What does the cultural mandate require of humanity?

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In Genesis 1:28 we find what many people call the cultural mandate. God gave to Adam and Eve, the representatives of humanity, a command. He said to be fruitful in number, to increase in number, and then to subdue the earth. And what we find in there is this idea that human beings are created to be stewards over creation. Now, to be a steward is to be a caretaker, to take care of something on behalf of somebody else, in this case to take care of the creation on behalf of its ultimate owner, God himself. Now to be a caretaker involves several things. First, it means to preserve and protect. Christians should be concerned about the environment because we're stewarding, taking care of God's good creation. But the second dimension of stewardship is to develop and to unpack the potential that God has placed there. That means things like agriculture. It means things like business. It means things like art and music. It means developing the fullness of God's creation, to unpack what he's put there in order to bring glory and honor to God himself. You know, it's kind of interesting, when my daughter comes home from school and she says, "Daddy, look what I made in school," she gets excited when I'm excited about the picture she made. I think there's something like that as we unpack God's creation. As we're excited about it, he gets honor and glory from seeing us having joy about what he originally put there that we're discovering through our work. And so it's preserving and protecting, but it's unfolding and unpacking as well to bring honor and glory to God in all that we do.

Answer by Dr. Brian T. Fikkert

Dr. Brian T. Fikkert is Professor of Economics & Community Development and President of The Chalmers Center at Covenant College.