The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book
Paper 195: After Pentecost
The Roman Empire was receptive to the spread of Christianity. Conflicts between older religions and the budding new religion were solved through compromise. A revised version of Jesus' teachings blended with Greek and Hebrew philosophy, Mithraism, and paganism to become Christianity.
Christianity started growing primarily in the lower classes. After the first century, the best members of the Greco-Roman culture were increasingly drawn in. Early leaders deliberately compromised the ideals of Jesus in the attempt to preserve his ideas. The eastern form of Christianity remained more true to the original teachings of Jesus, but was eventually lost in the rise of Islam. But someday the ideals of the Master will assert their power throughout the world.
The Roman empire was tolerant of strange peoples, languages, and religions; Christianity was opposed only when it seemed to be in competition with the state. The Romans were successful in governing the western world because of their honesty, devotion, and self-control, and these same qualities provided ideal soil for the spread of Christianity. Although the new religion came too late to save the Roman empire from its eventual moral decline, the empire did last long enough to insure the survival of Christianity.
Today Christianity faces a struggle more difficult than any it has known throughout history. The rise of science and materialism challenges religion. The higher a civilization evolves, the more necessary it becomes that people seek spiritual reality to help stabilize society and solve material problems. Religion helps us develop faith, trust and assurance. Society without a morality based on spiritual reality cannot survive.
Science has destroyed childlike interpretations of life. True science has no conflict with true religion; but the change from an age of miracles to an age of machines has been upsetting to modern man. Religious leaders are mistaken when they try to lure people to spiritual practice with methods that were used in the middle ages. Religion must renew itself and find new ways to approach modern people.
Modern secularism sprang from two influences: atheistic science and the protest against the domination of western civilization by the medieval Christian church. For hundreds of years Western thinking has been progressively secularized; most professed Christians are actually secularists. Secularism is barren of spiritual values and satisfactions. It freed humankind from ecclesiastical slavery only to lead them into political and economic slavery. This philosophy leads to unrest, unhappiness, and disaster. The blessings of secularism-tolerance, social service, democracy, and civil liberty-can be had without sacrificing faith in God.
Christianity stands in need of the teachings of Jesus. "Urantia is now quivering on the very brink of one of its most amazing and enthralling epochs of social readjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment." Religion needs leaders who will depend solely on Jesus and his teachings. The world must see Jesus living again in the experience of spirit-born mortals who reveal the Master to all people.
The true Church is invisible, spiritual, and characterized by unity rather than uniformity. If the Christian church would follow the Master, young people would not hesitate to enlist in his great spiritual adventure. It is not duty that will transform our world, but the "second mile" of freely-given service and devotion by followers of Jesus who truly live and love as he taught.
Christianity suffers a handicap because it is identified with western civilization-a society burdened with science without idealism, politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without restraint, knowledge without character, power without conscience, and industry without morality.