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. 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. 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
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
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.