Q&A: The Cultural Mandate and Human Vocation

The Cultural Mandate and Human Vocation

What does the cultural mandate require of humanity?

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Answer

If there's a phrase that twentieth century Reformed type people know and like to bandy about maybe more than — I shouldn't say any other phrase, but they toss it around a lot — is a quote from Abraham Kuyper where he said Jesus Christ does not look at one square inch of this world and not claim, "This part is mine." And the cultural mandate is a claim on Christians that this world, that all of this world, is God's world, and because we're made in the image of God, we go out into the world to bear witness to God in all spheres of life. This is one of the great contributions of Reformed thought as the line between clergy and laity, though still a line that's demarcated, does become fuzzier because every Christian is called to some vocation, whether it's clergy or lay, and in the vocation that you're called to, you're called to be God's witness, God's emissary as he claims this whole world for himself. Whether it art or law or medicine or the trades, whatever it is, that is not without the purview of God's ownership and lordship over all of creation.

Answer by Dr. Mark Gignilliat

Mark Gignilliat is the Associate Professor of Divinity Old Testament at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama and has published articles in Scottish Journal of Theology, Horizons in Biblical Theology, Westminster Theological Journal, Biblica, The Journal for Theological Interpretation, Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, and International Journal of Systematic Theology.