(Editor’s note: This was presented at the Urantia Book Seminar on Education held 23—26 March 2017 at Urantia Foundation)
The purpose of this essay is to offer for consideration a number of educational imperatives to guide us, as early recipients of the new truths revealed in The Urantia Book, in the implementation of an educational strategy designed to foster the transition in human consciousness from our fourth revelatory epoch to the fifth. One aspect of this educational strategy addresses how we choose to deal with the risk typically associated with the challenge of integrating new revelatory truth while minimizing its dilution and contamination by past religious beliefs, symbols, practices, and institutions. A Melchizedek observes:
You who today enjoy the advantages of the art of printing little understand how difficult it was to perpetuate truth during these earlier times; how easy it was to lose sight of a new doctrine from one generation to another. There was always a tendency for the new doctrine to become absorbed into the older body of religious teaching and magical practice. A new revelation is always contaminated by the older evolutionary beliefs. [Paper 93:7.4, page 1022.2] emphasis added
Premise: An Educational Strategy for The Fifth Epoch
It is the purpose of our educational initiatives to develop and implement the means and mechanisms whereby existing human consciousness on our planet—individual and collective—can be challenged by new truth to transition from its fourth to the fifth epoch of revealed truth to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception. The revealed gospel of the fourth epoch is the Fatherhood of God, universal sonship, and the spiritual brotherhood of man. The “gospel” of the fifth revelatory epoch might be defined as our personality-will decision to respond to the Father’s inescapable command to become perfect in our realm as the Father is in his, facilitated by the expanded cosmic consciousness and enhanced spiritual perception delivered in our new epochal revelation of truth. This gospel is intended to augment, not replace, the fourth epochal gospel as revealed to us by Michael of Nebadon’s final bestowal incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. One dimension of Michael’s bestowal career was his planned revelation of the various wills of the Paradise Deities and the synthetic will of the Supreme Being on and to all levels and to all personalities in his local universe realm, and perhaps beyond. Applying this pattern to planetary illumination and spiritual growth, whereas Michael/Jesus revealed the will of the Father during the fourth epoch, The Urantia Book may be a revelation of the will of the Conjoint Actor, the God of Mind, during the fifth.
Universe Context for Our Educational Imperative
For any of us feeling impatience due to the perception that our community has been slow to foster revelatory adoption during our short three generations of public promotion, here is a brief recital designed to provide some perspective, not only on universe timescales, but on a higher pattern of universe experience and education that might profitably inform our educational endeavors.
900 billion years ago, a permit was issued to begin development of the Orvonton Superuniverse space site that was to become a local universe. 400 billion years ago, our Creator Son, Michael, chose this site as the location for his local universe of Nebadon. Some two million years after that, Salvington and the required 100 constellation headquarters planets were completed and ready for occupancy. We know only a little about what Michael and the Creative Mother Spirit busied themselves with as the years flew by besides organizing their universe with expressions of matter, morontia, mind, and spirit and populating its spheres with living beings. All of that creative work apparently takes a LOT of time!
Approximately one billion years ago, our Creator Michael undertook implementation of the charge given him by the Eternal Son on behalf of the Trinity to bestow himself seven times on the creatures of the universe he had created in the outer reaches of superuniverse seven. The pattern of such bestowals was first manifest by the Eternal Son who bestowed himself on the seven circuits of the Central Universe of Havona, as subsequently did the original Paradise Michael Son. The Creator Son’s acceptance of this solemn responsibility impacts reality in his local universe and ripples across the Grand Universe home of the Supreme, and perhaps beyond. On Urantia we have directly experienced and benefitted from this obligation as a consequence of our Creator Son’s choice to complete his bestowal service on our world in his incarnation as the human Jesus—a short, 2,000 years ago.
When the Eternal Son bestows a Creator Son upon a projected local universe, that Creator Son assumes full responsibility for the completion, control, and composure of that new universe, including the solemn oath to the eternal Trinity not to assume full sovereignty of the new creation until his seven creature bestowals shall have been successfully completed and certified by the Ancients of Days of the superuniverse of jurisdiction. This obligation is assumed by every Michael Son who volunteers to go out from Paradise to engage in universe organization and creation. [Paper 119:0.3, page 1308.3]
The seven bestowals of a Creator Son of Paradise always end on the lowest, mortal bestowal level whereon the universe sovereign is born and dies as a mortal of the realm.
