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An Unusual Co-ordination of Spiritual Agencies--The Axial Age

2016-06-30 12:29 PM | Dave

The term Axial Age, well-known in philosophy and history, is an era given the more prosaic description, “the sixth century before Christ” in The Urantia Book, The UB, (98:2.2). Its “pivotal” significance was first described by German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher, Karl Jaspers, in 1951. He recognized that many philosophers and religious leaders flourished at the same time, one of revelations and new ideas about God, which he postulated was 800 to 200 B.C. Some recognize it as a first awakening of global consciousness in recorded history—an emphasis on the spiritual experience of the individual over that of the tribe, when questions about God “were of universal interest and the answers meant for people everywhere,” (Katharina Becker, Education Committee of The Urantia Book Fellowship).

Some historians find the idea unacceptable “because it implies a knowing directive force behind the unfolding of history.” Readers who come to The Urantia Book are drawn to such a concept. They yearn to learn about a universe managed and administered towards a divine purpose, not one evolving randomly in a chaos of cosmic darkness. Much greater detail about this vast universe organization is included in The UB’s revelatory information; the “knowing directive force” includes teacher sons of “the Creator Son and the Creative Spirit,” (35:1.1) most notably, “the onetime incarnated Machiventa Melchizedek … more recent[ly] designated as vicegerent Planetary Prince,” of our planet. (140:0.11)

If you received a good Bible education, you were introduced to Melchizedek, without his first name, as the “priest of the Most High God,” who went out to bless Abraham following his military victories in the land of Canaan (Genesis 14:14-18), “the only Son of this order to bestow himself upon the Urantia races … assuming the assignment of service as a mortal ascender, having sojourned on Urantia in the likeness of mortal flesh at Salem in the days of Abraham.” (45:4.16) In The UB he is the teacher of the new Salem gospel, one of “trust in God and salvation through faith … one God and one simple faith.” (94:1.6)

But not just one Melchizedek! Who are the rest of them, the Melchizedek Sons described in the Urantia Book? “The Melchizedeks are the first order of divine Sons to approach sufficiently near the lower creature life to be able to function directly in the ministry of mortal uplift, to serve the evolutionary races without the necessity of incarnation... not once throughout all the superuniverse of Orvonton have these Melchizedek Sons ever betrayed their trust.”(35:2.1-2) In other words, none participated in the Lucifer Rebellion. They are “the eldest son[s] in a large family” (35:2.3) that includes Vorondadeks, the Most Highs; and Lanonandeks, who serve as Planetary Princes. They “are the first to act in all emergencies of whatever nature on all worlds where will creatures dwell.” (35:4.4) Machiventa chose to incarnate as the teacher we first came to know as the mysterious “King of Salem.”

Long after the Salem incarnation, “through an unusual coordination of spiritual agencies,” (94:6.1) the origin of Asian religious movements (primarily) was brought about by Melchizedek, an “emergency Son of Nebadon (98:7.12)” who saw that “his mission as a forerunner of Michael might be in danger of failing (94:6.1).”

“The original Melchizedek gospel had been almost wholly absorbed in the beliefs in the Great Mother, the Sun, and other ancient cults.” (93:7.3)

“About six hundred years before the arrival of Michael, it seemed to Melchizedek, long since departed from the flesh, that the purity of his teaching on earth was being unduly jeopardized by general absorption into the older Urantia beliefs … And in the sixth century before Christ, through an unusual co-ordination of spiritual agencies, not all of which are understood even by the planetary supervisors, Urantia witnessed a most unusual presentation of manifold religious truth. Through the agency of several human teachers the Salem gospel was restated and revitalized.” (94:6.1)

This Melchizedek Post-Salem project was initiated to prepare our planet for the bestowal mission of the Creator Son, Michael, destined to give Urantia the gospel of Joshua Ben Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth.

The UB dates the Axial Age somewhat differently than Jaspers did (as have other students of the era): “The sixth century before Christ.Many men arose to proclaim truth in this, one of the greatest centuries of religious awakening ever witnessed on Urantia. Among these should be recorded Gautama, Confucius, Lao-tse, Zoroaster, and the Jainist teachers. The teachings of Gautama have become widespread in Asia, and he is revered as the Buddha by millions. Confucius was to Chinese morality what Plato was to Greek philosophy, and while there were religious repercussions to the teachings of both, strictly speaking, neither was a religious teacher; Lao-tse envisioned more of God in Tao than did Confucius in humanity or Plato in idealism. Zoroaster, while much affected by the prevalent concept of dual spiritism, the good and the bad, at the same time definitely exalted the idea of one eternal Deity and of the ultimate victory of light over darkness. (92:5.12)

British author, Karen Armstrong, (A Short History of Myth) commented that by the Eighth Century B.C., human beings were suffering from increased violence and felt they could no longer rely on the gods to come down to the world and aid them in their struggles. The early Epic of Gilgamesh is an example of a growing cynicism and despair (c. 2000 BC in Sumerian cuneiform). The various spiritual movements of the Axial Age arose to restore humanity’s faith in a divine influence.

It required a rejection of the old mythology, and an acceptance of the one God (a restoration of monotheism). As Armstrong also pointed out, “Love or compassion, the ability to feel with the other, to empathize with the other, is the common thread. People felt that by dethroning yourself from the center of your world and putting another there, you achieved transcendence [God].” This ethic, known to many asThe Golden Rule, emerged almost universally. Armstrong later devoted a whole book to the Axial Age, The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah (2006).

This Melchizedek initiative was not primarily a Western one except for its influence on Greek philosophy.

“This was the situation when, during the sixth century before Christ, the Orient and the Levant experienced a revival of spiritual consciousness and a new awakening to the recognition of monotheism. But the West did not share in this new development; neither Europe nor northern Africa extensively participated in this religious renaissance. The Greeks, however, did engage in a magnificent intellectual advancement. They had begun to master fear and no longer sought religion as an antidote therefor, but they did not perceive that true religion is the cure for soul hunger, spiritual disquiet, and moral despair. They sought for the solace of the soul in deep thinking—philosophy and metaphysics. They turned from the contemplation of self-preservation—salvation—to self-realization and self-understanding.” (98:2.2)

Both Karen Armstrong and the authors of The UB include the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah, 650 - 570 B.C., in the pantheon, this coordinated campaign of religious “pressure from above.” (52:6.7) “Jeremiah's teaching was the crescendo of the rising wave of the internationalization of the God of Israel; finally and forever did this intrepid preacher proclaim that Yahweh was God of all nations, … And thus did the religion of the Hebrews share in that renaissance of monotheism throughout the world at about and following this time; at last the concept of Yahweh had ascended to a Deity level of planetary and even cosmic dignity.” (97:6.2)

Many of us recognize the similarity to our own age, called by some the Second Axial Age because of its global character (theologian, Ewert Cousins 1927-2009). Once again, revelations in modern times are being nurtured as a check to the loss of hope in Spirit reality and God’s rule over material reality. One of these, of course, is The Urantia Book, an epochal revelation. “There have been many events of religious revelation but only five of epochal significance.”(92:4.4)We learn in The UB that both the religious revival of the Axial Age and the Urantia Book in our time are Melchizedek projects.

For myself, the significance of the Axial Age is well expressed in this passage, “While your religion is a matter of personal experience, it is most important that you should be exposed to the knowledge of a vast number of other religious experiences (the diverse interpretations of other and diverse mortals) to the end that you may prevent your religious life from becoming egocentric -- circumscribed, selfish, and unsocial.” (The UB, 103:1.3, pg. 1130) And thus we can blaze a trail for a budding international community of truth lovers and seekers after God.


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