Well, we are at it again. After a public declaration that the theology of substitutionary atonement (and particularly penal substitution) portrayed God wrongly as a sadist, Jeffrey John (a bishop with whom I have never been largely sympathetic) was on the end of an apparent torrent of abusive hate mail from so-called Bible believing Christians.
One contention that has often been made is that the belief that the death of Jesus was to placate a wrathful God (one way of framing the theology of penal substitution) tends to lead to aggressive and violent Christianity - and it seems that in this case the point was well made!
I actually tend towards the theology of penal substitution (though not in the words in which I framed it above), and actually believe that a lot of those who hold to it (without naming it as such) are peaceful, grace filled believers. But there are also a lot of nutters who seem happier to have a Jesus nailed to a cross and being raised only so He can come back and whack unbelievers over the head, rather than grappling with what He actually taught. That's not to let Jeffrey John off the hook either - I disagree with his interpretation of the Bible - but that does not mean I want to hurt him! Far from it; having heart felt disagreement, a full on argument, then a trip to the pub afterwards is always welcome. But not in public with the media looking on, stoking up the fight!
The basics of Christianity is simply this - I know I am a git, but God loves me anyway - and the cross is His way of dealing with me being a git. I am forgiven because Jesus faced the consequences of me being a git. That extends to those who have a different theological bent to me, such as Jeffrey John, and those who send hate mail in the name of Jesus. But I suspect, when He comes back, Jesus is going to have equally harsh words to say to all of us for being such stupid gits!
However, just to add to my level of grumpiness today, the media are in apoplexy over a change of judge at the head of the public enquiry over the death of princess Diana. Why? Who cares? We are falling behind in the promises we made to increase our aid and debt relief t the poor, and global warming is not slowing down because the Chinese are not worried about it (yet), but all the British papers care about is flaming Diana!! Poor woman has been dead ten years, and we are still dragging her out in to the media spotlight. Let her rest and watch out for the real stories you dimwits!
Jesus harshest words were for those who distracted people from the truth with petty rules and religious rituals. The media and the church in this day and age are pretty guilty of doing that job through irrelvant tittle tattle and headline grabbing theological nonsense.