Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hymn Police and the Editing of God's Holiness

Timothy George has a helpful short article on the 'problem' of the holy love, justice and wrath of God:
Sinjudgmentcross, even Christ have become problematic terms in much contemporary theological discourse, but nothing so irritates and confounds as the idea of divine wrath. Recently, the wrath of God became a point of controversy in the decision of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to exclude from its new hymnal the much-loved song "In Christ Alone" by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.  
The Committee wanted to include this song because it is being sung in many churches, Presbyterian and otherwise, but they could not abide this line from the third stanza: "Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied." For this they wanted to substitute: "…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified." The authors of the hymn insisted on the original wording, and the Committee voted nine to six that "In Christ Alone" would not be among the eight hundred or so items in their new hymnal.
You can read the whole thing ("No Squishy Love") here

The Creedal Imperative: G. L. Prestige

G. L. Prestige on the cause of creed making in the early church:
A thinking Church, a Church that professes to love God with all its mind as well as with its heart, cannot be content to lie for ever in an intellectual fallow.  Circumstances no less than duty force it to interpret its convictions.
It is often repeated that the creeds are signposts against heresies -- that is to say, that the need for precise formulation of Christian belief arose from the circulation of misunderstandings and the prevalence of false interpretations.  Though partly, that is not wholly true. 
The creeds of the Church grew out of the teaching of the Church; the general effect of heresy was rather to force old creeds to be tightened up than to cause fresh creeds to be constructed.
From Fathers & Heretics, p. 3