1 or 2 do not necessarily lead to Athiesm
Sure, I never said they did, especially at an individual level. My reply to nvr referred, much more broadly, to the connection of "God" with a specific (yet uncertain) "historical event" in traditional Christian dogmatics, as a possible cause for atheism in (post-)Christian society.
I forgot what #1 and #2 was about.
LOL. Never mind.
Very good points in your first post. To put it in a more positive way, I would say that the main literary genius of the Gospels (certainly exceeding the particular intents of their authors), enhanced by their later reunion into the same "book," was to provide in their "Jesus" an incredibly polymorphous "object of desire" for many kinds of readers in many generations. This reminds me of the description of manna in the book of Wisdom: it had a different taste for everyone.
On your second post, I tend to disagree with the oft-repeated idea that the diachronical development of the Gospel stories reflects an inflation of the miraculous. For instance, in Mark Jesus walks upon the sea, and Luke drops the episode (for anti-docetic reasons?). This in itself is a strong -- although not compelling -- argument for # 1 against # 2 -- a god becoming a man rather than a man becoming a god (or God).
Though the shock of having to seriously consider 1) might throw the believer into trying to prove 2), eventually both viewpoints will be embraced into some sort of new theology.
Again, this can be read in either negative or positive light. I understand one can shrug at such theological flexibility from an intellectual standpoint, but inasmuch as it implies both a living (experiential?) faith and the courage to face potential unpleasant facts and change interpretations, I prefer it to knee-jerk apologetics which betrays a lack of such faith and courage (and additionally hijacks the faith of all "true believers" into false dilemmas -- in the style of 1 Corinthians 15 again, if you don't believe this way your belief is worthless).
This is a debated issue, and marginal to this thread, but I'm not certain that "Jesus Christ coming in the flesh" in 1-2 John refers to anything like our debate on the "historical Jesus". However such intolerance from the author of the "God is Love" motto is no less puzzling.
As to your last remark, I think questions such are these are not new, in different forms they have been recurring throughout the history of Christianity, since the early rejection of Gnosticism (and, just in case you think this contradicts my previous statement, I doubt the author of 1 John can be easily enrolled along the anti-Gnostic crowd, but this is admittedly a minority view). Actually, most of the recent discussions on the historical Jesus were alive in the 19th-century, even if they have been forgotten since.
Your reflection brings me to modify again what I have suggested above: it may be that # 2 better suits a Western taste for paradox and irony, and # 1 the Eastern taste for mystery and humour...
Why couldn't a fictionalized account contain much the same moral lessons as one that actually happened?
Indeed, and even more than "moral lessons" imo. It can do just what the Gospels have done to generations of Christian readers -- making them feel "justified," "born again" and "saved" for instance. Hasn't it actually?