With one of Hillsong United's latest hits, "So Will I (100 Billion X)," at the center of a creation versus evolution debate, worship leader Joel Houston is setting the record straight on where he stands.
"So Will I (100 Billion X)" is a song off of the album, There Is More, recorded live at the Hillsong Worship and Creative Conference in Sydney, Australia. Houston was recently asked on Twitter why the song mentions evolution.
The lyrics in question are: "And as You speak/A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath/Evolving in pursuit of what You said."
Houston, who is the eldest son of Hillsong Church's founders as well as lead musician in the worship band Hillsong United and worship leader of Hillsong Church in New York City, responded by saying:
"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."
His response sparked a Twitter debate on evolution versus creation and drew some backlash. In back-and-forth exchanges with various Twitter users, Houston went on to offer some context to his earlier tweet.
He wrote: "Context—things evolve, they change and adapt, I DON'T believe in evolution as a theory of SOURCE, I believe it's merely a pattern of nature—created by God, reflecting Nature's desire for renewal, survival, new life—something-SomeONE—Like God."
He also said: "I think what gets lost, strangely enough, is that in any case, The Word, comes before any kind of Big Bang.. 'let there be light'!! BOOM!! And there WAS!!!
When asked if he believes in the "Big Bang theory" or "literal 6 day creation," Houston said, "It means I believe God created everything and His Word cane first.."
He further clarified his beliefs on whether man evolved from an ape, saying, "i believe God created humanity out of the dust.. and breathed his breath/Spirit into us.."
The popular worship leader admitted that when writing the song, the band was "aware of the implications 'evolving' would serve as a conflicting adjective for some" but said they still felt "it was worth it—if just a foolish desire to enlarge our thinking of a God who was-is-&-is to come, making all things new, 'from-Him, through-Him, To-Him.'"
He explained that God is "way bigger than we think," and regardless of one's theological or scientific beliefs, He "is undiminished by our limitations."
"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?" Houston posed. "Or us any more or less created in His image? Either way, it was an unfathomably wonderful six-day process, however you think to see it."
He added, "The way I see it—the NATURE of a fallen-world evolves in-decay BECAUSE of our best attempts to adapt to a—'survival of the fittest' kind of existence—yet God, fully reveals His NATURE in-and-through JESUS, who embodied ours, and showed us a DIFFERENT way. Spirit & Flesh."
The millennial worshiper went on to break down the structure of the song to help critics understand the development of the lyrics. He maintained they couldn't sing of or understand God's promises (in second verse) without the premise of the first verse (God of Creation). "Nor can we fully comprehend the reconciling power of the third-verse (God of SALVATION), without the tension in the middle."
"The entire premise of 'So Will I', is the redemptive, creative, authority & power of God's Word. That at the end of the day, all our best theories, ideas, dogmas & best attempts at understanding, will ultimately surrender to the 'Word at the beginning,'" he concluded.
In an interview on TBN earlier this month, Hillsong Church Senior Pastor Brian Houston shared that all of Hillsong's music is reviewed by theologians.
The pastor revealed they've been "more intentional" about vetting their songs in the last decade.
"We do put more effort into the theology of our songs than we ever have before for that very reason (of being able to reach into the hearts of people around the world)," he said. "So we have people specifically who, every single song has to fit through a system of being tested by theologians.
"There's often a lot of grind, hopefully in a positive way, between the songwriter and getting it to a point where we feel like it's not going to be too easily misrepresented."
He noted that they usually do not throw a song out but they work on it until it's theologically sound. Otherwise, if they release a song "that's going to be misunderstood or theologically weak, believe me, we hear about it."