Who Wrote The Urantia Book?
Years of experience reveal that the first thing people wish to know about The Urantia Book is who wrote it. What are the circumstances of its origin? It does little good to tell them the book should be judged by its content, not by claims of authorship. Because of the conditioning of our culture, we are naturally inclined to depend on sources and authority when evaluating publications. Religious literature, in particular, is appraised in this way.
The authenticity of individuals, religious groups, or literature which claim revelatory authority is always open to question. Authority is never a philosophical criterion of truth. There are only two ways this question can be approached with credibility. First, a personal judgment can be made based on the quality of the material being evaluated. The other way revelatory authenticity is established is by the judgment of society over years of historical experience. Social tradition is an especially powerful influence. Even when biblical scholars like Rudolf Bultmann declare that our reliable historical knowledge is so meager that "We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus," few people are troubled by such statements. Our historical experience has socially validated the quality of the New Testament story of the life and teachings of Jesus.
There are, presently, no social traditions associated with The Urantia Book. It must be analyzed and evaluated on the quality of its content. Although they have little relevance in determining the quality of The Urantia Book, there are two sources of information regarding its origin.
The Author's Account
The first account of the origin of The Urantia Book lies within its own pages. We are told the papers were authorized by high deity authorities and written by numerous supermortal personalities. These papers are designated as the Fifth Epochal Revelation to our planet, Urantia. Dated from 1934 A. D., the five epochal revelations are: (1) Dalamatia—500,000 years ago; (2) Adam and Eve—37,848 years ago; (3) Melchizedek—1980 B. C.; (4) Jesus—7 B. C.; and The Urantia Book —1934-35 A. D.
The authors (revelators) acknowledge the difficulty of portraying the realities of eternity in the language of time. We are told severe limitations were placed on the knowledge they were permitted to share with us. They explain that all time-space revelation is partial and incomplete, needing to be periodically upstepped in the process of planetary development.
In general terms the authors discuss the problems they encountered communicating between their spiritual level of universe reality and our material level of mortal existence. They reveal that they made contact through the Thought Adjuster (indwelling spirit of God) of a particular human being on our world. We are assured, however, that this Thought Adjuster's communication technique is not related to "spiritualism," "mediumship," or "channeling." Specific details are not discussed.
The Human Story
The second source of information relating to the origin of The Urantia Book is the human side of the story. Following my discovery of the book in December of 1955 and after introducing it to some of my clerical friends, we spent years researching the human side of the origin of the book. The following information summarizes our findings.
We quickly discovered the papers were received by a small group of people in Chicago. Their leader as Dr. William S. Sadler. Dr. Sadler was a highly respected psychiatrist who taught at the Post-graduate School of Medicine at Chicago University. For almost thirty years he was also a lecturer in Pastoral Counseling at McCormick Theological Seminary.
Dr. Sadler told me that in the mid 1920's a group of people from all walks of life met at the Sadler residence to discuss psychological and medical topics. This group was known as the Forum. Through a series of events in this discussion group, communications were established through the Contact Commission between the revelators and members of the Forum. Much later, Forum members established Urantia Foundation and published The Urantia Book.
Dr. Sadler candidly discussed any question we asked him, but he would not talk about two things: the name of the individual who was directly involved in the materialization of the Urantia papers and the unique way in which the papers appeared. Dr. Sadler said they were asked to take vows of secrecy regarding these two subjects. When I asked why these restrictions were imposed upon them, he gave me the following reasons:
- 1. "The main reason for not revealing the identity of the contact personality is that the revelators do not want any human being—any human name—ever to be associated with The Urantia Book. They want this revelation to stand on its own declarations and teachings. They are determined that future generations shall have the book wholly free of all mortal connections—they do not want a St. Peter, St. Paul, Luther, Calvin, or Wesley. The original book does not even bear the name or any mark of the printer who brought the book into being."
- 2. "There is much about the appearance of the Urantia papers which no human being fully understands. No one really knows just how this phenomenon was executed. There are numerous missing links in the story of how this revelation came to appear in written English. If anyone should tell all he really knows about this technique and the methods employed in getting this revelation, such a narration would satisfy no one, there are too many missing links."
On May 7, 1958 our group of ministers met with Dr. Sadler to discuss the origin of The Urantia Book. He gave us a paper listing every imaginable form of subconscious mind or psychic activity. At the bottom of the outline a note said: "The technique of the reception of The Urantia Book in English in no way parallels or impinges upon any of the above phenomena of the marginal consciousness." He went on to tell us that so nearly as he could determine, the appearance of Urantia papers was associated with some form of superconscious mind activity. On numerous occasions Dr. Sadler told me that he did not know how the materialization was accomplished. He said that almost everything known about the origin of The Urantia Book is found in various places in the book.
In 1939 the revelators requested that the leaders of the Forum ask for volunteers who would meet each Wednesday evening to seriously and systematically study the Urantia papers. Seventy persons volunteered and they became known as "The Seventy." The Seventy were trained by directives from the revelators and their own leaders up to the time of the publication of The Urantia Book. Special emphasis was placed on the evolutionary process involved in the acceptance of new truth. The danger of using broadcast, indiscriminate, or revolutionary methods in presenting the message of The Urantia Book was stressed.
After many years of study, they were given permission to publish the book. They were told that although many people would welcome this enlarged presentation of spiritual truth, the population as a whole was not ready for it. The Fifth Epochal Revelation was given as an evolutionary phenomenon which would slowly take root in our society. An early publication of the book was given, they explained, so that leaders and teachers could be trained and people of means could be found to fund translations into other languages. The cost of the first printing was $75,000. This money was raised by voluntary contributions from members of the Forum.
The Urantia Foundation was established as a nonprofit organization in 1950. The Urantia Book was published under international copyright October 12, 1955. The Urantia Brotherhood was organized in 1955 as an ecumenical fellowship for studying and disseminating the teachings of The Urantia Book. The name "Urantia Brotherhood" was officially changed to "The Fellowship" (for readers of The Urantia Book ) in 1991.
Judge by Content
The events associated with the origin of The Urantia Book have nothing to do with its verification of truth or spiritual quality. This you must judge by its contents and the spiritual fruit it produces. The message of The Urantia Book has amazing self-authentication and historical-philosophical consistency. But, in the final analysis, the indwelling spirit of God is the ultimate reality which must evaluate its message.See also "What The Urantia Book Says About It's Origin and Purpose"
Information on current research into the origin of the text of The Urantia Book may be found on the Square Circles website.