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Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?comments (39)

August 8, 2013

By Bob Terry

Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?

Looking Back at the Aug. 8 Editorial (Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?)

Click here to read Bob Terry's Aug. 22 editorial reflecting on the controversy caused by the Aug. 8 editorial.

Original editorial can be found below.


Clarification to Aug. 8 editorial (prepared Aug. 9 and revised Aug. 12)

Editor’s Note — The editorial “Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?” published in the Aug. 8 issue received thousands of responses via Twitter, email, the website and phone calls in less than 24 hours. Because of the questions raised by the responses, the following clarification is offered.

Before I arrived at the office on the morning of Friday, Aug. 9, I received a phone call telling me the editorial “Why Disagree about the Words of a Hymn?” had generated a lot of response overnight. I was shocked when the caller added that I was being accused of not believing in penal substitutionary atonement — the teaching that Jesus paid the price for sin when He died on the cross in our place.

That anything I write would call into question the atoning work of Jesus Christ is inappropriate and to those who read this editorial that way, I apologize.

Let me be clear. I believe in and unapologetically preach: 1. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23); 2. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom. 6:23); 3. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19); 4. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8); 5. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9); 6. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

Consistent with that belief I wrote in the editorial “…it is God’s grace that initiated the sacrifice of Jesus to provide covering and forgiveness for our sin and that His sacrifice satisfied the holy demands of God’s righteousness for sin to be punished.” I believe that is an affirmation of the penal substitutionary atonement understanding of salvation.

Again, sin separates us from God. Sin has a price that has to be paid before sinful man can be reconciled to a holy God. Jesus paid the price for our sin on Calvary and only because of what was done for us on the cross can we be reconciled to God. I understand that to be bedrock Christian beliefs.

For those interested in my writings about the atonement, let me suggest two examples: March 25, 2010, and April 5, 2012. Other references to the atonement can be found in numerous editorials over the years and most can be found on this website. But let me emphasize again, the Aug. 8 editorial was not about the atonement.

I am beginning to wonder if part of the confusion surrounding the Aug. 8 editorial relates to different meanings of the word “wrath.”

If the meaning is that on Calvary God’s punishment for our sins was poured out on Jesus, then that is certainly biblical and something I would never question. That is my understanding of penal substitutionary atonement and is what I have written through the years.

If the meaning of “wrath” is that God is vindictive and took joy in punishing His Son then that is not how I find God described in the Bible. As I understand the Bible, it was because “God so loved the world” that He was willing “to crush him and cause him to suffer” and become a guilt offering (Isaiah 53:10 NIV). Sin had to be punished to satisfy the righteous justice of a Holy God and only the Son of God could satisfy that demand.

The editorial in question (see below) was intended to call us to see the love of God at the cross and not a vindictive God.



Aug. 8 editorial: Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?

Who would expect the words of a popular modern-day Christian hymn to cause a theological dust up? That is exactly what has happened after a decision by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) not to include the hymn “In Christ Alone,” released in 2001, in its new hymnal “Glory To God: The Presbyterian Hymnal.” 

Originally the committee voted to include “In Christ Alone” but with a change to one phrase. The committee proposed changing a line in the second verse that says “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied” to read “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The love of God was magnified.” 

Changing the words of a hymn to reflect theological teaching is a common practice. The first verse of the beloved hymn “At the Cross” by Isaac Watts originally read, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I.” Compilers of the “Baptist Hymnal” changed that line to read, “Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I.” 

This time the song’s authors Keith Getty and Stuart Townend would have none of it and refused permission to make the change. The hymnal committee then voted 9–6 not to use the song because the theology of the disputed phrase reflected the view of a part of the Presbyterian Church but was not appropriate for the diverse membership as a whole.

That decision prompted an outpouring of protest. At least one blogger cited the decision as an example of liberalism in the denomination. Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George was more balanced in his reaction. He wrote, “God’s love is not sentimental; it is holy. It is tender but not squishy. It involves not only compassion, kindness and mercy beyond measure, but also indignation against injustice and unremitting opposition to all that is evil.”

George cautioned that to ignore God’s wrath can result in “a less than fully biblical construal of who God is and what He has done, especially in the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.” 

George is exactly right. The Bible speaks clearly about the wrath of God and warns that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God (Ps. 90:11). 

