There have been many reports of people in countries where the gospel isn’t strong, of people having visions of Jesus leading them to become Christians. Is this evidence for Christianity, Are these from God, and are these visions/ dreams real and not faked? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then why doesn’t everyone in similar situations have such a vision and not just a few/very small number of people?
All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.
What if the answer to them all is no? I first heard them 17 years ago and was branded a heretic for raising an eyebrow then.
I personally don’t believe them. But I can’t disprove them. So when I’m told by someone like that what they experienced, I typically just say that’s awesome and don’t dig into it to much.
Like today, met a woman who said she was a cat telepath and that she can talk to dead cats and that she knows I’ve lost a cat in my lifetime and that she cat loves me and has a message for me. That I can set up an appointment to work through the message with her, but she’s busy and here is her number. She told me it’s $30 for 30 minutes. That she recommends an hour in general.
She then asked me did I know of what cat She could be referring to. I said well, I’ve lost two cats recently. She said that I must have really loved them and had them for a while because the connection is stronger.
I told her well I had one for many years and the other was a baby kitten that died after just a few days. It was sick. She asked for the name, and I told her the name of my older cat, and she said oh that cat “ name “ must be the female cat in sensing. ( my cats name was obviously female ). She then said that my cat , Yaya, loved me and that she could barely see her in the vision she had and was my cat dark or did she just like a shady dark room… I said she was black. The woman then said, ahh yes, I can see her better now that she’s in a brighter space now, she’s drawing closer. A beautiful black cat named Yaya.
I obviously know she’s just bluffing. But it was fun to chat nontheless and see how she works. It’s similar to how I use to interrogate and interview people. Try to ask questions that don’t seem like she’s fishing for info. But she said she had to run again and hope I’ll call her and set up a appointment. Then she darted off. About 15 minutes later another girl came up to me, and asked if I’ve seen a white cat running around. It hopped out of her car. I said no. She then asked me if I had cats. I said yeah. She said she has a few and described them, obviously hoping I would take the bait and explain mine. She said they sounded cute. I asked if she wanted to talk while walking looking for her cat. She said she thinks it’s probably better if she stays here and sees if the cat comes back. She tehebnmentioned she use to have a black cat named Ralph that was
Good at escaping and because he was black, he was hard to see and asked if I ever had a black cat. I said yeah, one named Yaya. She said oh how is she, so I explained she was dead and I offered to get her a burger and drink if she was hungry and she said yeah. While eating we talked for like 15 minutes and she asked several questions by saying funny things her cat did and I would return the favor. She kept saying she was texting her friends to look for the cat but I knew she was taking notes and was obviously a friend of the telepath girl. They were in their low 20s and so I told her that I just met a telepath and maybe she would be interested in meeting her. So I gave her the card. She declined and said she would just type the number in her phone that I could keep it. I said I’m not really into it. She said i should keep it anyways Just in case. That often people meet someone like that and then see signs like a wild baby black kitten , or have a dream and see the pet and so on that she believed in it. So I told her, hey, thanks for the talk and told her she should call the girl and here is $60. She took it and bounced after thanking me for the food.
I think all in all, I took up like 45 minutes of their time knowing it was fake just out of boredom. That’s probably the main way they make money. If you even slightly believed in the supernatural like that, and the first one for you emotionally shook up, the second one would have gathered enlighten info that in the future appointment you would have ate it all up. Not you as in you, just anytime in general. It’s why zodiac, supernatural intervention, palm readings and so on work so well. Same reason why even though we know it’s fake, street magicians catch us off guard and entertains us and we toss money into the hat.
I don’t know. These types of visions are in the Bible, as Paul had a similar type of vision to these testimonies. If these visions aren’t true, then why are there none of these today if those types of visions are biblical? Whether these visions are true or not, there are questions either way.
I think these accounts need to be tested carefully (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). There are a lot of rumours and urban legends knocking around, and far too many Christians are too willing to swallow them and repeat them uncritically. But on the other hand, I am not particularly inclined to write them all off as hokey.
I’m more inclined to take them seriously if they come as first-hand accounts from people I know personally. On the other hand, if they come as third-hand accounts with few or no details, they’re more likely to be just rumours or urban legends.
People in many mutually exclusive religious faiths today and throughout history have had what they describe as visions . They are not unique to Christianity and therefore hold little evidential value in public discussions for the truthfulness of Christianity unless you are an apologist who thinks highly of confirmation bias.
Assume they are fake.
I’m afraid I have great skepticism, too. They have occurred in other faiths, leading them away from Christianity, too.
Phil Parshall, a Christian evangelist to Muslims, writes of a prof in Hungary who dreamed of Muhammad telling him to walk in Islam. The dream was accompanied by a sweet smell. Michael Sudduth, a Christian scholar, converted to Hinduism after an experience with Vishnu. Should you call out Gouranga? One-time Christian philosopher Michael Sudduth thinks so - Randal Rauser
I guess I hesitate because I’m afraid of mixing things that are emotional with faith. I’m afraid of being let down by emotion telling me something that is not true.
I probably would have been a Thomas in Jesus’ time, if I ever made it that far.
Only in so much as anyone’s testimony is evidence. I know people with stories like this. Like someone in Japan in a city where there was no church reading a Bible and praying for someone to help him understand and in a dream he was told an address. He went to it and a Christian lived at the address who could answer his questions. Lots of Muslims who begin to follow Jesus report they received very specific messages in dreams and visions while they were fasting during Ramadan. I understand why atheists and naturalists need to explain this stuff away, but I don’t understand that reaction from Christians. If you believe the Holy Spirit unites you to God the Father through the death and resurrection of Christ, you believe some weird supernatural stuff, why is it such a leap to believe God communicates with people in dreams and visions?
What about all the people from every faith with similar stories including those who was visited by aliens, found a portal, was visited by beings from another dimension, Hindus , Japanese people seeing animal spirits and so on. Thousands of accounts of Bigfoot being sighted and ect… it just seems like something people like to do is read heavily into things. I know people who met their spouses because of palm readings and people who made legitimate life choices over numerology and things like arranging furniture to increase wealth.
For all the same reasons I don’t believe those is the same reasons why I don’t believe things like people painting Jesus as a white guy after having visions of him or people who seen Satan while in hell after dying on the operating table and ect….
Plus as mentioned before, and I’m not going to go back through it , there is always the argument of cessationism.
Often the stories I hear are just absurd too.
I was dating a woman whose parents were Dominican and Haitian for many years. Her dad once told me that at one time while in Haiti he saw what he knows was a Bigfoot. A missing link. He realized if there was a missing link that evolution was true and so Christianity was a lie. It tormented him for years as he pulled away from faith. One day he was in so much pain about it he screamed to god for help. That night he had a dream and Jesus, who looked sort of Spanish from one angle, Asian from another and at times seemed to be black, told him to wake up and get his Bible. So he woke up and was trying to flip on his lamp when he accidentally knocked a drink off the stand and spilled on the floor. But he did not care because he was on a mission from god and so he grabbed his Bible, then dropped it, and it landed in the puddle. When he picked it up, almost all of it was wet and stained except for a few passages in genesis about the angels taking women and giving birth to giants with strange flesh. He realized then god was showing him he is real and evolution is a lie, the missing link is not real, it’s the evil offspring of angels and women. That’s why they are big, and that’s why they have strange flesh and that’s why they look almost human. That also explains why you can’t find their bodies or get good pictures of him. The angels , their parents, block out that stuff and uses supernatural powers to cloak them like they cloak themselves even though angels are all around us.
Could God have done that? Sure. Maybe he accommodated this dude in a way that spoke to him. I mean God works in mysterious ways…. Or it could just be fake for whatever reason. Maybe he did see something and was not sure what it was. Maybe he did coincidently have a dream after thinking about it and knocked over a drink and just happened to drop a Bible on it. Could be all kinds of things. But I think it’s probably just someone whose created a white lie that grew and grew until it became what it was.
