Allah treats sin much more lightly than the Living God. Far Allah sin doesn’t ultimately matter… not in the sense of causing a genuine injury to the divine life. Allah can simply arbitrarily decide to forgive a sin at no cost to his own justice or hatred of evil. The Living God cannot do that without violence to the divine hatred of sin. Sin cannot ever be simply ignored… just as a rotting disease cannot be simply ignored. Sin has to be fundamentally addressed so that humanity can be healed from it and so that the divine life is not destroyed by it. Islam does not see sin in this fundamental way. Sin is nothing less than an attempt to kill God.
Atonement is what is required to address sin. Atonement is required by the life of the Living God because it is the place where “wrath and mercy meet”; the place where the divine hatred of sin and the divine desire for forgiveness are both free to be true and real. Look at Hosea 11 for a wonderful example of the turmoil between forgiveness and wrath within the Living God. Only when the divine hatred of human sin is fully satisfied can Elohim allow us to approach. Blood sacrifice is when the life of the victim is deliberately poured out. Throughout the Bible, as Leviticus 17 shows, blood is the sign of a life poured out… and the sign of the sinner’s life poured out is what satisfies the divine hatred of sin. Nothing less than the death of the sinner is enough. According to Hebrews 10:1-10, animal blood can never atone for human sin. It was only ever a forward pointing sign. What was required was a sinless, human sacrifice… and sinful humanity could never provide such a thing. The Divine Angel became one of us, yet remained sinless… and so satisfied wrath and love in Himself.
The critical Trinitarian character of the Cross needs to be remembered. Sometimes, by way of shorthand, we may present the gospel as a chasm with humanity on one side, God on the other and the Cross bridging the chasm. Although such a diagram can be a helpful shorthand, it tends to miss the fact that it is the Living God who is on the Cross. The atonement of the Cross does not happen outside of Elohim, but within the divine life. It is not abstract justice or a universal abstract ‘law’ that needs to be satisfied at the Cross, but the heart of the divine life. When we contemplate the Cross, the whole creation watches in awe as a spectator as the Mighty Living God wrenches apart the divine life in order to make forgiveness possible. There has only been one moment from everlasting ages when the Divine Son has ever even contemplated not performing the will of the Father… and it was in Gethsemane as He faced the utter, absolute horror of the Cross. The horror of the Cross was not the physical pain, but the awareness that the very life of Elohim would be shaken by what must happen. The Living God IS the intimate fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If the Father forsakes the Son on the Cross… then how can the Living God survive such a shock to the divine life? As we contemplate these things we are drawn into the profound and awesome nature of this atonement. It required nothing less than this to atone for human sin.