Seaborn Hall, 12/14/19, updated 12/18/19
Re: Dream Interpretation: Animals, John Paul Jackson, Streams Ministries
CS Evaluation: Did John Paul Jackson Misinterpret Any Dreams?
(How the CS Dream Interpretive Method Differs From John Paul Jackson’s Method and Other Dream Interpretive Methods).
We – humbly – believe that John Paul misinterprets the second dream example on this video. What follows is our explanation and case for this view.
Dream #2 on this video illustrates some of the minor differences we have with some of JPJ’s interpretations – though we want to emphasize that we have been through his dream course, respect his gifts and calling in this area, and have learned much from and built our interpretational method on his foundations.
Understanding Dream Context And Life Context – Context Of Dream #2
That said, note that in Dream #2 the context is 1) the house where she lives now, 2) an old friend, Carrie, and 3) I saw something in my office – a stuffed bear. These three opening elements make up what we call the Dream Context. But there is also a life context we can’t know about unless we know the dreamer or at least talk to her.
One example of this appears at the end of the dream. The dreamer is from Surprise, Arizona – and the dream is about a surprise! This could be key, but again, without knowing the dreamer and what is going on in her life it may be difficult to interpret this dream correctly. The meaning of symbols can change or shift due to both the dream context and the life context – this is an important and fundamental concept to remember about dream interpretation.
Important Life Context questions to ask and know: Who is the old friend Carrie and what significance does she have for the dreamer? Does a stuffed bear have any significance for the dreamer? How about a bear or a tiger?
Dream Symbols And Their Flexible Nature – Just Like Any Language
The dreamer uses her ‘left thumb and forefinger’ to control the kitten/tiger in the bear. John Paul identifies ‘left’ as having to do with calling. OK. But, if you go to Scriptural references, ‘left’ can also mean other things, like, judgment.
Dream symbols, just like words in any language, have a flexible nature. This flexible nature is relative to both dream context and the life context of the dream.
Call Dreams: How Are They Identified?
John Paul identifies this dream as a ‘call’ dream. But, is it? We don’t believe so. Why?
Call dreams typically have the symbols of a call within them somewhere and these symbols are relatively easy to understand. For example, a friend of ours recently had a dream where a voice from heaven called her name three times. This is a call dream. In other dreams, the symbol of a phone or a phone ringing is prominently placed. Again, typical of a ‘call’ dream. This dream has no such symbol.
Contrarily, the opening of this dream identifies this dream as something different from a call dream. Titling a dream can help you understand the focus and remember it. We would title this dream, “A Surprise In Surprise.” Lets take the elements of the dream, section by section.
The Elements Of The Dream
Opening: house where she lives now, old friend Carrie, office – This dream is about her current life where she lives at present and specifically involves her ‘business.’ Her ‘business’ could be literal or metaphorical. If metaphorical, then the dream is speaking to some area she perceives as personal where she has competence. For more on this we would have to know what the ‘old friend’ symbol represents to the dreamer.
Office: stuffed bear, wiggle free, little kitten to a tiger – Note that ‘bear’ can be interpreted metaphorically here. In other words, some situation might be a ‘bear.’ There is a small problem with the dreamer’s ‘business,’ whether that business is literal or symbolic for some area of competence in the dreamer’s personal life. Cats are normally symbolic for ‘independence’ and a tiger is even more willful and ferocious. Unfortunately, the kitten turns into a ‘baby tiger.’The problem in the dreamer’s ‘business’ looked small, but is actually more dangerous than previously thought. She should not have let it wiggle free.
Baby Tiger: Left thumb, forefinger, clamp down, rid of it – John Paul views the interpretation of this part of the dream from a very ‘prophetic’ type of perspective. Thumb is a symbol for ‘apostle.’ Forefinger is a symbol for ‘prophet’ or ‘prophetic.’ ‘Left’ means ‘call.’ The question is, should these symbols be more flexible according to the overall dream and life context? We believe the answer is definitely ‘Yes.’
In the dream context the left thumb and forefinger likely represent the God-given ability of the dreamer to ‘judge’ the problem that has arisen. The dream is showing her that she has the ability to deal with the problem.
New Puppy: Notice the juxtaposition in the dream between ‘little kitten’ and ‘new puppy.’ She wants to protect the new puppy from the kitten that has become a tiger. Both symbols point to something new, in the early stages of growth. This might be a project, a new client, a new ministry or some other relationship.
Garage: took little tiger, dirty water, drain, opened garage door – A garage is where you park or store things, as John Paul notes. Dirty water speaks of things that have been ‘parked’ as in ‘put away’ becoming dirty or polluted. Questions to ask: Is the nighttime positive or negative and how do we know? What does the ‘drain’ mean? Is opening the garage door good or bad?
Steady Rain: nighttime, steady rain, surprise, old friend Carrie – Rain can be a positive of negative symbol. Which is it here and how do we know? Rain is negative here because it is in the context of the night.
