Religious Beliefs

Are dreams and visions important in Christian spirituality?

Some New Testament accounts describe dreams as a way God communicates warnings or courses of action to the dreamer. An angel tells Joseph to take Mary as his wife and to flee to Egypt (Matthew 1:20, 2:13). A dream warns the Magi not to return to Herod (Matthew 2:12), and as a result of a dream Pilate’s wife counsels her husband to release Jesus (Matthew 27:19). The Acts of the Apostles records a number of instances in which visions supplied needed insights to Peter and Paul (Acts 11:5, 16:19, 18:5, 26:19). Throughout Christian history individuals have reported privileged access to divine truth through both dreams and visions. Mystical insight is often described in visionary terms. The claim is not primarily one of optical vision, but of spiritual encounter. More prominent in recent times have been claims concerning apparitions, particularly of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Individuals who claim to receive revelations typically communicate the need for peace or repentance and preparation for the coming apocalypse.


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