MJS Archive Contents
The Meredith J. Sprunger Archive
The Urantia Book: Leavening Our Religious Heritage
Rev. Dr. Meredith J. Sprunger, UCC
One of the greatest needs of contemporary society is to be inspired by a
fresh and enlarged spiritual vision that will stimulate humankind 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 forty years
of critical thought and experience in Christian ministry, 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 that signals the
dawn of a new spiritual era. It is destined to introduce unprecedented creative
thought and action in the field of religion that will stimulate a transformation
of the entire religious world.
The Urantia Book purports to be the Fifth Epochal Revelation, the first
major divine revelation since the coming of Christ Jesus 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 and 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 humankind will
eventually recognize the unparalleled quality of the insights of The Urantia
Book even though they may not accept 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 and spiritual reality available to our contemporary
society. It will profoundly impress those who are interested in progressive
philosophical and religious thinking that has the potential of molding world
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 philosophical-religious diversities are
integrated in such a way as to augment the essential truths in each of these
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
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 or she 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 each person is to make a balanced effort to achieve
God-consciousness. Growth toward spiritual 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 over-control. 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 or
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 and teaching 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 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. Many of us have already learned how to do
this in transcribing religious and spiritual insights acquired in seminary
and further graduate study to the person in the pew.
Even though The Urantia Book is among the most significant sources
of spiritual guidance available to contemporary society, it is not an end
in itself; nor is it a necessary means of 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 initial publication in 1955, this 2000-plus page book is being discovered
by steadily increasing numbers of people. The overwhelming consensus among
those who have read The Urantia Book is that it is destined for universal
recognition on our planet.
The kingdom or family of God that was the focus of the teachings of Jesus
is an invisible and spiritual fellowship that is destined to become a living
organism transcending social institutions. Contemporary religious institutions
serve as useful sources of religious ministration in our society. No doubt
other religious groups will originate from the inspiration of the Fifth Epochal
Revelation. The teachings of The Urantia Book are destined to support,
enlighten, and strengthen all religious institutions toward the fulfillment
of their unique potentials in ministering to the spiritual needs of humankind.
In the ages to come it will serve as an ecumenical leavening influence to
the great and many-faceted religious heritage of our world.