Only once in his sevenfold career as a bestowal Son is a Paradise Michael born of woman as you have the record of the babe of Bethlehem. Only once does he live and die as a member of the lowest order of evolutionary will creatures. [Paper 21:4.3, page 239.9]
A Paradise Creator Michael Son’s bestowal experiences augment his universe sovereignty, expands his experiential comprehension of the Supreme purposes of the Grand Universe, and reveals the various wills of the Paradise Deities as those wills are manifest in the persons of the Seven Master Spirits of the Grand Universe. Some 35,000 years ago, as the universes observed the default of Adam and Eve, it was announced that Michael’s seventh and final Creator Son bestowal incarnation would take place on our world some 33,000 years later in the form of a human child born to a human couple.
Planetary Context for Our Educational Imperative
Michael’s selection of Urantia as the site for his bestowal as a mortal will creature seemed to be his choice alone. So was its timing. Michael’s seven bestowals took place on average 150 million years apart beginning one billion years ago. On each of his bestowals, by design Michael revealed one of the various wills of the Paradise Deities, whose synthetic unity is revelatory of the will of the Supreme Being:
Creator Son Will Expression by Bestowal
In completing his creature bestowals, Michael was not only establishing his own sovereignty but also was augmenting the evolving sovereignty of God the Supreme. In the course of these bestowals the Creator Son not only engaged in a descending exploration of the various natures of creature personality, but he also achieved the revelation of the variously diversified wills of the Paradise Deities, whose synthetic unity, as revealed by the Supreme Creators, is revelatory of the will of the Supreme Being. [Paper 119:8.4, page 1318.2]
These various will aspects of the Deities are eternally personalized in the differing natures of the Seven Master Spirits, and each of Michael’s bestowals was peculiarly revelatory of one of these divinity manifestations. [Paper 119:8.4, page 1318.3]
Michael’s required bestowal experience represents a pattern expression for the process of universe education designed to demonstrate that personal sovereignty, at least for a Paradise Son, is based on the experiential comprehension of the wills of the Paradise Deities as they impact and influence the expression of God’s diversity in the finite realm (time and space). Is our personal sovereignty as will creatures consequential as well to such divinity experience?
Indeed, it may be speculated that experiential comprehension of the wills of the Paradise Deities and the will of the Supreme Being are reprised at every level of finite reality as an inherent facet of the realization of God as Supreme. Not only does our Creator Son do so in his bestowals, he also experiences the other six superuniverses to augment that unification.
Speculatively, it seems likely that the sum of revealed epochal truth on the planetary level from initial human consciousness to light and life offers a similar diversity of unifying will experience for ascending mortals. Consistent with higher patterns, ascending human will creatures, upon reaching spiritual status, will travel to the other six superuniverses to augment their experiential realization and unification of the diversified wills of the Paradise Deities and the synthetic will of the Supreme Being. If the pattern of Michael’s seven bestowals is predictive of a similar mortal experience of the Paradise Deities’ and Supreme wills, we can speculate as to how this pattern might be projected on our world:
Projected Will Expression by Planetary Mortal Epoch
* If Melchizedek, as an emergency mission, does not fit this pattern, the Daynals might express the united will of the Father/Son/Spirit and Light and Life would represent the seventh epoch since we are told that there are …at least seven epochs of human life. [Paper 52:0.1, page 589.1]
Detailed Discussion of Educational Imperatives
These strategic, educational imperatives are worth considering as the principles adopted to guide our early fifth epoch educational initiatives:
Fifth Epochal Transition Imperative:
In crafting an educational strategy for the coming decades, it is imperative that our educational initiatives be designed to communicate that the revelation of new truth conveyed in The Urantia Book during our fifth epoch is intended for all peoples on the planet and is not identified as a feature of any fourth epoch evolutionary religion, including Christianity. The book’s implied purpose, which must be integrated into our educational activities, is to facilitate the transition in human consciousness from our fourth to our fifth epoch of spiritual growth fueled by the planned epochal revelation of new truth designed to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception.
