Thank you for your comments, AtheistHindu, explaining your faith regarding what must be "EARNED!"
One thing most, if not all, religions share is good works: earning something (by your own efforts, as you clearly explained in your post.) Indeed, the definition of religion I use most often is “a human effort to find god, as you define god”
(Granted, Christianity is often practiced as such, especially as perceived by non-Christians and sometimes even in the minds of Christian believers.) But Christianity is NOT a religion; it's not what humans do, it's what God has already done, in Christ. It makes no sense to beg for a gift (salvation) that has already been earned by Jesus, and only has to be accepted, humbly. It is perhaps this humility, and sorrow for sins committed, that seems like begging to you. I certainly don't know your experience of Christianity and have no desire to judge those experiences, or you. But I wanted to correct this common misconception.
Other readers have mentioned Harvey Cox; what he's describing is not Christianity, and it's nothing new, it's merely syncretistic religion: offering sacrifices to all the gods in the hope of offending none of them.
Thank you, Professor Prothero, for an excellent and thought provoking column. I do hope none of your readers came to the conclusion that the Holocaust had anything to do with orthodox Christian practice: Jesus' last words were “Father, forgive them...” not “Followers of mine, avenge me.” The Holocaust was a hideously unchristian act, and it is no coincidence that it occurred in a country (and a continent) that had largely abandoned the historic Christian faith in favor of an intellectual, modernistic distortion. For the self-styled “German Christians” human reason had supplanted God's revelation through the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and through Christ himself, a Jewish man who spoke words of forgiveness from the Cross. I deeply regret that these words were not followed by too many that used, and dishonored, the name of Christ.