We come to the end of this series, and frankly some half of what I might have said in the first place shows up in the comments in reply to other comments. It occurs to me one point in particular bears repeating, so as the final installment of the Answering Series I wanted to restate something about reading the Bible. My comment arose from a reference to a writer chattering with a presumption of authority about angels, demons and other realms of existence using the word “dimension.” This writer insisted that we could use such terminology from theoretical science as a means to capture the factual essence of things beyond this realm of existence.
Human rational science dies at the boundaries of this dimension. The very structure of thought and knowing do not survive the passage; you have to die and leave this human frame to pass over. That doesn’t mean God can’t bring you back to the same old body or a different kind of body, but it does require separating your soul from this current life. This body and some measure of your human awareness must remain here because it is fundamentally flawed and God will not allow it to leave this domain. Science is a construct of that fallen human nature. That’s not a question about how well science works for its intended purpose, but simply to indicate the limitations.
Be aware that the people who wrote the Bible used a lot of figurative language (parabolic language) that had nothing to do with what they actually believed about things. If everybody and his dog uses the phrase, “bring my gray hairs down to Sheol,” it gains a vested meaning far beyond the words themselves. It arises from a primitive Mesopotamian mythology that is not consistent with revelation, but everyone knew what it meant as a colorful contextual expression. I find it goofy that we use language that way ourselves in our culture, but somehow imagine that people in the Bible could not. The same goes for the expression “third heaven” that Paul uses; it comes from the mythology of the Pharisees, not from Scripture. Besides that, it translates poorly into English. You should not assume Paul describes an experience, but that he characterizes it. There’s nothing deceptive about that usage as it was commonly understood as a literary expression of his times. Sometimes they used such expressions with sarcasm and Westerners don’t catch on.
All of this pretense to accurately slice and dice terms and phrases is a Western approach to extract data, and utterly misses the moral gravity behind the words. Most of the blather along those lines might provoke some interesting thoughts, but would never grasp the “ultimate truth” — which is the moral importance. However, English language presumes that whatever we mean as “truth” is contained in, or constrained by, the words. People of the Ancient Near East would snicker at such a concept. They knew the human mind could not leave the limits of this realm of existence, so words were also constrained, but truth from those higher realms was not constrained. So they instinctively used parabolic language, a protocol to indicate things beyond intellect to indicate the moral demands it all places upon us here. Thus, the languages of the Ancient Near East operated more like signposts to indicate directions for our contemplation. The ancients would choke on the common assertion in the West that “words mean things” as the phrase is normally used. If meaning is restricted to the choice of words, then we cannot possibly be talking about anything that really matters.
Thus, science has yet to ascertain usable data on anything beyond the four dimensions we experience as fallen humans. Thus, you can use the term “dimension” either precisely in factual chatter, or you can use it merely as a figure of speech to color our discussions of things we could never understand in reference to spiritual things. You cannot presume to use factual structures to describe anything beyond the boundaries of those four dimensions we experience here. Revelation as a whole warns against thinking you can escape this realm alive. Whatever is “out there” beyond this realm of existence is not accessible to the human mind, but requires a higher faculty that we use to establish moral imperatives from which the mind can organize and implement a moral way of life.
This is not stuffy orthodoxy, because it relies on the Holy Spirit and your own heart to verify what constitutes a prophetic warning.