Avoid Parochialism Imperative:
Planted in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century, the fifth epochal revelation initially attracted a significant number of American readers with evolutionary Christian backgrounds and experience. So it is not a surprise that there would be a tendency to comprehend and package the revelation’s new truths in the old wineskins—the familiar language, rituals, and theological beliefs of evolutionary Christianity with a distinctive American bent. It is worth considering that Christianity as an institutionalized religion of authority is an evolutionary response to revelation, and not the revelation itself notwithstanding that some of Jesus’ teachings are still present therein much as truth exists in many religions. We were warned about such truth contamination and dilution. We can neither claim surprise nor avoid developing educational approaches to minimize such dilution and make conscious the revelation’s universal planetary intentions. The book teaches powerfully that our sonship with a common Father God and consequent universal brotherhood of all Urantia human beings will eventually be realized in the actualization of one world community which might be identified as the united human beings of Urantia. Our educational initiatives, by raising human awareness of that future reality as a revealed feature of this fifth epoch, can begin to introduce such sea change concepts into human consciousness, thereby helping to lessen the risk of contamination. (See Appendix)
Full Text Imperative:
Our educational strategy must not sacrifice illumination of the revealed truths of the entire Urantia Book to the apparent familiarity and appeal of Part IV. The true, religious power of Jesus’ fourth revelation as addressed in the last third of The Urantia Book derives in this fifth epoch from the expanded cosmic context provided by the revelators in Parts I-III, including the Foreword. It is imperative that our educational activities establish for coming generations the expanded cosmic consciousness offered for the fifth epoch as the context in which to truly comprehend the mission of our Creator Son as the human Jesus and as the Creator Son of our local universe. This educational positioning should help to insure the eventual integration into human consciousness of the meanings and values of this new teaching to and for all planetary citizens. That is, the fifth epochal revelation belongs to every child of our common Father-God and not to any specific group of fellow human beings. Linking the revelation to any institutionalized response to truth would surely hamper its ability to fuel growth for all. Notwithstanding that such an approach might be difficult and require patience in the short term, its benefits will surely be realized, albeit slowly, over coming generations. This outcome is inevitable. Our choice is whether consciously to become a part of its realization.
Knowing Michael’s Bestowal Purpose Imperative:
Michael’s bestowal as the human Jesus on our planet connects our Creator Son’s completion of his bestowal promise to the Eternal Son with our planet’s fourth epoch of personal religious growth and progress. As part of our educational mission to facilitate the transition of human consciousness from the fourth to the fifth epoch, we must develop educational initiatives that both differentiate and blend the benefits of this revelatory progression from fourth to fifth. The dimensions of both revealed truth and fact can help define our educational strategy. In the words of a Melchizedek:
As truth one may know God, but to understand – to explain – God, one must explore the fact of the universe of universes. The vast gulf between the experience of the truth of God and ignorance as to the fact of God can be bridged only by living faith. [Paper 102:6.6, page 1125.1]
…and aided by wise education and study! I believe that this statement offers a context in which to understand why the truths of Michael’s revelation as Jesus in the fourth epoch are expressive of the will of the Father and why the comprehension of God’s factual reality in the universe of universes as presented in the fifth epochal revelation might be expressive of the will of the God of Mind. If this expanded exploration of God’s factual reality as offered in The Urantia Book revelation is obscured by the familiar appeal of Jesus’ revelation of the truth of sonship with God, the power of the fifth epochal revelation to transition consciousness to the next epochal level will be reduced.
Top Down versus Bottom Up Educational Imperative:
A Divine Counsellor tells us that:
The human mind would ordinarily crave to approach the cosmic philosophy portrayed in these revelations by proceeding from the simple and the finite to the complex and the infinite, from human origins to divine destinies. But that path does not lead to spiritual wisdom. Such a procedure is the easiest path to a certain form of genetic knowledge, but at best it can only reveal man’s origin; it reveals little or nothing about his divine destiny. [Paper 19:1.5, page 215.2] The rest of this section of Paper 19 is worth studying.
