In June 2017, the influential worship band Hillsong UNITED released the album Wonder, which included the song “So Will I (100 Billion X).” The song, which interweaves themes of creation and salvation, quickly drew attention for the use of the word “evolving” in one of its verses:
All nature and scienceFollow the sound of your voiceAnd as You speakA hundred billion creatures catch Your breathEvolving in pursuit of what You saidIf it all reveals Your nature so will I
In the year since the song was released, much conversation and speculation has occurred about what exactly the band meant by the word “evolving.” Among many Christians, the word has a host of meanings, both scientific and cultural. For some, like a writer at Desiring God Ministries, it invokes a worldview that excludes a creator altogether, which makes it a distracting choice of words for a song about creation.
Until now, the band has stayed silent on its intentions behind the bold and controversial choice of words. But on June 24, Joel Houston—one of the lead songwriters for the band—broke the silence, discussing the song’s meaning with a number of interested fans. The first tweet came as a response to someone specifically questioning the use of the word “evolution” in the song:
Evolution is undeniable—created by God as a reflective means of displaying nature’s pattern of renewal in pursuance of God’s Word—an ode to the nature of the creative God it reflects—and only ever in part—not the SOURCE! Science and faith aren’t at odds. God created the Big-Bang. https://t.co/Q6Cfkvn9PU— Joel Timothy Houston (@joelhouston) June 25, 2018
Houston’s response calls evolution “undeniable,” but urges people to see it—as well as the “Big Bang”— as part of nature’s response to the Word of God, rather than as something in contradiction with God’s creative power.
Almost immediately after tweeting this response, Houston was deluged by questions from concerned followers who were worried he was endorsing “macroevolution” or “theistic evolution,” which these followers clearly felt was incompatible with Christian faith. Houston responded to a large number of these questions. To several people who asked about human origins, Houston said, “ [I] believe God created humanity out of the dust.. and breathed his breath/Spirit into us.” To others, he reiterated from his first tweet that he doesn’t believe in evolution as a “theory of SOURCE,” but as an observable fact of creatures adapting and changing. And to those who demanded he clarify whether he believed in “literal six-day creation,” he responded:
If God’s creative process was an easy working week, or finely crafted over six-ages of millennia, does it make Him any more or less God? Or, us any more or less created in His image?— Joel Timothy Houston (@joelhouston) June 25, 2018
Either way, It was an unfathomably wonderful six-day process. however you think to see it
The statement above is part of a long series of tweets by Houston reflecting on the controversy caused by the word “evolving” and attempting to further clarify its intent. It is well worth reading in full. Houston is clearly not keen to be labeled as either a “creationist” or “evolutionist” or anything else. It is hard to tell exactly where he fits in the spectrum of perspectives on origins, based on his statements, and one senses that this is on purpose. We respect this intentional posture. Regardless of what Houston thinks about the science of common ancestry, he has done the church a profound service by challenging his listeners to consider how evolution—however they understand the term—could be a catalyst for awe, wonder, and worship.
Houston is trying to use worship music to build bridges between people of different perspectives and backgrounds, and draw people towards the most important “BIG-STORY” of all: that the entire universe is a product of a good and wise creator who is also our savior, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word (John 1), through whom and for whom all things were created (Col 1). This resonates deeply with the meaning and the vision behind our name, BioLogos: Life (“Bio”) through the Word (“Logos”).
We applaud Houston and Hillsong UNITED for helping the Church sing the praises of the God who has created such a majestic and evolving universe. And we invite those who are uncomfortable with the term “evolution” to consider the evidence for an evolving creation, and to praise God with us for his wondrous world.