Mining the Archives
(“Mined” from the Urantia Book Fellowship’s Journal 1994)
After many years of introducing both Christian laity and ministers to The Urantia Book, I am increasingly faced with the realization that one of the major obstacles preventing them from a serious examination of the book is its claim to revelatory status. Most people who grew up in the nurture of the Christian faith have consciously or unconsciously developed a fundamentalist attitude toward the Bible: “This is the word of God and should not be questioned or doubted.” This impression is reinforced in the book’s concluding verses which threaten anyone adding or taking away from the book with plagues and other terrible consequences. (It is not widely known that this kind of threat was once very common, a forerunner of what we now know as copyright.)
Because of this cultural conditioning, many church members assume that all authentic revelation ceased with the Book of Revelation. We should not be surprised, therefore, if such people automatically recoil from any suggestion of new revelation.
Some of us quickly learn that when introducing church members to The Urantia Book, one needs to alleviate fear by saying something to the effect that, “The book purports to be revelatory, but read it critically like any other book. You will find that it contains some excellent spiritual insights.” Interestingly, this is the method of evaluating revelation recommended by the authors of The Urantia Book. The only way revelation can be validated, they tell us, is through the truths we have acquired in personal experience.
The Urantia Book presents humankind with a new and eminently reasonable understanding of revelation. Even epochal revelation is not infallible.
But no revelation short of the attainment of the Universal Father can ever be complete. All other celestial ministrations are no more than partial, transient, and practically adapted to local conditions in time and space. While such admissions as this may possibly detract from the immediate force and authority of all revelations, the time has arrived on Urantia when it is advisable to make such frank statements, even at the risk of weakening the future influence and authority of this, the most recent of the revelations of truth to the mortal races of Urantia. [Paper 92:4.2, page 1008]
Furthermore, a great deal of the textual material of The Urantia Book already exists somewhere in the written records of our world. At the conclusion of the Foreword (page 17) we are told that more than one thousand of the highest human concepts have been collated in producing Part I of the book. The Midwayer (author) responsible for preparing Part IV, the narrative of the life and teachings of Jesus, utilized thought gems and superior concepts assembled from…
“…more than two thousand human beings who have lived on earth from the days of Jesus down to the time of the indicting of these revelations, more correctly restatements…. In many ways I have served more as a collector and editor than as an original narrator.” [Paper 121:8.14, page 1343.3)
Superhuman revelatory sources were used only when the United Midwayers could testify that they had failed to find the required conceptual expression in purely human sources.
As more and more people in our society understand the openness and non-authoritarian orientation of The Urantia Book, they will experience a greater freedom to examine it both as a casual adventure, and in a critical evaluation. This is especially true of the rank and file of the church. They will discover what a marvellous treasure of spiritual insight and inspiration it has for humankind, and how superbly it reinforces the basic tenants of the Christian faith.