He replied,“Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).
Jesus was referring to those yet to receive the Holy Spirit; still as raw as unfamiliar with God. Through proper education, humans are capable of achieving great things in this world. Failures are due to ignorance, as it is impossible to have faith without knowledge.
The development of Information Technology illustrates how ordinary humans can be capable of achieving great things. Achievers carry faith, as little as a mustard seed. One does not need to be a believer, to have faith as little as a mustard seed. Obtaining full confidence in understanding is all that is necessary.
An ignorant person does not have faith and is susceptible to believing falsehoods. Imagine a politician abusing the electorate, accounting for 50%, collected through taxes. The electorate credits the politician for the newly commissioned project but unaware of the stolen fifty percent.
Rather than confront the unethical politician, the poor electorate idolizes him. They become viciously angry against those questioning the stolen money. This describes stupidity, highlighting the effects of ignorance. Those standing for the truth may be killed for denigrating the idolized politician. Through ignorance, Jesus was murdered, in place of the notorious criminal, Barabbas. The Holy Bible contains incorrigible Scriptural recordings.
How could the Gentiles have information about the birth of the Messiah? This casts confusion in the Jewish religious spectrum but reveals the Wisdom of the Men from the East. Jewish leaders had Scriptures at their disposal but failed to understand Jesus.
Would it not have been logical for the Wise Men to emerge from Judea? What was so special about the Eastern Wise Men? The Messianic information had been preserved in Jewish Scrolls?
Instead of the Jews, Christians are now the ones engrossed in assuming to own Jesus. Could the Wise Men have come from Hinduism, the oldest religion? There is no particular authority in Hinduism. Anyone is free to worship according to common viewpoints.
As a religion, Hinduism is dominant in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and surrounding areas. Due to translocation, Hinduism has become spread worldwide, becoming the third-largest, after Islam and Christianity. Hinduism subscribes to beliefs in Lord Brahma1.
Lord Brahma is considered the creator of the universe; as one of the 3 gods known as the Trinity. Lord Brahma is believed to be one from whom all life forms originated. He is believed to maintain the balance and equilibrium of the earth along with Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Possibly, this could be what encouraged the idea of the Trinity in Christianity?
The Middle East produced Islam. But Islam cannot identify with the referred Wise Men, as having emerged after Christ. How, then, did the Eastern Wise Men obtain wisdom, without Scriptural backing?
Even from Greek Mythology, sustainable wisdom has survived over the millennia. History reveals only two philosophers, regarded as great teachers from the East. There may have been many, but two names feature most from the East. When making a goggle search Buddha and Confucius are outstanding.
Both are renowned as educators of wisdom but were later treated religiously. Buddha’s real name was Siddhartha Gautama, whose term Buddha means the enlightened one. He taught the principles of meditation to discover oneself. Both Philosophers came later, after King Solomon, a great teacher in Israel.
The Wise Men identified the birth of Jesus, but nothing suggests they were the only custodians of wisdom. Gamaliel was pronounced a renowned Law Teacher in Judaism (Acts 5:34 and Acts 22:3). But the knowledge of such Scholars could not match that of God’s children.
Jesus constantly castigated His followers for not having faith, as little as a mustard seed; with which nothing is impossible. Such faith matches that of the Wise Men. Christ’s knowledge is, however, greater but unacceptable without the Holy Spirit.
This is profound, but unbelievable to ordinary people. Jesus’ knowledge is beyond ordinary humans, although created in God’s image. Peter identified Jesus as God’s Son; an identity declared as secretive (Matt. 16:20). The Jews found Jesus’ statement too provocative.
“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself, but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” “At this, they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds(John 8:49-59 NIV).
Our modern educational system is influenced by Greek philosophers, whose faith is as little as a mustard seed. Below are the top ten Philosophers with brief narrations of what they were renowned for.
Epicurus (c. 341-270 BCE)
“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher as well as the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain a happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia-peace and freedom from the fear-and aponia-the absence of pain. Epicurus believed in atoms and taught that humans had no control over fate. He also refused to believe in the gods and taught that the universe was infinite and had no purpose. He often said that fear of death was one of the main causes of human anxiety and it often led people to despair. Epicurus preached that death was an inescapable reality and that it was an end to the body with the soul as well. Even though Epicurus is believed to have written 300 works, almost none of his writings are known to have survived.
Anaxagoras (c. 500-428 BCE)
“The seed of everything is in everything else.”
Anaxagoras was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Athens. His philosophical views much revolved around nature itself. He believed that in the physical world, everything contains a portion of everything else. Nothing was pure on its own and ‘nous’ (which means ‘mind’) asserts a certain motion and meaning to the entities in this chaos. As was the case with most of the philosophers in ancient Greece, his ideas contrasted and collided with the contemporary ideologies and beliefs that led him to face life-threatening consequences and exile.
Pythagoras (c. 570-495 BCE)
“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”
Another pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Pythagoras is a famous mathematician who is credited with inventing the Pythagorean Theorem, one of the key computations in geometry. Although better known for his legendary contribution to mathematics, his philosophical works and ideas have had a great influence on modern philosophy and Plato as well. He regarded the world as perfect harmony and aimed his teaching on how to lead a harmonious life. Some legends also indicate that he was the first to teach that the Earth was round.
Heraclitus (c. 535-475 BCE)
“There is nothing permanent except change.”
Heraclitus is yet another pre-Socratic philosopher, mostly known for his contribution to the thought that things are always changing. He thought that change is the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. He also said that opposites attract and that fire was the base for all things in the world. He was also called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”, because of the lonely life he led and the nature of his philosophy.
Democritus (c. 460-370 BCE)
“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.”
Democritus, the so-called “laughing philosopher”, was an influential ancient Greek philosopher and one of the first advocates of democracy, equality, and liberty. He was also the first person, along with his mentor Leucippus, to advance the hypothesis that all matter is composed of small invisible particles called atoms. Many consider Democritus to be the “father of modern science”. Apart from that, Democritus was one of the first known critics and a proponent of the just theory—the idea that people should take up arms to defend themselves from tyrants.
Empedocles (c. 490-330 BCE)
“There are forces in nature called Love and Hate. The force of Love causes elements to be attracted to each other and to be built up into some particular form or person, and the force of Hate causes the decomposition of things.”
Empedocles was one of the most important pre-Socratic era philosophers. His philosophical landmark was originating the cosmogenic theory of the four classical elements. It states that all matter is composed of four primary elements – earth, air, fire, and water. He also put forth the idea of opposite motive forces involved in the building of the world – namely, love as the cause of union and strife as the cause of separation. He also went on to become the first person to give an evolutionary account of the development of species.
Thales (c. 624-546 BCE)
“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”
Thales of Miletus is regarded as one of the fathers of Greek philosophy. This was a pivotal point for following generations of famous thinkers, philosophers, and scientists. He was the first to try to explain natural phenomena without the inclusion of myths, theories, and hypotheses, ergo science. Aristotle points to Thales as the first person to have investigated basic principles such as the origination of matter. Thales is also said to be the founder of the school of natural philosophy.
Aristotle (c. 384-322 BCE)
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
A student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great, Aristotle is considered one of the world’s greatest ancient philosophers. He studied a wide variety of subjects, including science, ethics, government, physics, and politics, and wrote extensively on them. He believed that people’s concepts and their knowledge were ultimately based on perception. All aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy continue as the object of active academic study today.
Plato (c. 428-348 BCE)
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Plato, a student of Socrates, is regarded as the father of political science and the founder of one of the world’s first known institutions of higher learning, the Academy in Athens. The primary groundwork of Plato’s philosophy is a threefold approach – dialects, ethics, and physics, the central point of unison being the theory of forms. For him, the highest of forms was the ‘good’, which he took as the cause of being and knowledge. Plato wrote one of the first and most influential works on politics, The Republic, which described an ideal or Utopian society. Like his mentor Socrates, Plato was a critic of democracy.
The most well-known ancient Greek Philosopher of all time, Socrates, was a master stonemason and social critic. He never wrote anything and most of his philosophical contributions come through his students, mainly Plato. Socrates embarked on a whole new perspective of achieving practical results through the application of philosophy in our daily lives. Socrates became famous for encouraging people to critically question everything.
Socrates’ greatest contribution to philosophy was the Socratic Method in which discussion, argument, and dialogue are used to discern the truth. Eventually, his beliefs and realistic approach to philosophy led to his end, as he was tried and convicted for criticizing religion and corrupting the youth. Socrates then chose death by suicide over exile from his homeland of Athens. His legendary trial and death at the altar of the ancient Greek democratic system have changed the academic view of philosophy as a study of life itself.2
From these ten Philosophers are nuggets of wisdom. Some of them have some eternal value. However, those having been granted the Holy Spirit are above all of them. They are in the realm of pure and undiluted knowledge, beyond human understanding. Such people are God’s children and not necessarily identified as Christians, but identified with Jesus. Those harassing God’s children do not know what they would be doing. Death no longer has power over God’s children.
Jesus declared: “all things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27 NIV).
Jesus is above the uppermost echelon of the doctrine of faith as small as a mustard seed. This includes those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. There is no need to imagine faith as little as a mustard seed, as referring to Christians. It refers to ordinary humans of this world.
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. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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