It is my prediction that the War on Iraq will finally make Penal Substitutionary Atonement untenable to all but the most strident ideologues.
Jesus was killed by an angry mob.
Iraq War was launched by an illogical, angry mob.
In both cases evidence didn't matter. Evidence wasn't even considered. Paranoia, hatred and violence ruled. It was better for someone else to die, and Iraq's case a lot of somebody elses, than for our self-esteem to take a hit.
Those who wish for death want to be lost in the crowd. They want to be lost in the waters of chaos at the beginning of Genesis. Yahweh emerged from the Temple carrying His blood, killed by the violence of those who inhabit the waters, and Yahweh established dry ground. Jesus was light. We must take responsibility for our own violence. The mob killed Jesus and the mob continues to kill Jesus. If you kill the least of these you kill Jesus. We have killed children in Iraq. How many children must die for American self-esteem?
We have exported our violence to Iraq, and now Iraq is filled with violence. For too long talk-radio and the propaganda of Conservatism has fomented hatred. Hatred of the Liberal, hatred of our neighbors who we resent, and who seem to be always more insidiously powerful.
Hatred, endless hatred and resentment. Behind hatred is the wish to kill and murder. Americans are not allowed to kill each other. Talk radio propaganda has built up hatred in the Conservative soul. They couldn't actually kill Liberals, because well first of all they don't exist, and secondly because if they should find one of these mythical creatures U.S. law prevents murder. A substitute had to be found. This substitute was Iraq. This substitute had to be weak. Iraq was the target because it couldn't fight back and no one would defend her. We could have our way with the people of Iraq. They were designated as evil. It was now Ok to kill them, because they were evil, and we told ourselves that we were at war. Murder, we tell ourselves, is perfectly fine during war. During war we break things and sometimes innocent people and children get killed, and burned alive and dismembered. This was Ok because it was war, and also we wouldn't be suffering the consequences.
It's always fun to gang up on the little guy and kick his ass. It's better his ass than mine. Camarderie with the big and serious people. War is serious business.
The War on Iraq was waged for no reason. Sure Saddam was responsible for a lot bad things, and because Saddam is guilty of bad things this gave us a free pass to commit bad things of our own. Always comparing ourselves to someone else. War propagandists always want us to base our behaviour on the behaviour of same bad and evil guy. Saddam killed his own people, so that makes it OK for us to kill his people too.
Moral Relativism. Conservativism is moral relativism. War is murder. Murder is a sin. We must repent of murder.
God the Father handed Yahweh/Jesus over to us. Instead of following the commandments we murdered the author of life. We always believe the crowd is in the right and the person being killed is in wrong. In Penal Substitutionary Atonement God is no different than Satan. Satan is violent and murderous, but God is violent and murderous to a much greater degree. If there's anything that we respect it is authoritative violence. In Penal Substitutionary Atonement God is the Lynch Mob who authoritatively kills the designated victim/victims.
What do we say? Penal Substitutionary Atonement makes no sense. God handed over the Iraqi people to us, and instead of dealing with them with love and mercy we demand their deaths. Of course, the war propagandists burnt a whole bunch of incense and clouded the whole thing in mystery and told us that we were only killing bad guys and that we were doing a great and noble thing by liberating Iraq. As Christians we know, and the War on Iraq has made perfectly clear, is that we longed for the death of the innocent children, we longed for their fiery deaths, their dismemberment and rape. This is War. War is Hell. Christianity believes in a literal Hell. There's no need to spiritualize it into some long distant future last judgment. People are living in Hell right now. The War on Iraq is Hell. Hell inhabits people who want to kill, who demand sacrifices to whatever god they worship.
Penal substitutionary atonement should have fallen apart after Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Nazi death camps. Humans are responsible for violence and murder. Humans were perfectly capable all on their own of murdering Jesus. It was a human decision that Jesus must die. Humans are lost in sin. Jesus on the Cross is the Last Judgment. Jesus on the Cross is the Light in Genesis 1:3. Death and blood and resurrection and return from the dead of Jesus create the world.
God is Love. Penal Substitutionary Atonement doesn't understand Love. Love for them can only be understood in terms of inflicting violence on someone. God doesn't scream for blood, humans do.
Iraq was a sacrifice to our god. Two goats. George W. Bush is the High Priest. He places the sins of the community on the head of Iraq and sends them over the cliff in the wilderness. Our soldiers are the second goat who is sacrificed. The soldiers are a substitute for George W. Bush, who is a substitute for us. The blood of our soldiers was supposed to renew our society and heal the wounds of Liberal disintegration.