The Urantia Book Fellowship

What Is The Gospel?

by Harry McMullan, III

There is widespread confusion in our movement as to the meaning of such basic concepts as "the gospel" and "the kingdom." This confusion arises in part because the terms were used with different meanings even by Jesus himself. In order to make distinctions for the purposes of this paper, I suggest the following strict definitions: "the kingdom" is a state of being, a relationship between man and God; "the gospel" is a word-description of that relationship, and of all the truths which flow from an acceptance of that relationship, such as the brotherhood of man, eternal life, etc. The gospel is a messenger for the kingdom, and as such, can be anything from a canned slogan to a beautifully replete story of God's love for his earth children.


How then does The Urantia Book relate to the gospel? It gives us insights into many subjects both secular and sacred, but primarily it is about the relationship of man with his Maker, and as such, is the gospel. Far more than any other writing on earth, it could be called the whole gospel. It is not the only, but by far the best, messenger for the kingdom. If you are on an elevator and share a spiritual truth with someone between the first and the twenty-eighth floors, you have given him the gospel. If you were locked in the same room with him for a year, you could tell him much more of the gospel. But if you gave him a copy of The Urantia Book, you would be giving him access to far more of the gospel than he could hope to receive from any source short of entering the kingdom itself, entering a relationship with the Father and discovering first-hand what the words stand for. The gospel, in whole or in part, is meaningless apart from an experience in the heart of the person who! receives it.

It is true that The Urantia Book is "second-hand religion," but this should not be considered a criticism because the gospel itself is second-hand. Only one's personal experience with God--the kingdom--is first-hand. "Religion cannot be bestowed, received, loaned, learned or lost. It is a personal experience..." [100:1.7] A person becomes intrigued with the gospel and thereby decides to experience it firsthand by entering the kingdom.

In attempting to interest others in the spiritual life, we may find it appropriate to talk directly about God, in, which case our words would be the gospel of the kingdom. Or, we may judge that an indirect approach might stand a better chance of success: to interest the other person in the gospel, which in turn interests them in the kingdom. This is what we do when we talk about The Urantia Book. It's what Philip did so effectively when he led others to Jesus by saying, "Come and see." When we lead people to the gospel, we do so in the hope that the gospel will lead them to God. To talk about the book is to talk about the gospel.

What is the relationship between the teachings and the book? The book is that collection of those teachings which our divine overseers judged we most needed to know, more completely and systematically arranged than any human being could have put them in, as well as an unparalleled description of the life of Jesus. The book might be referred to as the complete teachings. While it obviously is not the only place one can find the gospel, much more than anything else available in printed form on earth, the book is the gospel.

Does this mean that The Urantia Book is the only, or necessarily the best way for a person to encounter the gospel? Of course not; some approaches appeal to certain people, others appeal to others. We should establish the presumption, however, that the high universe personalities who authored the book are capable of explaining things quite well, and should be given the chance to be heard. The fun in telling others about the gospel, however, consists in our opportunity to use personal judgment, and to develop the art of telling others about God without falling into canned formulas. But all other things equal, we should assume that most anyone will profitably find spiritual enlightenment in The Urantia Book, just as we have, and we should share the book with him in order to allow the Spirit of Truth an opportunity to use the book as a spiritual fulcrum, source and guide for personal enlightenment. Telling others about the book should be the rule, not the exception.

Is it possible for us to make the mistake of creating a religion about the book instead of fostering the religion of the book? It's hard to see how; the only way that tomes to mind would be for us to direct others' attention away from what the book says and toward the "miraculous" manner in which the book was received, the Contact Personality, the Contact Commission, the Forum, etc. Some might advise building little velvet shrines for the book in the eastern corners of our living rooms. While anything is possible, such perversions would appear to be laughingly remote. Most importantly, since The Urantia Book itself is so clear in directing its readers along the proper path of love of God and service to man, errors we might start with will self-liquidate provided only that we read the book. Any guru who tried to make a religion about the book would be put in the embarrassing position of attempting to prevent his followers from actually reading the object of his religion, which ! woul d automatically disclose the guru's error and thereby repudiate the religion about the book which he was attempting to foster. That particular movement would have a short half-life! It is highly unlikely that there could ever be a religion about the book which could more than temporarily supplant the saving message of the book. The Urantia Book itself in readers' hands is the surest way for such errors to be avoided, for the answers are there, waiting to be read.

How important is The Urantia Book? What does it do for us that nothing else can? Most importantly, it gives us a full and accurate account of Jesus' life, available nowhere else. This alone makes it absolutely irreplaceable. As important as the teachings are to our spiritual life, they are not of remotely comparable value to a knowledge of Jesus' life. The teachings do not have the power to inspire men to the dedication of the lives that an understanding of Jesus' life does, and therein lies the book's unique contribution. Even Jesus' teachings, which are readily available from thousands of other sources, are nowhere stated with the accuracy, beauty, and philosophical consistency that is found in The Urantia Book.

By giving us the details about how this struggling and valiant mortal overcame obstacles and actually did the will of God in the flesh, The Urantia Book is our only means of understanding how Jesus was both man and God. Jesus considered this principle of the uniting of the divine and human natures in the human experience so vital that he told Peter, "...upon this foundation will I build the brotherhood of the kingdom of heaven." [157:4.5] If we accept the importance Jesus attached to this concept and its unavailability outside the book, we must accept the urgency of active measures to help make the book available to all who might desire to have it.