Informed by this teaching and indeed observant of the very construction of The Urantia Book, it is imperative that our educational pedagogy gives preference to a top-down educational approach. As most of us have experienced in various study settings, even students of The Urantia Book tend to project onto the new truth they encounter beliefs and doctrines already in their consciousness. Though they may attempt to clothe their thinking and presentation in word symbols from the revelation, nonetheless their reach for new understanding is contaminated by what they already know and believe. A Melchizedek instructs:
Rationalism is wrong when it assumes that religion is at first a primitive belief in something which is then followed by the pursuit of values. Religion is primarily a pursuit of values, and then there formulates a system of interpretative beliefs. It is much easier for men to agree on religious values—goals—than on beliefs—interpretations. And this explains how religion can agree on values and goals while exhibiting the confusing phenomenon of maintaining a belief in hundreds of conflicting beliefs—creeds. This also explains why a given person can maintain his religious experience in the face of giving up or changing many of his religious beliefs. Religion persists in spite of revolutionary changes in religious beliefs. Theology does not produce religion; it is religion that produces theologic philosophy. [Paper 103:1.4, page 1130.3] emphasis added
Educationally we have both an obligation and an opportunity to construct our educational strategy on the revelatory teaching that the spiritual truth of God’s reality is experienced first as a quest for values followed by the evolutionary interpretations and beliefs which serve temporarily to define our comprehension—until we experience growth. Educating from the bottom up fosters projections of existing belief that contaminate newly revealed truth thereby impeding that truth’s ability to fuel growth and illuminate destiny. Mota 16 asserts that truth is revealed when the sequence of its encounter flows from spirit experience to soul perception: You cannot perceive truth until you feelingly experience it… Facilitating this shift in consciousness and identity from the mind to the soul as the doorway to truth illuminates a process by which our educational pedagogy can implement this imperative—educate from the top down not the bottom up.
Educational Compensation Imperative:
Had not the Planetary Prince rebelled, and had not Adam and Eve defaulted, Urantia would have benefitted from planetary leadership modelling growth-inducing teaching and behaviour to guide and influence the development of consciousness on our world as it transitions from epoch to epoch. As a consequence of the deficits resulting from rebellion and default, our educational strategy must consciously integrate approaches that compensate for this lack of intended leadership. The Urantia Book delivers the revealed truths our educational initiatives must illuminate in order to actualize experiential compensation for the lack of higher planetary guidance designed to facilitate the transition from the fourth to the fifth epoch of spiritual growth.
Revealed versus Evolutionary Religion Imperative:
The Urantia Book, the fifth epochal revelation of truth to our world, is a revelation of the personal experience of God as a spiritual Father to each and every human being on our planet—that is, true religion—in the context of God’s factual existence in the universe of universes. There is no equivalence between the fifth epochal revelation and the evolutionary religions that have been developed by well-intended human beings in response to the gift to human consciousness of past revelation, both personal and epochal. While we have a responsibility to ensure that our educational activities do not suggest or imply the arrogance of a chosen religion, we must also avoid weakening the power of revealed truth to challenge the human evolutionary response to revelation to progress to a higher and less diluted expression. The humbly-expressed “well, we believe it to be a revelation” might profitably be reinforced in our educational pedagogy with “we know and experience it as a new revelation of the truth of God’s reality.”
Transitional Quasi-Institutional Imperative:
One of the unfortunate outcomes of the fourth revelation was the transformation of Jesus’ revealed truths into a diluted religion “about” him that formed the skeleton of sectarian institutions claiming fidelity to Jesus’ teachings along with claims of theological authority. Our educational strategy for the coming decades of the fifth epoch must include the evolution of a transitional, progressive, and quasi-institutional framework to serve as a “container” for the living experience of reader-believers as they socialize true religion based on newly revealed truth and not on artificial agreement or identification with yet another evolutionary, theological authority.
I would argue that the revelators provided us with rare but specific advice for an optimal pathway forward: the formation of thousands of study groups designed to provide a context in which we can know and experience the truth of God as we seek as well to understand God’s factual reality in the ongoing study of the universe of universes. Study groups, if commissioned and supported as informal schools for fifth epochal studies, represent a matchless opportunity to facilitate the transition to the fifth planetary mortal epoch by implementing an educational pedagogy augmenting Jesus’ fourth epochal revelation of truth with the expanded cosmic consciousness and enhanced spiritual perception provided by fifth epochal revelators. Note: Charles Olivea has recently published an excellent paper focused on the purposes and opportunities of study groups.
The educational strategy that guides our educational activities should be rooted in a commitment to facilitate the transition of human religious consciousness from the planet’s fourth to its fifth epoch. This educational imperative, to be successful, must include awareness of the differences between the fourth and fifth epoch of intended spiritual growth. It must reflect the higher pattern of direct experience with the various wills of the Paradise Deities that together constitute the synthetic will of the Supreme Being recognizing that progressive planetary epochal revelations of truth are a planned feature of the human ascent from the birth of self-consciousness to the relative perfection of light and life.
Our educational strategic pedagogy should reflect the persistent, ongoing presentation of and direct encounter with newly revealed truth, leaving the human response to such truth to individual religionists and the institutions of socialization who, when challenged by revealed truth, will evolve their own evolutionary comprehension that will inevitably blend new truth with current beliefs. Our primary educational imperative reflects our commitment to epochal education as one of the primary external drivers of the human encounter with the newly revealed truths that fuel the expansion of cosmic consciousness and enhanced spiritual perception necessary for human will creatures to respond to the Father’s challenge to perfect ourselves in his image—the “gospel” of the fifth epoch.
Our educational initiatives on behalf of the revealed fifth epochal truths delivered in Urantia Book represent an opportunity to instil into human consciousness a high standard for the courage and commitment necessary fearlessly and progressively to replace old beliefs and doctrines with newly revealed, fifth epochal truths encountered in the appropriate universe sequence from spirit experience to soul perception. If we do not model in our educational initiatives the fearless response to this fifth epochal challenge, who will?
Seek the greater thing, and the lesser will be found therein; ask for the heavenly, and the earthly shall be included. The shadow is certain to follow the substance. [Paper 165:5.3, page 1823.3]
Identifying The Urantia Book as a feature of sectarian Christianity represents a significant risk to the effectiveness of newly revealed truth to facilitate the transition of human consciousness from the fourth to the fifth epoch. Such identification, whether conscious or thoughtless, may extend the about conception of sectarian Christianity and make it more difficult to replace that perception with the religion of Jesus expanded by the revelation of Michael’s bestowal. In the context of this essay, two types of likely dilution come to mind:
1. First, Michael chose the time of his final bestowal on our planet. He appeared as a human child only 2,000 years after an emergency mission by Melchizedek to keep the light of truth from being extinguished as a consequence of rebellion and default. Although Jesus, as the human face of our Creator Michael Son, surely embodied the supreme truths of our relationship with the Father possible to manifest during Urantia’s fourth epoch, Jesus’ revelation 2,000 years ago might not have been entirely the same one he would likely deliver to us had he arrived, for example, at the dawn of light and life when spiritual consciousness would be far more developed.
His revelation advanced the potentials of growth rooted in new truth from that achieved during the epoch following Melchizedek. Moreover, his revelation anticipated the universal indwelling of Adjusters at Pentecost consequent to his gift of the Spirit of Truth. But although the revelation of his religious life will stand for the ages to come, he did not reveal more than the evolutionary minds of that day could comprehend. Specifically, as noted below, while he focused faith on the TRUTH of the Father’s existence, he did not expand on the FACT of God’s reality in the universe of universes.
The newly revealed truths in The Urantia Book disclose the line of demarcation between the fourth and fifth epochs. Jesus, as the human embodiment of fourth revelation truth, must be expanded and enhanced for the fifth epoch to reveal Jesus as the human incarnation of our Creator Son fulfilling his promise to the Trinity to complete his bestowal responsibility in order to assume full sovereignty over his local universe in the context of the factual existence of the universe of universes.
2. Identifying The Urantia Book as another sectarian expression of Christianity, while expressive of the hope of an “easy sell” of the book to Christians after its brief 60 years of planetary availability (hardly an eye blink in Michael’s timescale), will surly contaminate new truth with the evolutionary doctrines and beliefs of a religion of authority created by well-intended human beings in the fourth epoch. Although as we are told Christianity contains more of Jesus’ teachings than any other evolutionary religion, it is nevertheless an evolutionary “about” response to revealed truth and not the expression of the truth revealed. Our educational task of transitioning human religious consciousness into the fifth epoch is made immeasurably more difficult by diluting the potentials of new truth in choosing consciously or thoughtlessly to plant them into the institutional and evolutionary soil of even the best of existing, fourth-epoch religions of authority. And after only 60 years! Breaking the record for impatience affords no satisfaction. It took Eve a little more than 100 years to allow her impatience to overwhelm her better judgment.