Leavening Our Religious Heritage
By Meredith J. Sprunger
Published by Urantia Brotherhood, November 1977
One of the greatest needs of contemporary society is to be inspired by a fresh and enlarged spiritual vision which will stimulate mankind to new spiritual growth. Such advances in spiritual enlightenment in the past have been initiated by pioneering personalities or were inspired by the vision of prophetic books.
It is my considered opinion, confirmed by more than twenty years of critical thought and experience, that we have, in The Urantia Book, such an epoch-making book. Like a mountain peak rising above the slumbering potentials of our contemporary scene, the book catches and reflects the light which signals the dawn of a new spiritual day. It seems destined to introduce unprecedented creative thought and action in the field of religion.
The Urantia Book was published by Urantia Foundation, 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois, in 1955 and contains 2097 pages. It claims to be written by a number of celestial beings as a special revelation to man living on this world, Urantia. It asserts that it contains the first major divine revelation since the coming of Christ to our planet.
Such a claim surely will put a knowledgeable and responsible person on guard. Almost every generation produces a number of people who pose as the bearers of a "new revelation." What is surprising about The Urantia Book is that it has almost nothing in common with radical or fanatical movements. It does not advocate a new religion. Its viewpoint builds upon the religious heritage of the past and present; yet, it is fresh, expansive, and profound.
The superior quality of the philosophical-religious insights of The Urantia Book is clear to anyone of discriminating mind who reads it. After a judicious and reflective reading of the book, one is impressed by the power of its own authenticity. It is a book, however, which cannot be adequately evaluated until one grasps its comprehensive universe cosmology -- its total religious picture. Just as students of the life of Jesus recognize the superlative quality of his character even though they may reject his divinity, so mankind will eventually recognize the unparalleled quality of the insights of The Urantia Book -- even though they do not accept it as a new revelation.
Revelatory authenticity, however is a secondary consideration. The basic challenge posed by this stimulating book is pragmatic. Does it have something creative and constructive to contribute to our modern religious-philosophic outlook? There is little question but that it can and will make a significant contribution to our religious thinking. Evaluated on the basis of spiritual insight, philosophic coherence, and reality-centeredness, it presents the finest world view of religion available to contemporary man. It will profoundly impress those who are interested in progressive philosophical and religious thinking which has the potential of molding world destiny.
A Holistic Philosophical Orientation
The exceptional philosophical-religious qualities of The Urantia Book include an integrated and masterful concept of reality. The gap between monistic and pluralistic metaphysical concepts is bridged. Mechanistic and vitalistic interpretations of natural phenomena are integrated. Science and religion are seen as aspects of a larger unity. Concepts of deity ranging from that of a personal universal father to an impersonal absolute are so well unified that the holistic picture is harmonious. Both unitarian and trinitarian views are enhanced. These and other philosophic-religious diversities are integrated in such a way as to augment the essential truths in each of these positions.
A marvelously organized astronomical universe is projected which includes millions of inhabited planets in all stages of physical, mental, and spiritual evolution. The book contains what is probably the most realistic and inclusive material-mindal-spiritual cosmology in the entire field of philosophy and religion.
Moreover, The Urantia Book presents an eminently reasonable picture of the conditions and nature of immortality. Survival is seen as dependent on the spiritual reality status of the individual -- the result of the free choice motivation and decisions of the person toward truth, beauty, and goodness (God) as he sincerely understands these values. Nevertheless, evil, sin, and judgment are stern and sober realities in the universe. The interrelationships of body, mind, soul, and spirit are treated with much insight and originality. The central challenge to modern man is to make a balanced effort to achieve God-consciousness. Growth toward perfection is presented as the fundamental motivation of life. This growth is evolutionary, culminating, and virtually endless.
The Urantia Book also presents a superior understanding of planetary history, dynamics, and destiny. Evolution is seen as the key modus operandi of our planet. It integrates the mechanisms of the physical universe with the purposes of mind and spirit "overcontrol." An excellent summary of the development of religion and the growth of civilization is given with admirable conciseness and insight. The book's penetrating analysis of religion, culture, and the family is of exceptional quality. Its basic philosophy of the various forms of energy is that matter is ultimately subject to mind and that mind is eventually controlled by spirit.
