Saturday, February 12, 2011

Evangelising and Subduing the Earth

“And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).

This is the theme of issue 21 (January-April 2011) of our latest Reformation Zambia magazine. Reformation Zambia is our local Christian magazine as Reformed Baptists in Zambia and is tailor-made for “serious” readers.

Ronald Kalifungwa introduces the theme of this issue by dealing with the two mandates—the cultural (creation) and evangelistic (missions) mandate. He writes, “Regrettably, most of us as African Christians, in our zeal to honour God for his abundant redemptive graces and to proclaim this salvation to our societies, have often lacked a strong sense of our original cultural calling. In far too many cases, a vision for man’s vital role as a culture-maker is altogether absent from our minds. In Zambia for instance, Christians are rarely the leaders in civic and cultural endeavours. More often than not, we are conspicuous for our indifference, docility and absence in culture related activity. This begs the question, why is this the case? The answer partly lies in a failure to appreciate the place of not only the evangelistic but also the cultural mandate in our lives.”

Bruce Button opens up the cultural mandate. He warns us against a “mindset that is prevalent amongst Christians today. Being truly spiritual means devoting yourself to “things above”, to reading the Bible and praying, to church activities, and to evangelism. However, secular activities like work, politics, the arts, and sport, are just what they are called—secular—and therefore of secondary importance or doubtful value for the zealous believer. Even the Christian who serves his employers with integrity does so more out of a sense of duty than out of a conviction that the work has any intrinsic value in God’s sight. The physical world and all the pursuits that belong to it are far less valuable than the spiritual world (it is, after all, passing away), and the human society that surrounds us is so evidently sold into sin. Therefore, if we want to maintain our purity before God we must strive to avoid the physical world and unregenerate human society. We may be obliged to make a daily foray into enemy territory when we go to work or school, but we breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the day when we can retreat to the safety of our family or home fellowship group.” In this article, Bruce challenges this mindset and appeals to all of us to be biblical in how we handle God’s world. 

Kabwe Kabwe deals with the evangelistic mandate. He says, “The great commission is a subject that demands a practical response from all of us who profess to be Christians. It is a subject that is more taught about, preached and discussed, than it is complied with. The cultural mandate on the other hand is somewhat inadvertently complied with (albeit in an extremely limited way in Africa) but little thought about from a biblical perspective. Via an exposition of Matt 28:19–20, and its implications, this article endeavours to illustrate how the great commission relates to the cultural mandate. Although these two mandates can stand independently of each other, they are not at all completely divorced from each other. As a matter of fact they are just different sides of the same coin!” We have often read about the Great Commission independent of the cultural mandate, hence this article brings these two together in a refreshing way.

Choolwe Mwetwa shows us the challenges we must overcome in order for us to undertake the cultural made in Africa today. He observes, “The West and their disciples (such as Japan) have largely used science to subdue nature. The depths of the earth and sea have been foraged for value addition to life. The lower heavens are being probed constantly, with the moon as guinea pig. On earth, engineering, architectural, and medical milestones are being reached—all in a bid to maximise human comfort, pride, and pleasure. In addition to this, the developed world, largely inspired by capitalistic principles and rewarded by a Bible-based work-ethic has laboured to create the money needed to bring about this progress.
“Africa, although possessing great potential, continues to lag behind. The one thing she seems to have understood clearly is God’s command to ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’ Fruitful we surely have been. There is no shortage of pregnant women checking in at hospitals to keep our midwives employed and to build our communities and our capacity to be socialists. We are not doing badly in filling the earth.
"The problem is that this is where we seem to have stopped listening. Even though God further said, ‘and subdue it [the earth] and have dominion over [it]...’ we have been indifferent to this aspect of the command. Needless to say, the price paid for this lapse is colossal. Never can any people get away with not meticulously heeding divine counsel. The numerous problems facing our continent are a direct consequence of this omission. But why, if I may ask, have Africans not excelled in the important duty of subduing the earth? May I suggest four culture-related reasons?” The rest of the article is an exposition of these four reasons.

New to Reformation Zambia are two columns which will be found in every issue henceforth. One of the columns (Marriage & Family Life) is meant for Christian couples and families, while the other (Young at Heart) is meant for Christian young adults. In this issue, we are dealing with the subject of romance in both columns—in view of Valentine’s Day which occurs on 14 February. We hope that these two columns will make this magazine attractive to those who assume that any “heavy” reading must be only for pastors and church elders.

As usual, Reformation Zambia ends with news items. These cover major events that took place among Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia (and one covers an event within Africa) between September and December 2010. In this way, we are able to pray for God to make these events truly fruitful among us.

Although the primary target for this periodical are Christians in Zambia of Reformed and Baptistic convictions, eavesdroppers from across the globe are most welcome. For subscriptions (or the purchase of a single copy of the magazine), send an email to the nearest agent:

Australia & New Zealand – Israel Malekano (
South Africa – Roland Eskinazi (
UK & Europe – Davies Kabole (
USA & Canada – Joseph Braden (
All other countries – Ruth Ngwira (  

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