What’s in a title, if not to deceive?

Titles can be viewed as indispensable, as long as one seeks approval of other people. A title encourages others to listen, before accepting your product as authentic. Without any title, denoting qualification, it may be impossible to get approval from other people. The power in a title follows the principle of democracy.

But even the title to describe gender, may cause disliking or liking of the product being advanced. This would be without justifiable merit, other than consideration of gender? For instance, someone may raise a question like: “What can a woman tell me?”, or vice versa. Some women actually prefer using “Ms” as title in order to avoid being associated with either being married or unmarried. Revealing marital status, may be considered as prejudicing them—one way or the other—against whatever is being advanced.

Reputation is of utmost importance, in real world. Titles are molded on the basis of good reputation, as favourably acquired. This is necessary for anyone to be perceived as making wise judgments. A title may be obtained through a regulatory panel of adjudicators that check on the requirements of what constitutes authenticity.

This rule, though universally accepted, is laden with serious problems. A person with a doctorate may say something, basically untrue. Everyone would applaud and take it as true, yet leading to negative effects. The misjudgment would have been caused by the qualifying title of the person saying it. Copycats also take advantage of title usage in order to obtain acceptance.

A person without any title might bring up a highly workable idea, benefitting the public. But, whatever the person says gets discarded, only on the basis of not holding a title. The trend being that this world is shaped by those holding titles and this appears normal. However, while most people assume that there is wisdom in following trends, this is where foolishness emanates. Most of what is considered fashionable is actually stupidity.

In short, all problems that exist in this world can be attributed to consideration of title-holding. Any person with a workable program would have to first strive to acquire some title—to be conventionally accepted. But those providing certificates of approval may themselves not be qualified in assessing the advantages of what is proffered.

No matter how brilliant the idea—it gets thrown out—as long as not satisfying the panel of those adjudicators. This calls for tenacity of the initiator of the idea, before its universal acceptance. Many would-be best ideas—whose initiators lack tenacity—get discarded along the way. This is because tenacity is a rare commodity.

One best example of applying tenacity is Bill Gates—known to have dismally failed college examinations. But later producing what now sustains the Information Technological world, without academic approval. The man could have died discouraged—due to being let down by the so-called authorities in the field of Information Technology.

Having identified what is wrong with what negatively grips our civilization, we have to pinpoint the alternative to it. Our main authority has to be Jesus, whose workable data cannot be disputed by anyone. If what Jesus said is not workable, then His purpose of coming to Earth is invalid and no other hope remains. The title of Jesus is Christ. But Jesus did not go about claiming that He was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20)

The rejection of Jesus was based on Him not being identified with a title, or some traceable record to prove that He was not ordinary. When confronted on reason of this particular principle of title-holding, Jesus avoided forthright affirmation:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40) ESV.

Using the Prophet Jonah’s big fish incident, Jesus told those skeptical Pharisees that their only sign would be His resurrection. Yet, even with His resurrection—while convincing to some—others remained skeptical. Jesus revealed that the title-holding consideration existed within an evil and adulterous generation. There may not be another way of proving that reality, except using Jesus’ statement, as standard.

But, what sign were those people looking for? Jesus had performed miracles, to prove His supernatural powers. They attributed those to Beelzebub, the prince of demons (verse 24). The story would have been different, had Jesus carried a title of approval—to convince the religious authorities. Nothing appears amiss with their skepticism.

They themselves had carried titles. The greatest of those titles being ‘High Priest.’  When asking for a sign from Jesus they were not trying to be mischievous. They genuinely needed a sign to prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah that prophecies referred to. Their concern can easily be associated with what goes on, in our current civilization.

However, Jesus ascribes their behavior as confirming them to be of evil and adulterous generation. Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judea and raised up in an infamous city called Nazareth. His father, had not been a recognized religious guru, or at least, holding some other reputable title. Why would Joseph’s son, Jesus, claim to be representing one of the most important canons in their religious doctrines?

Let us now fast-forward to our present generation. Are we different from those scribes and Pharisees? Titles are probably considered more valuable in our generation than in the first century? For instance, Gamaliel, though renowned as a scholar of repute, may have not been identified by a scholarly title, as known today.

In other words, Gamaliel was not ‘Professor’ Gamaliel or someone identified by scholastic achievement—like ‘Dr.’ Gamaliel, for instance (Acts 5:34-39). If those people were of evil and adulterous generation, because of upholding the principle of title-holding, the current generation has sunk deeper. Evil has increased in our generation, due to title-holding consideration.

