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Ecology and Animal Rights continued....

THE PLACE OF HUMANS IN CREATION

How do humans fit into God's plan for creation? Scripture clearly states that God made man in his own image and likeness.(9) This claim is made for no other part of the created order, and must imply that humankind has a special place within that order. While we have to live in the animal kingdom and relate to it, we are inherently different from the animals, and have our own unique status within creation.

Furthermore we read that Adam was explicitly given responsible tasks and powers of decision and determination with regard to the earth. He was put in control as God's viceroy.(10) The verb however is in the plural which means that God did not just give this position to Adam, but to humankind. This is a hereditary regency, and is still legitimately applicable to the human race today, even though as we shall see, it is now over a fallen and corrupted creation.

God's command is for man to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.(11) The Hebrew word translated 'rule' is used of treading grapes in a winepress, but still more harshly 'subdue' can also mean 'to bring into bondage', 'to keep under', 'to force'. So we must not become so pro-environmental that we discard our God-given right to use the resources around us. We are given dominion over the planet, but we must use its resources wisely. This also is a Biblical concept. God's commission to man also requires him to 'cultivate and keep' the garden.(12)

Theologians interested in a Biblical response to the ecological crisis have found the concept of stewardship helpful. We hold the earth in trust, (for the Lord, not just for future generations) and are obliged to use its resources for his glory.

Index to the Topic
Ecology and Animal Rights
God as Creator
The place of humans in creation
Animals 


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