Wisdom, as I stated in the last issue, is God’s technology.1 It is the hidden glory that permeates creation and is waiting for man to discover. Wisdom was in the “other trees” that Adam and Eve could freely eat (Gen. 2:16), but they chose a forbidden wisdom, which instead of “making them wise” (Gen. 3:6), brought them a frustrating awareness of their nakedness. This sin consciousness moved them away from the center of the garden to hide among the trees—the trees they should have been exploring.
The center of the garden was the established beachhead for God’s great dominion enterprise for man. His intent was that Adam and Eve utilize the trustee family2 to work with the raw stuff of creation, glean the principles of technology (wisdom), and create godly civilization. Adam would not be told directly what to do; he would have to labor in thought and experimentation to extract the undiscovered laws of architecture, philosophy, mathematics, physics, and agriculture. But as God told Isaiah regarding the farmer who learns by trial and error, “This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working” (Isa. 28:29).
The Kingdom: God’s Family Business
The dominion mandate was essentially an entrepreneurial calling. Although man’s ultimate employer was God Himself, Adam was very much on his own in terms of the discovery and work process. God immediately engaged Adam in labor; and when a companion was created for him, even she was categorized as a “help meet” (Gen. 2:18). In short, work and mission were central to man and history. God was an entrepreneur, and He intended that His highest creation would follow suit in the family business. Christ made this doubly clear when He testified that He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).
An entrepreneur is one who starts and operates an enterprise. God more than fits this definition, but the entrepreneurial notion was somewhat lost in contemporary definitions of dominion. Man’s great dominion calling is misconstrued when defined exclusively as political, viz. a “world takeover.” In reality, that has always been the working premise of elitism: power over others without work. This is an ungodly dominionism. As Rushdoony notes: “Elitism is a form of abdication of responsibility in favor of control and power.”3
Godly dominion is a work-oriented sense of responsibility toward God that is eschatological in nature. It has a historical goal: it’s working solely in terms of the realized Kingdom of God. On the other hand, “The goal of elitism is power, control, and money, to gain social status,”4 i.e., to establish dominion in terms of man and his leisure. And “when the elite becomes a leisure class, we have a society of culture in its decline.”5
But the sin does not lie only at the door of elitism. There is a great depreciation of godly dominion in the working class also. For them, work is reduced to survival, and without developed skills, they take whatever work is available and labor becomes meaningless drudgery. In addition, many of these less fortunate souls are also devoutly religious, and typically escapist, viz. they await deliverance to heaven instead of cultivating godly rule. This is the end result of work without eschatology:
[I]n the Bible work is eschatological in meaning. It has a goal, the Kingdom of God. Work can be drudgery, a necessary means of survival, or work can be a means of dominion and subduing the earth (Gen. 1:26–28). Work can be a means of maintaining life and no more, or work can be the means of creating the future. Work thus can be done simply to maintain the status quo, or it can be the means of determining our tomorrows. Where work is eschatologically governed by the dominion mandate, it is constructive of things present and future … Work only comes into its own when it is eschatological. To build a house, plant a tree, and till a garden has a future orientation. The world was not empty when we came into it, and it must not be more empty for our coming. We work to establish God’s ordained future, His Kingdom. Where work is systematically eschatological, it is also blessed. Work must always have a purpose greater than ourselves.6 (emphasis in the original)
Godly dominion avoids the error of elitism and escapism by emphasizing the entrepreneurial nature of extending godly rule, i.e., future-oriented work for the sole benefit of the Kingdom of God. It is as we consider innovative means to advancing the Kingdom with our present resources that we are acting entrepreneurial. This is not about takeover, or dominating others. Dominion is a comprehensive expression of God’s rule in every sphere of life. We are witnessing this now as great energy and investment is pouring into Christian film, media, education, science, business, and invention. Much of the Religious Right is statist to the core, but a great troop of eclectic godly entrepreneurs is now moving into the fray.
The Power to Create
What is needed now is an entrepreneurial dominionism that pursues creative means to advancing the reign of Christ in every sphere of life. For too long unregenerate men have dominated in entrepreneurial creativity because their atheism permits them to go much further in the development of world resources. Diligent Christians should be dominating in creativity because part of being made in God’s image is carrying on the work of creation:
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (Gen. 2:19)
The power of speech and conceptual thought was given to man, not the animals. Both were formed out of the dust of the ground, but Adam was clearly given the dominant role in that his first assignment was to name the other creatures God created. The Bible does not provide the details as to how Adam did this naming, but we do know that naming is an intellectual and creative act. Although God rested on the seventh day from all His work (Gen. 2:2), man’s work had just begun, and Adam’s initial task was strikingly similar to God’s first day:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Gen. 1:2–5) (emphasis added)
When God first addressed the earth, it was without form and void. In other words, it was without definition and distinction. When things are dark and formless, you can’t make out what you’re seeing. That was the state of the world on the first day of creation. God, as Creator, provided definition by creating a division—or distinction—between the day and the night. He did this by first creating light. Notice that He didn’t say, “Let there be darkness.” He needed only to add the light.
