However, there is a persistent tendency amongst some to misidentify the Cultural Mandate as a command to redeem the larger culture from the distorting effects of sin. Chuck Colson’s recent Breakpoint commentary is typical in this respect . . . . I will not deny that there are battles to be fought over significant issues, but that’s not really what the Cultural Mandate is about. . . .
Of course, one cannot escape the fact that our culture-making activities are affected by our sinful natures. This is the implication of Genesis 4:19-22. To be sure, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with fashioning culture. Yet neither can we escape the taint of sin in all our undertakings. Moreover, a distinction must be made between obedient culture-making and disobedient culture-making, which corresponds to St. Augustine’s distinction between the City of God and the City of this World. Rightly-oriented culture-making obeys the norms God has given us for life in his world: social, economic, aesthetic, ethical, political and other norms.
A good portion of what Colson calls the “Cultural Commission” must rather be understood to be the last part of the “Great Commission”: “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Evangelization requires that we proclaim, not only God’s saving grace, but the norms by which he intends those who are in Christ to live. In no way do mere human beings redeem culture by engaging in creative activity. This is presumptuous. Only God in Christ redeems his fallen creation. We are at most agents of his kingdom, manifesting his saving grace in everything we do — including the shaping of culture.
David T. Koyzis, “What the Culture Mandate Is Not,” First Things 11.30.11