Metaphor Mania

I’ll admit it…I’m a metaphor junkie.

Typically, whenever I teach/preach God’s Word I exhaust most of my efforts to find one central metaphor to convey the biblical theme (and if I can’t do that…then I usually fall back on several sub-metaphors).

Unlike Plato who was suspicious of anything beyond the literal, I agree with Aristotle that metaphor leads to fresh perspective on familiar ideals.

There is something about metaphor that allows us to experience the concept being conveyed.  In the midst of a comparison our minds create a new filter to grasp the meaning seeking to be conveyed.  This process is not only stimulating, but fosters coherence, integration, and comprehension.

In a biblical world where we are to be as “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves,” where Christ is both the “lion and the lamb,” and to which God is our “shepherd,” may we learn from the great Teacher.

Ordinary words and speech simply convey what we already know.  The spice in putting flavor back into our communication comes through the new metaphors of today.

What innovative metaphor will we give to Christ and The Gospel?  In the past it was always “the bridge,”…but has that metaphor gone stale?  What new and innovation analogy is simmering below the cultural mainstream awaiting to take float?


~ by Dave Smith on August 11, 2008.

One Response to “Metaphor Mania”

  1. I, too, love metaphor; and I do believe the bridge metaphor is approaching the end of its lifespan, for at least a few reasons. The most significant of which is that it assumed that the person who hears the metaphor has at least some working conception of “sin” before hearing the presentation. Moreover, it tends toward a highly individualized understanding of salvation (Me, my sin, and Jesus).

    The Big Story, to which you linked last week(?), incorporated the global aspects of salvation, which I think are the key elements in any new metaphor that emerges. In our society, the concept of one’s own individual sin is not necessarily as obvious as the cosmic impact of sin, i.e., the destruction of the environment (read, God’s creation and the betrayal of the stewardship mandate), the greed of the corporate, Western world (read, you cannot serve two masters), and violence which seemingly permeates every nation on Earth. In a world that is looking more and more like a global village, it is becoming increasingly obvious that creation is corrupted and waiting to be redeemed (Romans 8:20-26).

    I do not know what metaphors will emerge to explain the gospel in this global age, but whatever they are, I believe these metaphors should find their impetus the global, cosmic implications of sin – because that is something everyone in the entire world can understand.

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