I know what they are talking about. My favorite subject these days…penal substitution. They look at sin as a transgression of the law and Jesus’ death as a legal transaction. Jesus died for God’s appeasement and to fulfill his divine retributive justice.
Don’t know if you’ve had a chance to check out these links, but I’m really enjoying them:
therebelgod.com/AtonementFathersEQ.pdf (especially Part 4 that comes as a link at the end of Part 3)
They compare the retributive justice in penal substituion with restorative justice in Christus Victor. With restorative justice sin is more a sickness, that God purposes to heal. One of the quotes I liked in the article was, “The problem of the atonement is not an angry God, but a sick and dying humanity.” I realize how tricky the words are because God is certainly unhappy with sin, but the problem in helping us to overcome it is not to address God’s anger problem so he’ll decide not to be angry any more despite our sins, but that we should be regenerated. God’s anger is a just response to our sin that taking it out on someone else, having someone else pay it, won’t fix. No doubt God does not treat us as our sins deserve and has mercy on us, but in their view God is only able to do this because a legal transaction was made to appease the wrath of God. They glory in Jesus’ death as a legal transaction that fulfills God’s need for retributive justice. Restorative justice doesn’t seek retribution, but rather healing. I don’t see God, because of Jesus’ death, saying I no longer see what you do and it no longer matters to me. In their view if you believe in the right atonement, penal substitution, you are saved. It seems like what we believe is important, but specificly because the emphasis is on God caring what we do. I realize these things are so tricky and I’m not clear on everything yet, but I am starting to think if we look at what God is doing is to make things legally right, give people their just outcome, not heal them, then we are probably missing God’s heart and purpose for the creation he so loves. We lesson the love of God which I’m finding is all too common.
I liked this quote about regeneration, " Not merely a subjective change of our view of God, or even of God’s view of us, but an objective ontological change in us wrought by God." The penal substitution view, for me, expresses God’s view of us has changed - rather than his love has been consistent - and what is needed is that we have the right idea of atonement to be saved, whereas I see the bible emphasizing that we actually be regenerated and that this comes from God and is our healing.