Jul. 30, 2013 11:43am 
It’s no secret that the Presbyterian Church (USA) — which is different from other branches of Presbyterianism — collectively takes a more liberal approach to theology. Most recently, the denomination is gaining attention for its rejection of the hymn, “In Christ Alone.” Rather than including the song in its new hymnal book, PCUSA axed it — an action that may leave some faithful believers scratching their heads.

After all, the song is robust with Christian themes of hope, strength and Christ’s dying on the cross. So, why would the PCUSA turn its back on it?

Here’s why: There’s one, key line in the third stanza that created a barrier — and debate: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.”

Originally, the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS), the body that oversees music for PCUSA, asked the song’s authors, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, to allow them to change the words to “as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified,” as described by Timothy George, dean ofBeeson Divinity School of Samford University, on First Things.

The songwriters’ response? No.

So, with the authors doubling down on wanting the original wording kept intact, the committee voted nine to six to axe the song from the hymnal.

Apparently, it is this invoking of “wrath” that has the liberal denomination less-than-content with the inclusion of the original lyrics. George explains:

Those who treat the wrath of God as taboo, whether in sermons or hymns, stand in a long lineage too, one that includes Albrecht Ritschl, Faustus Socinus, and the unnamed revisionists in the second century who followed the heretic Marcion.  According to Tertullian, they said that “a better god has been discovered, one who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment, who has no fire warming up in hell, and no outer darkness wherein there is shuddering and gnashing of teeth: he is merely kind.”  The lure of such a gospel is unmistakable—it explains why neo-Marcionism (God’s wrath in the Old Testament, his love in the New) is still flourishing today not only in popular piety but also among guilded scholars of religion.

Why do many Christians shrink from any thought of the wrath of God?  R.P.C. Hanson has said that many preachers today deal with God’s wrath the way the Victorians handled sex, treating it as something a bit shameful, embarrassing, and best left in the closet. The result is a less than fully biblical construal of who God is and what he has done, especially in the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.

Earlier this year, Dr. Mary Louise Bringle, chairwoman of PCOCS, explained the two sides of the debate in detail in an article for the Christian Century. Her perspective offers up additional explanation surrounding how both sides felt, internally, about the matter:

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.

Presbyterians Rejects Famed Christian Hymn In Christ Alone From New Song Book Over Wrath of God Lyrics

So the decision was made. Dr. Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College adds that “liberalism and wrath go together like oil and water.” Since these elements don’t mix, it’s not entirely surprising that the song was cut out of the hymnal, he said.

But a failure to understand or properly handle wrath, Burk argues, actually has profound theological effects. At the heart of the matter, the professor wrote that one cannot understand the central meaning of Christ’s death (penal substitution, which is the notion that Jesus was cricified, of his own will, to save humanity from its sinful nature — and that this was a necessity).

“At the end of the day, the cross itself is the stumbling block, and that is why the PCUSA cannot abide this hymn,” Burk concluded.

Photo and featured image credit:

Editor’s Note: It is important to note the difference between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church in America. The former is the larger, more liberal of the two, with 2.3 million members and 11,000 congregations. PC(USA) has taken other leftist positions on issues such as gay marriage) The latter is much smaller, but is regarded as the more conservative denomination. As of 2000, it had 1,450 congregations and more than 306,000 members. There are also other denominations within the larger Presbyterian Church.


We are born with a sin nature!

The following promo ran on Saturday evening July 27 for the CBS show 60 Minutes:

CBS – 60 Minutes Promo, July 28, 2013

Leslie Stahl

“A question that has raged as long as there have been people:  Are human beings inherently good?  Are we born with a sense of morality? Or, do we arrive ‘blank slates’ waiting for the world to teach us right from wrong? Or, could it be worse?  Do we start out nasty, selfish devils who need our parents, teachers and religions to whip us into shape?  The only way to know for sure, of course, is to ask a baby.”

The Word of God clearly teaches us that we are of “our father, the Devil” and that “as by one man sin entered into the world…for all have sinned”.    Notice the negative connotation in the above promo in regards to religion “whipping” sin out of the child and the odd statement that the “only way” we could know the answer is by asking a baby.


Why our church is a growing church!

People often ask me why our church has consistently been growing for the last 9 years.  The answer is complex and I have put together some of the many reasons here:

Cedar Hill has grown consistently over the last 9 years at a rate of about 10% per year.  We have seen the congregation grow from around 30 to about 130.

1. There are many people both here at Cedar Hill and around the world that are regularly praying for Cedar Hill.

2. Cedar Hill takes a solid, unapologetic stand upon the Word of God.  All of our services are centered around teaching and preaching the Word of God.