The last section of The Urantia Book contains an extended version of the life and teachings of Jesus which is unsurpassed in theistic philosophical reasonableness, spiritual insight, and personality appeal. This superb presentation of the life of Jesus brings life to the sketchy New Testament story and with it a new authenticity. It is basically acceptable to all religions, emphasizing the religion of Jesus which is unifying as opposed to the religion about Jesus which tends to be divisive.
A Resource Not an Imperative
Although the message of The Urantia Book is solidly rooted in the perennial philosophy and religious experience of the past, it does present an enlarged view of the universe and God. Religious institutions usually find expanded knowledge and insight difficult to assimilate. Light can blind as well as guide. Truth which is presented prematurely brings frustration and rejection. The Urantia Book, therefore, may be disturbing to some people even though it is supportive and positive toward all people and all human efforts in the search for truth and spiritual understanding.
People are receptive to progressive spiritual values long before they are prepared to understand the origin and implications of these truths. Religious leaders, therefore, might best stimulate spiritual growth by translating the insights they discover in The Urantia Book into the idiom and reference frame of the people they serve.
Even though The Urantia Book is among the most significant sources of spiritual guidance available to contemporary man, it is not an end in itself; nor is it a necessary means to spiritual enlightenment. Its potentials for individual and social growth, however, are so great it should be highly recommended to all who are interested in the creative possibilities of a spiritual renaissance in our society. Its message is balanced and profound. Its approach is open and benign. There are no threats or coercions to "believe." It seeks to work in and through the evolutionary process and within the social institutions of our world.
During the years since its publication, this large and rather expensive book, without advertisement or sales promotion, is being discovered by steadily increasing numbers of people. The overwhelming consensus among those who have discovered The Urantia Book is that it is destined for universal recognition on our planet.
Obviously, the custody of The Urantia Book is the responsibility of a social group. Those who are interested in events related to the origin of The Urantia Book will find such references here and there in the text of the book, some of which are listed on the dust jacket of the book. The major organizations associated with the book are Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood. Urantia Foundation is a nonprofit, educational foundation established by a Declaration of Trust in 1950 and is the publisher and owner of the copyright of The Urantia Book. The Foundation also sponsors and publishes foreign language translations of The Urantia Book as well as Urantia Book study materials.
Urantia Brotherhood, founded in 1955, is a fellowship of people from all walks of life and diverse philosophic-religious backgrounds who recognize the high quality of the teachings of The Urantia Book. These teachings are being disseminated entirely by a quiet, person-to-person approach. Many study groups are forming at the grass roots of the world, preparing for the time when the majority of men and women are ready for the enlarged spiritual vision of The Urantia Book.
The organizational building blocks of Urantia Brotherhood are Urantia Societies, which emerge from stable and mature study groups and function with great autonomy. These Societies, when formally chartered by the Brotherhood, elect delegates to the Triennial Delegate Assembly, who in turn elect the 36 members of the General Council, the governing body of Urantia Brotherhood.
The overriding concern of the Brotherhood is the spiritual regeneration and evolutionary advancement of mankind. Membership in other organizations, fraternal orders, churches, or religious groups is entirely compatible with membership in Urantia Brotherhood. During the early decades of its existence Urantia Brotherhood has dedicated itself to a quiet, spiritual ministry. We believe this will always characterize the Brotherhood's relationship to society.
The kingdom of God is an invisible and spiritual brotherhood which is destined to become a living organism transcending social institutions. Contemporary religious institutions can and will serve as an adequate source of religious ministration for our society. Urantia Brotherhood, therefore, seeks to avoid being seen as, or to function as, a "church," and eschews implications that it is promoting a "new religion." It strives, rather, to support, encourage, and strengthen all religious institutions toward the fulfillment of their unique potentials in ministering to the spiritual needs of mankind. The Brotherhood's singular aspiration is to act as a leavening influence in the great and many-faceted religious heritage of our world.
Urantia Brotherhood believes that the greatest contribution it can make to all individuals and institutions is to maintain a prophetic, leavening ministry rooted in the spiritually inspiring teachings of The Urantia Book. Translating these teachings into specific social-institutional responsibilities remains the task of the various individuals and institutions of our society.
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship