Marquette University professor Daniel Maguire, a theologian and former Catholic priest, makes the case in his book “Christianity Without God” for reclaiming the Bible’s epic moral narrative and leaving behind its theistic elements in order to combat neoliberal economics and environmental destruction. “When believers and nonbelievers are working together, the God thing doesn’t matter a bit,” he told me. “It is just a backdrop to the issues in the real world.” Cultural Christianity has already emerged in practice, even before it’s become a self-professed identity.
The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.