Yet there remains a question about whether God was an angry God at Golgotha whose wrath had to be appeased by the suffering of the innocent Jesus. Sometimes Christians carelessly make God out to be some kind of ogre whose angry wrath overflowed until the innocent Jesus suffered enough to calm Him down. It is the ultimate “good cop/bad cop” routine where God is against us but Jesus is for us. 

Some popular theologies do hold that Jesus’ suffering appeased God’s wrath. That is not how I understand the Bible and that is why I do not sing the phrase “the wrath of God was satisfied” even though I love the song “In Christ Alone.”

I take the incarnation seriously when the Bible teaches “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). According to Scripture the One who died at Golgotha was One with the Father (John 10:30). The apostle Paul added, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). 

As I understand Scripture, Jesus opened a new window through which people could see what God is like. God has always been like Jesus and Jesus has always been like God. That is why Jesus said to the apostle Philip in John 14:8–11, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.” 

That humankind was estranged from God by sin is not in doubt. Nor is there any question that the place of that reconciliation was the cross or that Jesus was the instrument of that reconciliation. 

Mankind could not overcome being separated from God by itself. God is the one who took the initiative for reconciliation, the One who continues to take the initiative. God wants to forgive. That is why He sent His Son (John 3:16). 

God is always the active agent in reconciliation. He is not reconciliation’s object.

One well-known Baptist theologian said it clearly: “Reconciliation is not the appeasement of God. It is God’s own work in restoring man to proper relationship with Himself.” 

Certainly the holiness of God means that sin cannot be condoned. That is why the atoning sacrifice of Christ satisfies the demands of God’s holy law. The sacrifice also demonstrates God’s boundless love that goes beyond the law. 

An entry in the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by LifeWay Christian Resources, under “expiation” makes this point. The author writes, “God was not waiting to be appeased (as in the pagan, Greek conception). Rather God condescended to meet us on our level to remedy the situation.”

Scholars will continue arguing about whether the sacrificial system of the Bible, of which Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, had God as its subject or its object. If He is the subject then God acted to cover and forgive sins through the sacrificial system. If He is the object then God received the offerings for sin that in some ways pacified His anger and need for justice. 

Again the Holman Bible Dictionary says, “In the New Testament setting, this would mean that on the cross Jesus either dealt with the evil nature of human sin and covered it so that God forgives it (subject) or it means that Jesus satisfied God’s holy anger and justice so that forgiven sinners could freely enter the presence of the holy God” (object). 

That is the essence between the disputed phrases in the song “In Christ Alone.” One emphasizes “the love of God was magnified” (subject); the other “the wrath of God was satisfied” (object). Whichever phrase one chooses to sing it must be remembered that it is God’s grace that initiated the sacrifice of Jesus to provide covering and forgiveness for our sin and that His sacrifice satisfied the holy demands of God’s righteousness for sin to be punished. 

But God is not the enemy. He is our seeking Friend (Luke 15). That is why I prefer to focus on His love evidenced at Calvary rather than on His wrath. 

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Comments (39)

    John 8/8/2013 5:08 PM

    What you prefer and what I prefer is not the issue. What happened on that cross did not happen to us, it happened to His son, Jesus. You need to carefully think this through friend. The trajectory is a dangerous one. Throwing out the understanding of why Christ had to die to satisfy God's wrath against sin - your appeasing the flow of liberal culture. I am heartbroken over this post!

  • Joe Medlin 8/8/2013 5:39 PM

    I pray for the day when all believers (myself included) lay aside our preferences and worship the God who is.

    Please consider the incredible unity of the Trinity. God the father loved and sent his son (John 3:16), and the book of Revelations tells us Jesus,the son, will return as judge (19:11). Both are in union with each other and with the Holy Spirit the equal and final part of the triumvirate. There are numerous passages on this great accord and one shouldn't be considered the "bad cop" and another the "good cop".

    But to put focus on God's specific wrath on Jesus at least please consider Isaiah 53 (verse 4 tells us Christ was smitten by God) and Acts 2:23 tells us God predetermined this sacrifice (Acts 2:23
    23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of [a]godless men and put Him to death. )

    God is just and righteous in all he does. He is gracious and kind. It is a difficult concept because God is not like us. Let us praise Him for that!