Alone among religious systems, The Urantia Book gives its readers a consistent picture of the interrelationship of science, philosophy, and religion. This is an incalculably valuable service to the philosophically minded and to the skeptical.

Is The Urantia Book just an unusually good book? Are there any substitutes which the spiritual seeker may use without undue jeopardy to his welfare? While many things in the book are available elsewhere (if one looks hard enough), in three areas it has no substitute, listed here in descending order of importance:

  • 1. It tells us about the life of Jesus, by far the most effective way for us to learn about God, which has the power to save our souls.
  • 2. It arranges and synthesizes the story of God's relationship to man, filtering out and fitting together facts, ideas and spiritual truth so as to give us an intellectual sense of the symmetry of God's dealings with his mortal children.
  • 3. It gives us authoritative and essential advice in several areas of human civilization, most notably about the family, politics and genetics.

Is The Urantia Book mandatory to our mission of spreading the gospel? Of course not; God has always loved us, and wherever men have talked about that, the gospel has been preached. While in theory there is nothing so special about this particular arrangement of ink on paper, in practice it is essential to spreading the "whole gospel." If we preach the gospel and leave out the symmetrical understanding of God's nature which is only available to us by means of the book, and leave out the story of Jesus' life, the gospel is rendered lame, halt and partial compared to how it otherwise would be.

Again, what can take the place of the book? If we share one or two or twenty of the teachings with another person, optimistically he might become inspired enough to seek and find God, which is our objective. But unless he has The Urantia Book as a continuing source of enlightenment for his mind and nourishment for his spirit, he may join some group in which his continuing search for truth may become hampered by the confusion of irrational or incomplete teachings. Such an experience is far better than never having heard the teachings, of course, but far worse than being able to progress in an understanding of God by the inspiration of the "whole gospel" and the revelation of God which the book provides of the life of Jesus.


By the inspiration of the Spirit of Truth, millions of people have met Jesus through the New Testament, but it is only "meagerly Jesusonian" [196:2.1] and it "almost wholly lost sight of the struggling and valiant human Jesus of Galilee." [196:2.4]

"What an awakening the world would experience if it could only see Jesus as he really lived on earth and know, firsthand, his life-giving teachings." [195:9.8]

It is easy to mistakenly put forth the teachings of Jesus as the best description of the kingdom, to the neglect of his life. The book makes clear that it is Jesus' life, and not his teachings, which is of paramount value. A knowledge of Jesus' life is what stands the best chance of saving and inspiring our souls. (Best of all, of course, is to be able to see the interaction of both his life and teachings, which is available only in the book.)

"You, as did his apostles, should the better understand Jesus' teachings by his life. He lived a perfected life on Urantia, and his unique teachings can only be understood when that life is visualized in its immediate background. It is his life, and not his lessons to the twelve or his sermons to the multitudes, that will assist most in revealing the Father's divine character and loving personality." [140:8.19]

"It was not so much what Jesus taught about the balanced character that impressed his associates as the fact that his own life was such an eloquent exemplification of his teaching." [149:4.5]

"When you study the career of the Master, as concerns prayer or any other feature of the religious life, look not so much for what he taught as for what he did." [196:0.10]

"Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it." [196:1.3]

"You learn about God from Jesus by observing the divinity of his life, not by depending on his teachings. From the life of the Master you may each assimilate that concept of God which represents the measure of your capacity to perceive realities spiritual and divine, truths real and eternal. The finite can never hope to comprehend the Infinite except as the Infinite was focalized in the time-space personality of the finite experience of the human life of Jesus of Nazareth. ... You can know God, not by understanding what Jesus said, but by knowing what Jesus was. Jesus was a revelation of God." [169:4.4]

The argument is sometimes raised that instead of showing others the book, we should let people see Jesus live in us. But even Jesus--God incarnate-went to the people with his message, and for us to sit back with beatific smiles trying to be spiritual, waiting for others to ask why we are such fine people, would be a pathetically passive and inexcusably naive approach to spreading the gospel.


Every reader of The Urantia Book has had so many unfruitful experiences in attempting to share the book with others that he may be tempted to quickly answer, "No, the world is not ready." But this answer totally misses the point, for new truth has never been readily received. Results are always in God's hands; ours is the obligation to try.

A "do nothing, fear everything" attitude toward the outreach of The Urantia Book has transmogrified Jesus' principle into the lame rationalization for inactivity of "don't do anything now because people aren't ready." Jesus rather taught us to proclaim the gospel everywhere, but not to become disappointed when everyone doesn't respond.

Whether he or she will receive it or not, everyone should have the opportunity to be exposed to the most recent revelation of truth for our planet. We have no right to decide, in advance, that a certain person or class of persons probably would not be receptive, and therefore, should not be allowed to hear about the book. Jesus gave an equal opportunity to all.

"He directed them all to seek God for guidance and to carry on the work of the kingdom regardless of consequences. [154:5.2]

"Fear no man when you proclaim the saving truths of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven." [192:2.12]

"Fear not the resistance of evil, for I am with you always, even to the end of the ages." [191:4.4]

"I tell you the fields are already white for the harvest." [143:6.1]

"Be not discouraged; human evolution is still in progress, and the revelation of God to the world, in and through Jesus, shall not fail." [196:3.30]

A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship
Serving the Readership since 1955