Often to get around this immoral act, Christians will say it is similar to someone paying a traffic fine. Even if we ignore the difference between fines and the death penalty, this still does not make sense. Jesus is God, so thus God is paying money to himself, in other words nothing is exchanged and thus the fine cannot have been paid.
These are the major issues with Penal Substitution, but Colson acts as if they don't even exist and that everything is nice and dandy. Colson even starts off by claiming that Christianity is facing some sort of evil conspiracy working against it at all times.
When you understand, as inmates, the poor, and the marginalized do, the radical nature of Christ's message, it's no wonder that those opposed to God's rule ordered him crucified. He was a dangerous threat to the evil world order.
This is not reality. Colson has now entered fantasy land where everything and everyone that do not agree with him are conspiring against him. I find this particularly funny considering Colson's past and his own involvement in an attempt to cover-up and conspire against Democrats. One would think that with experience in how hard it is to conspire and cover-up something relatively small, that he would understand the impossible logistics of covering up something as massive as he is claiming here. Then again he can always opt out of reality and claim it is supernatural in nature.
Next, Colson briefly describes some scenes from his favorite snuff and antisemitic film The Passion of the Christ. He also makes the mistake of claiming that Jesus suffered the worst possible type of death sentence in crucifixion. The Romans were amateurs compared to Torquemada.
If you can still imagine yourself as a prisoner, think about what the scene at Golgotha reveals. Being nailed to a cross was an invention of the Romans, considered the most painful death imaginable, with prolonged suffering often lasting hours. None of us can get out of our minds the grisly portrayal of the crucifixion in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. Watching that film was one of the most sobering and convicting experiences of my life.He even makes the mistake of claiming the Romans invented crucifixion. It takes no time at all, especially in the age of the Internet, to research this claim. It is patently false. From Wikipedia:
Pre-Roman StatesCrucifixion (or impalement), in one form or another, was used by Persians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Macedonians, and Romans. Death was often hastened. "The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim."
The Greek writer Herodotus described at the conclusion of HISTORIES, BOOK IX (120-121), the execution in about 479BCE of a traitor; "they nailed him to a plank and hung him up...this Artacytus who suffered death by crucifixion." (Translation, Aubrey de Selincourt.)
This is yet another time that Colson seems more interested in emotional pull and less in facts. I have to ask again, if I can't trust him with what I know to be true, why should I trust him about the unknown? Or as Saint Augustine of Hippo said:
It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.
Colson goes on about how awesome God is for killing an innocent person instead of himself and how loving that makes God. Near the end of all this comes this exact quote:
Everyone is like the first thief or the second, or perhaps one of the crowd, standing around with their hands in their pockets. Remember the great Negro spiritual "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Well, you are.
Negro is still totally appropriate, right? It does nothing to hearken back to the days of slavery and inequality, that many are still trying to fight for and against. This is just blatant racism out of no where. Colson could have easily chosen any number of other words instead of Negro. The most appropriate being African American, but slave or black would have been far more appropriate than Negro. This just gives more of an incite into the mind of Colson, that he chose this particular word here. All this talk of tolerance and love is shown to be for only those that look like Colson, disgusting.
Edit: If you want to read many different and in depth reviews of Penal Substitution, the cases for and the rebuttals against it, I suggest reading Ken Pulliam's blog Why I De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity.