Friday, August 29, 2008

Dominion 101 – Categories Are Essential

Beginning at a very early age, learning depends upon our ability to distinguish categories of things. As babies, it was essential that we learned to distinguish Mommy from Daddy. In baby foods, we could distinguish pureed carrots from peaches. Doggies and kitties are different “species” of animals; both are different from trees, and so on. Yet, while a recent ABC poll reported that 95 percent of responders claimed to believe in God, there is a diversity of opinions as to the nature of God.

Pantheism teaches that God and the natural world are one. Creation is simply an extension of God’s essence. In his book, Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology (Tyndale House), Francis Schaeffer notes that, without categories, “in pantheistic simply does not have a creation, but only an extension of God’s essence, in which any such term as “God’s creation”...has no place (p. 26).”

However, those who accept the authority of biblical revelation, believe that God and His creation (or, “the world of nature”) belong in separate categories. They are separate entities, ontologically speaking. Genesis 1:1 states that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” Thus, God is ontologically distinct from His creation from a historical standpoint. That is, He existed before the heavens and the earth; and then, He created them out of nothing (ex nihilo).

God is also distinct from creation today as He has always been. In the New Testament book of Colossians 1:17, we read, “in Him all things hold together.” God is not only the Creator of the physical realm, but also the Sustainer Who holds it together in ways that are only partly evident through what we can discover as laws of physics and chemistry. This God, Whom we have called “the Greatest Subject,” chose to “subject” His creation to mankind so we would exercise dominion over creation.

But we rejected God’s plan and therefore, failed the course, “Dominion 101.” A major reason for this failure was the failure to recognize God’s holiness and uniqueness. Genesis 1-2 makes it very clear that there are categories of being, and God is supreme and in a category unique from all others.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks,
but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, – Romans 1: 21-22

In the next entry, we consider how failure to acknowledge categories of being was responsible for the beginning of humankind’s poor record of stewardship of the earth.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Greatest “Subject” (n.) Subjects (vb.)

Previously, we have suggested that God is the “Greatest Subject” based upon the fact that He is the “Subject” of the greatest book ever written. He is also the Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipresent God. Thus, He is unique and above all creation. And, He owns it all because He is the Creator.

Whether or not we consider God the “Greatest Subject” (noun), please consider the Genesis 1 account. In Gen 1:28 we read, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

Here, God “subjects” (verb) His creation, not to angels or to another heavenly being, but to an earthly being, mankind. Think of it! The only wise God, Holy and unique above all of the physical realm, subjects His creation to a creature. The Psalmist David was struck by this awesome fact when he wrote:

O LORD (YAHWEH), our Lord (Adonai, or “Master”),
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! – Psalm 8: 1, 3-9 (NASB)

God chose to “subject” His creation to mankind so that mankind would exercise dominion and rule over creation while being submissive to God’s will. What an awesome opportunity and responsibility! What a promising future!

Yet, the destiny of mankind took a decided turn in the wrong direction. In the New Testament book of Hebrews, the author quotes from Psalm 8 (above) saying, YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET; then continues “For in ssubjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.” What a sorry lament: “But now, we do not yet see all things subjected to him.”

What happened? The answer will help us to appreciate God’s plan and authority, our need as humans to be willing “subjects,” and how God, the “Greatest Subject,” has made it possible for us to have a “second chance.”

Friday, August 1, 2008

God: The Greatest “Subject?”

The concept of oikonomia (stewardship) ultimately requires that we acknowledge the existence of God. This is because oikonomia is rooted in the nature, character, and purposes of God. The subject of the greatest book ever written, the Bible, is God. But, how can we call God a “subject” in any sense of the word?

When Moses asked His name, God spoke from the burning bush, saying “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14)*. God, as His Hebrew name, YAHWEH conveys, was revealing that He is a self-existent Being Who does not need a point of reference to define Himself--temporal, spatial, or intellectual. God is eternal (beyond measured time), omnipresent (unlimited by physical location), and omniscient (with infinite knowledge). How could such a God be “sub-“ (beneath or under) anything? Instead, in Psalm 95:3-6 we read:

For the LORD (YAHWEH) is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Thus, God is the Owner of all, the King of all creation. He cannot be a steward, can He? A steward is responsible for that which he doesn't own; God owns it all. Therefore, God has never been a “subject” who serves a master. But wait! Has God indeed been “subject?”

Care to respond? Let us know whether or not you believe God can be called “the Greatest Subject.” We invite other comments or questions on this "subject."