My feelings are based on my perception of some groups within the Evangelical Christian community. That perception leads me to fear their reactions to anyone who challenges them on Penal Substitution. I believe it is clearly demonstrated by the way that Steve Chalke has been treated by many (self labelled) Evangelicals.
Sadly it seems that often these groups have other traditional targets for their behaviour. One of those targets is women and the other anyone associated with people who identify themselves as LGBT (as well as very obviously LGBT people themselves).
My nervousness is therefore tempered by the thought that any such reaction would place me among good company, the sort of company where Jesus is to be found.
My nervousness is also reduced by the fact that I am somewhat used to this. Approximately 25 years ago when visiting potential universities I spent a night at Manchester (where I ended up going). At a social event which I think must have been organised by the CU I was told by a member that I was not a Christian, that was because I did not know the "proper" language to speak of my faith. Now I am the first to admit that I was not very confident or outgoing about my faith and that came from growing up in what must have been slightly liberal Methodism. However, that faith has grown over the years and I have self identified as an evangelical for many years, that despite such a setback which caused a lot of hurt and resentment for many years (to be honest it still hurts a little).
But what about the potential impact today of arguing against the penal substitution militants. I suspect the cost is not that high.
For example it is not as if I was about to be invited to speak at Word Alive (or likely that I would have accepted if invited – for starters the ban on women speakers means I would not support such an event ).
I am more concerned about the effects on my own ministry here as a Methodist Minister in the Nene Valley Circuit. As such I minister to Churches and Christians within them who cover a wide range of theological viewpoints. There are members who have been to Word Alive conferences at Spring Harvest. There are members who believe in penal substitution and those who don’t. Anyone in ministry is somewhat vulnerable to accusations about "soundness" and so given what I perceive as a tendency to wild accusations by the militant supporters of penal substitution my ministry I guess I have concerns about the potential for pain and misunderstanding.
However compared to what Christ has done for me, in dying on the cross for me it is not as if the price or the risk is that high. I believe it would be more damaging to my integrity as a ministry if I did not speak out due to fear or bullying.
So watch out, there will be more to come.