  • Troy 8/8/2013 5:45 PM

    Cue up the Gaither's singing "When He was on the cross, I was on his mind" and grab a copy of "The Shack." Very disturbing stance published by Bama Baptist in this article..

  • Tracy Irvin 8/8/2013 5:59 PM

    I agree wholeheartedly that Christ reveals God the Father, except Mr. Terry seems to have never read Revelation 19.11-21, where Christ reveals - wait for it - the wrath of God. Another thing, if we are not God's enemies before our salvation, why the need for reconciliation?

  • josh howerton 8/8/2013 9:21 PM

    Is this for-realisies or an awesome Alabama Baptist Convention "gotcha"?

  • Julia 8/8/2013 9:41 PM

    How can you reconcile this with Romans chapter 5:6-11? " 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."

  • Andy Simpson 8/8/2013 9:55 PM

    Isaiah 53 pretty much explains it. "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
    All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
    And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked But with the rich at His death,
    Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise (crush) Him; He has put Him to grief."

  • mark 8/8/2013 10:15 PM

    I think it is appropriate to share a verse from Jeremiah, that I pray is convicting.

    ""Cursed be the one who does the Lordís work negligently,
    And cursed be the one who restrains his sword from blood."

  • James Hammack 8/8/2013 11:05 PM

    This article is about as un-Baptist as it gets. The gospel is greatly harmed when this theology is being presented.

  • Richard Alexander 8/8/2013 11:14 PM

    This viewpoint seems very close to what those in the health, wealth, and prosperity movement would state. Particularly those like Joel Osteen. We cannot understand God love and grace rightly if we do not understand that when Jesus was dying on the cross it was to satisfy his wrath against sin. He was paying the sin debt of his elect. Rom 5:8-9. I am embarrassed as a fellow Alabama baptist at the theological irrelevance spewed here. For instance, to hold that Christ satisfied Gods wrath makes God out to be an ogre? This is absurd and not in line with what Southern Baptist have historically taught.

  • bruce mercer 8/8/2013 11:17 PM

    while all that may be true, it was upon the lamb of God that the Father poured out His wrath for sin. (rom 1:18, rom3:24-260, and rom5:9-11)all reflect the wrath of God being appeased through the atoning sacrifice on the cross. and, how is it that any in the sbc would be siding with the apostates in the pcusa?

  • Griffin Gulledge 8/8/2013 11:27 PM

    This is horrendous. Just atrocious. I respond at length here: http://griffingulledge.blogspot.com/2013/08/squishy-love-at-alabama-baptist.html

  • Jason Reasor 8/8/2013 11:38 PM

    It was God whose justice had to be satisfied. This is only done through the shedding of blood. We see this in Isaiah 53:11 when we read that The Lord sees the travail of His Righteous Servant that He will be "satisfied." His justice, which deems His Divine wrath must be administered, is satisfied. This is how His "love was magnified." To deny the theological tenet would be wrong. Whenever the Gospel was preached in the New Testament, the recipients were told to repent of their sins and in some cases to "flee from the wrath to come." Even the beloved passage in John 3 warns that those who do not believe have the "wrath of God abiding on him. (vs. 36)" One of the most loved hymns we sing (Amazing Grace) reminds us that it was "grace that taught our hearts to fear." Fear what? The wrath of God when His Holy justice is served upon unrepentant sinners. This is not a case of "good cop/bad cop," it is biblical truth! We cannot concede this truth or put it in a different light, the satisfaction of God's wrath by Christ's death upon the cross is intertwined with His glorious sacrifice on our behalf. Getty and Townsend know this, and choose not to cheapen theology by condescending the truth. Reconciliation is what Christ has done, as you pointed out in your article, but how could this be? It is possible because Christ satisfied the righteous requirement of the Law.