Jesus, Himself—though being the Christ—did not carry a certificate to prove His Messiah-ship. His encounter with the devil, probably, is the only confirmation of the origination of wickedness associated with certification. On two occasions, Satan asked Jesus to prove whether He was the Son of God. Firstly by turning a stone to bread and secondly by throwing Himself from a High tower Matthew 4:3, 6).

Image result for title holding certificate pictures

However, Jesus did not succumb to Satan’s scheme—whose intention was to appeal to Jesus’ ego. Virtually, ego is the main purpose of title-holding. One feels good and dignified when displaying title of approval. This is for everyone to know the qualifications held—to be accorded with due respect and credibility. But, why would one need a title, if confident and capable in one’s capacity? Why should a person need more than what identifies him/her to be who he/she truly would be?

As one coming from a black African state, the feeling among ordinary Zimbabweans is that all whites are superior to black people. The good reputation of the whites having come from good governance, previously administered by Ian Douglas Smith. The conclusion is based on contrasting the bad governance by a black man, Robert Mugabe. It takes only a rational person to realize that the bad leadership of Robert Mugabe is not necessarily caused by his skin colour.  This is just as Hitler had not been bad because of being white.

Failure to exercise logic in observing that the bad behavior by Mugabe or Smith, has got nothing to do with race consideration. The violence, perpetrated by Mugabe to enforce support for him and his party, had nothing to do with his skin colour. The skin colour, or the race of an individual has got nothing to do with his/her character.

For instance, you may interact with a racist white man, and carry that experience to label all white people as racists. On reason of sight alone, you cannot conclude that all whites would be racists. This applies on anything being labeled according to one’s previous experience. The safest thing is not to conclude an opinion, based on appearance only. But by proving without reasonable doubt—to establish authenticity. This serves one from being a victim of poor judgment.

Titles are not necessarily realities in proving the character of an individual and the existence of truth. Jesus, actually, reflected this principle in Matthew 5:37:  “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (NIV). 

You cannot necessarily qualify what you say by giving an oath, where there would be no room for falsehood. Those who tell lies take advantage in oath-giving, to convince gullible people. The same applies when carrying titles, as to mislead people.

If my profession is that of a Medical Doctor, Why should I need a title to convince anyone that I am a doctor? If my abilities cannot be testified by those I attend to—as they get healed—why should anything else testify? It ought to be only by the testimony of those healed by me, that others would then know about my services. My certificate for practicing medicine would not be necessary to those helped by me. I suppose what is necessary are benefits accruing to those people.

As the saying goes, “the truth is the truth, even if no-one believes it. A lie is a lie, even if everyone believes it.”  But Jesus said it is only the truth that sets people free (John 8:32). My prayer is that people check, instead of going by the majority instinct.  Truth is not about what other people say, necessarily. Or what the person declares him/herself to be. But it is based on personal evaluation, based on results, before making conclusions. See [Truth is outside religion or philosophy].

This world is sustained by consideration of there being other people—assumed to be superior to others. Or, assumption that other people are inferior to others. If humanity were to be treated under consideration that all were created in God’s image, the world would be positively different. Each human being exists to serve others.

The abolition of title-holding changes all wrong perceptions in human relations. The reason why title-holding is evil, lies in failure to appreciate that all humans were created in God’s image. The civilization introduced by Jesus insists that whoever desires to be great, should be the servant of all (Matthew 20:25-28). In other words, knowledge should not be regarded as a privilege. But knowledge should be regarded as bestowing responsibility on the knowledgeable person—making a difference in other people’s lives.   

The sad reality is in that while Christianity is expected to advance Christ’s teachings, it is in Christianity where title-holding is cherished most. Christians are known to fight over positions—like being conferred with such positions as elder, or deacon. This goes on, notwithstanding that Jesus never identified Himself as an Elder, or by any of those Church titles. See [“You shall have no other gods before me”]

The missing line is in failure to know that Jesus remains as the only authority on issues concerning God’s Kingdom.  Other People view St Paul as having been more authoritative than Jesus. This is naturally caused by that in Paul’s teachings, there is more of what identified with humanity. Yet Jesus taught more of what identified with God’s Kingdom. Therefore, people find Paul to be more credible than Jesus. This portrays foolishness—all emanating from consideration of title-holding in human relations.    

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from 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 reliefs to those having witnessed 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.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99