All Men Seek Dominion
Since the dominion mandate was given to Adam as part of his Covenant responsibility, and since Adam represents all mankind, the commission is essentially for all mankind. Yet, fallen, rebellious man, cannot fulfill the commission in its original intent. Nor can sinful man fulfill his commission to the pleasing of God, or for His glory. They are all covenant breakers, unable and unwilling to properly fulfill the Cultural Mandate.
Yet, mankind seeks dominion. Dominion is the natural posture of man, as a result of their being created in the image of God. Unregenerate man will peruse dominion in varying ways. Sometimes he will peruse it furiously, sometimes haphazardly, sometimes lazily, but always for selfish ends. Sinful subjection of the world, by sinful men is always done for their glorying rather than for the glory of God. This subjugation is usually accomplished by cunning, craft, deceit or even unrighteous force, rather than by ethical obedience. Thus, by definition this "type" of dominion-conquest should be re-identified as domination, rather than by the term ethical dominion.
Dominion vs. Domination
Biblical dominion is not humanistic carnal domination. There is a distinct difference. While Biblical Dominion seeks its goal by the faithful practice of ethics, and a strict obedience to God's Law, domination, on the other hand, is the acquisition of power by any means for the profit of the individual.
Man's natural tendency is bent toward developing ways to rule over his environment. Rather than subduing the earth ethically, and for God's glory, man's efforts are for the subduing the earth "by whatever it takes". This "power religion" is based upon force rather than God's code of Law.
The Common Denominator - Humanism
This power religion, or domination religion, seeks to achieve its goal by every and all means except ethical means. Man envisions victory through the avenues of economics, politics, social change, technological and scientific advance, ecological reform, psychological, physiological, and anthropological breakthroughs and even by religious means. The only rejected strategy is the plan of reform through careful and faithful obedience to God's system of Law and ethics. This is the one avenue the unregenerate are both unwilling and unable to take.
History is full of accounts of sinful man, developing tools and ideas for both pleasure and use, by way of "power religion." Power religion is simply aggressive humanism. Humanism is very much a religion. It glorifies and worship the creature, man, rather than the Creator, God. It has its followers as well as its priesthood. Its temples are the schools and universities which exalt the human race, and by ridiculing and condemning the Creator.
The pursuit of money, academic intellectualism, social and political power are just a few ways in which man seeks to rule over his situation and dominate his culture. Yet, not one can fulfill the original dominion mandate apart from the New Birth, and obedience to God's Law. The plans and hopes of the humanism agenda will always fail.
Dominion is all about Obedience
Dominion is obedience. Without obedience there can be no dominion. There can be no cultural progression of the Christian faith without careful Covenant obedience.
Dominion is also about responsibility. As God's vice-regents upon the earth, and as His judges and ambassadors, we are to be responsible in our stewardship. The earth is our stewardship since it belongs exclusively to God. "The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof." As Adam in the garden, so are we in the World - called to subdue and take responsibility for its well being, under God, in Righteousness.
Noah Webster defines culture as "the act of tilling and preparing the earth for crops." Culture is the application of labor upon a given area of life. It can be the culture of a field as well as the culture of a community or an individual. The blame for a poor harvest should never be placed upon the soil, but upon the culture. It is through the work of "cultivation" that the produce of the earth brings forth plentifully.
Adam was commanded to till the earth. He was the chief cultivator. His work, if executed faithfully, would reap a great reward. In Matthew 13, the Lord likens the world to a field. His expectation is that His people would act as cultivators. This idea bears a direct relationship to the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28.
Monasticism and Escapism
Two popular heresies of the ancient world have once again been embraced by the church. During the Middle Ages monasteries were set up as seminaries and places of religious seclusion. While the monasteries of the Middle Ages may have equipped certain faithful men to expand the faith, and to some degree been a useful establishment, today the monastic thought of the modern church has nearly destroyed the faith.
Modern monastic thought has given rise to escapism from society rather than a cultivation of society. While aspects of the monastic life of the Middle Ages may be looked at as highly questionable the monastic practice of the modern church is entirely and outright wicked, rebellious and counterproductive. Instead of influencing the culture for good, they have either remained silent or shamelessly embraced the wickedness and tradition of the culture they have been called to oversee. Being in the world they sinfully became one with the world, trading their Covenant Blessing for a pot of Esau's pottage.
