So goes a common fallacy one hears occasionally from Christians who are suspicious of the notion of an economic science that can be compatible with Christian doctrine. If that were true, studying economics would be perhaps useless at best and downright destructive at worst.
In fact, however, a proper understanding of economics is crucial for our obeying and fulfilling the cultural mandate given to us by God in the first two chapters of Genesis.
The Connection Between Economics & the Cultural Mandate
Christians must bring thoughts about the world and their place in it captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We do this by meditating upon his general and special revelation. We find in Genesis 1 that the very first command given to man is what has been variously called the creation mandate or cultural mandate. Even before sin and the fall of man, God told our first parents to
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:28).
In Genesis 2:15, we find that the cultural mandate includes working and keeping the created order. Thus, as David Hegeman in Plowing in Hope explains, the cultural mandate requires filling, working, keeping, and ruling creation.
We are called to do this, however, in our present, fallen, and finite world faced with scarcity. Since our banishment from the Garden of Eden, man has faced a central cultural dilemma: how do we fulfill God’s creation mandate in a world of aggravated scarcity without either starving to death or killing one another?
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