The night is linked with the dirty water in the previous section because the dirty water comes in through the drain from the outside (where it is night, thus making dirty water = night).
Notice how the ending of the dream comes back around to the beginning by bringing the ‘old friend Carrie’ back in. This reiterates the importance of understanding this symbol – which we really cannot without input from the dreamer’s life context.
Problem-Solution Dream: Interpretation of the Dream, summarized
This is sure to feel like a ‘bummer’ type of interpretation at first to the dreamer. JPJ’s interpretation is much more dynamic and impressive if you are the dreamer. But, if it is incorrect it sets up the dreamer for disappointment and discouragement when the interpretation does not pan out over time.
At the same time, it misses the real point of the dream and the encouragement that was meant to come from insight that helped the dreamer see the solution to a real problem in her life. The dream is saying, “You have the insight and ability to see and to solve this problem.” This is not a ‘call’ dream, but a dream in the general category of ‘Warning’ dream that has a problem and a solution. Note that the solution of this dream is wrapped up in the symbol of the old friend, Carrie. We must know what Carrie represents to fully understand the dream and the solution to the problem presented.
What we can say in general about the solution is that the garage represents a place for storing problems and that it seems to say that storing problems is not a great thing to do. When you store problems away – instead of meeting them face to face – they tend to become even more ‘dirty’ or ‘polluted.’ This results in darkness and ‘bad weather.’ The dreamer is ‘surprised’ because the problem had seemed like a cute little ‘kitten’ in the beginning, then just a ‘baby tiger.’ The dreamer felt that if she just stored it away, then the problem would go away. Instead, the ‘baby tiger’ became the ‘night’ and ‘steady rain.’ There is a ‘Surprise in Surprise.’
This dream is trying to help the dreamer face her problems head on. Understanding the ‘Carrie’ symbol and whether it is literal or symbolic somehow for an aspect of the dreamer’s own character, personality, or insight is key to accomplishing this.
As an additional comment note that color is not discussed in the interpretation of this dream. Knowing the color scheme would help us understand which parts of the dream are warning segments (black and white/muted or dark colors) and which parts are God’s promises or solutions (more vibrant, clear colors).
How Can We Disagree With John Paul Jackson?*#%*!!!
For those aghast or incredulous that we could disagree or even criticize the great John Paul Jackson, let us assure you that we also like and respect John Paul and owe him much. We genuinely believe that he was ‘great’ and one of the forerunners and foundation-layers of Biblical Dream Interpretation. In addition, JPJ was one of the most balanced, genuine, and respected prophetic figures of the last three decades.
On the other hand, he wasn’t perfect. With any genuine prophetic figure there is always going to be a mix between revelation and interpretation and even tradition within their teaching. In addition, even John Paul comments on his own methodology here and says that his understanding of dreams came from a combination of revelation, in the beginning, and then primarily from study and research. Occasionally, they will be something from study or other interpretive activity that is a little off or even wrong – this does not invalidate a prophet’s or teacher’s calling or function, as discussed elsewhere. It actually helps to protect the body of Christ from idolatry and should motivate us to seek God and determine what we can for ourselves. We believe that this is one of those cases.
How We Differ With John Paul Jackson’s Dream Methodology
There are several basic ways that we differ with John Paul Jackson’s dream methodology. John Paul’s emphasis is on focus and sub-focus of a dream. We emphasize Dream Context and Life Context. When focusing on dream context we emphasize the importance of the opening and the first few sentences especially. This sets the context of the dream in most cases. John Paul’s emphasis is on whether the focus is on the dreamer or something else. We emphasize whether a dream is objective or subjective, meaning whether the dream is looking mostly outward with the dreamer as ‘observer’ or whether the dream is looking mostly more ‘inward’ or back at the dreamer with the dreamer as active participant. This slight shift in focus enables us to stay in tune with the multiple levels inherent in most dreams.
Dreams are a language that works within a context just like any language – dream context and life context. Only God gives interpretation of dreams, but that interpretation never happens – or is given to the dreamer or someone else – in contradiction to the symbols and context of the language or dream. A God-given interpretation will always be congruent with the language and the context of the dream. Life context may shed further light on that context.
When dreams are from God – like the one above – they will display at least a few of many different facets, like vibrant color, organization, structure, multi-level functionality, chiasm, literary irony and other intricacies. In addition to the possibility of prediction or revelatory insight about the future they will speak to issues of character and development that will bear good fruit in your life and relationship with God, and if you seek God and learn to obey Him, will lead to progress, advancement, and especially spiritual growth and greater intimacy with God.
Many dreams are from God but they must be interpreted and applied correctly for there to be blessing. As James says in James 1, it is the doer – not the hearer – that is blessed.
For more on our view of Dream Interpretation relative to John Paul Jackson, see this link