The Urantia Book Fellowship

Worship—Actualizing the Kingdom of Heaven:
Perspectives from The Urantia Book

by David Kantor    Note: All references refer to page numbers in the first printing of The Urantia Book.


Have you ever stopped to wonder what it must be like for Michael to see what is occurring on this planet? Don't you imagine that, as a loving parent, he would have a plan for rehabilitating this world which would be the wisest, most effective plan possible?

In trying to understand just what such a plan might involve, it's interesting to consider the passage on page 1862 which tells us that Jesus, rather than directly addressing issues of human morality and social ethics, "...was wholly concerned with that inward and spiritual fellowship with God the Father which so certainly and directly manifests itself as outward and loving service for man."

This suggests that Jesus knew the experience of worship would powerfully motivate men and women to redirect their lives towards kingdom building, and that this would be the quickest, most effective way to go about planetary reclamation.

Throughout the teachings of Jesus, we find an exquisite inter-weaving of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven with the central role of worship as a mechanism by which the kingdom develops. Let's consider some of the ways in which worship enhances kingdom building.

Worship as Unifier

The Psalms have been a vehicle for thanksgiving in Judeo-Christian culture since before the time of Jesus. They provide a good illustration of the way in which worship can affect the functioning of human communities.

The literature of early Judaism contains stories about the heavenly hosts being stimulated to praise God as a result of observing the Jewish community singing these Psalms. This is a wonderful concept: The angelic community joins the mortal community of worshipers, in thanksgiving and praise -- that's group worship!

Early in its history, the Christian church was plagued by various forms of mystical excess. Worship services were frequently interrupted by spontaneous outbursts from individuals speaking in tongues. Communities of believers were disrupted by individuals who claimed that the Holy Spirit was communicating through them and had given them information about Jesus' impending return. Some monastic communities insisted on using prophetic-mystic hymns which confused meanings and imagery in the minds of many people. And there was a great deal of sometimes bitter theologic controversy.

All of this conceptual chaos mitigated against the unity of Christianity and its worship. In this environment, the Psalms, with their ancient, well-established themes and musical traditions, became the commonly accepted means of worshipful expression. Worship played an important role in unifying these communities of believers during the turbulent times of spiritual upheaval preceding the fourth and fifth centuries.

The Medieval church, frequently functioning in an uneducated, semi-pagan society, had a different problem. While its entire organization rested upon an intellectual monasticism, it needed to be careful to not discourage the pious but naive religious practices of the common people.

Again, worship, utilizing the Psalms, provided a resolution. In these melodies and poems, the educated monk and the illiterate peasant could stand next to each other in the cathedral and pour out their hearts in worship.

These are just a couple of examples of how worship has played a major role as an integrator and unifier of Christian civilization. To get a sense of the significance of worship in human affairs, ask yourself, "How many political and economic systems have risen and fallen in the nearly 2,500 years that these worshipful Psalms have been quietly unifying human communities?"

Millennialism: Some Thoughts about Evolutionary Religion

In considering ways in which we might develop meaningful worship practices within our communities of readers, it is essential that we understand some of the ways in which evolutionary religion shapes our world.

Let's remember that the purpose of revelation is to enhance evolutionary religion on the planet, not to replace it. Evolutionary religion is the context in which we interpret the meaning of The Urantia Book. We can let this be a completely unconscious process, or we can attempt to understand it, but it remains an inevitable part of being a psychological creature, living in an evolving social culture.

There are elements of evolutionary religion which are going to be extremely troublesome for us, some which are important for us to identify and foster, and others which will continue to sneak up on us unconsciously, and affect the way in which we're dealing with this revelation.

Millennialism is a good example of a troublesome element in evolutionary religion which has plagued the outworking of the fourth epochal revelation.

Right from the start, the early believers were certain that the Master would return immediately, and miraculously usher in a new age of spiritual living.

Millennialism, and the idea that history is about to go through a miraculous transition, has been a major force in the socio-political evolution of Western civilization. It led to the destruction of Jewish culture by the Romans in 70 A.D. It was present when the crusades were launched in the middle ages. It profoundly shaped American social and political history and has dominated political processes in the Middle East for the past half century. It has played a major role in the destruction of the global environment by fostering an attitude of indifference to the long-term health of the planet's ecosystem.

It is actively present today in much of our culture, particularly on the religious margins, dominated by Christian Fundamentalism and New Age movements. It is pervasive in secular culture as well, where it takes the form of a belief that science and technology will lead us to an era of enlightened living.

Millennialism appears in two forms; either a vision of a final battle in which good triumphs over evil, or an innocence which seeks to make utopias in an uncorrupted landscape. The Family of God Foundation was a classic millennialist expression. It didn't matter whether it was a spiritual renaissance or world war III which was coming -- it was the underlying assumption of an impending millennial transformation of reality which was the primary belief being expressed.

The early Christians insisted on interpreting Jesus' message in terms of the messianic expectations surging within their culture. Given the tensions and forces shaping our culture today, we're likely to be mightily challenged to keep from making the same error 2,000 years later.

But there are also components of evolutionary religion which are vital to our progress, or, which are partially developed elements of the religion of the future. If we simply abandon these conceptual tools and ideals, any construction we undertake will occur, by default, upon the remaining foundation of unconscious psycho-social processes.

This can be easily observed in many new religious movements today, whose adherents abandon established paradigms under the guise of enlightenment and freedom, only to find themselves giving expression to older levels of shamanic or spiritualist practices. Earlier this year in Napierville, we saw a regression of nearly 2,000 years to the practices of the mystery cults of the crumbling Greco-Roman empire, where priestesses led chants and ritual dancers in an effort to invoke the appearance of a God.

We have only to see such horrifying images as those of wounded children being flown out of Sarajevo, the smoking rubble in Waco, Texas, or Moslems weeping next to mosques which have been destroyed by their Hindu brethern, to be reminded of the savage power of the religious impulse when it is freed from the restraints of moral culture and rational integration.

Do we fully appreciate the significance of the fact that here in the late 20th century, religion is rapidly replacing economics as a primary source of international conflict? The integration of the religious impulse with the rest of human culture is an example of a partially completed achievement of evolutionary religion which we're challenged to reinforce and further develop.

People don't just wake up one day and decide to become raging religious fanatics; these events are the end results of long series of quietly accumulating errors. The seeds of illusion are first planted when we choose to view our religion as a "matter of the heart," transcending any need for mere intellectual integrity. The seeds of chaos are planted along side them, when we become so committed to a course of action or to a set of beliefs, that we begin to view errors and discrepancies as acceptable anomalies.

This is the point where we cease to seek truth to guide our footsteps, and begin to use truth to further our purposes.

These realities should sober anyone who thinks we can simply transcend evolutionary religion by an act of will, and allow spiritual idealism to eclipse critical evaluation of what we're doing.

For nearly 2,000 years now, God-knowing men and women have struggled with the same questions about worship, community, spiritual commitment and living in closer association with the Master, which we now ask. We would be fools to ignore the accumulated literature of this epic struggle. We must be informed as well as inspired, if we wish to do more than simply socialize our unconscious needs and desires.

As I talk with theologians and clergy persons in various Christian denominations, I am coming to appreciate the way in which many of them are essentially managing a global distribution system for Jesus' love and mercy. As I hear stories of struggles against social and moral deterioration in the inner cities, and of ministers who are bringing healing and wholeness to families and communities, I appreciate that many of these people working with the fourth epochal revelation have their lives on the front lines in the struggle against error, evil and chaos in our world.

In many cases, I think there is far more that we could learn from them than they could learn from us. Beautiful ideas about Jesus are far less valuable than the loving and selfless ministry that many of our Christian brothers and sisters are administering in his name, often under extremely difficult circumstances. It seems to me that we would be far wiser to offer these folks a helping hand rather than smugly inform them that we have "the truth."

Catherine Albanese, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara, has identified three dominant psycho/social themes in American culture around which religious movements coalesce in today's world. They are, millennialism, the quest for a community of feeling, and the quest for personal religious experience.

It's significant that the "teacher mission" expresses all three of these unconscious trends. Our conference here this weekend focuses on two of them. We really have to ask ourselves, to what degree are we creatively addressing the real spiritual needs of our world, as opposed to merely responding to unconscious forces in our culture?

It's very important that we cultivate an awareness of the unconscious determinants active in our culture and within ourselves, which may be shaping the way in which we're interpreting and socializing our experience with this epochal revelation.

Only as we understand the foundation of evolutionary religion upon which we stand, will we find the freedom to begin creatively developing more enlightened practices.

Urantia Book Concept of the Adjutant Mind Spirits

Let's take a few moments to review the basic structure of mortal mind, because it forms the arena in which our experience of worship takes place.

As you may recall, our minds are the result of the ministry of the local universe Mother Spirit who provides the adjutant mind spirits as attenuations of the cosmic mind suitable for interaction with material mechanisms managed by the Life Carriers.

These mind spirits are actually levels of consciousness in the universe Mother Spirit. There are a total of seven and the first five minister, in varying degrees, to all pre-human life. These are the spirits of intuition, understanding, knowledge, counsel and courage. In mortal life, the spirit of worship adds the religious impulse.

We end up with six levels of consciousness in the Mother Spirit, each of which functions relatively independent of the others. A seventh level of consciousness, the Spirit of Wisdom, integrates and unifies the first six making it possible for consciousness to become conscious of consciousness -- self-consciousness.

The Spirit of Wisdom adds "ideas formulated from protoplasmic memory" (664) to the set of electrochemical processes with which the adjutants interact.

Understanding these adjutants is important because if we simply abandon the worship practices which have evolved on the planet, our efforts at worship can easily begin to deteriorate into devising ways of trying to activate the Spirit of Worship by shutting down the functioning of all the other mind spirits.

Think about it; we try to remove ourselves from awareness of our social surroundings so the Spirit of Counsel won't distract us. We reduce physical stimuli. We try to minimize intellectual activity so the Spirits of Intuition and Understanding won't disturb our concentration.

We make an attempt to be "open" by trying to eliminate our pre-conceptions of what the encounter with God should be like, which minimizes any interference from the Spirit of Knowledge. Once we've accomplished this, we've effectively eliminated the Spirit of Wisdom because now there's nothing left to be coordinated.

And then we find ourselves spiritually squinting in an attempt to see God in the resulting darkness, longing for a fuller revelation of the divine presence! It seems somewhat counter-productive to attempt to worship the Father by a technique which seeks to keep the Mother Spirit from getting too much in the way.

Sincere Worship

There is a far richer concept of worship which emerges from the pages of The Urantia Book. It involves the expression of such a profound depth of gratitude for the gift of life, and the Father's love, that it cannot be attempted by anything less than a fully functioning, fully integrated human consciousness.

The Urantia Book tells us that "Sincere worship connotes the mobilization of all the powers of the human personality." (66) On page 1104, we find that, "The divine spirit makes contact with mortal the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking." (1104)

This is a domain where the spirit of wisdom is actively integrating the religious impulse with intuition, understanding, knowledge, council and courage. It is a realm where personality is creatively unifying this adjutant ministry with the indwelling presence of the Father, the Spirit of Truth and the Holy Spirit.

Page 66 says that true worship, in the last analysis, becomes an experience realized on four cosmic levels...intellectual, morontial, spiritual and...their unification in personality. This is no quiet corner of quiescent capitulation to whatever happens to present itself to consciousness!

Emerging from these quotes is a robust concept of worship, in which all mindal and spiritual resources available are integrated by personality and utilized in an attempt to express the depth of our desire to worship.

Worship as Consecration of Will

One of the oldest concepts of worship is that of giving something to God. It is said of Jesus that he "...brought to God the greatest of all offerings: the consecration...of his own will to the majestic service of doing the divine will." (2088) On page 22 we're told that "There is nothing which man can give to God except this choosing to abide by the Father's will, and such decisions...constitute the reality of...true worship." (22)

Not only is the consecration of our will the only possible gift we can give, the process of giving this gift, constitutes the reality of true worship. Understanding worship as a consecration of will, liberates worship from a passive state of mere blissful consciousness or powerless acquiescence. It reveals that our integration with Deity, takes place as we unite our wills with the creative purposes of the living cosmos itself.

Note that this is a consecration of will, not a surrender. (1221)

This is an important distinction. The concept of worship as a consecration of will removes worship from the subject-object isolation characteristic of much of present day Christianity. It transcends the merged consciousness paradigm of mysticism. It also exposes the pantheistic error of quietism. Quietism is the "let go let God" concept of mentally "stepping aside" so that the spirit can supposedly dominate consciousness.

The concept of worship portrayed in The Urantia Book should completely banish from our conceptual vocabulary such degrading ideas of self which lead us to think we must "step aside," or "get out of the way" so that worship may be experienced. In worship, we are invited to experience the fullness of the Father's unconditional love with our whole being.

Worship and Service

Let's briefly consider the relationship between worship and service, yet another important aspect of kingdom building.

In the Bible, we find that one of the most common Hebrew words for worship comes from a root meaning "servant." One of the most important words for worship in the New Testament can mean either service or worship, depending on its context. In these early texts worship and service are simply different aspects of the same concept.

On page 1008 of The Urantia Book, we find that the essence of Jesus' teaching was love and service, the loving worship which creature sons voluntarily give...and...the freewill service which they bestow upon their bretheren, in the joyous realization that in this service they are likewise serving God the Father.

In The Urantia Book, worship is still synonymous with service. There is a substantial thread in Christian thought which maintains that service is critical because there are significant aspects of Jesus' gospel which can only be truly comprehended as they are acted out. Page 1112 points us to what the authors describe as "the service-discovery of spiritual reality."

When we appreciate these active aspects of worship, the ideal of being able to "maintain unbroken communion with God" (1326, 2065, 2088) begins to make some practical sense.

It is not my intent to imply that service is worship; rather to point out that service to our fellows becomes a context in which our worship is received by the Father.

Worship and Context

If we are going to worship God, wouldn't it be helpful to have a concept of where his presence might be contacted?

Religious literature is replete with stories of sacred mountains, rivers and valleys in which a focalized presence of God is purported to exist. One of the five pillars of Islam is the requirement that the Muslim make a pilgrimage to Mecca and worship at the Kaaba at least once during his or her life.

Judaism locates the presence of God in sacred time. The Sabbath is a religious context which exists relative to time as a cathedral exists relative to space.

In the Sabbath meal, which is a blend of ritual formality and informal family conversation, transcendent reality enters the ordinary world of the family and is experienced with a sense of celebration.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, sacrament provides a catalyst for worship. In the traditional mass, a priest becomes the agent through whom Jesus, presumed present on the altar, offers himself to the Father. This ritual is conceived as a means of transcending time and making the individual worshiper actually present at an historic event.

What about worship in the Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist families of religions? These religions, because they generally fail to grasp the significance of personality, tend to place their highest value on a subjective union with existential divinity, which the worshiper strives to experience as a specific state of consciousness.

Given the range of these human beliefs about just where God might be contacted, consider the implications of Jesus' statement that "where two or three believers are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them." (1762)

This suggests that for personalities, the richest experience of the presence of God is to be found within the process of relationship -- our relationship with God and our relationships with each other. These relationships are the primary elements in the gospel of the kingdom. They constitute the environment in which worship is expressed.

Very relevant to our topic, is an insight into the nature of the kingdom on page 1861 where the midwayers say that Jesus frequently referred to "the kingdom of God within you."

This statement is immediately followed by the comment that Jesus sought to substitute many terms for the kingdom but always without success. Among others, he used: the friends of God, the fellowship of believers, the children of God, the fellowship of the faithful, the Father's service, and the liberated sons of God.

What's interesting about these terms is that they're all designative of community. While Jesus never failed to exalt the sacredness of the individual as contrasted with the community (1862), when he says, "The kingdom of heaven is within you" it is very instructive to ask whether he is referring to an individual or to a group.

It is also instructive to remember that even God, as Trinity, is a community. From the viewpoint of The Urantia Book, it appears that relationships between persons, form the architectural structure of the spiritual universe. The inevitable repercussion of this fact, in the domain of the Father's personality circuit, is the emergence of community, which becomes spiritually transformed through worship, into the kingdom of heaven.

Our participation in the social communion of the remembrance supper is described as "the practice of the presence of God." Note that from the perspective of The Urantia Book, the "practice of the presence of God" is an activity in which we engage as we participate worshipfully in community.

The midwayers refer to this social communion as "the prelude to true worship...which eventuates in the emergence of the brotherhood of man." (1133)

Here we begin to get a glimpse of the creative relationship between the activity of worship and the emergence of the kingdom. Consider what's happening here: In the remembrance supper, Michael participates with us in the experience of simultaneously communing with God and with our fellows.

The Master has provided a means whereby he can be personally active, helping us as fully as we will allow, to bring about those personal and social transformations essential to a fuller realization of the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps in this context we can more fully appreciate the book's statement that "worship is divinely creative."

Enhancing our Worship Experience

But now let's ask the question, "What may the sincere worshiper do which might further develop the potentials of worship?" Let's consider some of the specific activities pointed to by The Urantia Book. This assumes, of course, that there is already present an active worship life.

Jesus exhorted his believers to "employ prayer as a means of leading up through thanksgiving to true worship." (1640) The role of prayer is a significant topic worthy of its own on-going study. For our purposes here, let's simply recognize that the sincere worshiper will cultivate an active prayer life.

Emotions are important. The mortal foundations for the experience of worship are a group of feelings embracing awe, reverence, humility, and even a primitive form of gratitude. (708)

On page 1840 it is suggested that we attempt to arouse the highest of human emotions in association with the intellectual approach to spiritual communion with God. On this same page it is noted that Jesus "rejoiced to contemplate the Father through the inspiring spectacle of the starry realms of the Creator Sons." Sincere worshipers will strive for a quality of emotional integration which provides significant depth of feeling for their worship experiences.

We looked at the relationship between service and worship, and we thought about communities of worshipers. The human communities in which we participate may be one of the most important factors in our worship experience. They combine service opportunities with a richer context in which worship may be experienced. Page 1094 reminds us that "Spiritual growth is mutually stimulated by intimate association with other religionists." (1094)

Certainly the ideas we have considered here would imply that there are significant aspects of worship which are simply unavailable outside of community.

The sincere worshiper will find ways of becoming committed to and involved in a variety of human communities. Certainly this should include a community of worshipers.

Knowledge, and our approach to managing our intellectual life are very important. On page 303 we find that the quality of worship is determined by the depth of creature perception...and knowledge of the infinite character of God. (303) Page 910 tells us that the coming goal of earthly existence is quality of thinking.

Page 1104 tells us precisely where the Adjuster and the Spirit of Truth function --"amid and upon our ideas, ideals, insights and spirit strivings." (1104) These are all elements which we control; we provide the inner environment upon which our spiritual benefactors depend. Page 1641 says that our experience of worship is the illumination of this inner environment by the Father's indwelling spirit. (1641) Obviously, the integrity and the artistic skill with which we develop and maintain this inner environment, is crucial to our spiritual growth, and the experiential quality of our worship.

At the very least, we must develop sufficient intellectual competence to wisely discriminate between truth and error. (647)(1142) Likewise must we be alert to well-meaning individuals who will inevitably appear on the scene, who will attempt to use The Urantia Book, and us, as a means of reinforcing their own self-conceived images as "spiritual leaders." It's relatively easy to use words and quotes from The Urantia Book without having any idea of the models of reality which they really represent. May we always be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

The sincere worshiper will have an on-going program for intellectual development leading to an enhanced comprehension of Deity and the acquisition of intellectual skills.

May we never become so intellectually slothful that we presume to view the Spirit of Truth as a gift which has been given to relieve us of the moral obligation to critically examine our ideas and assure their integrity; may we never descend to the anemic spirituality which views critical evaluation of belief, as a betrayal of faith.

Let's clarify what might be seen as a Gnostic tendency here by pausing to acknowledge the solitary role of faith in providing entrance to the kingdom. These factors which we're considering here are not necessary for survival, nor are they necessary for a full recognition of the Father's love.

But they are the critical elements which condition our capacity for spiritual receptivity. (50) Enhancing spiritual receptivity is not a matter of creating a psychic vacuum which will then somehow suck in the presence of God; it's a matter of engaging in "the highest and most spiritualized thinking" possible. (1104)

The Urantia Book indicates that it is the active process of this spiritualized thinking, through which spirit ministry is received. It is during the time we are engaged in the actual process itself, of actively seeking truth, discerning meanings and discovering values, that we are open to spirit influence. If, during such spiritualized thinking, we are simultaneously offering to God the gift of our consecrated will, we are truly engaging in the reality of sincere worship.

By choosing to engage in such worship, we assent to the establishment of the morontial and spiritual conditions which make it possible for the adjuster to nourish and refresh the embryonic soul.

We're talking about the mechanism by which we participate in the birth of our souls here -- how seriously are we taking this privilege of participating in the creation of a new universe citizen? Are we giving worship a level of priority in our lives commensurate with the universe significance of this activity?

We choose survival as we choose to engage in the process of sincere worship.

In our longing to more fully know God, let us not overlook the warning given on page 1778. "The life purpose must be jealously guarded from the temptation to seek for easy and transient attainment; likewise must it be so fostered as to become immune to the disastrous threats of fanaticism." (1778) I think this quote ought to be embossed on the cover of The Urantia Book like the surgeon general's warning on a pack of cigarettes -- "Warning: Spirit Central has determined that revelation may be rough on your psyche and may lead to unforseen mutations in your social environment..."

Webster, by the way, defines fanaticism as "intense, uncritical devotion."

It is essential that the sincere worshiper have some understanding of the nature of these dangers and a sound philosophical strategy for negotiating safe passage upon the high seas of intellectual adventure and spiritual discovery, which lie before us.

Although not directly related to enhancing worship, let's add one other consideration: If we're serious about integrating this revelation into the communities in which we function, we should each have an on-going commitment to studying and understanding the way in which the fourth epochal revelation has been integrated into human communities. As Matthew Block's work is showing, much of the conceptual architecture of The Urantia Book is constructed from the most successfully developed elements of the fourth epochal revelation.

This book stands as a literary colossus astride 2,000 years of human struggle for a deeper communion with God. As we begin to understand its historic antecedents as well as the trends of evolutionary thought which it picks up, develops and projects into the next millennium, the magnificence of the landscape illuminated by the light of this text becomes truly breathtaking, in its intellectual depth and spiritual grandeur.

In closing, let me just say that while I have emphasized the "active" aspects of worship, this is not to devalue its more contemplative aspects. Rather, should it expand them by suggesting that the visionary concept of worship contained in The Urantia Book points us to a mode of worshipful living which we see fully developed in the life of the Master, who was able to maintain "unbroken communion" with God.

May we all strive for such an enlightened level of living.


In addition to The Urantia Book, the following sources provided ideas and information for this presentation:

Catherine Albanese, "America: Religions and Religion" (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1992).

George M. Marsden, "Understanding Fundamentalism and Evanglicalism" (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991).

Wayne A. Meeks, "The First Urban Christians" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983).

H. Richard Niebuhr, "The Kingdom of God in America" (Middletown, Connn: Wesleyan University Press, 1988).

H. Richard Niebuhr, "Christ and Culture" (New York: Harper and Row, 1951).

H. Richard Niebuhr, "The Social Sources of Denominationalism" (Glouchester, Mass: Peter Smith, 1987).

Ted Peters, "The Cosmic Self" (San Francisco: Harper, 1991).

Eric Werner, "The Sacred Bridge: The Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church during the First Millennium" (New York: Da Capo Press, 1979).

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