From a conversation with “Preacher Clark” in the late 1970s.
The one thing that makes any parable true is that the example used in the parable to illustrate the point is true and real. A parable based on science fiction is worthless. In his parables, Jesus always used real-life events, such as rainfall, the birth of a child, a man robbed on the road to Jericho, birds not sowing or reaping, rushing water eroding the foundation of a house, and so forth.
This principle, that parables are true only if they are based upon real things, should be remembered when reading this parable from the Lord, found in Luke 16:
19. “There was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, feasting sumptuously every day.
20. And there was a certain beggar by the name of Lazarus, covered with sores, who had been laid at his gate,
21. and he longed to be filled with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. And dogs even came and licked his sores.
22. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. And then the rich man also died, and was buried,
23. and he, being in torment in hell, lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off, with Lazarus in his bosom.
24. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me! Send Lazarus so he can dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue! I am in agony in this flame!’”
If hell is a religious fantasy, as many in our time believe, then this parable is meaningless and Jesus was wasting his breath in telling it. We all, individually, must decide whether that was the case, or if Jesus was giving us a warning that is worth listening to.