduck ]

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The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.
"Lle rhyfedd i falchedd fod/Yw teiau ar y tywod." (Ieuan Brydydd Hir)

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Benny Diction 2
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Sorry Psyduck I don't see what is unacceptable about "How deep the father's love".

Whilst (personally) I am fine with "In Christ alone" I do understand that some people struggle with the wrath of God bit. But the theology of "How deep the father's love" seems pretty mainstream.

For example good old Charles Wesley says much the same thing in

And can it be

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Benny Diction

"The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it - a bit like Christians in the Church of England." Tony Benn

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Oscar the Grouch

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# 1916

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Apart from "How deep the father's love" being a simpering, maudlin dirge, I would say that this line alone is worthy of placing it in Room 101:

The Father turns His face away

Really? At the point of Christ's deepest agony on the cross, the Father turned his face away? So when I'm going through my own version of Calvary, just how confident can I be that God won't do a similar thing?

To me, the whole point of Christ on the Cross is that the Father did NOT turn his face away. His love remained constant. If we can't believe that, we're all in deep doodah.


(BTW - don't bother quoting Jesus' words from the cross - "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" These are words of Christ feeling abandond - not a statement that God HAD abandoned him)

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Psyduck

Ship's vacant look
# 2270

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I'm with Oscar the Grouch there.

Benny Diction 2 - fair point, but easily answered, I think. I've highlighted some of the non-narcissistic language in Wesley's hymn.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
[i.e. a share]

Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
[sc. along with the others you died for.]

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
[sc. along with the others you died for.]

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.


He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race :


Also, although it clearly works a PS model, it's about as broad a model as can possibly be, and it comes from an age in which there wasn't much available in England between PSA and theological approaches which completely eschewed atonement as such in one way or another. Nobody writing at the beginning of the 21st century - certainly at any point after Mygren's Christus Victor - has any such excuses.

There's a lot in it that makes me flinch, but nothing that makes me cringe, and the warmth is marvellous, and different in every way from the brainless fervour of Townend's effusions.

[ 20. June 2010, 07:44: Message edited by: Psyduck ]

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The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.
"Lle rhyfedd i falchedd fod/Yw teiau ar y tywod." (Ieuan Brydydd Hir)

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