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In Matthew 13 Jesus tels the parable of the sower. Below are a couple of examples of how a seed of a concept took root and influenced many people through connections between them.

Christ > Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) > Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) > Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968)

Tolstoy's ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as "The Kingdom of God Is Within You", were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr

"Tolstoy had a great struggle with his own Christian faith and grew to faith from a skeptical start, as did many philosophers and thinkers and writers in that century," Rosenstock says. "He returned fully to his Christian faith by discovering in Jesus a complete love for one's fellow human being.

In 1908, Tolstoy wrote a Letter to a Hindoo outlining his belief in non-violence as a means for India to gain independence from British colonial rule. In 1909, a copy of the letter fell into the hands of Mohandas Gandhi who was working as a lawyer in South Africa at the time and in the beginnings of becoming an activist. Tolstoy's letter was significant for Gandhi who wrote to the famous writer seeking proof that he was the real author, leading to further correspondence between them. Reading Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You also convinced Gandhi to avoid violence and espouse nonviolent resistance, a debt Gandhi acknowledged in his autobiography, calling Tolstoy "the greatest apostle of non-violence that the present age has produced".

Martin Luther King, Jr was coincidentally introduced to the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi in a sermon by Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University, who had just returned from a trip to India.
King was so moved that he immediately bought a number of books on the Indian nationalist leader.

The impact they made on him is best described in his own words: "As I read, I became deeply fascinated by his campaigns of nonviolent resistance. As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time its potency in the area of social reform."

King came to realize that Gandhi was the first person in history to re- invent the Christian ethic of love as a "a potent instrument for social and collective transformation." It was a short journey thereafter to unreserved acceptance of the Gandhian technique of nonviolence as the only viable means to overcome the problems faced by his people.
Source: COMMEMORATING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. / Gandhi's influence on King - SFGate

Christ > J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) > C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963) > Francis Collins (1950-)

Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and both were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings".

Lewis fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". He went on to become one of the best known Christian speakers and writers in history.

Collins, a famous physician-geneticist, head of The Human Genome Project and Director of The National Institutes of Health, was an atheist in grad school and became an evangelical Christian, while practicing medicine and seeing how dying people got strength thru faith.
Lewis' book "Mere Christianity" had a big influence on his transformation.
Collins book "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" describes his reconciliation of science and religion.

Of course Lewis' writing had impact on many others.

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last updated 14 Jan 2013