I guess if I am going to write on Penal Substitution and Pierced For Our Transgressions I ought to make it clear where I stand on the issue.
You can decide that by either reading what I have said before or my reading this (or both I guess).
My current position is somewhat mixed.
I value Penal Substitution as one theory of atonement within a range of theories that have been considered orthodox teaching within the Christian Church, while recognising that different groups within the Christian Church have different views on various theories of atonement and that there is not total agreement (and probably never has been). I do believe that there is potential for penal substitution to teach us something about the cross and about God.
But I struggle with certain theological aspects of Penal Substitution. Particularly the concept of God’s wrath being on Jesus and the potential for the need for justice and punishment being more powerful than God. Most importantly for me are concerns that Penal Substitution enshrines violence (that I do not see in Jesus, his incarnation, his life, his teaching, his death, his resurrection, his ascension and his second coming) into the nature of God.
However, my theological struggles are as nothing compared to the struggles I have with the way Penal Substitution is expressed by some "hard liners". We saw that in the debates around that awful conference with the name that did not reflect it’s purpose or constitution (Together For The Gospel), we have also seen it in bucket loads over the split between Spring Harvest and Word Alive. If being an Evangelical and a believer in Penal Substitution means that I am identified with the behaviour and attitudes that culture seems to, in my opinion, embrace then I want nothing to do with it.
I am always interested in learning more about Jesus and gaining a fuller understanding of the cross, so it seems natural to read a new book on the subject.