Dreams and the Bible

Excerpts from God, Dreams, and Revelation: A Christian Interpretation of Dreams (Revised and Expanded Edition) by Morton T. Kelsey:

“I knew that both the Old and New Testaments were full of dreams, so I read the Bible through again and was surprised at how many dreams I found… I could hardly believe how central the dream-vision was in early Christianity.

“People had been understanding their dreams long before psychology came on the scene. I started a ten-year study of the use of dreams as a part of religious practice in general and within the Christian community in particular. I was amazed at the amount of data I uncovered. This book presents the evidence that within Christianity the dream has been viewed as one of the most common ways that the Holy One communicates with human beings.

“Although this view of the dream continued into the eighteenth century, it was almost totally lost after that time as both traditions were first engulfed by a one-sided interpretation of Thomas Aquinas and then by the secular, agnostic scientism of the last two hundred years… It is interesting to note that the Eastern Orthodox tradition, however, has never ceased to value the dream as a communication of the spiritual world and of the Divine.

“There are few better ways of learning to observe the hand of God in our lives than the persistent Christian practice of listening to these strange messengers of the night.”

The Holy Spirit is everywhere, and can enter a human heart in any way He chooses, when we are awake or when we are asleep and dreaming; no door of our perceptions is ever closed to Him.

“By taking a summary look at the teaching and practice of the Church Fathers up to the beginnings of the fifth century, we can discern a well-integrated tradition of dreams and dreamwork and recognize its continuity with that of the Old and New Testament.

“Tertullian… spoke of dreams as one of the charismata of God, and believed that dreams and visions were promised to people of his own day just as much as they were to the first apostles.

“Origen… saw dreams as part of God’s providence ‘for the benefit of the one who had the dream and for those who hear the account of it from him’…

“‘Dreams, more than any other thing, entice us toward hope,’ wrote Synesius of Cyrene, a fifth century bishop of Ptolemais. ‘And when our heart spontaneously presents hope to us, as happens in our sleeping state, then we have in the promise of our dreams a pledge from the divinity.’…

“Saint Jerome made little distinction between dreams and visions… For Jerome, God spoke through visions, whether they occurred during sleep or awake… Jerome agrees with Jeremiah that God can use dreaming as well as prophesying as a vehicle of revelation to a person. Such revelation can be a valuable gift from God if the dreamer’s life is turned toward God.”*

*Louis M. Savary, Patricia H. Berne, Strephon Kaplan Williams, Dreams and Spiritual Growth – A Judeo-Christian Way of Dreamwork