Missing Verses and Theology


Long mine imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound by sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light:
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

So goes the fourth verse of Charles Wesley's well-loved hymn And Can It Be. Or at least so it goes if you live in the UK, for one day I was leafing through the hymnbook of a certain American Pentecostal denomination which happened to be lying around at work (yes, it's true, that is the sort of place I used to work) only to find that their version of And Can It Be only has 3 verses (as opposed to the traditional 5) and that this particular verse is one of those missing.

As this is one of the greatest of all hymns, and this verse is a great verse in its own right, I've been wondering why it's missing from aforementioned American hymnal. As I see it, there are two possible reasons (okay, I admit there are in fact more possibilities, but these are the two big ones): either it's missing for cultural reasons or theological ones. As America is a different country on a completely different continent with a vastly different culture, one cannot ignore the possibility that some unknown aspect of American culture has resulted in the deletion of some great theology from the hymnal. However, the compilers of hymnbooks are (or at least were - the book in question dates from the 60s and shows no hesitation over copious quantities of thees and thous) generally more interested in theological criteria then cultural ones when deciding what to include and what to omit.

So is there a theological difference between British Pentecostals and their American counterparts when it comes to the fourth verse of And Can It Be? It does speak very strongly of the utter depravity of human nature, but is that something that some Pentecostals don't accept? With that in mind I had a look at a few Pentecostal statements of faith and found that, while they all speak of the fall and man's sinfulness, it is only the Apostolic Church which explicitly affirms the doctrine of utter depravity. That's not to say that the doctrine is denied by other Pentecostals, but it does seem to be one they don't deem essential.

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The Tenets of the Apostolic Church

The Unity of the Godhead, and Trinity of the Persons therein.

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the finally impenitent.

The virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension, and abiding intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming, and millennial reign upon earth.

Justification and Sanctification of the believer through the finished work of Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.

The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ.

The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper.

The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.

The possibility of falling from grace.

The obligatory nature of tithes and offerings.