Does God Still Give Visions?

December 3, 2013 | 8 comments

Many Protestant churches—including some of those I attended before I became Catholic—are of the view that God no longer gives visions.

“The age of prophecy is over,” they say.

Other Protestants—notably those in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements—think otherwise. So does the Catholic Church.

Catholic theology commonly distinguishes between what is known as public revelation and private revelation. Public revelation—which is the kind of revelation we find in Scripture—is binding on all Christians in all ages. By contrast, private revelation is binding only on those to whom it is given.

The Catholic Church teaches that public revelation is closed until the Second Coming. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ [CCC 66].

Private revelation, however, is ongoing:

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history.

Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium [i.e., collective sense of the faithful] knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations” (CCC 67).

But just as some in non-Catholic circles have claimed that the age of miracles is over, so some have claimed that the age of revelation—even private revelation—is over.

Yet this is something that Scripture never says. None of the New Testament authors say that God is going to stop using visions and related phenomena prior to the Second Coming.

St. Paul expresses the proper Christian attitude toward these phenomena this way:

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good (1 Thess. 5:19–21).

The Church Fathers were of the same opinion. When the Apostolic Age closed and the age of the Fathers began, they did not think that God had suddenly stopped giving visions. They recognized that new visions were not on the same plane as the revelation found in the Bible (public revelation), but they acknowledged the ongoing presence of private revelations in the Church.

It wasn’t until the time of the Protestant Reformation that people began to deny the concept.

For more information, you can read about the views of the Church Fathers on the subject here, or in my book The Fathers Know Best.


Jimmy Akin was born in Texas and grew up nominally Protestant. At age 20 he experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, Jimmy started an intensive study of the Bible, but the more he immersed himself in Scripture, the more he found it to...

The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church
The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church is a unique resource that introduces you to the teachings of the first Christians in a way no other work can. It is specially designed to make it easy for you to find the information you want and need.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Henry Ashley - Alton, Illinois

"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good (1 Thess. 5:19–21)."

This is a wonderful quote. If I am reading it right, it indicates that prophets should be heard, but that we should consider whether what they say is correct or not.

December 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm PST
#2  Kevin Proudler - Scarborough, California

AS SAID..."no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thus, NO TRUTH of godly measure is to be accepted by Catholics before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is of Godly measure, for he is the truth. Thus we have a bit of a problem. No Catholic is willing to allow a true revelation to enter the eye until the the time comes when the truth has been seen.

For instance, God's/Jesus Christ's signature was discovered encoded withing the KJV Bible. Yet, the religious folk of today, spat at it in an instant. They accept the Bible, yet they reject the Bible. They work as hard as possible to reject the proof of the validity of the Bible, the validity of God's true existence, and do so to biblical proportions.

See http://www.outersecrets.com/real/biblecode2a.htm and click on "Watch/Listen".

However, due to this insisting that the eyes must be closed when it comes to looking toward true revelations, this will insure with 100% certainty, that an ANTI_CHRIST figure can present himself and be seen by the religious folk as nothing else but the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

December 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm PST
#3  Kevin Proudler - Scarborough, California

By the way, Scarborourgh is located within Ontario Canada, yet this website would not accept Ontario as a province of Canada.

Such a revelation of the truth was not accepted. Only false data was accepted. Shame on you !

December 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm PST
#4  Kevin Proudler - Scarborough, California

Oh..... and another thing....

Today, if someone figures out the complete mechanics of reality, and he presents this to the world, ..... no one will listen to him unless he has a PhD in physics, meaning no one will listen to him unless he makes the same mistake that those who have a PhD in physics make, a mistake that prevented them from figuring out the complete mechanics of reality in the first place.

Yet, a time ago..., people listened to some nobody, a nobody fellow who worked in a patent office. His name was Albert Einstein. He spoke of that which extended beyond mere patent office work. He spoke of another field of interest altogether.

And, even further back in time, another fellow who was a mere carpenter, also spoke of things that extended beyond mere carpentry, yet then too, people listened to him.

Yet you will not listen to me !

Instead, you will only listen to those who make mistakes.

December 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm PST
#5  Edmundo Santiago - Upland, California

I searched for an email address to directly and privately ask you questions, Mr. Akin... but I couldn't find one here or at your blog.

I made a choice some time ago ( Jeremiah 29:11-13 ) to look first to the Word of God ( John 12:47-50 ), believe it and live it out faithfully as best as I can ( John 8:31-32 ), and as the Father revealed to Simon Peter 'who' Yeshua was when Yeshua asked his disciples who they thought He was ( Matthew 16:13-20 ), I too seek first His Spirit's direction ( Romans 8:14 ), according to the Word, with my conscience bearing witness ( Romans 9:1 )... I then test the spirits ( 1 John 4:1 ) when seeking the advice and doctrine of men ( Proverbs 12:15-18 ), yet always remember as any man can attest to; men are fallible ( Romans 3:23 ), while the Word is perfect ( Psalm 18:30 ).

Regarding man's doctrine and / or a vision who may lead men to create doctrine which may contradict what the gospel already preached, I find it perplexing how many of today's believers follow doctrines and teachings of men derived from visions whose teaching seems to go against this basic point:

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!" - Galatians 1:8-9

I can give several examples but I'm sure many of them come to mind.

I always wondered which things did Simon Peter loosen and which things did he bind prior to his martyrdom... and although I'm finding some out, others cannot be substantiated and I further wonder if man, throughout the ages, has taken many liberties without the Holy Spirit's direction... and instead of faithfully loosening things according to revelation ( later shown to the body of believers so they may understand ) in order to bring more people into Christ's kingdom, perhaps they have instead muddied the water by not adhering or considering first the basics of the gospel but rather have depended on their doctrines and tradition and the proofs of the Spirit's directives in the binding and loosening of things.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

- Matthew 23:8-12

December 15, 2013 at 1:08 am PST
#6  Edmundo Santiago - Upland, California

typo: missing word "not"

Second to last paragraph, last parts of that paragraph should read:

"but rather have depended on their doctrines and tradition and *not* the proofs of the Spirit's directives in the binding and loosening of things."

I know the topic is about visions and whether people today believe they still happen, and I wanted to initiate a discussion with the simple term of calling men in church "father" when Christ directed otherwise.

I also wanted to point out the vision(s) which eventually lead to what is today called the Mormons... and how that religion / doctrine also carries things beyond the basics found in the gospels and, in my opinion, leaves the direction Christ gave in the gospels.

December 15, 2013 at 1:16 am PST
#7  jeremias ramos - trento, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Sur

i don't think if it is a vision, i saw a counsel of saints, and the counsel was still active.

May 9, 2014 at 2:23 am PST
#8  Robert Baker - Bakersfield, California

God does still give visions to people. I saw the face of Jesus Christ in the clouds for about 30 seconds or so and got to see it lit from the bottom to the top by the rays of the setting sun. It was very beautiful.

Here's a poor approximation I created:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91743139@N05/15623512367/

In what I actually saw the face was blurred a little bit more so as not to be any one specific face.

November 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm PST

You are not logged in. Login or register to leave a comment.