  • Pam and Bob Brownfield 8/9/2013 1:07 AM

    We were deeply disturbed to read Mr. Terry's editorial upholding the view of the PCUSA in changing the words to "In Christ Alone." The Lomwe People among whom we minister in rural Mozambique also fail to grasp that they are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3). Mr. Terry ends by saying "But God is not the enemy." Romans 5:10 makes clear that we and God were enemies before being reconciled to God through His Son. Both Americans and Lomwe Mozambicans need to see ourselves correctly in light of Scripture, so that we can understand both the wrath of God and the unbelievable love of God.
    Pam and Bob Brownfield
    IMB Missionaries to the Lomwe People in the path of rapidly advancing Islam
    Mucucune, Mozambique

  • JD Hall 8/9/2013 1:11 AM

    This is an astounding departure from Christian orthodoxy.

  • Roger Lane 8/9/2013 2:57 AM

    Dr. Terry, The Alabama Baptist website is not a place to speak of preferences. Such an article falsely communicates that your preference to focus on the love of God over the wrath of God is what Baptists in general choose to do. Even if you did not intend for this to happen, making the conversation and either/or is not responsible or Biblical. We will never understand the infinite love and grace of God without understanding the great and terrible wrath of God.

  • Justin 8/9/2013 6:36 AM

    The exact word propitiation appears just a handful of times in the New Testament. In Romans 3:24-25, we are told of, Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood. In Hebrews 9:5, the same Greek word that was used in Romans 3:25 (hilastērion) is translated mercy seat to refer to the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. In 1 John 2:1-2, we read: My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Then in 1 John 4:10, the beloved apostle uses the term again: In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
    The word propitiation refers to a sacrifice that appeases Gods wrath by satisfying His justice. To propitiate, in Scripture, is to placate and appease the wrath of God on behalf of a guilty sinner who deserves to be punished, and in terms of the Gospel, it is to turn such wrath into divine favor.

    The prophet Isaiah wrote: Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Is. 53:4-6). Notice the prophet says Jesus was, bruised for our iniquities. The Hebrew word for bruised here is daka, which should literally be translated in modern language as crushed (see ESV). In the same chapter a few verses down, in verse 10, we read: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. The same Hebrew word is used here for bruised (crushed) as in verse 5. Thus verse 10 reveals to us that it wasnt the Roman soldiers that crushed the Son of God, it wasnt merely the scourges or the scoffing or the nails or the crown of thorns. Nor was it Jews who crushed Him. It was actually the LORD who crushed His own Son! Gods holy justice was offended by guilty criminals and the Lord demanded that the just nature of His Law be vindicated. Thus wrath had to be poured out on the guilty. But instead of the guilty suffering for their own sin, the Son of God in His love and mercy came down and bore their iniquities and was crushed in their place in order to satisfy justice and secure for them the pardon of God.
    The picture is of a holy God who is absolutely perfect and just and utterly abhors sin, but who has been offended by guilty sinners and whose righteous anger against sin is boiling over and ready to burst forth in the full fury of omnipotence upon the guilty party, but yet in His great love, wanting to spare the sinner from eternal condemnation, sent His only Son to bear upon His own self the wrath and fury of divine justice as the sinners Substitute. In such a way, justice is satisfied and God can forgive the sinner without doing damage to the demands of the perfect justice that His just nature required.

  • Ken Nichols 8/9/2013 6:47 AM

    This is a most unfortunate article.
    When God's wrath against sin is removed as distasteful, it removes the beauty of what God in Christ did for us on the cross.
    The ultimate sacrifice was Perfect Lamb to endure God's wrath, that is due sinners like me, in order to spare us the experience of eternal wrath. That is the heart of the cross, and what is known as Penal Substitutionary Atonement.
    The cross is an act of justice against sin, but just wrath was exacted on the Lamb of God, by God, for our sakes, and for His glory.
    If God's wrath against sin isn't real, neither is hell, and neither was the need for the cross.

    I hope Alabama Baptists know better, even if Dr. Terry does not.
    Ken Nichols
    Native Alabaman, and Southern Baptist

  • Brent McGuirt 8/9/2013 8:00 AM

    The cross seems like a pretty dumb, horrible, and horrific way to show love unless Jesus was paying for sin by appeasing the righteous wrath of God. God is not our enemy, but we sure were His enemies. (Ephesians 2) The cross doesn't make any sense unless it is the appeasement of God's wrath. If Jesus wasn't paying for sin in his body on the cross, then God is supremely cruel. There is no love seen at all in the cross unless Jesus is taking our place and paying for our sin in full, otherwise, it is just a horrible tragedy. But, the Scripture teaches: "He who knew no sin became sin for us..." Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, the object and subject of our redemption. He laid down his life for his sheep. This isn't an either/or, but a both/and. God's love and justice are vividly demonstrated at the cross. "Without the shedding of blood,there is no forgiveness of sin."

