...the wrath revealed in the gospel is not the divine vengeance that should have fallen on us falling instead on Jesus, but rather the divine nonresistance to human evil (cf. Matt 5:39), God’s willingness to suffer violence rather than defend himself or retaliate. It is the permission granted us by God to afflict ourselves unknowingly; it is the divine nonresistance to human evil. It is God’s unwillingness to intervene in the process of action and consequence in the human world by which we set up and operate the system of sacred violence, and so paradoxically a sign of love as the refusal to abridge our freedom and a respect for our choices even when they are catastrophic.There are interesting connections here with theodicy and free will.
For those not familiar with the Girardian concept of "sacred violence", the basic premise is that all human societies maintain internal cohesion by first identifying and then expelling/murdering a scapegoat. The completion of the violence against the scapegoat results in a temporary and false "peace" for members of the "in group" as they contemplate ultimate matters of life and death in the wake of the violence. But sacred violence does not last and must be repeated over and over in order to keep the "peace".
The concept of sacred violence and its inability to bring about permanent peace is why I am increasingly coming to reject penal substitionary atonement as a legitimate theory of atonement. PSA seems to substitute the temporary, human, sinful tool of "sacred violence" for the divine and permanent tool of God's "Shalom".
The idea of "God's wrath" essentially being His refusal to interfere in our human, violent wrath is intriguing. It is certainly consistent with the commentaries on Matthew 13 - the Lectionary reading a fortnight ago - which insisted that "wars and rumours of wars" originate in human society, not in God.