POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

The Question of Dreams and Visions

There is an occurrence in Scripture where God's people are given the ability to interpret dreams and visions.  This was a common practice among the Chaldeans, and in Daniel's case, God gives him this ability.  Though there is much goofy, yes even wicked, stuff associated with dreams and visions it is one of the means by which God has revealed himself in Scripture.  The Christian doctrine of revelation teaches that God truly reveals himself or makes himself known to people.  We typically speak of his natural revelation whereby God displays something of himself through created things and conscience (See Romans 1-2 and Psalm 19).  Additionally we speak of God's special revelation where he clearly and explicitly  makes himself known.  This primarily comes through the incarnation, God becoming a human to reveal himself in the person and work of Jesus.   Furthermore God has spoken through prophets, apostles and Jesus and these are all preserved and given to us in Holy Scripture (See Hebrews 1:1-3).  So God reveals himself to all through nature and conscience.  He shows who he is and that we are accountable to him.  God reveals himself uniquely to some through his Word (the Bible) and Jesus Christ who is revealed therein.   So what of dreams?  Some theologians place dreams and visions in the category of special revelation as they are only give to some people.  They are not the normative way God speaks. 

Though dreams and visions are not something we expect, need or something that happens every day, God does use them for his purposes.  He gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams in the book of Genesis and here in Daniel we find our exiled young man with the ability as well.    Additionally there have been documented cases of God giving dreams and visions to his people today to further his purposes. Particularly in countries where access to gospel preaching and the Scripture is limited or prohibited by law or cultural pressure, God has given people visions and dreams of Jesus.1 Now, one caveat and caution is in order.  Any dream that does not accord with the revealed word of God we have in Scripture is not to be assumed to be "from God."  We should test any such dreams or visions by the revealed truth of the Bible and the counsel of mature leaders.   After all, while some dreams and visions can be from God, others could be demonically inspired or the byproduct of eating a bad burrito.   God has given us his Word as a sure and guiding testimony so that we can test prophecies (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22) and hold on to what is good.   There are many who seek after dreams, visions and experiences only to be led away by con men who revel in psychosomatic trickery.  We need to be guided by Scripture.  Be aware of this but also do not put God in a box, let his Word speak to you daily so that you can discern authentic visions from the poor peddling of TV prophets and nightmares brought on by an ill advised midnight snack.


1.  There are many testimonies from the Islamic world which recount dreams and visions-see http://www.answering-islam.org/Testimonies/ - See also the bibliography at the end of that page. Also, a DVD entitled More than Dreams distributed by Vision Video, has chronicled this as well.