When I was a kid I had a lot of sleep paralysis. Once or twice a week for years. I was convinced that it was not sleep paralysis but was demonic attacks just like Rebecca Brown wrote in her book, just like the Missionaries who said they saw African witch doctors turn into birds and fly away, and just like in frank Peretti’s darkness series. It bothered me. One night after being exhausted from it happening so much I prayed again what can I do for help. I had a dream that I saw Jesus, a European looking guy covered in blood carrying a cross with ravens on it. The ravens were speaking for Jesus. One of them said shave my head, make a stack of rocks outside my room and pour oil over it blessing it. I woke up and called my 16 year old friend, I was probably 15 then. Told him and he said it was from god. So we shaved my head, and collected several rocks form a bridge and poured vegetable oil over it. For weeks I suddenly did not have sleep paralysis. During that time I came across sleep paralysis ( which at that age I had never heard the term) and talked to a librarian and they asked me what was I getting all these books for ( it was a bunch of spiritual warfare books ) and I told him everything. He told me about sleep paralysis and it was in a dictionary. I had no internet or smart phone at that time though I think at least one iPhone was out. Maybe it was the iPods. Anyways, he looked up some stuff about sleep paralysis and printed it out and gave it to me. Over years i realized that’s all it was. Not demons. Just a thing thst happens to people all over. So when it happened, I just did not care and fell back asleep. But for a good year I was convinced that all of that was from god. Now I know it probably was not.
What about it? We don’t need to live in a world where no one ever lies or is deluded in order to determine some people are credible by the criteria we personally use to evaluate credibility. And I believe people from other faiths encounter God too.
Good question. There’s the rub, isn’t it? I don’t know–here’s my conundrum. If we find dreams opposing each other in conversion, how do we decide which one is true–and if so, do we need the dreams anyway?
I guess they can be affirming. I am just hesitant.
I don’t know why we need to go around deciding what is true or necessary with other people’s testimonies. God speaking to other people is for them not us. It isn’t to prove God’s existence to the world or to convince random bystanders the spiritual world is real. If you know someone and believe their testimony, that is your business. I don’t understand the concern with trying to prove or disprove people’s stories of faith. If God is legitimately communicating with someone, the whole point is to draw that person to himself and have that person experience God’s love and care and answer to prayer. The point is not to provide evangelistic fodder or an apologetic arrow in someone’s quiver. If the person is lying or delusional, that’s for them and their loved ones to work out, not something for the rest of the world to adjudicate. It seems to me that lots of people’s constructs and paradigms about how the world is and how God has to work are pretty fragile and easily threatened and there isn’t much room for other people to have totally different ways of processing what happens to them.
When I was in med school, one of my friends told me that his father, a son in a high ranking Brahmin caste, was playing with something --I think it was sticks–while thinking hard about what the truth was. When they fell in the shape of a cross, he was convinced that that was a sign of Christianity being true. I can see how that could be for him. He went on to marry a lower caste lady, and came to the US (where I met him). I’m sad I’ve lost touch with him since then.
One thing we do know, that if a vision or dream is from God, it will not contradict the character of God we see revealed by Jesus in scripture. I tend to be “agnostic” about other peoples’ subjective experiences. But if the picture of Jesus which comes through their vision is some wacko version of a deity—I’d think it was the result of their own mind. But I suppose God could use even human-generated dreams to draw people closer to him, e.g., if someone is motivated by a dream to seek out more information about Jesus.
I’ll bet that the Spirit does a lot of preparatory ground work in some lives, gathering and stacking lots of dry and ready kindling. And then the darndest little thing provides a spark!
Yes, they don’t work as evidence but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real or that we can’t misinterpret them or that some might be divine while others are demonic—if you believe in that sort of thing. Also just because some are by “crazy people” who think they were abducted by aliens some other such nonsense, this does not necessitate they all are. I think God can speak to us in many different forms and he speaks to people all over the world in many different ways. Private and public revelation are different. If God can speak to us and move us through errant scripture and errant understandings of scripture, he can speak to us through errant visions as well.
But visions aren’t going to prove the truth of Christianity or anything else. Neither will personal experiences with God which is my reason for belief. Being salty and illuminating and letting God use us to reach others so that they have their own experience is what does the trick in my opinion.
Some dreams/visions may be legitimate, others no.
…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:14