When Hillsong released their latest (excellent) album There Is More they included a song that had the potential to cause fireworks amongst the Christian fraternity and one can’t help feeling there was intention behind the decision. From what I can see Hillsong does very little without due consideration of the fallout for they know the eyes of many are watching - or in this case listening.
So, when Joel Houston, Benjamin Hastings and Michael Fatkin penned the words and music to So Will I (100 Billion X) and included the line, 'a hundred billion creatures catch Your breath, evolving in pursuit of that You said,' they had decided to move forward the agenda about origins with both their mission and demographic in mind. Hillsong is full of Millennial's and Generation Z and their eyes are not on the debates of a past. Rather they are playing to an audience who are more likely concerned as to whether their jobs will be taken by robots and their kids born part human and part cyborg. It’s a changing world. For them - and indeed us all, we have to move theologically to a place where science doesn't cloud faith but confirms it, which calls for a shift from the old days of biblical literalism lest we are left to fight battles that have long since been deserted.
Not that Hillsong are alone in placing faith in a construct that allows for science and spirituality to co-exist. In the latest release of the Alpha Course it's notable that in bringing some of their quotes up to date they have chosen to draw on Francis Collins the award-winning geneticist behind the Genome project who is both a committed Christian and Theistic evolutionist.
I imagine all of this is quietly intentional as steps are made of offer a robust Christianity fit for the 21 Century. It's all a long way from where my own faith started, in youth groups where pastors and youth leaders taught literalism as the only true biblical hermeneutic. Nowadays, with the Pope affirming the role of both science and faith sitting happily together and now the positioning of some of the most significant voices in evangelicalism breathing validity to other understandings of the creation narrative we are re-positioning our voice in the market place. Such steps breath credibility to the ancient stories that need to be told since from them and within them we discover who we are - and that's too important to leave behind because the emerging world may fall adrift from its moorings without such a robust, mature biblical exegesis - and that's important for a billion reasons and more.