ecological thinking :: the basileia of God

The Greek word basileia underlies the “kingdom” of “kingdom of God” in English translations of the New Testament. The word can, and has, be translated by a range of terms, from “reign” to “empire” to “regime” and more.

I’m wondering what would shift in our thinking about the human relationship with creation (or conversely, what might shift in our thinking of the human relationship with God) if we began to use another term, already theologically freighted, namely “Dominion.”

“Dominion” is, of course, the English word most frequently used to translate the Hebrew word kabash from Genesis 1:28, and is a familiar term in Christian circles. It is also a pejoratively loaded term in ecological circles because it is (mis)taken to imply that humanity has a God-given right to do whatever the hell they want with God’s green earth, because it’s all here to serve us human-beans anyway. Some of us are convinced that human beings belong in both ecologically-minded circles and Christian circles, and are trying to wrestle out the best way to think about these things.

If Jesus’ ministry is to announce and inaugurate the dominion of God, setting prisoners free, restoring sight to the blind, liberating the oppressed, what does that imply for our “dominion” on the planet? What do “dominion” and “love” have in common?

3 Replies to “ecological thinking :: the basileia of God”

  1. Yes – the only rule we are mandated to exercise is that of a servant. Notice that in chapter 2 the man is told to “till” or “work” or even “serve” (the verb covers all this semantic territory) the ground/earth.

  2. Hello Byron,

    I have used that tension between “dominion” and the “tending and keeping” trying to get people to think a little bit more about their assumptions about whether or not creation is here for our use. This line of thinking occurred to me as a way to re-orient the notion of dominion itself—and subvert the typical misunderstanding that leads to the large conceptual gap between dominion and service.

    Hope all is well in your news digs in Ireland!


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