Marcus Borg asks a question about God and the cross as understood in satisfaction theories of atonement:
Thus the payment understanding sees the death of Jesus as ultimately God’s will. But one must ask: really? Was it God’s will that this remarkably good person, centered in God to an extraordinary degree, be killed? If so, what does that say about what God is like?
After reading this, my first thought went something like this: Is he not aware that Jesus is God?
But then my second thought went like this: You are asking the wrong question. The death of Jesus does not indict God. It indicts us.
The question raised here is “What could have been so wrong with us that only the death of Jesus could fix it?” What does it say about us that this remarkably good person — even more than that, the Son of God — had to die that we might live? Am I so far gone, that nothing else would have worked?
It was God’s will that we be freed. It was God’s will that we be let loose from death. It was God’s will that we be born from above. To do this, he lived among us and went to the cross.
That is how I understand satisfaction theories of atonement. I don’t think it is the only theory that makes sense, but I do not find it the horror that Borg and many others do. Indeed, I find it quite a powerful testament to God’s love.