Sunday, August 24, 2008

"In Christ Alone" - Theological Fallacies

Today I was at a Reformed church and we sang a hymn called "In Christ Alone", I used to play that song for worship at my church and at bible school. It is an encouraging and uplifting song, and it is effective in teaching St. Anselm's satisfaction theory of the atonement, however, it is truly theologically inept in my opinion. As is the whole idea of "Solus Christus". It's not wrong because Jesus is bad or anything, it's just wrong because it denies the true Trinitarian nature of God and the theological understanding that Scripture and the Traditions of the Church teach.

"In Christ alone, my hope is found, he is my light, my strength, my comforter" - Actually the role of the Holy Ghost is to strengthen believers. In John's gospel in the upper room discourse Jesus calls the Holy Spirit 'the comforter', not himself. And truly without the grace given to us by the Holy Ghost, none of us would find hope in Christ. St. Paul teaches in Romans that the Spirit gives us life, and that His special role in the Godhead is this, and the evangelistic role of convicting the world of sin, and drawing people to Christ in the first place. So by singing "In Christ Alone" we're actually dismissing the role of the Holy Ghost.

Without God the Father, we couldn't have been created, and the song says "Jesus commands my destiny" and correct me if I'm wrong, but God the Father actually chooses to elect some and not others. So again it confuses Jesus' role with that of God the Father.

"in the death of Christ I live" - St. Paul says that "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Rm 6:4) It is in the resurrection that we live, we are raised with him, we are Baptized into his death (Rm 6:3).

That's about all I feel like nitpicking at for now. But basically Christians try to sound good by saying "Jesus only" but really that's not even what Jesus wanted. He said that he was only concerned with doing the will of the Father. He also said that it was good for Him to leave so that the Holy Spirit could come and be with us. So while it makes for a good attempt at appearing Christo-centric, it is really a mutation of true Christo-centrism, which grasps the real Trinitarian nature of God.


  1. Hey, stop ruining my hymn-fun with pesky facts!

  2. When I sing this song in church I am in no way forgetting about the trinity. When I sing about Christ Alone I am thinking about all the things of this world that I tend to put my hope in and it is a reminder that my salvation, my hope and my future is in heaven with Jesus where he sits at the right hand of the Father. This song increases my love for the Father I am am reminded all he has done for us through Christ and how he has left us the Holy Spirit to be our helper.

  3. Thank you for writing this; I'd always thought I was alone in thinking that this song was theologically off the mark, but you've addressed some of the key points that had always nagged at me.
    Essentially, this song seems to be another casualty to the growing theology of playing good cop/bad cop within the Trinity, thus dividing it.
    And it's discouraging how many people are blinded by emotion and falling for it.

  4. Hello friends, it is good to keep in mind the the five solas that emerged from the Protestant Reformation, one of which was sola scripture. In no way does it ignore the trinitarian nature of alrighty God, but all five are interdependent and this one simply underscores that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father. It is denied that the gospel is preached if Christ's substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited. All that to say, this is what I believe the songwriter was saying.

  5. Well that automatic correction feature messes me up some time .... in the note above I meant sola Christus ... the rest of my bit seems OK