What Happened to Adam and His Dominion? A Return to Self
The recent development in Pasig River, Boracay and Manila Bay moved me to return to my understanding of the role of Adam and the concept of the ‘authentic self’ prior to the fall. I see this development as a return to that sense of self.
Who is Adam?
The Hebrew word for man is Adam (Gen. 1:26, 27; 2;7, Strong-Lite) which is a standard term for mankind and is also used as a proper name. We are Adam! Genesis chapter 1 specifically mentions mankind (Adam) as made in God’s image, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness..(v.26 NIV), “So God created mankind in his own image…” (v.27 NIV). The word image is “likeness”, “resemblance”, “phantom” or “illusion” (Strong-Lite). It is a metaphor that is made “to draw our attention to a striking similarity between humans and God while not for a moment denying that God as we are radically different from God” (Bartholonew and Goheen). That is, even though God is infinite and humankind is a finite being, there is an essential similarity between them.
God also created a companion for Adam and named her Eve (Gen. 2:18-22). They were placed in a fertile and pleasurable Garden, a place where God himself lives.
What Does It Mean To Be An Adam?
In Gen. 1:28 God commands Adam (mankind) to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (NIV) This passage expounds the similarity between God the Creator and humankind, his creation.
According to Von Rad as quoted by Bartholomew and Goheen,
“Just as powerful earthly kings, to indicate their claim to dominion, erect an image of themselves in the provinces of their empire where they do not personally appear, so man is placed upon earth in God’s image as God’s sovereign emblem. He is really only God’s representative, summoned to maintain and enforce God’s claim to dominion over the earth. The decisive thing about man’s similarity to God, therefore, is his function in the nonhuman world.”
Mankind has an exceptional calling, he was appointed by God to rule over the rest of the created beings on land, sea, and air. He is to function as the steward for God so His character is enriched within his kingdom. God declares his creation as ‘very good” (1:31). It is within this description that mankind is commissioned to be God’s steward, take care of and protect the environment.
To be an Adam or mankind therefore is to have an enormous responsibility and accountability to God. To put it better, Bartholomew and Goheen state that, “we are God’s royal stewards, put here to develop the hidden potentials in God’s creation so that the whole of it may celebrate his glory.” This is mankind’s ‘authentic self’.
We are to exercise such responsibility under the watchful eyes of our Master, as pictured in Gen. 3:8, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” We are called to be God’s partner in taking good care of the environment. As God’s stewards, human beings are expected to improve on everything God has created, not to alter it.
What Went Wrong?
Mankind has a perfect fellowship with God prior to a catastrophe. As mentioned above, he fulfills his calling before the presence of God. Genesis chapter 3 talks about a disaster that destroyed mankind’s perfect relationship with His Master and Creator and shattered his exceptional calling. He disobeyed God and asserted his self-rule.
This catastrophe is referred to as the Fall. It describes the basic nature of sin – a desire to break away from God. The result of this rebellion is the breakdown of relationships, mankind was banished from the Garden. Sin drives humans apart. It alienated Adam and his wife Eve from their ‘authentic self’ as they wrapped themselves with leaves to cover their nakedness. Suddenly they were embarrassed to see themselves naked. Who told them that nakedness is shameful anyway? No one! It was because their sense of self was demoralized. Consequently, mankind’s function as the care-taker of God’s creation was also tarnished. As Bartholomew and Goheen said,
“All these actions show that sin has undermined both the sense of self and the sense of belonging to another. God’s judgements suggests that the social and work dimension of their lives have similarly been twisted out of shape.”
Where Do We Go From Here?
Genesis 3:15 talks about God’s initiative to address the situation. He clothed them (3:20) and a promise was given that will destroy the evil that hit them. This is so far the first ever biblical promise of the coming of Jesus Christ. Through the giving of his life he will defeat the serpent (Satan).
The New Testament talks about repentance as the means by which mankind can be reconciled to God. To repent is to change your mind (Easton). It is actually a change of direction. Mankind must discontinue desiring for self-rule and change his direction in order to find his way back to his Master. We must return to our authentic self.
- The Self or ‘Loob’ in Filipino
Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano defines loob as “a Filipino’s inner person or self that constitutes his intellectual, volitional, emotional, and ethical life.” Jose De Mesa defines it as, “a wholistic understanding of the most authentic self of a person in relation to God, others and the world. These definitions resonate with the ‘authentic self’ of mankind mentioned above. Adam’s loob (self) prior to the fall, relates to the loob (will) of God in terms of his function as ruler over creation. His loob however, was alienated from that of God due to his rebellion.
Thus, mankind needs to return to that authentic self in order to restore his relationship with God. A return to self (pagbabalik loob) means a return to God’s will. According to John R. Pesebre, “individual pagbabalik-loob suggests a restored relationship, forgetting the past, a new hope for the future or a new way of living.” Pagpapakatao on the other hand, is being authentically human. In order to attain this pagpapakatao, one must return to his authentic self (loob). Being authentically human is to restore mankind’s rule over creation.
Repentance therefore, is a U-turn, a return to self (loob) and God’s will (kalooban ng Diyos). We must return to our original mandate of being the care-taker of God’s creation (pagpapakatao) in order to create a new hope for the future of our environment and provide creation a new way of living.
The rehabilitation of Pasig River, Boracay, and Manila Bay is an example of pagbabalik-loob and pagpapakatao. It is a manifestation of our return to our role as God’s representative (God’s image) to his creation.
Bartholomew, Craig G. and Goheen, Michael W. The Drama of Scripture. Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA: Baker Academic a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2004.
Bible Gateway. www.biblegateway.com
De Mesa, Jose. The “AMA NAMIN” IN THE DOCTRINA CHRISTIANA OF 1593. A Filipino-Cultural Theological Reading. Doing Theology in the Philippines. Manila, Philippines: OMF and ATS, 2006.
Feliciano, Evelyn M. Filipino Values and our Christian Faith. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2005.
Pesebre, John R. Balik-Loob. Towards a Filipino Evangelical Theology of Repentance. Doing Theology in the Philippines. Manila, Philippines: OMF and ATS, 2006.
Stergiou, Costas. The Word Bible Software, 2013-2015. For Easton’s Bible Dictionary.
MySword Bible for Android by Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2018. www.mysword.info