Is the Genesis Commission Political?
In today’s heated, over-politicized climate, there’s a fear of “radical” Christians usurping political power through religious cabals and righteous fury. But the Genesis Commission’s mandate to “conquer [the land]” isn’t sacred code for a government takeover – it’s a directive to seek out humanity’s greatest problems and solve them with using the powerful image of God within you.
There are three primary directives in the Genesis Commission.
God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the land, and conquer it. Rule over the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the sky, and over every animal that crawls on the land.”
Be fruitful. Multiply. Conquer.
To the modern mind – hyper-sensitive to current political conditions through the recent advent of 24-hour news and the ubiquity of information at our fingertips – this sounds like a radical religious prerogative to take over the world.
Yet this isn’t what the text is saying. And therefore, this is not what God is saying.
The scope of the Genesis Commission mandate encompasses the whole of the human experience.
It’s important to realize that the Genesis Commission is not limited to the political sphere. Perhaps equally important is the realization that not all human problems can be solved in the political arena.
In this we see the wisdom of the Genesis Commission.
The Creator had just fashioned his greatest work – men and women – on a planet rich in complex ecosystems, powerful forces, and deep mysteries. Although everything was still in a morally and theologically perfect condition, there were bound to be conflicts and challenges as the human race populated the vast earth that God had made.
There would be problems – and these problems would need solutions.
Challenges would inevitably arise and require the resolution of men and women willing to rise and solve them.
The challenges mankind was bound to face in the coming centuries after Creation – even in a theologically perfect condition – would go well beyond the reach of political solutions.
In fact, there would be no political problems in a morally just society. Why would anyone need a government to rule over them if they were governing themselves?
Since the Genesis Commission predates the fall of man into our present sinful condition, the mandate to “conquer” or “subdue” cannot be political.
So, what does it mean when it says “to conquer”?
The following statement in Genesis 1:28 qualifies the divine ordinance:
“Rule over the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the sky, and over every animal that crawls on the land.”
This is ancient, poetic language. When it says, “Rule over the fish of the sea…” it doesn’t mean you’re the Fish King.
That would be a political interpretation – and as such, it would be a wrong one. We’ve already established that politics is not necessary, or even possible, within a pre-Fall, morally perfect world so no political interpretation can be correct.
When the Bible says “Rule over the fish,” the “flying creatures,” and “every animal that crawls,” it’s referring to an aspect of governance that is not about political power but about solving practical, everyday problems.
The Genesis Commission “to conquer” is not political – it’s entrepreneurial.
Entrepreneurs are people who identify widespread problems facing a group of people, who come up with cost effective solutions to those problems, and then offer those solutions in an attractive and winsome fashion.
There are entrepreneurs in every sphere of human life. They’re not boxed in to the political sphere, although there are entrepreneurial politicians (people on both sides of the aisle love them).
People with the entrepreneurial spirit can be found in startup companies, nonprofit organizations, large corporations, midsize companies, small town politics, school systems, and many other sectors.
Everyday, men and women are conquering the problems that face mankind, creating value with every innovation, breakthrough, and every sale. They make life better for everyone. And at their best, they also make life better for this planet.
The Genesis Commission is not a political rallying cry.
The Genesis Commission is a call for you to identify and solve problems for people you care about.
In doing so, you reflect the image of God, who created you.
God is a Redeemer…
…a problem solver…
As Creator, His concerns reach beyond the pale of human politics. He desires to bring answers to problems in medicine, the marketplace, environmental issues, social issues, and even academic problems.
He’s called you and I to be entrepreneurs in whatever sphere of society we happen to live in.
By deciding to become an entrepreneur, you’re living out the command “to conquer” the challenges of this world to make life better for all mankind.
We’re not to conquer our fellow humans. That would be political.
We’re to conquer the massive obstacles in front of our fellow man that keep them from economic and social freedom.
God is an entrepreneur – a conqueror – and He’s designed you to be the same.