Over at Exploring Our Matrix, James McGrath and others, including others elsewhere on Larry Moran’s Sandwalk, are mulling over the question of whether various brands of Christian believers who reject the supernatural (including supernatural Gods) to varying extents are just atheists afraid of the name (or who define it differently), or atheists who happen to just like Christ a whole lot, or something else entirely: a sort of post-theism theist.
McGrath also quotes Liberal Pastor trying to explain the distinction: which as far as I can tell, comes down to a sense of understanding why concepts of God were (and perhaps still are) needed to capture something important about decidedly non-supernatural lives and teachings of great religious figures.
Plenty of atheist writers quite deliberately ignore these more “sophisticated” takes on religion and Christianity in particular, both because they seem to be a minority view with little political influence, and because they often seem either substantively impenetrable or lacking in the sort of objective claims one would have any reason to critique in the first place. I think, for the most part, this neglect is legitimate, at least in the context of the particular assaults on faith and positive arguments for belief that these atheists are mounting.
But that doesn’t mean that these perspectives have no place in the larger debate over the role of religion in society and philosophy. And I wonders whether churches full of such liberalized believers would leave people like Dawkins or Harris with anything left to object to.