The First Chapters Project – Genesis 1 – Part 2/2

In my first post about Genesis 1, I’ve shared two essential statements that summarize the biblical worldview as exposed in this first chapter of the Bible: (1) “Creation celebrates the Glory of God” and (2) “Christ is Sovereign Lord”, a basic confession of faith. In this post, I will present four other fundamental teachings of Genesis 1: (3) the creational order, (4) the human dignity principle, (5) the cultural mandate and what I call (6) “the transformational sequence.” There is no doubt much more to be said and discovered. These teachings also have numerous practical applications, but space is restricted to look in-depth at all of them.

The creational order

What is so amazing about the history of creation in Genesis 1, is the wonderful order and structure in everything. God saw the creation was good, and it really was. It still is, though affected by sin. This message gives a glimpse of one element of God’s character: He is a God of order and of perfection. The creational order defines a hierarchy between all creatures. As man was created last, he is to rule over the animals and the vegetation, and can dispose of them. The animals, in turn, can dispose of the vegetation, as they were created after them. Creation is for us to use and to enjoy, but not to abuse.

The human dignity principle

A central concept to Theology, Law and Christian Politics is the human dignity principle. Genesis 1:27 clearly states that mankind was created in the image of the Creator, which means that we reflect (or should reflect) God’s glory. Based on this principle, men posesses a dignity that is derived only from this fact, that he was created in the image of God. Human dignity is not derived from any Declaration, although Human Rights Declarations may reaffirm this principle. This has a great number of applications, including the need to respect the sanctity of human life from its conception. Respecting human dignity is respecting the Creator Himself.

The cultural mandate

Genesis 1:28 is generally referred to as the “cultural mandate.” It clearly states the task men were given, the most basic and important purpose we are expected to fulfill in this world. The cultural mandate is more than a political mandate, but it is essentially a political mandate. The Creator has commanded us to subdue creation, that is to rule over it and to administrate it. This is the first biblical justification of the involvement of Christians in politics, which is to contribute to the restoration of creation.

The transformational sequence

Genesis 1 implicitly presents a sequence of transformation. Just as God put order in creation, He wishes to put order in our lives, and once our lives are transformed, in all other spheres of society. God is at work in creation, and He is at work in our lifes.

What happened with the earth in six days, can also happen in the life of a person. The earth was formless and empty in the beginning, just as we were lost before Jesus arrived in our lifes. Then God’s starts the restoration process: the dark is separated from the light. We are convicted of sin. Then the sees are created. New waters start to flow out of our lives singing the glory of the Creator and expressing profound gratitude. Then God commands the land to produce vegetation. Once God’s Holy Spirit lives within us, we start to bear fruit as well. In the end, God sees creation and recognizes it is good. We are transformed, reformed, regenerated by God’s creational power and love.

The History of Humanity has been summarized with the sequence “Creation – Fall – Salvation.” Creation was fallen, and God put order. After the first sin, it fall again, but will once be restored. The powerful transformational sequence that is announced in the first chapter of the Bible, will be repeated throughout the whole Bible. It is a powerful call for transformation. Beyond social transformation, it is a call for spiritual transformation at all levels: in our personal lives, in our family, in our community, in our school, in our church, in our society, in the whole of society.

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Dennis P. Petri
Dennis P. Petri is Director of Plataforma C, Platform for Christian Politics. A political scientist by training, he specializes in comparative politics with a specific interest in Latin America. He is currently working on a dissertation about religious freedom at VU University Amsterdam.

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