Divine Child Abuse
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that God sacrificing His Son to appease His wrath and save humans is divine child abuse.
I think that view is best described as a really sloppy Christology.
When we talk about God sending Jesus to the cross, we’re not saying anything the Bible doesn’t say, but we’re missing a big part of the picture the Bible paints. Yes, the Father sent the Son, but more to the point God sent God.
Though there are three persons to the Trinity, there is only one God. God created us, God gave us a moral law, we rebelled against God, and God rescued us.
Not only that, we can reasonably insert the Son into that and say Christ created us, we rebelled against Christ, and Christ rescued us.
The plan of salvation was conceived by the Godhead and enacted by the Godhead. We shouldn’t let the Father/Son language obscure that fact.
God Won’t Forgive (But Wants You To)
A second argument against substitutionary atonement sees God as inconsistent. Here’s an example:
“The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you - Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.” (via Caffeinated Thoughts)The point they miss here is that God can ask us to forgive people because we have been forgiven. (And, of course, it falls prey to sloppy Christology mentioned above.)
From God’s perspective, a law has been broken, a debt has to be paid, and God is willing to pay that debt. If you have been forgiven because He has paid your debt, you’d better be willing to do the same for someone else.
Not Just Substitutionary Atonement
I don’t think that substitutionary atonement is the only facet of the jewel that is the cross of Christ. I honestly think we’ll be mining the wonders of that event until Christ returns (and possibly even after). But we should never be afraid to tell the story that God in His grace paid our debt.
Why the Cross 1
Why the Cross 2