  • Chad Brand 8/9/2013 8:45 AM

    I find several flaws in your article. The most important is that you leave out the entire issue of propitiation, a theme common to Paul, John, and Hebrews. Romans 1-3 specifically places the death of Christ in the context of the satisfaction of God's wrath. Liberal scholars such as CH Dood and AT Hanson made that same move, but evangelicals such as Leon Morris and Tom Schreiner have shown the error of their ways. In addition, though you cite the Holman Bible Dictionary, you are citing the old edition, which is no longer published by Lifeway Christian Resources. The article on expiation in the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary has a new article which specifically argues for a biblical understanding of propitiation.

    Chad Brand

  • Steve Loggins 8/9/2013 10:00 AM

    Bob, I wish to disagree with your article - You have downplayed the atonement by emphasizing the incarnation. Instead of either/or - we should look at both/and - The demonstration of the love of God in Calvary is seen best against the backdrop of the satisfaction of his wrath against sin. They are two sides of the same redemptive coin. Balance is needed - you mentioned it, but you let the coin fall on the side of love.

  • Randy Hollingsworth 8/9/2013 10:23 AM

    This article reads as if it was written by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Bob Terry attached his name to it. Even when we commit a sin, we seldom look at the end result of that sin. We only focus in the moment and the pleasure our flesh may gain from the sin. Bob seems to be doing that with this article. Was God's love magnified in that moment on the cross? Absolutely, but more importantly our eternal wrath of Hell was satisified. I can't fully understand God's love (If Ever), but I certaintly can't understand it on any level until I understand what His love saved me from His final judgment! (Wrath) Bob like so many others of today focus on the feel goodism of being a follower of Christ with little regard for the human condition in sin, the penalty of that sin and the ultimate price Christ paid for our sin.

  • Randy Hollingsworth 8/9/2013 10:26 AM

    This article reads as if it was written by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Bob Terry attached his name to it. Even when we commit a sin, we seldom look at the end result of that sin. We only focus in the moment and the pleasure our flesh may gain from the sin. Bob seems to be doing that with this article. Was God's love magnified in that moment on the cross? Absolutely, but more importantly our eternal wrath of Hell was satisified. I can't fully understand God's love (If Ever), but I certaintly can't understand it on any level until I understand that His love saved me from His final judgment! (Wrath) Bob like so many others of today focus on the feel goodism of being a follower of Christ with little regard for the human condition in sin, the penalty of that sin and the ultimate price Christ paid for our sin.

  • Kyle 8/9/2013 1:35 PM

    I don't know what position Bob Terry holds in the Alabama SBC, but he should consider resigning over his heretical beliefs. If not, the Alabama SBC should consider removing him right away.

  • Ricky Bobby 8/9/2013 2:58 PM

    For all of the pastors here pointing fingers, think back to the last time you preached on God's wrath. Been a while? Every Sunday that you spend starting another "sermon series" on Joy, Happiness, Marriage, etc is one less Sunday you have to teach your congregation about false doctrine. Just something to chew on.

  • Mark Turner 8/9/2013 4:51 PM

    A cursory reading of this article seems to indicate some major pitfalls in basic study of the Bible. I don't give 1/10 of 1% of a care what a selective citation of the HBD says about expiation. I want to know what a careful study of the usage and context of ἱλασμός indicates. To make such bold statements with such little examination of the biblical text and so much theological speculation indicates that the author may be starting from a personal opinion and merely selectively seeking evidence to back his preference. Let's stick to the text.

