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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

12 June 2006

Without Vision

Q: I think I remember this correctly, that the Bible says, “Without vision people will perish.” Where is this from and exactly what does it mean?

Vision ChartA: The Authorized (King James) Version says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)” The ESV clarifies the translation: “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” This cuts to the heart of the understanding of “vision,” especially when we examine the contrast between the warning in the first and the blessing in the second half of the verse.

Some today take this to mean that the Church and its leaders must be “visionary” and that unless we are dreaming up new and exciting things, we are in danger of harming Christians or of allowing the Church to fall apart. But Solomon wasn’t speaking about such things as “vision statements” or “visionary thinking.” Neither does this passage refer to free-lance dreaming or impromptu reception of alleged messages from God.

Instead, the “prophetic visions” must come to God’s people that they might know His Word and follow His will. Revelations and prophetic utterances from prophets and pastors must be in accord with God’s Word — the existing revelation of His divine will — in order to be considered valid and faithful. Solomon here reminds us that if God doesn’t speak His Word to His people through His called servants, they will forget the Word and will be lost.

Note also that a “prophetic” word is not necessarily predictive, for prophecy involves forthtelling (speaking the truth) more than it does foretelling (predicting the future). This passage also doesn’t mean that new prophesies must continually come to the Church. Rather, we continue to accept those given to others that are now part of Holy Scripture.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles and from the Authorized Version, Public Domain.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Anonymous Celestino. said...

And it came to pass...that as I was clicking "Next Blog", that I found yours.

13 June, 2006 02:12  

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