Embracing a Hermeneutic of Tikkun Olam

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Melnyk, James S.
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School of Theology Thesis 2019 , University of the South, School of Theology , Creation care , Dominion over creation , Dominion covenant , Tikkun olam , Repairing the world
Over the past several decades the Episcopal Church, among other denominations and faith communities, have embraced the theology of creation care. One of the major obstacles to creation care in the Church happens to be some of the teachings of the Church itself, namely teachings which incorporate a literal understanding of dominion as used in Genesis 1:26-28. When humanity sees itself as the pinnacle of God’s creation, imbued with the right to rule the whole of creation in the name of God, there is an intrinsic danger that we might abuse that gift. In his article “The Dominion Mandate and the Reconstructionist Movement,” Bob DeWaay outlines a movement since the late twentieth century holding “the conviction that the Scripture gives the church a mandate to take dominion over this world socially and culturally before the bodily return of Jesus Christ.” This mandate, also called by some the “dominion covenant,” extends beyond the social and cultural to embrace control over the physical world as well. This project proposes the need to deconstruct the theology of Dominionism and offer a hermeneutic in its place which honors God, humanity, and the whole of creation. The model offered in its place is based on the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, often translated as repairing the world. Tikkun olam, which calls upon us to be repairers of the world, or repairers of the breach, is a modern day movement with roots in the Mishnah of ancient Judaism. This model is offered as another way of understanding what Jesus of Nazareth meant when he spoke about the kingdom of God.