I recently finished Mark Johnston's exceptional book, Saving God: Religion After Idolatry (2009, 198 p.). I could write a great deal about this book, and I hope to do so, but apropos for today, I think it best just to share this quote:
Why did Christ have to suffer and die at the hands of legitimate religious and political authorities? Why wouldn't the viper [a fatal viper bite in the Garden of Gethsemane] have sufficed? Not, pace Girard, because only then could the suffering and death of Christ be a reductio ad absurdum of scapegoating sacrifice, but because only then could it expose the mechanisms a the heart of false righteousness, this secret love of self-love trying at all costs to put down the anxiety of how to live, even to the point of murder. The Crucifixion discloses how far we are prepared to go in order to defend our idolatrous attachment to one or another adventitious form of righteousness." [Emphasis in original.]
Johnston, Saving God, p. 171.