The Challenges of Faith in the Quest for Cosmic Citizenship
1. Introduction to the Study: Coorelation with The Urantia Book
Initial Perspectives from The Urantia Book
Note: This study attempts to coorelate several stage models of spiritual development described in The Urantia Book with the work of Dr. James Fowler as set forth in his book, Stages of Faith. Dr. Fowler's work is based on the stage theories of psychological and social maturation developed by Erick Erickson, Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg. I have taken their work and attempted to correlate it with The Urantia Book material on faith and spiritual growth, in particular the ascent through the psychic circles of consciousness of progressive kinship with the cosmic actuality of the Supreme Being. Material from Dr. Paul Tillich's essay, Dynamics of Faith, is used in conjunction with material from The Urantia Book to provide a background understanding of faith to which the material on the stages of faith development is subsequently related.
Everyone reading this study has begun the journey of faith; a journey whose destination we understand to be the presence of the Universal Father whose nature is ultimate reality, ultimate beauty, ultimate goodness, ultimate truth and divine love. While our creative spiritual imaginations provide us with insight into the nature of the goal of our journey of faith, we sometimes find ourselves puzzled and confused regarding the best way to attain that goal.
I would like to share with you a road map of the portions of this journey which we are likely to encounter during our lives here in this world as we progress from infancy to old age. The authors tell us that if we embark upon this journey, ". . . you are sure to encounter, and if you have the courage, to traverse, the rugged hills of moral choosing and spiritual progress."
If we know something about the path ahead, which winds through these rugged hills of moral choosing, perhaps we will be better equipped to deal with the uncertainty and difficulty which The Urantia Book says we are sure to encounter.
The Urantia Book refers to this process as the ascent through the psychic circles -- the path which leads from the first moments of self-consciousness in childhood, to a consciousness of universe citizenship later in life. It is important to understand that this ascent through the psychic circles relates to personality integration with the Supreme Being. Hence, growing through the psychic circles involves the attainment of ever more meaningful levels of functional personality integration with the social mileu—the interpersonal environment—in which we find ourselves living. We become more real as we achieve increasing integration with the lives and purposes of others in combination with a pursuit of the Father's will.
"The universe is a whole; no thing or being exists or lives in isolation. Self-realization is potentially evil if it is antisocial. It is literally true: "No man lives by himself." Cosmic socialization constitutes the highest form of personality unification. Said Jesus: "He who would be greatest among you, let him become server of all." 56:10.14
As human beings we each have many concerns which demand our attention in our daily lives. We are concerned about our needs for shelter, food, clothing, economic security for our families, education and health care for our children. We have concerns about social and political matters. We also share some concerns about our spiritual lives and our personal relationships with God.
To help us think about these matters I would like to share some questions with you. These are questions which you should answer for yourself. Your answers will help you gain a deeper perspective on the primary elements of your spiritual life.
Some questions about those things which occupy your attention
1. In daily life, to which tasks do you devote your best time, energy and thinking?
2. What are the causes, dreams, goals or institutions to which you contribute time or creative effort?
3. As you live your life, what power or powers do you rely on and trust?
4. To what or to whom are you committed in life? In death?
5. With whom or with what group do you share your most sacred and private hopes for your life and for the lives of those you love?
6. What are your most sacred hopes, your most compelling goals and the primary purposes in your life?
These questions are intended to help you become more aware of those realities which truly occupy the center of your life and command your creative attention.
Let’s try to summarize all these questions with another question -- What is the central value, or set of values, relative to which all of your other life situations are evaluated or subordinated? Stated another way, “What is your ultimate concern in life?”
Do you structure your life around the needs of your job or career? Do you evaluate everything on the basis of how it will effect you economically? Do you base your major life decisions on what you believe people in your community might think of you? Is your life structured around the needs of your family?
That which truly constitutes our personal religious life is the devotion with which we pursue that which is of greatest importance to us – that which we believe will bring fulfillment and meaning to our life. Our personal religion may be wholly material, social or spiritual, but we each have elements in our lives which we pursue with religious devotion. The task of religious growth as it relates to cosmic citizenship and personality integration, is to make sure that those central values to which we are devoted – our ultimate concerns – are truly spiritual in nature and cosmic in scope. The reason for this is to be sure that we don’t develop our lives relative to some temporary phenomenon in the universe which will one day collapse and require us to start over.
“Religion is not a specific function of life; rather is it a mode of living. True religion is a wholehearted devotion to some reality which the religionist deems to be of supreme value to himself and for all mankind. And the outstanding characteristics of all religions are: unquestioning loyalty and wholehearted devotion to supreme values. This religious devotion to supreme values is shown in the relation of the supposedly irreligious mother to her child and in the fervent loyalty of nonreligionists to an espoused cause.” 100:6.1
Carefully evaluating the above questions will give us an idea of how our personal religious life appears when evaluated on the basis of the ideas given in The Urantia Book. In The Urantia Book’s view of personal religious experience, the behaviors in which we engage as we pursue whatever reality we deem to be of supreme value, these constitute our religious life. From a psychological perspective, that to which we are supremely devoted plays the role of God in our lives.
Your God may be our career, our bank account, our family, our social image, or a role we play in a human institution or organization.
Important as each of these are, if they are treated as the highest center in our lives, they become idolatrous because they take a position in our inner lives which should be dominated by our personal relationship with the Father and the desire to do his will.
I am not suggesting that we sacrifice these important and necessary elements of our personal lives. What is required is that we subordinate them to the pursuit of the Father’s will. That is to say, when we make decisions regarding our family lives, our careers, our economic needs, our social roles we learn to make them relative to a sincere seeking of the Father’s will – our consideration of God and our desire to do his will in all things must become our supreme value. Thus our spiritual experience can come to coordinate and integrate all of the other concerns which affect us in daily life.
Given this understanding of the religious life, what is faith? Why is it important? How does it grow and develop over the course of a human lifetime?
A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship
Serving the Readership since 1955