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Tuesday
May142013

Theological Term of the Week

cultural mandate
God’s command for the human race to fill the earth and rule over it; also called creation mandate, dominion mandate, or stewardship mandate.

  • From scripture:
  • Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    So God created man in his own image,

    in the image of God he created him;

    male and female he created them.

    And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28, ESV)

  • From ESV Bible study notes on Genesis 1:26-28:
  • [T]he idea is that the man and woman are to make the earth’s resources beneficial for themselves, which implies that they would investigate and develop the earth’s resources to make them useful for human beings generally. This command provides a foundation for wise scientific and technological development; the evil uses to which people have put their dominion come as a result of Genesis 3. … As God’s representatives, human beings are to rule over every living thing on the earth. These commands are not, however, a mandate to exploit the earth and its creatures to satisfy human greed, for the fact that Adam and Eve were “in the image of God” implies God’s expectation that human beings will use the earth wisely and govern it with the same sense of responsibility and care that God has toward the whole of his creation
  • From The Christian Faith by Michael Horton:
  • All human beings, even as fallen, remain God’s image-bearers—with the original commission to rule, guard, and keep, and to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,” extending God’s reign with Eden as the capital (Ge 1:26-28, cf. 2:15). Often referred to as the cultural mandate, this original vocation given to humanity remains the source of that indefatigable impulse to build cities and civilizations, farms and vineyards, houses and empires. Every person, believer and unbeliever alike, receives a distinct vocation for his or her calling in the world, and the Spirit equips each person for these distinct callings in common grace. However, God’s Word in the cultural mandate is “law”: the command to subdue, rule, fill, and expand.
Learn more:
  1. 9Marks: What is the cultural mandate? Who is it given to?
  2. Aaron Armstrong: How Should We Exercise Dominion?
  3. Cornerstone Presbyterian Church: What is the Cultural Mandate? and How the Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission Complement Each Other
  4. Greg Johnson: Why the Mona Lisa is going to Heaven
  5. John MacArthur: We Must Rightly Understand the Creation Mandate

Related terms:

Filed under Anthropology

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