Showing posts with label Symbolism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Symbolism. Show all posts

Monday, June 13, 2022

Anonymous Asks (201)

“What do sheep symbolize in the Bible?”

The Bible is full of symbols and pictures intended to help us understand the spiritual realities they depict. But as a young man getting serious about studying scripture for the first time, one of the things I had to learn about Bible imagery is that there is rarely a single, consistent interpretation for any figure or picture.

In one sense all of scripture is the product of a single author in the person of the Holy Spirit of God. Because of this, we might expect perfect consistency between image and intended meaning from Genesis to Revelation. But that would be failing to take into account the way inspiration worked.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Too Much for Sunday School

I can recall nearly every chapter of Daniel from my childhood. Many kids who grew up in Christian homes can (or could; our current generation may not be so well versed).

This shouldn’t surprise us. Many stories from Daniel make fantastic Sunday School material, and I mean literally fantastic — there are miracles to be found throughout the book: the golden image and the fiery furnace; Nebuchadnezzar’s dream; the king’s humbling at the hand of God; the writing on the wall; the den of lions; the prophetic visions of coming kingdoms depicted as beasts (kingdoms we actually studied in history class, so I knew this was no fairy tale); and so on.

And the stories are not just fascinating; they make significant moral points: stand for what you believe in; don’t be proud; don’t blaspheme; trust in God; the heavens rule.

Of course the book sticks in our memories. Why wouldn’t it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

God’s Photo Album

The Bible is full of pictures.

Now, illustrations — whether they are symbols, metaphors, or even when they come in the form of full-blown parables — are not reality, and it does us good to keep that in mind. They are useful snapshots in which we may catch glimpses of ourselves, of God, and of spiritual truths we might otherwise miss. To ensure we don’t, God has given them to us in a form we can easily process and relate to, one which often stirs an emotional reaction that can bring us to repentance, awe, appreciation or some other good state. For example, Nathan’s story about the poor man’s ewe lamb drove David into a righteous rage ... until he realized the story was all about him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Symbol of a Symbol

Conscious he would soon be passing from this scene as we all do, Jacob blessed his son Judah.

That blessing is poetic, prophetic and open to interpretation on multiple levels, the most significant of which is that he is speaking in some measure of Jesus Christ, who was descended from Judah. One of the things Jacob says of Judah’s offspring is this: “He has washed his garments in wine, and his vesture in the blood of grapes.”

This is the first time any of the Bible’s writers associate wine with blood, though in this instance probably neither word is to be taken literally.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Symbol Is Not the Point

An ex-evangelical turned Catholic priest named Dwight Longenecker has, in his current religious incarnation, become a fan of ritual and symbolism.

“The most difficult thing for an Evangelical to accept in a conversation about the sacraments is that God actually uses physical means and liturgical ceremonies to dispense his grace and administer salvation. The typical Evangelical is heavily conditioned to dismiss all physical components of religion as useless and distracting ‘man-made traditions.’ ”

Hmm, let me think: Could I be one of Mr. Longenecker’s heavily conditioned, typical evangelicals? Possibly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Too Much for Sunday School

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Symbol Is Not the Point

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Does Baptism Save?

So, really, DOES baptism save you?

Along with many others, Dwight Longenecker, the ex-evangelical Catholic priest referenced in a previous post, teaches that it is a critical component of salvation:

“In addition to believing and confessing with our lips, we need to be baptized. At the beginning of Romans 6, St. Paul actually explains how we share in the death and new life of Christ: It is through baptism.

The beginning of Romans 6 he says, ‘Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’ ”

On this basis, Catholics teach that faith is not enough for salvation; the ritual of water baptism is a must.

But are they right?

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Symbol Is Not the Point

The most recent version of this post is available here.