The biggest question the emerging thinkers are asking of the satisfaction theory, and even penal substitution theory, can be found in one simple question and then I’ll let LeRon Shults flesh it out. How would you respond to this way of putting the challenge to the satisfaction theory?
Here is the simple question: Does satisfaction render forgiveness no longer forgiveness?
This comes from F. LeRon Shults, in his part in the mutually written The Faces of Forgiveness, pp. 148-149. (The other author is Steven Sandage.)
If God arranged for the debt of humans to be fully paid (satisfied), then in what sense should we call this forgiveness? If a legal penalty or financial debt is forgiven, then it does not have to be satisfied. If God (or God the Son) has in fact already paid the debt (made full satisfaction), then there is no need anymore for God to forgive. If a payment is made, should we not speak of “settlement” rather than forgiveness?