The things that people agree on are not necessarily a condition of truth. The identity of personalities is commonly assumed to be true, according to the agreement of humanity. Disclosing one’s origin, settles the question of identity, according to geographically understood locations. It becomes easier for people to make estimations of what to expect from the person concerned.
Let us discuss the doctrine of the stable datum. What is true to an individual, gives stability, as granting security to an individual. Before the whites came, Africans believed in ancestral spirits, which made them feel secure, regardless of whether there was truth or not. Even a crafted idol stabilizes an individual.
In Zimbabwe, some people still believe that without the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda, it could not have been possible to attain independence. One can be killed, just for opposing that viewpoint, which would be considered sacred. Of course, there is no truth in that consideration, but it should be understood as true for those who believe in it. Those people hold no scientific evidence, but they consider the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda true, nevertheless.
“A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: ‘Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
“There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshipped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.’ When they hear this, they were furious and began shouting: ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’” (Acts 19:24-28 NIV).
Demetrius may have not been a believer in the goddess Artemis, but was a shrewd businessman, manipulating the common belief in that province. The belief in the goddess Artemis was a stable datum to the people of Ephesus. Had God not intervened, Paul could have been mercilessly killed, for invalidating the goddess Artemis. God used the city clerk, whose interpretation of the law exonerated Paul from directly invalidating the goddess Artemis.
The doctrine of the stable datum impedes the preaching of the gospel. Interestingly, even those claiming to love Jesus, get clouded by the doctrine of the stable datum. It takes only a free person to come out of that confusion. The doctrine of the stable datum affects every human, except those having become God’s children. Divulging the truth can be a futile exercise.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
Why did Jesus warn his disciples not to tell anyone that He was Christ? Jesus was aware of the doctrine of the stable datum. Bear in mind, the Jews eventually killed Him for specifically claiming that He was the Son of God (Luke 22:70-71). Therefore, aware of the doctrine of the stable datum, Jesus did not want the truth divulged, at that time.
How can the Son of Man be the Son of the Living God? That consideration alone; disturbs the doctrine of the stable datum. Any person claiming to be God’s child was blaspheming and therefore, deserving to die. Those molesting Jesus were stuck on the doctrine of the stable datum.
There are many doctrines of the stable datum, in this life, intertwined in traditions and racial or tribal considerations. But for Christians, it is necessary to take note of two points by Jesus: “for this was not revealed to you by man, but my Father in heaven.” and “Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.”
If flesh and blood cannot reveal, it is impossible for any person to understand God’s truth. A privileged person can understand people, according to their level. If a person’s level of understanding is Mbuya Nehanda, he deserves no invalidation. Only if also interested in my belief, would I reveal the truth to him.
God’s privileged knowledge cannot be shared with uninterested people. Hence, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was Christ. A person’s stable datum may not necessarily be the truth but granting safety to the one assuming it to be the truth. The person needs to be appreciated that he is understood, but without necessarily having to agree with his data.
Understanding people in their own reality is the only route to peace. A peaceable person seeks to understand people, more than to be understood. God’s privileged understanding is commonly not accessible to ordinary people. Yet those who sincerely seek to understand everything may discover Go’s truth. Truthful people associate with truthful people, yet pretenders avoid truthful people.
To ordinary people, Jesus identified Himself as the Son of Man, and not, necessarily, the Son of God. People interacted with Him, as the Son of Man. Jesus understood them, but they did not understand Him. To understand Him required God’s intervention, hence we find people like Nicodemus visiting privately, probing to understand Jesus.
Understanding people is essential, whether they agree with you or not. But it is not essential that they, necessarily, have to understand you. Those people have the right not to understand you. They may verbally attack you for being heretical, but have the right to feel that way. There is no need to be angry at them. Jesus endured all forms of insolent attacks from religious authorities in Jerusalem. He understood them, although they did not understand Him.
It is impossible for those seeking to understand others to be in error. Their willingness to understand keeps them in the light. Only those, unwilling to understand other people, remain in their dogmatic condition. For peaceful co-existence among Christians, Paul suggested a most workable methodology, thereby removing ideas of invalidating one another.
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, it is unclean for that person. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval” (Romans 14:13-18 NIV).
Paul’s suggestion is premised on the principle of treating others as one would like to be treated. By invalidating other people’s data, one considers himself better than them. The only workable principle is to allow others to be themselves, without invalidating their stable data.
I may desire to be with my wife in God’s Kingdom. However, there is little I can do to influence that reality, hence praying; “God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” My wife may be totally against my understanding of God’s truth. My duty is to understand everything about her stable datum. If Moslem, I would cooperate with everything expected of Moslem religion.
I may not even pray in her presence if judged offensively. That is the principle of treating others as one would like to be treated. God’s truth cannot be enforced on others. It is God-given, requiring no superintending over others.
Commonly, most people assume to understand what they do not understand. That behaviour is different from those always seeking to understand other people. Dogmatic people draw conclusions over what they would not have fully understood. The ability to listen remains the sure way to understand people.
“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honour. To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:12-14 NIV).
Any information, regardless of where it comes from, requires full understanding. Before concluding, one must have fully understood the data. James advised a principle that settles all disputable matters.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do”(James 1:19-25 NIV).
The doctrine of the stable datum stabilizes the existence of physical humans. They feel comfortable, but unaware of God’s truth not being comparable to any stable data. It is impossible to follow Jesus, without forsaking everything.
Those avoiding listening to other people have something to hide. They pretend to love Jesus, all the way; but preserve something deep inside their conscience. As long as unwilling to experience any other thing, one would be under slavery.
Whatever the condition that makes a person uncomfortable, the same condition would be ruling over that person. Freedom comes only when the person decides to confront the feared condition.
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”(Matthew 19:16-24 NIV).
Jesus did not deny God’s Kingdom to the young man, but his inability to confront poverty denied him. That which a person is unable to confront rules over him. The young man was unable to experience the condition of being equated to poor people. His inability to experience poverty condition, caused poverty to then rule over him.
Tough luck for the young man, but I have good news for the reader. Jesus’ word is paramount. His word remains the only workable stable datum. The Psalmist portrays all other ground as sinking sand. It’s time to cast away everything from renowned Professors, for Jesus’ word.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99