Metaphors are the neurotransmitters of the soul. Neurotransmitters carry information across the synaptic gaps between nerves. Metaphors convey ideas between the known and unknown. They increase our awareness by artful association. The most effective ones become memes. (Look it up.)
Our best poets, prophets and teachers have always been metaphorians*, epitomized by Aristotle, who pointed out:
(T)he greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity between dissimilars.
Metaphors have limits, however. Most are artifacts of their age. Over time they become antiquated, inadequate, embarrassing even. As human knowledge and experience expand, contemporary metaphors must be created to bridge ever-widening gaps. That’s exactly what Jesus did, superseding stuffy old statutes with pithy new parables.
Go, and do thou likewise.
“Only the constant minting of new metaphors
can keep theology from becoming archeology.”
* I hereby coin the word “metaphorian,” meaning one who is a master of metaphors. Eat your heart out Stephen Colbert.