October 4, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Psalm 8
The psalmist is not alone in claiming that humans are only “a little lower than God.” Can it be any wonder, then, that our faith leaves a great deal of room to disagree about our power in creation?
Christians have long tried to find convincing answers to the questions raised by the persistence of evil in the world. We inherited the questions—and some answers—in the form of writings such as Job. We have come up with adversaries to blame, constructing them from biblical passages such as the Garden of Eden in Genesis, the fallen “Day Star, son of Dawn,” in Isaiah 14, and the wilderness tempter in the synoptic Gospels. We have even gone so far as to claim that any evil we perceive is nothing more than a manifestation of God’s justice toward us, unworthy as we are (Calvin, Institutes 3.23.4–7).
At the same time, human beings have claimed special status and power for themselves in the framework of God’s creation. The voice of the psalmist is not alone in claiming that humans are only “a little lower than God, and crowned . . . with glory and honor,” or in affirming that God has “given them dominion over the works of [God’s] hands” and has “put all things under their feet.”
Can it be any wonder, then, that our faith leaves a great deal of room for people to disagree about the extent of our power in creation? Lacking any final and definitive statement about our place in the order of things, even well-intentioned Christians have a tendency to take up the mantle of power when it suits us and then shrug it off when it becomes uncomfortable. We presume the right to use natural resources for human profit, for example, yet remain largely silent when it comes to doing something about climate change.