The Cultural Mandate

The expression “Cultural Mandate” is not a biblical designation, but it correctly describes a truth presented in Holy Scripture in association with the story of Creation. The Cultural Mandate relates to the command the earth’s first human occupants–Adam and Eve–received when the Almighty assigned to them and their descendants a major project with significant and continuing implications and consequences.

The Cultural Mandate is recorded in Genesis 1:28, where we read: “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’.”

The key verbs that are significant in this divine command are “fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…” We readily observe here that God was addressing our first parents while offering them the raw materials they and subsequent generations would utilize for the development of science and technology in gradually expanding the resources the Creator had provided for them. In a sense, the Almighty invited them to be co-creators with Him. In the grand economy of things, God intended humans to be active participants in this endeavor, sometimes called “the eighth day of creation,” in fulfillment of the divine mandate.

Sadly, the Fall of humanity affected the entire race (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23). Despite the Fall, humanity still retains the image of God and therefore pursues the cultural mandate (Gen. 9:6-7). Many positive developments have come as a result, but also the potential for evil, which we see intermingled in the opening chapters of Genesis 1-11 (Gen. 4:17-24; 11:1-9).

Space would be lacking if we attempted to catalog the many instances in the Old Testament where the cultural mandate was carried out, especially by the Jewish people through various inventions and discoveries as humanity expanded and significant events took place in obedience to God.

When we reach the New Testament period, we observe the same pattern as members of the primitive Christian Church and others in subsequent eras recognized the obligations set before them that God expected them to fulfill. Although the expression “Cultural Mandate” is not a specifically biblical term, we see it played out in the Old and New Testament eras and in the development of the history of civilization itself.

Both then and now, God continues to superintend His divine plan as He guides history to its final goal. His glory remains paramount as improvements and fresh discoveries are continually developed for the benefit of humankind. This Cultural Mandate was never rescinded despite the Fall; it continues to be implemented and is now aided by the message of redemption, which is being proclaimed throughout the earth.    


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