Thursday, July 17, 2008

About the Cultural Mandate

The term “the Cultural Mandate” has been used to refer to God’s command to Adam and Eve to “tend and keep the Garden.” This has been extended to refer to the work that humans do on earth to care for the physical needs of one another and creation generally. (This is often juxtaposed to the “evangelistic mandate” or the call to share the gospel.)

This notion of the Cultural Mandate, however, has a double meaning for this blog. As anthropologists committed to living out the Gospel, we understand that “culture” is not an enemy of spiritual life, but the only means by which we can live it out. We believe that while the Gospel has a message for the whole world (including anthropology), so to can anthropology provide resources, concepts and tools for Christians seeking to live faithful lives.

Thus, just as we have a mandate from God to care for one another and creation, so too do we, as anthropologists, have a mandate to understand, teach, and communicate about culture in ways that encourage the church, enlighten the seeker, and faithfully serve God. This is our Cultural Mandate.