Notice also that after He divided the light from the darkness, He called, or named, the light Day; and He called, or named, the darkness Night. The power to name is a work of creation in that you are creating distinction that did not previously exist. In Adam’s case, although God had already created the beasts and birds, they too were formless and void because they had no distinction. They had not yet been named.
Adam was continuing the work of creation as God’s dominion man by utilizing wisdom to bring order and distinction to the mass of beasts. This continues today as new technologies, services, and creations are established and the community of man grants them a name and a right to exist. Man is intrinsically entrepreneurial, and a great deal of his religious history was devoted to preparing him for that dominion calling.
Wilderness Thinking vs. Promised Land Living
For the children of Israel, the wilderness sojourn was an era fraught with difficulties, rebellion, and judgment. The 490 years spent in Egyptian bondage fortified a slave’s mentality in a vast population that God intended for dominion. They were also susceptible to rebellion because they were accustomed to abiding in a welfare state where more was accomplished by complaint than labor. Jethro—Moses’ father-in-law—was the first to recognize this when he observed “that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening” (Exod. 18:13). When you see long lines, you know you’re in a welfare state.7
God provided for the Israelites by a system of miracles. Manna fell daily from the sky, and water spewed from a rock. He guided them those forty years by means of two giant pillars: one a cloud by day and one of fire by night. All this would change when they crossed the river Jordan and entered Canaan.
And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. (Josh. 5:12)
The pillars of cloud and fire also disappeared, and there was no more rock from which to draw water. They would now have to collect the water from the abundant supply of Canaan:
For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills. (Deut. 8:7)
Much could be said about the dramatic transition into the Promised Land. It was a land that had to be cultivated. Forests had to be cleared; houses had to be built; and there was a host of diverse enemy nations scattered throughout the territory. And for a people used to a long season of slavery, and a long season of miracles, hard work and warfare hardly sounded like a Promised Land. If they thought they were better off in Egypt when they struggled in the wilderness, they may also have thought the miracle provisions of the wilderness were far better than pulling twelve-hour days to establish a new homestead. To succeed, they could not allow their wilderness thinking to govern their Promised Land living.
Don’t Forget the Lord Thy God
Without the pillars to guide them, their national direction would now be determined exclusively by the law of God. Their existence would now take on a seemingly “non-miraculous”—or non-spiritual—nature. Their provision would come from the good land God provided and the labor they exerted. They were to dig brass from the hills (Deut. 8:9) and multiply their herds, flocks, silver, and gold by the work of their hands (v. 13). This—God knew—would bring another potential area of transgression: forgetting Him.
Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (Deut. 8:11–14)
The danger was their concluding: “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (v. 17, emphasis added). So it would seem, since they were the ones now laboring six long days per week. This was hardly bread falling from the sky or water coming from a rock. No sir, the days of God’s power were over. Everything would now come by the strength of man’s hand.
Power to Get Wealth
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (Deut. 8:18)
When your bread is falling from the sky, it would be difficult to forget that it is the Lord who gives you power to get wealth. Imagine if an angel brought you a paycheck each Friday, or a host of angels built your home for you. It would be hard to forget that the Lord was giving you power to get wealth.
However, by the sweat of their brows, the children of Israel would exploit the vast resources of the Promised Land. And after years of hard work, they could easily begin to think that it was their power bringing them their great wealth. The Hebrew word used for power here is kowach, and it means a productive force. It’s the same term used in passages describing God’s miracle power:
And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt. (Deut. 4:37, emphasis added)
He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen. (Ps. 111:6, emphasis added)
The obvious implication is that the power God granted the Israelites to produce wealth in the Promised Land was just as miraculous as the displays of power in the wilderness! The danger was in their seeing the world as governed by the work of their hand instead of the powerful hand of God. Simply because their new existence consisted of law-keeping and labor did not mean those days were any less miraculous, or powerful. Every day is filled with the power of God enabling us to accrue dominion—“it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.”
Still, you can see how the Israelites facing an untamed wilderness after crossing the Jordan is a similar image to that of Adam and Eve facing the untamed creation after being given their dominion mandate. Both were called to dominion, and therefore both were entrepreneurial. The world was to be cultivated for the glory of God, and man was to exhaust the resources through rigorous thought and labor in order to master creation by means of wisdom: God’s technology.
The Reign of Craftsmen
I define technology as the practice of creating visible things with invisible means. This is a creative act in the same sense of Hebrews 11:3, which declares that our faith is founded upon the idea that “what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (NIV). In other words, we are to model analogically the creative process of God by creating visible things with the invisible means of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding—what the world refers to as technology.
