Life through the Word: Hillsong United Praises God for an Evolving Creation

| By and (guest author) on The Evolving Evangelical

Photo Credit: Hillsong UNITED

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 science
Follow the sound of your voice
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If 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:

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:

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.

Notes

Citations

MLA

Rethlake, Mahala. " Life through the Word: Hillsong United Praises God for an Evolving Creation"
https://biologos.org/. N.p., 16 Jul. 2018. Web. 22 October 2018.

APA

Rethlake, M. (2018, July 16). Life through the Word: Hillsong United Praises God for an Evolving Creation
Retrieved October 22, 2018, from /blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/life-through-the-word-hillsong-united-praises-god-for-an-evolving-creation

About the Authors

Brad Kramer

Brad Kramer is the BioLogos managing editor. He completed his M.Div. at Biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and earned a BA in politics, philosophy, and economics from The King’s College in New York City. His articles have appeared in The Daily BeastPatrol, and OnFaith.

More posts by Brad Kramer

Mahala Rethlake

Mahala Rethlake is the BioLogos editorial intern. Beginning in the fall of 2018, she will be pursuing doctoral studies in Religious Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School, focusing on Philosophy of Religions. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in philosophy from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethel College, where she was a double major in philosophy and English. After she earns her doctorate, she hopes to teach and research issues that fall at the intersection of philosophy and religious studies.

More posts by Mahala Rethlake

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