  • Kevin Castleberry 8/9/2013 11:39 PM

    I was just made aware of this disagreement when I saw the joint statement from John Killian and Dr. Rick Lance. After reading the original article, the clarification article, and the associated comments, I am wondering if there is not a both/and to these viewpoints. I have not talked with Dr. Terry, but I can imagine that it is hard to communicate a fully stated position in such a brief article. I would like to think that given the opportunity of a conversation, we might find there to be most of the same viewpoints and theological beliefs. It seems to me that the issue resides around the concept of God's wrath, which I conceived in a faulty way for a long time. When I hear that word, I ascribed the mental image of human wrath to God. That made me think of Him as exhibiting an out-of-control unleashing of angry punishment. However, that is inconsistent with His character. He is never out-of-control. I have come to see His wrath as a measured response of justice to our sinful offense. With that perception, I can fully appreciate that "on the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied." Maybe some have a hard time with God's wrath because it is seen in conflict with His love, but aren't they both attributes of God's nature. The penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the cross was the most hideously beautiful event in the God-man interaction. By its very essence, was it not the juxtaposition of both the love and wrath of God? And the most mind-blowing truth seems to be that God was executing His wrath moved by His love poured out on His One and Only for His beloved. I would like to give Dr. Terry room to find that in common with those who have read his article differently.

  • Rev. Reginald Gabel 8/10/2013 9:25 AM

    God turned His back on us out of His love for us and bore the stripes... out of His love He died for us... for God, Christ, and Holy Spirit are one... I see a lot of stones being thrown here. It was not the blood that saved us, for I am sure that Christ bled before He died on the cross, it was not the cross that saved us, for there had been many crosses, it was not His death, for many had died on the cross, it was HIS LOVE that saved us and that is why He went to the Cross, Bled, Died, and Rose that we may have Eternal Life. Yes people need to know that He died on the cross for us but they need to know more that He loved us so much that He (God) gave His Son to died for us. There are so many homes with Bibles, Crosses, and pictures of Christ bleeding, that Christ does not dwell, but when there is "Christ Love" there you will find Christ. If Christ had come today, how would He had died? Yes He had to die the way He did for it was foretold, but it had been for Him to die in our day, it may have not been a cross. Please don't misunderstand me, some of the songs that I love the most are, "There's Power In The Blood" and "The Old Rugged Cross". They are not the power, it was the love for us that sent Him there. To often we focus on the building, the dcor, when we should be facing Him. May we seek to share what He did for us to all we meet. May we love as Christ, and strive to be more like Him is ALL that we do and say. Loving and praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • John Richburg 8/10/2013 4:48 PM

    This was written as an editorial and as such it is not news nor fact but simply Bob's opinion. As it is his opinion and so contrary to Baptist belief I believe Bob should be remoived from his position.

  • Lewis Woods 8/10/2013 5:23 PM

    To answer in the most simple way...The sacrificial work of Christ is both subjective and objective...Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith!!!! Some will understand my statement-some will not.

  • Stephen Webb 8/10/2013 6:12 PM

    William Gadsby is one of my favorite Hymn writers. I came across the gem a few days ago. Maybe we can add this one into our new Hymnal.

    1 With great and awful power,
    Jesus, the Judge, shall come,
    To bid his foes depart,
    and take His children home;
    How will the wicked quake and fear,
    When they before him must appear.

    2 He comes, the world to judge,
    Nor will he take a bribe,
    His wrath none can escape,
    But his beloved bride;
    Millions will unto mountains call
    To hide them and upon them fall.

    3 Poor soul, what is thy hope?
    On what dost thou depend?
    Art thou a stranger still,
    To Christ, the sinner's Friend?
    Soon thou must leave thy all below,
    And then, O then, what wilt thou do?

    4 Christians, lift up your heads;
    Say, what has Jesus done?
    His matchless grace to you
    The Saviour has made known;
    Yes, you shall all his glory see,
    And from the second death be free!

    Grace and Peace

  • Steve Grissom 8/10/2013 10:11 PM

    This is very unfortunate. I expect such responses from the mainstream media and even liberal theologians but it is sad when Southern Baptists shy away from the Cross. Apart from the Cross, we are no different than the world. I agree completely with Ken Nichols whose comments are listed here. As an Alabama pastor, I will stand against such theology listed in Mr. Terry's article and will stand for truth presented in Scripture.

