The value of Analogies and Parables.
By definition, analogies and parables are not entirely true!
So, why is the Bible full of analogies and parables? Why not just tell the exact truth?
Most children would guess correctly that “Maybe we can’t handle the truth yet!”
There are a few good reasons all Teachers use Analogies & Parables..
1. Deeply retained wisdom only comes from 'Life Experience'
NOT from a short 100% accurate explanation given by the wisest teacher.
Nor from reading the most accurate text book.
Eg. The Bibles book of ‘Proverbs’ contains 999 brief statements of wisdom, and can be read in a day. But, by tomorrow, only a few will be retained! The only ones that are retained are those where your mind paused and conceived a short 'life experience’ involving that point.
As all teachers and parents know, the best way for a child to retain a truth is for them to figure it out for themselves.. This usually requires some subtle assistance like an analogy or short story (parable) – with some care to ensure you don’t give the answer away. The student must struggle a little with the question and feel the elation of working it out for themselves.
The only problems in life that we really come to understand fully are those we have lived with and have gradually figured out for ourselves.
In brief.. Unless we ‘live’ a little with a problem, we can’t get our heads around the answer.
2. Analogies are vital when the student does not have the required words to understand the answer.
Imagine a child asking his engineering dad.. How does a kerosene fridge turn a flame into frozen food with no moving parts? The father knows the child has no comprehension of the required words (like isobaric; isothermal or ‘isentropic compression’) and will wisely tell him to wait till he is older. Likewise God refuses to answer some questions because humans do not understand any of the required words or precepts.
If a bright teenager asked that same question, the Dad might consent to draw a parallel analogy (Eg. a hand pump inflates a bike tyre. That compressive effort makes the air in the tyre and valve stem very hot; after that air cools down, releasing that air will produce a freezing wind. Etc.) That analogy is not the full truth, but it is all his child can handle! It is a ‘half-truth’ that will help him to grasp a precept that will be a stepping stone to figuring it out for himself.
3. Parables allow the teacher to trap the listener into 'seeing their own error' - as in a mirror.
Many folk can't see a truth because their own bias and prejudice blinds them.
Many wise parables start with "There was a fool and a wise man.." The listeners all identify with the 'wise man' and eagerly listen and wait for the 'fool' to be humiliated.. However, at the climax of the clever parable, the audience realizes that THEY are the fool.. And, that is a painful lesson they will never forget!