The mission of the true Church is cultural leadership, not cultural escapism. The Church is called to lead. It is called to tread upon serpents and scorpions and every unclean thing. These serpents and scorpions are symbolic word-pictures of wicked men and humanistic philosophies. Every imagination (i.e. philosophy, legislation, and public policy) that exalts itself against the Authority of God's Moral Law is to be cast down. The church must be vocal in bringing argument, debate and instruction against public law and policies which rebel against God's Law. Christians should be intolerant of any legislative action which is not in conformity with God's perfect standard of Law, the Holy Scriptures.
When the church retreats into the monastery of their four-walled church building, they cease to be of any use. Their light is extinguished under a bushel, and their salt looses its savor. Thus, they are eventually trodden down under the feet of men by their humanistic ideology. Historically the church has been militant, not monastic! It has been called to leadership and dominion.
Dominion Success Begins with a Perfect Standard
Since ethics and Law are the basic tools for dominion success, the Christian needs to be well equipped in the understanding and application of God's Law. God's Law is the perfect standard of all ethics. The Law of God is more than a code of regulations, it is the perfect expression of God's nature and being. The Law of God sets forth His righteousness and Justice. To reject God's Law is to reject God.
What many modern Christians misunderstand is that God is both a God of Grace, and a God of Law. Therefore, if we follow that principle to its logical conclusion, His people are people of Grace, and people if Law. The two are completely harmonious. There is no such thing as a lawless Christian, unless that "Christian" is not a true Christian at all. Furthermore, there is no such standard as "no law." Everyone follows some law. It is not a question then, of law or no law, but rather, who's law. Biblical Christians have God as their God and His Law as their Law. Both Grace and Law are Covenantal. They are both a blessing and a gift to the people of God.
The Extent of the Law
If the Christian Community is to regain righteous dominion over the culture, the standard of God's Moral Law must be used in every sphere of life. God's legislative claim is both universal and comprehensive. He does not compartmentalize life. There is no such thing as secular life apart from religious life. Every aspect of life is religious, and follows either a standard of religious Humanism or religious Theism. Either God is King or man is king. There is no other ground to stand upon. Law-breaking is in fact, a refusal to live within the relationship established by the Covenant.
The Law of God interfaces with, and claims Sovereignty over, every area of life. It is lord over our private life, our public life, and our secret life. God is the Divine Lawgiver Who gives the Law for our empowerment, rather for our restrictions. His Law is the pure and legitimate law. To be bound by the Law of God is to be at liberty under God, and empowered by God, for Dominion success.
Life's Categories Subject To Law
Since God's Law claims dominion over all spheres of life, we should be able to categorize each aspect of life, and then apply God's Law to them. Consider the main particulars, or disciplines of life. Life is composed of these basic categories.
Each of life's disciplines must be defined, directed, and regulated by a certain standard. If the standard is faulty, the understanding of the disciplines will also be faulty. If the standard is accurate, the understanding will be accurate, and ultimately beneficial. Moreover, the same standard that created the disciplines must also define those disciplines. The one who creates is the one who is qualified to define.
It is God, not man, that has conceptualized and manifested these fundamentals of life-relationships. It is man, however, in his rejection of God and His omniscient wisdom, who has sought to re-define these principles of life according to his own flawed understanding. Since God has created all life to exist intimately with each of these disciplines, it is He that must define and legislate it. It is God alone who can point the way to the proper application of life's disciplines. Any and all attempts to usurp the legitimate authority of God will lead to a breakdown of the culture.
Consider the Application of God's Word to Life's Disciplines
Theology: [Gen 1:1 & Col 2:9 & John 1] The Scriptures teach us that Christ is the fullness of the Godhead Bodily. It teaches us that through Christ was all things made and there wasn't anything made that was not made through Him. God is the Creator of the earth. He alone is the owner of every living thing, and all things that exist. Genesis 1:1 has great theological and Philosophical ramifications. In fact, Genesis 1:1 sets the stage for all life.
