Toward a Transplanetary Theology
by Dr. Meredith J. Sprunger
Religion is usually the last
of the cultural disciplines to change its frames of reference following
the discovery of new knowledge. Although Western Civilization has
entered a new age in terms of its scientific astronomical
orientation, most Christians are pre-Copernican in their spiritual cosmology. When
they think of God and the spiritual world, unconsciously, they assume heaven
is up, and hell is down, even though intellectually, they realize this
makes no sense in our modern astronomical cosmology. Consequently,
they continue to live with a Ptolemaic Christology.
This simplistic cosmological
view is further augmented by prescientific concepts of eschatology.
Inspite of substantial evidence that we live in an evolutionary universe,
where gradual evolvement is the key to all growth and development, most
Christians assume that after death, we are somehow instantly changed from
material beings into a spiritual existence.
Among all of the areas of theology,
eschatology, and the construction of a universe spiritual cosmology is
the least developed. Various writers have speculated about the need
for a universe to be a parallel between material and spiritual reality;
the principle of parsimony suggests that we start with the known physical
universe, and extrapolate into the unknown. The new astronomy, therefore,
is the conceptual foundation we must use for constructing a spiritual cosmology
which is relevant to contemporary frames of reference.
Astronomers like Charlier,
tell us we live in a hierarchical universe composed of galaxies and supergalaxies.
The curved nature of space suggests that we live in a limited universe,
but it is of such gigantic size, that distances are measured in billions
of light years.The
universe is in evolutionary process with nebulae creating new suns and
systems, and old suns are dying out. The astronomical cosmos is now
expanding, but billions of years ago it was contracting; suggesting expanding-contrasting
The universe is held together
by gravitational forces which make in and out references more meaningful
than the up and down relationships of the old Ptolemaic three story universe.
In all probability, there are millions of inhabited planets in various
stages of evolutionary development.
With these facts and probabilities
of our material astronomical cosmology in mind, let us project a spiritual
cosmology which is harmonious with such a universe.
First of all, our deity concepts
used to be expanded to account for the amazing complexities of our well-nigh
limitless universe. In addition to the traditional Paradise Trinity,
there must be Deity Absolutes which are the source of all of the potentials
of the infinite past, present, and future of the universe. This aspect
of deity, to use a Whiteheadian term, we might refer to as the Primordial
manifestation of God.
From distant galaxies to the
most minute particles of energy-matter, we observe a creative process at
work in the evolving time-space universe. Jung, Tillich, Teilhard
de Chardin, Whitehead, and others, have called attention to this evolving
aspect of God. Borrowing again from Process Theology, we might label
this the Consequent or Process manifestation of God.
Viewing the countless galaxies
with their probable myriads of inhabited planets, we must assume there
are countless deity personalities of infinite variety and nature, ministering
to this universe of universes. This function of deity we might call
the Distributive manifestation of God.In
addition to enlarging our deity concepts, any realistic theistic meta-physical
picture must have a setting in a spiritual cosmology with is at least,
as extensive as our vast astronomical universe. In such a cosmology,
it would be reasonable to assume that the residence of the Trinity and
other aspects of Primordial Deity is located at the center of the universe
of universes. This, traditionally, has been known as Paradise.
Paralleling the galaxies and
supergalaxies of the material universe, it would seem reasonable to project
spiritual geographic creations corresponding to these material galaxies
and supergalaxies, which we will refer to as local universes and superuniverses.
Each local universe and superuniverse would have a contingent of Distributive
Deity personalities responsible for ministering to all of the planets and
personalities in this section of the universe of universes. The Universal
Father delegates everything possible to the control and care of these Distributive
The third basic assumption
in projecting a relevant spiritual cosmology in the universe of universes,
is that the key modus operandi in the spiritual universe is evolution.
All of the events and personalities of this spiritual cosmology are shaped
and conditioned by the evolving dynamics of evolutionary growth.
In the present universe age, Process Deity is playing a major role in the
galaxies and universes of time and space.
Intelligent beings of mortal
status originate on the inhabited planets as the culminating development
of the animal kingdom. The minds of these material mortals are enlightened
by a spiritual ministry which includes aspects of Primordial, Process,
and Distributive Deity activities. Through this leading of the spirit
ministry, and the mortal truth, beauty, goodness value perception capacity,
man makes decisions and identifications with spirit reality. These
decisions evolve a quasi-spiritual soul which has survival potential, after
the physical body-brain mechanism deteriorates and dies.
Postmortal experience with
a new quasi-spiritual body-mind continues in the spiritual universe, virtually
where evolutionary experience ended on the material world. Gradually,
through rigorous growth experiences, these advancing personalities become
more and more spiritual until they achieve true spirit status.Spiritual evolutionary
education and growth continues as the individual progresses from universe
to universe, inward in the spiritual cosmos, until these pilgrims achieve
Paradise, and are taken into the embrace of the Universal Father.
This ends the finite phase of experience, and opens new levels of reality
for the opportunityof education and service, which continues into the infinite
and eternal future.
With these initial assumptions
rooted in our contemporary knowledge of universe cosmology and associated
scientific phenominal insights, we shall now attempt to project a universe
Christology harmonious with these observations.
Each material-spiritual local
universe is assigned a contingent of Distributive Deity personalities by
the Universal Father. The hand of these Distributive Deity personalities
in our local universe is a Divine Son whom Christians know as Christ.
In each local universe, this Son of God is known as "the only begotten
Son" because, for all practical purposes, he is God to all in his
local universe - "He who has seen me has seen the Father."
At each local universe, site
the Universal Father delegates responsibility to the Local Universe Son
for all that takes place in his universe - "All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me." (Matt. 28:8) The first
task of the Local Universe Son and his associates is to set in motion the
creative nebular forces which produce the local systems with their suns
and planets, as visualized by the prologue of the Gospel of John.
In this capacity, we would refer to the Local Universe Son as the Creator
As planetary evolution progresses,
eventually, beings with wisdom and worship potential appear on the scene.
The Local Universe Son and hsi Distributive Deity associates provide various
forms of spirit ministry to these intelligent beings, as their civilization
and culture evolves.At
some point in the cultural-religious development of each planet, which
might be called: "The fullness of time", the Local Universe
Son decides that the planet is ready for a bestowal mission. Whereupon,
he. or one of his Distributive Deity associates, incarnate in the likeness
of the mortals of the realm.
The Bestowal Son brings a more
complete knowledge of the Universal Father, and reveals the "Christ"
as the way, by which, all in the local universe proceed to the Father -
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father,
but by me." (John 14:6) The Local Universe Son serving
in this capacity, we might refer to as the Savior or Mediator Son.There is, no doubt, some
"Omega Point" of development for each planet, which would be
recognized by the Local Universe Son. At this time, he would return
to the planet as the Sovereign of the Local Unierse to inaugurate a new
era of mission and service for the planet.
Once a universe Christology
is established on a planet, there is a general recognition that the various
religions of the planet all have authentic spiritual insights, and that
each religion can learn from the others. Mortals on such worlds begin
to understand that it makes little difference where we begin our spiritual
education in the universe.Following
physical death, all mortals who have evolved souls of survival value are
resurrected, with a new type of body and mind, and continue their education
and growth in the local universe, toward spiritual perfection, under the
guidance and loving ministry of our Local Universe Head, the Savior, the
Sovereign Christ of all.
Eventually, we graduate from
the experiential schools of the local universe, and with the blessings
of Chirst, begin our more advanced spiritual training, as we proceed inward
in the universe of universes. When our long, long evolutionary universe
training and growth culminates in reaching Paradise, and we are embraced
by the Universal Father as his faith sons and daughters who have risen
from animal origins to divine status, no doubt our real spiritual universe
ministry will begin.
The foregoing Universe Christology
is sketched in broad, impressionistic strokes. It is presented in
the hope of stimulating creative theological thinking relative to a spiritual
cosmology, which is harmonious with our contemporary knowledge of universe
cosmology. Anyone interested in a more detailed consideration of
religion from a universe point of view, will find The Urantia Book, available
elsewhere on this website, to be a highly rewarding resource book.