A reader writes: nothing more than intellectual slaves

When I began reading “A New Kind of Christianity”, I thought, finally!
Then I began to understand that you propose a shift in what the Bible actually represents in our christian experience. Frankly, I struggle with the status change of God breathed to the more jewish interpretation as story for the purpose of teaching. I won’t be so close minded as to dismiss the position, but I am struggling with it. When I discovered that you question the validity of atonement, I almost fell out of my chair. This revelation caused me to begin investigating theological history in the church. The history of christian teaching / preaching reveals (in my very limited study), that this interpretation of atonement hasn’t always been a mainstream thing. Imagine my surprise !! Still, it’s so ingrained my belief system that I feel the need to repent for even considering it.
Your critics have called you everything from heretic to antichrist, as you are well aware.
Although I don’t embrace everything that you present, I have to admit that reading your work has inspired me to examine my beliefs. If our faith can’t withstand challenges, we must confess that we are nothing more than intellectual slaves to those who instruct us. Thank you for your willingness to challenge what Jesus is in our lives.

Thank you for your honest response. One small note – it’s not exactly that I “question the validity of atonement,” but that I question many of the assumptions behind traditional atonement theories, and I especially am concerned about the ways in which “penal substitutionary atonement theory” upholds and magnifies a violent view of God. I believe Jesus’ nonviolence – to the point of death on a cross – subverts any conception of God as violent, and instead images God as utterly gracious and forgiving. I so agree with you: if our faith can’t withstand challenges, if we are afraid of taking a second look at things when good reasons are presented, then we’re in a prison, not a pasture.