  • Hank Walker 8/10/2013 11:05 PM

    I'm not going to repeat the statements above (even if I believe they are mostly correct). I do, however, believe the attitude expressed in Dr. Terry's editorial is reminiscent of days many hoped we would never see again in our Convention. In 1979, things finally blew loose, exposing a festering wound that more than a few thought would bring the SBC to an ugly end. It also reflects all that had gone wrong at Southern Seminary prior to the advent of the Mohler era (I thank God for raising up a man like Al Mohler for such a time). Finally, this should be a cautionary tale of what happens when our Seminary students become pastors after imbibing higher textual criticism as a surrogate for the living gospel. May we pray that our students won't fall into the cycle of being trained as theological lightweights, who train more gullible theological lightweights, who then instruct even more impotent theological lightweights. The Gospel of our Lord should demand so much more!

  • Ross Kilpatrick 8/11/2013 12:19 AM

    You cannot separate God's love from his wrath (for God is love), nor His wrath from His love (for God is love). To do so is to misunderstand both. Elizabeth Clephane rightly recognizes this in her hymn, Beneath the Cross of Jesus, when she wrote, "O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet, O trysting place where Heavens love and Heavens justice meet!"

    What was the cross a refuge from? What did she mean? Well, it was a refuge from God's wrath.

    Just my two cents. Let us behave as Christian gentlemen to the end. To the glory of God.

  • Bob Schembre 8/11/2013 7:43 AM

    wow Alabama Baptists. just wow. Where are the Phineas' when you need them. A Missouri Baptist.

  • Tom Fillinger 8/11/2013 8:56 AM

    Mr. Terry,

    In your \'letter of clarification\' you still REFUSE to acknowledge that God\'s wrath is at issue. This is eqivocation, ducking & dodging. The good people of Alabama should not pay the salary of one whose theological posture is dubious at best and clearly in conflict with the Baptist Faith & Message.

    Every letter in response to this article is OPPOSED to its publication in the AL paper. Nothing short of a TOTAL retraction is acceptable.

  • Tom Fillinger 8/11/2013 8:58 AM

    Mr. Terry,

    In your 'letter of clarification' you still REFUSE to acknowledge that God's wrath is at issue. This is eqivocation, ducking & dodging. The good people of Alabama should not pay the salary of one whose theological posture is dubious at best and clearly in conflict with the Baptist Faith & Message.

    Every letter in response to this article is OPPOSED to its publication in the AL paper. Nothing short of a TOTAL retraction is acceptable.

  • Jodey Hogeland 8/13/2013 2:47 PM

    Dr. Terry,

    I understand that there has been an overwhelming response to your article and I am grateful that you attempted a clarification instead of remaining silent. However, there were several statements that cause concern, not just the overall theme of the piece. For example, the statement, Some popular theologies do hold that Jesus suffering appeased the wrath of God is not just a popular theology it is right theology. Your clarification seems to indicate that you recognize this view but is this your view? Theology matters and although there might be many theological understandings true theology will only ever be the proper study of God through what has been revealed in His Word.

    I recently lead our fellowship through a 16 week study on the atonement and here are a few points of realization:

    God grants the forgiveness of sins based on the exclusivity of Himself and His own personal sacrifice of Himself. God paid the penalty for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)

    God Himself became our atonement in the person of Jesus Christ. However, the cross was not a compromise it was a substitute.

    Dr. William C. Robinson said, The cross is not a compromise, but a substitution; not a cancellation, but a satisfaction; not a wiping off, but a wiping out in blood and agony and death.

    Man is guilty of violating the law of God therefore it is man that has to stand before God and man who Gods wrath must be taken out on. The penalty is due to man

    The answer to this dilemma is this God took on flesh and became a man He took on the nature of a man and stood in the place of man mans guilt was placed upon Him and the He suffered the full penalty of the law in place of man. This is all of grace.

    Till on that cross as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied. Gods love and Gods wrath are two characteristics of Gods divine nature that must be balanced one having no weight over the other. To exalt love over wrath is to do nothing more than what Rob Bell does in his book Love Wins. This position is not biblical and in the end it is not love that wins nor is it wrath that wins God wins. And this will be made evident in both His love for those who repent and believe and His wrath against those who continue to rebel and only seek the desires of their sinful hearts.

  • Charlie Dale 9/4/2013 10:37 AM

    The more I think about it, the more I would like to know this: Is propitiation a mistranslation of hilasmos? If it is not, then Jesus did appease God's wrath. "The wrath of God was satisfied!"

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