PSA’s Moral Monster – Brad Jersak

“I’m afraid that the Evangelical doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) can ultimately lead a thinking person away from Christ altogether. When hate is interpreted as love there is little chance for trusting Jesus Christ to take root.” – Lazar Puhalo

Some people who believe in penal substitution say that they know how much God loves him BECAUSE he killed his Son instead of them. To sacrifice one’s own beloved child instead of me shows how much he values me. BUT the problem with such a disturbing vision of “love” is exposed by the way it fractures the human heart in its call to respond to such perverted love.

The questions arise: 

If I don’t respond, what will he do? He will burn me forever. I’d better respond then. What sort of faith is that? It is nothing more than terrorism. The sinner’s prayer becomes a contrived hostage video. 

If I respond, did I respond well enough that I can truly believe he won’t turn on me as well? What sort of moralistic striving does this generate, with the constant fear of abandonment ever lurking at every failure to perform well enough? 

Even if I respond, what does this say about the nature of a child-sacrificing Father? If my neighbor’s child breaks my window, and in my fury, demand my pound of flesh, if I take out my wrath on my own child instead of the neighbor, will the neighbor be inclined to run to my house when they’ve broken another window? Or will they run and hide? Will they see me as their benevolent benefactor? Or will they perceive in me a monster to be avoided at all costs? 

This is not the Abba revealed through the life and passion of Jesus Christ. Whatever it is, such a god may only be held, as George MacDonald said, in bitter loathing.

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