Will To Knowledge: Sin as the Human Capacity to Judge
Michel Foucault is famed for his exploration of power within systems of knowledge, at one point exploring how this dynamic manifests in European sexuality as a “will to knowledge”. While acknowledging the source of the phrase, this paper is not concerned with Foucault’s context or subject matter. Rather, it will build on Foucault’s thesis—that relationships exist within matrices of power. It will diverge from Foucault by retaining faith assumptions that he attempted to discard, and instead apply his thesis within the context of biblical faith in conversation with te ao Māori, which assumes a generative purpose to the universe while recognising dysfunction within created order, described as a ‘torn universe’.
This presentation views the fall event as a way to explain the origins of the capacity in human individuals and groups to impose their convictions about ‘what is good’ upon others, thereby expecting (or at times forcing) others to comply. Non-compliance is, therefore, considered evil—thus, the good/evil dichotomy is determined. It proposes that ‘original sin’ is the capacity to judge, and positions this as the source of all relationship dysfunction and disharmony, interpersonally and at scale. With ‘the problem’ articulated in this way, our eschatological hope then becomes one of a harmonious (re)woven universe, God’s kingdom shalom, where we are relieved of our judgementalism and restored to the state of peace glimpsed prior to the Genesis 3 event.
Where Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ and Frankl’s ‘will to meaning’ are highly individualistic concepts, will to knowledge provides us with a hermeneutic key to better understand for our pluralistic realities how both Jesus’ intent and the New Testament writers’ instructions explicate God’s redemptive objective: our collective new creation in-Christ.
Dr. Jay Mātenga is Director of Missions Interlink, the missionary alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand, from which he is seconded for half his time to lead the World Evangelical Alliance’s Global Witness Dept. and the department’s Mission Commission. His doctoral research investigated Industrial and Indigenous values in intercultural interactions for a pathway to maturity through transformative tensions.