3. Cedar Hill has sought to strike a balance between being traditional and conservative in our worship without being ‘dead’ and complacent.

4. The ‘old guard’ of membership at Cedar Hill has an uncharacteristic desire to see newer members become involved and take roles of leadership.  There is no power struggle between varying senior members and newer or younger members.

5. The Pastor preaches the Word of God with enthusiasm.

6. Cedar Hill excels at communication both internally and with those interested in the ministry.  The Pastor and board at Cedar Hill share all information with the congregation.  There is never a feeling among the congregation that they do not know what is going on.  The Church uses technology and social media effectively.  The website is thorough and kept up to date.  Facebook and Twitter are used to share the goings on of the church ministry.  Email is used to communicate with the church on an almost daily basis to keep everyone abreast of events and prayer requests.

7. Cedar Hill ministers to who God has sent our way and plans for those we do not have yet.  We have many people involved in the children’s church ministry because we have many children come during the church hour.  We have many people involved in the nursing home Bible studies because God has given us opportunities every week to work at our area nursing homes.  We don’t have many teenagers yet, but we have plans in place when we do.

8. Cedar Hill supports our missionaries.  Approximately 25% of our budget each year goes directly to foreign missions.  Cedar Hill does not participate in a ‘faith promise’ program.  We budget missions.  We send our missionaries prayer letters just like we expect them to send us.  We send our special prayer requests to our missionaries just like they send them to us.  Many members of our church email our missionaries regularly.  We have many members that receive missionary letters individually.  We have a Ladies Missionary Fellowship that prays for and communicates with out Missionaries.  We have a Missions committee so we are able to better keep track of their needs.  Our church KNOWS our missionaries and it is has made a huge difference.

9. Our nursery and nursery workers.  Many families that visit Cedar Hill will make their first stop and will get their first impression from our nursery.  Cedar Hill is growing because people find our nursery to be clean and well equipped with the latest in safety devices.  Our staff is prepared and readily asks the pertinent questions of each child.  People feel secure leaving their child in our nursery.

Warning from US Senator Ted Cruz – from


Jul. 23, 2013 1:10pm l

Supporters of traditional marriage often fear the free speech ramifications that could emerge as as result of increasing support for gay marriage in the United States. But are these worries really legitimate?

In an interview with CBN’s David Brody, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, joined in this chorus, warning that the push in favor of same-sex unions could, indeed, put First Amendment protections at risk.

“If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced,” he said of hate speech regulations that are in place in other countries.

“It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage and that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech — as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government,” Cruz added.

Watch these comments, below:

Some pro-gay marriage advocates in the U.S., the senator believes, want the nation to end up with the same ramifications on the books — and in a paradigm in which individuals can be punished or denigrated for refusing to substantiate or for speaking out against same-sex unions.

Some might scoff at these insinuations, dismissing them as over-the-top, but Cruz is not necessarily manufacturing a paradigm. Consider the widely publicized case in Sweden back in 2005 surroundingAake Green, a Pentecostal pastor.

Green’s plight corroborates the worries that Cruz has surrounding America’s current trajectory. In 2003, the preacher  likened homosexuality to cancer during one of his sermons. As a result, he was brought up on charges over these claims — statements that, in America, would currently be protected by the First Amendment.

The BBC has more about the case (in the end, Green won his appeal, although he was initially given 30 days in jail over his anti-gay comments):

Mr Green was convicted in June 2004 but allowed to remain free pending appeal.

He was the first clergyman convicted under Swedish laws that make incitement to hatred against racial, religious or national groups illegal – legislation that was amended in 2003 to include homosexuals.

Sen. Ted Cruz Issues Major Gay Marriage Warning for Pastors and Christians, Alike

Other incidents have unfolded, too, as the delicate balance between free speech and cutting down on hate speech has been sought.

Now, some might argue that Green’s words were too harsh, but one wonders if even simpler, kinder words that stand opposed to homosexuality would be met with similar sentiment in his country.

While it’s certainly permissible to disagree with Cruz’s assessment, the basis on which he argues is not entirely unfounded.

(H/T: CBN/The Brody File)

Defeats are forever?

I was watching the documentary movie “As the Yellowstone River Goes” and heard the quote “Victories are temporary; but defeats are forever”.

That lead me to think about that in a spiritual sense.  The victories that we have over temptation each and every day are just temporary.  The scars and consequences of the sin we submit to are permanent.   A husband can reject the temptation of adultery day after day, but if he yields to that temptation just once, the pain and hurt of adultery cannot be undone.

We must never yield to sin.  We can be victorious in Christ!!