Recently I spent some time defending penal substitution. But while it’s necessary to defend penal substitution when it comes under attack, it shouldn’t be necessary to defend penal substitution.
Intellectuals can fall into the trap of demanding a rational justification for everything. But that’s not always the appropriate response. There are situations where that represents a mischievous or even malicious use of one’s intelligence.
Suppose your mother bakes you a birthday cake. How should you respond? When she brings it to the dining table, should you demand that she furnish an intellectual justification for her birthday present?
No. That’s no way to treat a gift. The proper response is “Thank-you!”
When God is gracious to us, we should at least be grateful. God’s grace, our gratitude. Is that too much to ask?
For people to attack the logic of penal substitution is no way to treat a priceless gift. That’s an act of supreme ingratitude.
My point is not that penal substitution is illogical, but we should overlook that fact. I don’t think it’s illogical. But that’s beside the point. Our response to penal substitution ought to be one of thankfulness, not a thankless, confrontational protest. It’s difficult to adequately convey the degree of impudence which such a defiant attitude reflects.
It’s as if you desperately needed a blood transfusion to survive, a friend offers to donate his blood on the spot, and you make it a requirement that he defend his generous offer to your personal satisfaction.