02 October 2016

A Sunday School Lesson: Inner Visions

“We interrupt this conscious apprehension of external reality with a message largely symbolic and probably incomprehensible in the form of a vision from Almighty God.”

If we experienced such an announcement invading our cognitive faculties, we might run to put ourselves in the hands of the nearest psychiatrist. But in the Bible these are the occasions to throw oneself on the mercies of God. For he has spoken.

Earlier posts here at The Rational Right asserted that knowledge of material reality begins with experience. We acquire different degrees of knowledge though common sense everyday experience of living and through the specialized controlled experiences of the laboratory. Adherents to revealed religions, however, assert that an invisible spiritual reality exists as well. Moreover, the most important resident of that spiritual realm, God Almighty, has spoken to mankind.  He is an additional and  infallible source of knowledge.  Persons who experienced these revelations recording them in a book known as the Bible. These alleged revelations come through several different means. This week at The Rational Right-- a look at divine revelation through visions.

The Bible is filled with alleged accounts of God communicating through visions. He communicates through this means with both believer and unbelievers and with both officially anointed prophets and laymen. Visions appear in both Old and New Testament writings.

Revelations through visions can be generally classified. These visions contain images of God speaking directly to give guidance or warnings. Examples include Abraham's visions about his future descendents in Egypt (Gen. 15:1-17), Jacob's visions to actually make the migration to Egypt (Gen. 46:2), and Paul's visions of the religious seeker from Macedonia (Acts 16.9).

Apocalyptic prophesies of future divine judgments comprise by far most of the biblical accounts of divine revelation through visions. The narratives of the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zachariah, and, of course, Revelation are built around visions. Usually these visions contain extensive symbolism. Often the symbols serve as object lessons such as the dry bones in Eze. 37:1-14, the plumb line in Amos 7:7-8, and the flying scroll in Zech. 5:1-4. Some symbols require angelic assistance in  interpretation as in Daniel's vision of the four beasts in Dan. 7:1-28. Other symbols remain unexplained and provoke considerable speculation among Christians today.

Finally, some visions purport to be perceptions of the spiritual dimension that is not evident to our physical senses. Examples include Elisha's vision of the chariots of fire taking Elijah into heaven (1 Ki.3:15), Elisha's vision of an army of angels (1 Ki. 6:17), and Isaiah's vision of the heavens. Paul,too, experienced visions of heaven which he describes in 2 Cor. 12:1-4).

Like dreams, these alleged revelations occur as private, subjective experiences that no one can really confirm. This, of course, opens the door to anyone claiming to experience visions. If one cannot confirm another person's private, subjective experience (and one cannot), how are we to respond to anyone proclaiming a new revelation from God?

And all over the internet readers can find uploaded videos of modern day prophets sharing their alleged revelations.

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