Why Do People Dismiss the Parables of Jesus?

I have been noticing a trend among those who I thought believed the Bible from cover to cover. That trend is dismissing the parables of Jesus as mere stories rather than inspired portions of Scripture. I have read where they rationalize that because it is a parable, it cannot teach doctrine.

Jesus taught in parables for people to understand heavenly things with the use of earthly illustrations. He taught practical and doctrinal things within these parables, yet I am seeing people cut and paste the parables of Jesus in order to teach their theological system such as dismiss the thought of a literal hell or relating the conditional love of God the Father to the father of the prodigal son because it is a parable. I cannot be so gutsy as to say I have the authority to reinterpret God’s Word.

I am not writing this to stir up strife. For those theologians out there, I would love for you to weigh in on this subject.

21 thoughts on “Why Do People Dismiss the Parables of Jesus?

  1. I’m not sure why people do that, but I do know many evangelizing atheists like to attack the parables and try to challenge the idea that the bible is the literal word of God. Parables are mis-portrayed as “lies,” since they are may not be based on literal people.

    One problem in the modern world is that we tend to not understand the value in a good metaphor or a parable.

    What starts to worry me is that I also see a lot of reactionary theology, scripture edited and adjusted to accommodate world views. Not just liberal ones either, also more right leaning narratives.

  2. When I read your post 2 Timothy 4 :3-5(msg) came to mind….

    3-5 You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

    I’m sure that includes making scripture mean what they want it to mean as well.

    Keep shining the light Matt

  3. The enemy’s time is short and Christians/thr church is being attacked. Pastors care more about comfort than truth often so make the gospel more palatable. They sometimes do but most times do not admit/realize they are trading comfort for truth and thus being pawns of the enemy but that is the case nonetheless. They will not like having to answer for it and should be confronted now in hopes of reform. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but we should strive to restore those gently who are wrong.

  4. I’ve noticed a lot of cut and paste answers too. I like looking at the Bible as a whole, and I’ve seen responses where (to make a point of theirs valid) “Yes, but THIS scripture says…”

    The True Vine is all about staying connected. Having solid roots in the foundation, the truth.The whole truth. Just because one scripture makes one point of view “sound” valid, does not, in fact, make it valid.

    Ironically enough, we are to be on the narrow path, but God did not intend us to be NARROW-minded.

    Great post!!!!

  5. I’m no theologian Matthew, but I will chime in. I agree with your premise that some people overlook the parables of Jesus merely because they “stories.’ For this reason, I use the word ‘account” when I speak about the prodigal son for example. I would caution anyone who overlooks the parables of Jesus to check their pride level. Are they feeling so super-scholarly that they only need dogma? After all, these are stories told by JESUS, our living Savior. He chose to teach in this form, and even explained why. I am more than comfortable learning from these.
    One caution I have received, however, is to not form my foundational theology from the ‘facts’ of a parable. For example, the distant between the beggar Lazarus as he rested in Abraham’s arms is called a great chasm. This is not to be taken as a literal distance, rather as a description of the unbridgeable gap between us sinners and God. Only the cross of Christ can span it.
    I enjoyed your blog very much, especially the amount of conversation it has produced.
    May God continue to bless you as He leads you,

  6. I’m thinking right now about the classic book “Your God Is Too Small” by J.B. Phillips. I think dismissing or misapplications of the parables happens for one of 2 reasons
    1. People are looking for passages to back their views and opinions. Parables often challenge human views and opinions, so some simply want to “opt-out”
    2. The biggest reason I see is that many do not want to invest the time to dive deep into the Word. Parables often require that deep dive. I’ve noticed the phrase “I’m not a theologian” and I do not mean to offend those who used the phrase in these comments. But what is a theologian? The word “Theology” comes from 2 Greeks words–Theos, which means God–and Logia, which means to study. Theology means the study of God, thus theologians means “those who study or learn about God”. Maybe we need more theologians!

    1. Great thoughts, Randy! When we seem to be in over our heads with portions of Scripture, we never have the right to dismiss it. The born-again believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the Illuminati who will shed light on the deep things of God. When we seek Him and do our part, He always comes through.

      1. No, we do not have the right to “dismiss it”, though many do just that…personally, I am exhausted after wrestling with a particular passage, but I am also exhilarated when the Spirit gives me that understanding!

  7. Funny, I have been having this discussion with a group of Christians online, that seem to dismiss the obvious implications of Jesus’ parables. There seems to be this idea that Jesus is always love and surely wouldn’t speak of hell. It boggles my mind the way people will pick and choose which parts of the Bible to take seriously, especially in light of the respect Jesus shows for the scriptures, and the authority he gives them.

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