How do Protestants explain penal substitution being consistent and compatible with divine simplicity given the following discussion?
For most of Church history, most Christians have believed that in some sense God is simple i.e. not made up of parts. Stephen R. Holmes writes (39):
Simplicity is a property of the divine essence. A standard piece of logic in the Greek philosophical tradition, accepted without demur by the Fathers, claims that anything composite must have been composed by an agent; therefore, the claim that God is incomposite is to insist that God was not made by any more basic agent. Then if God is incomposite, God is necessarily simple — the two words are not quite synonyms, but they are certainly mutually entailed. There is no complexity in the divine nature; God is not separable into this bit and that bit.
This belief that God is simple, seems important for believing that God is uncreated, or uncaused by anything outside himself – which would offer a legitimate challenge to the idea that he is truly ‘God’. Furthermore, Holmes continues (40):
This matter is coupled with the classical concern to avoid putting God into any class. The logic is once again easily described: if God is one example of a class of things — say, one merciful thing among many other merciful things — then the class as a whole is larger than God, and so something is greater than God. Similarly, the Christian solution to the Euthyphro dilemma is the doctrine of simplicity. The dilemma, in Christian theological terms, runs as follows. Is God good because we define good to mean what God is (which evacuates the term of any transcendental moral content)? Or is God good because God conforms to some external standard of goodness (which asserts the existence of something greater than God)? By identifying God’s goodness with God’s essence — divine simplicity — we are able to claim that God’s own life is the transcendental standard of goodness, avoiding both unacceptable consequences.
This doctrine of divine simplicity usually includes along with it a doctrine of impassibility i.e. God is unable to be ‘created,’ ‘caused,’ or ‘influenced’ by his emotions, because for them to affect him they must be a separate ‘part’. James E. Dolezal writes about passibility meaning 'caused to be' (24)
Every passion is a caused state of being into which one is moved by the activity of some agent. For this reason, all passions are finite, dependent, time bound, and mutable states of being. Moreover, to experience passion one must possess a principle of receptivity (i.e., passive potency) by which new actuality is received. That is, one must be moveable or changeable. Metaphysically speaking, a passion is an accident that inheres in a substance and modifies the being of that substance in some way. In existential terms, every experience of passion causes the patient to be in some new way.
Although it seems okay to say that God can be affected by emotions in his human incarnation (see this question) penal substitution seems to imply that he is ‘required’ by his wrath to punish humanity for sin.
In the most basic sense, penal substitution is:
the idea that Christ’s death is in some way a representative one in which he suffers the judgment/wrath of God on behalf of deserving sinners thereby releasing them from guilt and obtaining forgiveness for them
But the way it is typically described by protestants emphasizes God’s anger wrath that cannot be appeased without some sort of blood sacrifice. We say something like: “God cannot abide sin” or his “justice demands to eradicate it”. Tom Wright describes this wrath-bound God as being a hold-over from medieval times:
Christians have spoken, in effect, of the angry God upstairs and the suffering Jesus placating him. Spoken? They’ve painted it: many a mediaeval altarpiece, many a devotional artwork, have sketched exactly that. And of course for some late mediaeval theologians this was the point of the Mass: God was angry, but by performing this propitiatory sacrifice once more, the priest could make it all right. And it was at least in part in reaction against this understanding of the Eucharist that the Reformers rightly insisted that what happened on the cross happened once for all. They did not invent, they merely adapted and relocated, the idea of the propitiation of God’s wrath through the death of Jesus.
This seems to be out of line with belief in God’s simplicity, suggesting that Jesus ‘had’ to die to appease God’s justice, but in so saying, describing justice as a power separate from God himself which ‘affects’ him (contra passibility) and ‘causes’ (contra simplicity) him to demand blood.
Even though wrath does seem to be a real biblical motivator for God’s judgement (Rom. 1:18 and various OT events), it also seems in practice to overly distinguish the ‘loving’ sacrifice of Jesus from the ‘wrath’ of God. That is why Orthodox Abbot Tryphon says:
The major problem with this teaching can be seen in the fact that had Christ died for our sins against God the Father, thus causing a division of God, with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity laid waste, with God pitted against God. This heretical doctrine divides God by implying that Christ isn’t fully God. It also suggests that there is a higher force than God, thus making, God Himself ruled by a “higher force”. In other words, God has no choice but to punish. By this notion, justice forces God to respond to our sin with His wrath, with love becoming secondary.
My questions are as follows:
(1.A.) Are there versions of penal substitution which do not include recourse to a lack of emotional self-control – i.e. ‘needing’ to punish someone?
(1.B.) How do they make sense of God’s anger/wrath in scripture?
A discussion regarding simplicity and God's attributes can be found here, although it doesn't address the atonement.
(2.A.) Alternatively, how do advocates of penal substitution communicate Christ’s work without seeming to violate divine simplicity/impassibility?
(2.B.) Or do these concepts themselves need to be modified in light of penal substitution?
A discussion which gives more precision to the reasons for believing in simplicity can be found here.