In the New Testament, the root word techne is used in various forms for the idea of craft or craftsman. The word means artificer, or artisan, and is also translated as art. Consider the following passages in light of that meaning:
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art [techne] and man’s device. (Acts 17:29)
And because he [Paul] was of the same craft [techne], he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation [techne] they were tentmakers. (Acts 18:3)
For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen [technites]; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation [techne], and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft [techne] we have our wealth. (Acts 19:24–25)
Notice that Demetrius concludes that by his techne, or craft, he has his wealth. The predictability of the world is seen as natural, and no acknowledgment of God’s power is recognized. Demetrius believes his craft is simply a natural fact of his own being, and not a result of God’s creative power. To be a true technite means to be versed in a creative skill that exhausts the resources of creation in order to further the reign of God. Christians must be pursuant of God’s hidden wisdom instead of remaining chained to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We’re identified as moralists when we should also be seen as inventors, artists, craftsman, etc., not merely baptizers of existing crafts already well developed by unbelievers.
God, the Entrepreneur
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder [technite] and maker is God. (Heb. 11:10)
The ultimate craftsman—the One whom we follow—is God. He is the model for the entrepreneurial calling. And in order to follow Him properly, we must determine two essential items: (1) How did God create His enterprise? (2) What was His work ethic? The former I covered in my previous article “Wisdom the Principal Thing,” where I demonstrated that God used wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to create the universe.8 The latter—His work ethic—forms the essential structure of our life calendars:
And on the seventh day God ended his work. (Gen. 2:2a)
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. (Exod. 20:9)
God, using His wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, created His enterprise in the span of a six-day workweek. This is our model. Granted, we do not have the preexisting wisdom, knowledge, or understanding, nor do we have the power to accomplish so much in one week—the comparison is simply analogical. God is the archetypical entrepreneur from which we will pattern our efforts.
Therefore, education is primary because this is how we gain our wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. This is how we glean the technology to create our own enterprises. And let me make absolutely clear that being entrepreneurial does not mean quitting your day job and starting a business. You can be entrepreneurial in whatever capacity you find yourself. It is any expression of independent creativity that produces something that did not previously exist. You can easily do this as a spouse in your home or as a subordinate at your job. By practicing entrepreneurial dominionism, you are creating value for yourself, and your value is always determined by your contribution, or the problems you solve. That’s why you pay your doctor or lawyer more than a waiter. The doctor and lawyer are solving sizable problems for you.
You have six days per week to both do your present work and invest in educating yourself in another skill, enhancing your existing skill set, or creating something new. Dr. Gary North has written on this repeatedly9 by recommending that people invest an extra twenty hours per week on something other than their present job—something that could be turned into a business. You can also be creative in that time by writing novels, making films, creating videos, investigating a scientific problem, or simply tinkering in the garage. The only requirement is that you do it with an eschatological purpose in mind, i.e., the Kingdom of God. As I stated in the previous article, we cannot confuse the means with the end. The end is the realized Kingdom of God in history; the means are such things as our personal enterprises.
Adam’s calling was to investigate what God had hidden in the “other trees,” but this required leaving the forbidden tree alone. In his disobedience, Adam forsook the entrepreneurial calling, and much of church history has followed suit. All the while, the unbeliever, because of his atheism, embraces the world as it’s given to him and exhausts its possibilities. Like Demetrius, fallen man sees his craft (techne) as the source of his wealth. He believes he has power in himself to create, and the power is from him, not God. The Christian tends only to see the power of God displayed in miracles and neglects the daily infusion of power given by God to take dominion by faithful labor. We have suffered from a “wilderness mentality” instead of operating in “Promised Land thinking.”
Our daily lives are just as miraculous as Israel’s wilderness sojourn. The power and gifts come from God, though we are putting in the twelve-hour workdays. We can therefore avoid the snare that tripped Israel if we simply recognize that God is prepared to empower any effort we make to develop visible things by invisible means. Don’t put your dreams on hold for another day. Creation is filled with untapped wisdom, and He’s given you power to get wealth today!
1 Christopher J. Ortiz, “Wisdom the Principal Thing,” Faith for All of Life, May-June 2008.
2 Andrea Schwartz, “The Biblical Trustee Family,” Faith for All of Life, Nov.-Dec. 2007.
3 R. J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology in Two Volumes (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), 1046.
5 Ibid., 1045.
6 Ibid., 1020f.
7 Christopher J. Ortiz, “The Leadership Principle,” Faith for All of Life, Mar.-Apr. 2006.
8 Ortiz, “Wisdom the Principal Thing.”
9 See www.garynorth.com.
Topics: Business, Media / Arts, Medicine / Healthcare, Old Testament History, World History, Pentateuch, Biblical Commentary, Dominion, Culture , Philosophy, Family & Marriage, Education, Economics, New Testament History, R. J. Rushdoony