In our social media age, and even prior (of course), people have followed the adage that: ‘knowledge is power.’ When we think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Blogs, and multiple other platforms we can see first hand what “knowledge” offers a variety demographics worldwide. We can see the sort of power that is fomented as a result of the unleashing of a superabundance of knowledges; knowledge of whatever we could imagine, and more. Some knowledge is seemingly pedestrian and general, but other knowledges have profound implications and consequences. Knowledge, particularly as we live in the information-social media age, does not have to be accurate knowledge to count as knowledge; it simply becomes knowledge for the one receiving and perceiving it. In other words, what counts as knowledge today does not have to be tethered to an external reality, it can instead simply be a reality that coheres within the ideological and paradigmatic frame we inhabit (so a coherentist account; a self-referentiality that requires nothing more than the points of contact that fund whatever frame we may be thinking from within). What we see in our moment of history is knowledge that has a utilitarian power which moves tribes of people groups to act in activist ways, potentially, or maybe to refrain and stand back in the cloisters of their own spatial location in society. Whatever the case may be, if we gain knowledge without some sort of limiting or regulative factor, in regard to what these knowledges can foment and produce; if we gain knowledge, and believe that my personal universe is enough to contain its power, then we will see things happen—we will see ‘power’ unleashed—but a power that is devoid of the Spirit—a power that is ultimately demonic and incurved upon the self.
Knowledge is power, but whose power; and knowledge of who or what? There are clearly differing powers operative in the world over. As Christians we know that there is the living God’s power, which looks christological, staurological, and cruciform; and then there is devilish-demonic power that looks self-possessed, self-assertive, and abrasive. The latter looks like this evil age. Without the Spirit, this ‘age’ looks to be the best of possible worlds; at least the best that we can make it as the human species abandoned on a rock in the nether regions of deep space. And if this age isn’t the best, “dangit we are going to strive to make it the best utopia we can.” But where does such incurved thinking, where does such knowledge get us? It gets us further and deeper into the chaos of the world we see all around us. Sure, we can attempt to manipulate nature, as if we’re gods, by deploying all of our technological advancements to accomplish our ‘noble’ efforts to create a “just” and wholesome society (based upon whatever society thinks that ought to be); but where does that really get us?
What if the human animal was created to be a worshipping animal? What if we were never intended to be self-reliant, but instead Theo-reliant? We clearly are worshipping animals, but in the Christian account things went terribly awry! The evidence that we are worshipful beings (a posteriori) is everywhere we look; all of society is built upon the premise that at one level of intensity to another we are intent on worshipping. Ultimately, if we aren’t worshipping the living God, the God who created and recreated us in His lively image in Christ (cf. Col. 1.15), then by the incurvature of sin we will worship ourselves. We might be the greatest philanthropist or the evilest monster in world history, but at the end of the ultimate day, by fallen-nature we are driven to do what we do by our greatest love interest: ourselves. The cure to this destructive waywardness is to come to the reconciliatory knowledge of the living God in Christ; where the hidden God Deus absconditus becomes the Revealed God Deus revelatus as we by the Spirit see the Man from Nazareth for who He really is (for us). In this knowledge genuine power, God’s power, the power that holds all of reality together by His Word, is realized, and we come to the moment we were primally designed for (by the eschatological life of the Triune God); we come to live into our vocation as creatures before our Creator; we start living the life of doxological reality God formed us for to begin with. We come to have the freedom that God has lived in for Himself for time in eternity; we come to find our ‘being’ in the other rather than attempting to construct that mondically in the self. We realize that the basis of our lives is an ec-static one that comes from the heavenlies rather than from the blood and soil of self-constructed citadels.
Paul Hinlicky brings what I’m getting at into further relief, and helps to tamp down what I’m attempting to articulate with more eloquence than I can muster. Here he is writing in the context of Melanchthon’s theology:
It is important to dwell a moment longer on this ultimately doxological nature of science for Melanchthon, and it is interesting to observe in this connection how he recorded one of the first versions of the Faust legend — a cautionary tale about knowledge sought instrumentally, only for power’s sake, as pure technology fulfilling infantile fantasies for magical power severed from God’s final purpose of doxology. Delight and praise in contemplation of the works of God are thus not decoration, so to say, but mark a deep rift between philosophical pragmatism and theological pragmatics: as the final cause of knowledge in the created human mind, the praise of God lends both ethical direction for and aesthetic motivation to reason’s patient inquiry into the efficient material causes of the world. The mandate is progressively to know the world as God the Creator knows it, who is not mere power but always power together with wisdom and love, who rests therefore and rejoices in all His works on the seventh day of creation, a type of the eternal sabbath. True knowledge is not merely power but power qualified by wisdom and love. The eschatological doxology of the redeemed and fulfilled creation now anticipated in turn forms a barrier wall against the purely instrumental, Faustian equation of knowledge with power.
The world, under the sway of the Evil one, will continue to live out its deal with Faust; this is simply definitional reality for the ‘world.’ But as Christians we ought to buck this serpentine deal, and live into and from the doxological life of Jesus Christ who has graciously elected to live for us before the Father by the Spirit. It seems to me that the church, by and large, far too often falls into socio-culturo-politco slide wherein, even in the name of Christ, we end up cultivating a life of worship that is centered on the old-creation that indeed is dead and gone with Christ’s cross. Surely, we are simul et justus et peccator, but the church, particularly the Western church (the part of the church I inhabit) is in serious need of repentance. When the love of many grows cold in the communitas of Christ, we know that we have gotten some bad knowledge. We aren’t masters of the universe; Jesus is! We either live from his broken body, shed blood, and recreated humanity by the Holy Spirit, or we live in the utility of Faust.
 Paul R. Hinlicky, Paths Not Taken: Fates of Theology From Luther Through Leibniz (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 194-95.