Why did God give humanity the cultural mandate?

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Right there at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis chapter 1, before the Fall, God gives a very important mandate or set of instructions—really, a worldview we'd almost say—to Adam and Eve, and that is to take the beauty of the Garden and the order and the excellence of it and to spread that throughout the world. And the story of the Bible is very much about the Fall and the failure to do so, and then the restarting of that very mandate through the second Adam and his bride, the church, Jesus Christ. And so that cultural mandate, that creational mandate, that original ordinance from Genesis 1, is really at the core of the Bible's message, and, I would suggest, is really very much what redemption is about. One scholar has called redemption creation regained. And I think that's a beautiful image. It's a beautiful comprehensive understanding of what the Bible is about. I've often described the message of the Bible as God restoring his reign, or his kingdom, from heaven to earth, from creation to new creation. And that traffics in this these two poles, these two axes, of God bringing the heavenly realities to become fully, full-born earthly realities, and also give the temporal sense of God working from creation to the end-goal of new creation. And at the heart of that is the idea that God is spreading his beauty, his excellence, or to use more biblical language, his glory throughout all the earth. And that is the calling of all humans as individuals as well as redeemed humanity in God's church.

Answer by Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington

Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington is Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation, and Director of Research Doctoral Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminar