Along those lines, here's another entry. Jon Meacham reflects on the passing of William Hamilton, a notable "Christian atheist" and theologian who was interviewed for the famous TIME magazine "Is God Dead?" issue.
In his view that faith was “not a possession but a hope,” Hamilton was tapping into an ancient tradition. As the author of the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews wrote, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”—in this sense, religious faith is way of interpreting experience that allows for the possibility of the redemptive.
Faith in this sense assumes that scripture and tradition are the works of human hands and hearts, efforts undertaken to explain the seemingly inexplicable. Faith in this sense is inextricably tied to doubt; it is an attempt, sometimes successful and sometimes not, to squint and struggle to “see through a glass darkly,” as Paul wrote in Corinthians. Faith without such doubt has never been part of the Christian tradition; it is telling, I think, that one of the earliest resurrection scenes in the Bible is that of Thomas demanding evidence—he wanted to see, to touch, to prove. Those who question and probe and debate are heirs of the apostles just as much as the most fervent of believers.
So, what do you think of the concept of "Christian atheist"? I'm not sure I agree it's possible. I don't think of myself as a Christian, since I think you really do have to believe at some level in God and Christ's crucification and resurrection to claim that title. The description of faith as a hope, not a possession, makes sense, but sounds more like "agnostic" than "atheist". I think my own experience would be, in that regard, hopeless: I don't have such a hope. I think it would be nice, living as I do surrounded by people of faith, to have any sense that I could share what gives them (and you) joy and comfort, but just I don't have it.