If there is no God, then the explanation for dreams lies in the realm of materialist psychology: they are repressed memories clothed in regret, disguised desires, or perhaps just ghostly emanations of neural activity. Or something else, but nothing more. Whatever the explanation or explanations, dreams remain wholly interior, products of nothing beyond the self.
But if there is a God, then we have it on the best authority – God’s own word – that dreams can and do contain reliable communications from God to us.
What then are we to make of bad dreams?
I believe bad dreams are ordinarily evidence that God’s Spirit is still working on us. They are a form of divine therapy. Someone with no bad dreams is someone whose complacency has become so thick that God’s voice cannot penetrate it. So we should very much be grateful for bad dreams, and study them for what they are or at least may be: important communications from God.
The most therapeutic type of bad dream is the one that features someone – not oneself, but someone else – doing something terrible. Why is that therapeutic? Because in it God is showing us how we still appear from God’s point of view, whatever our high opinion of ourselves.
If there is a God.