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Just a Word

Dominion!

"Then God said 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, over the cattle and over all the earth" (Genesis 1.26 RSV).

How did God intend us to interpret the word that has been translated 'dominion' by many of the translations? Derek Kidner quoting Delitzsch points out that "dominion over all creatures is 'not the content but the consequence of the Divine image". What was Jesus attitude to nature ‑ to the birds and animals? Endeavouring to answer this question, Ian Bradley draws attention to the attitude of the early Church Fathers and the great Celtic saints who had such loving stewardship.

Sadly, western Christian philosophy has interpreted Genesis 1.26 to mean that man can do what he likes with planet Earth and its contents. God gave man dominion over animals to rule as a king but not to dominate as a despot. The misuse of animals, plants and minerals has long affected the health of nations and peoples. We need to foster the Christian principles of loving concern and good husbandry and not manipulate and abuse for the sake of wealth and power. Man was made in the image of God and therefore must act as a viceroy in the spirit and manner of our God of love.

We plough the fields with tractors,

With drills we sow the land;

But growth is still the wondrous gift

Of God's almighty handů..

*******

Earth is the Lord's: it is ours to enjoy it,

Ours, as his stewards to farm and defend.

From its pollution, misuse and destruction,

Good Lord, deliver us, world without end!

Fred Pratt Green

 

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