Philosophy: [John 1:14 & Prov. 8] Christ is the Word made Flesh. He is Wisdom, and in Him is all knowledge. This is a Philosophical concept. The word philosophy means "the love of wisdom." It is the "explanation of things." It is the art of logic and reasoning. Yet, modern philosophers reject the root and source of Wisdom and look inwardly to themselves for the well spring of truth. Christ is the Truth. In man there is only darkness. God's Word is the Truth. Yet, men despise knowledge as a result of their rejection of the fear of the Lord.
Ethics: [Gen 2:9 & Rom 7:12] This is the system of morality - the application of that which is right and good to all areas of life. God is the source and definer of what is right and what is wrong. He tells us, by His Law, what is good and what is evil. The tree in the midst of the Garden was a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam was forbidden to eat of it not because He didn't want Adam to know the difference between right and wrong but because he was not to use the LAW as a means to receive Grace. The moment he did, he died. God had already spelled out his task. Adam already knew what was right and what was wrong.It was enough.
Biology: [Genesis 1:21 Gen 30] God tells us clearly that all things would reproduce after their own kind. This is a biological idea. Jacob used God's biological Law to become a crafty sheepherder. He was skilled in genetically breeding his sheep. God is the God of Biology.
Psychology: [Gen 2:7] This is the study of the mind. Who can know the mind but God? He made the soul and is the discerner of the hearts and the intentions of men.
Sociology: [Gal 4:6] Sociology is the study of society and social relationships. Sociology is pertaining to men in social relationships. Society began in the garden of Eden within the confines and protection of the family unit. Society began with Adam, who was the son of God. Sociology's fundamental unit of meaning comes from the family, particularly from the Son of God.
Ecology: [Gen 1:28-29] God gave Adam the task of ecological stewardship. He was to maintain he balance of nature through the tilling of the soil. He was the protector of the Lord's creation. The earth was his stewardship responsibility. Today's ecology is perverted. It worships the earth as opposed to caring for it under God and for the Glory of God. [cf Rom 1]
Jurisprudence: [Gen 3:11] God's word is His Law. His commandment is His legal decree. The whole Bible is a legal covenantal document. There is nothing that God says that is not law. Everything reflects Him as Lawgiver and Judge. The Scriptures are replete with Laws. To ignore the impact of the Bible on the discipline of jurisprudence is to ignore God.
Politics: [Psalm 2 & Rev 19:16 & 1 Tim 6:15] The title King is a political title. Nothing could be plainer. The Scriptures speak of politics and political maneuvers as much as anything else. to miss the political impact of the Scriptures is the miss the forest for the trees.
Economics: [Gen 1:29 & Mark 12:42 & Luke 16] The Scriptures speak of ownership and trade throughout. these are concepts of economics. God speaks of poverty and wealth, industry and sloth, progress and failure. All of these relate to economics. The Bible also points to all kinds of business and trade associations. All these are given for our learning and application.
Historical: [Gen 3:15] All of history revolves around the Covenant promise of God's Deliverance. Every aspect of history is perfectly and meticulously orchestrated to bring about the full restitution and restoration of the Kingdom reign and dominion of Christ upon the earth in behalf of the Covenant elect. History is the manifestation of God's will worked out over time, on earth, through people and events. The purpose of history is summed up in Genesis 3:15. "God shall place enmity between the seed of the women and the seed of the serpent." He shall crush the serpents head by the bruising of His heel. It is Christ that sustains time. He is both the fullness of time and exists both inside and outside of history's time - Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Soli Deo Gloria
Originally published in 2003
is the founder and dean of the New Geneva Leadership Academy, pastor of the Reformed Bible Church in VA, and lecturer and CEO of the Institute for Theonomic Reformation. He has been involved in Christian education for more than 30 years operating a home school academy in addition to writing many monographs, articles and curricula in the area of Christian education. Dr. Raymond lives with his wife Jane and has three grown children and two grandchildren. Rev. Dr. Raymond's current projects include: teaching 40 new students from Rwanda, expanding his student reach to Australia and working as a court advocate in the local juvenile Justice system.