The Meredith J. Sprunger Archive
The World Mission of The Urantia Book
1/20/83 Revised 5/12/99
The spiritual ministry to our world is preparing us for a new spiritual age. The key to this new paradigm of Reality is presented in the message of The Urantia Book. Just as our world was prepared for the advent of Christ (the Fourth Epochal Revelation), today we are experiencing another "fullness of time" in which our society is being prepared for the Fifth Epochal Revelation (the message of The Urantia Book ). This new vision of truth confirms and integrates the best of all former revelations and enhances the spiritual truths of all the traditional religions of the world.
Interfacing with World Religions
We who are pioneers of the Fifth Epochal Revelation must learn to relate positively with the peoples of all of the world's religions. Philosophers of religion have long observed that the religions of the world have much more in common than they have in exclusive uniqueness. The Urantia Book is the most inclusive revelatory picture of religion yet to appear on earth. It is appreciative and constructive in its attitude toward all religion and religionists.
As we prepare ourselves to relate to the peoples of the world and their religious backgrounds we should become thoroughly familiar with the tenets of their various faiths. It is also important to remember that within and among all religious groups there are common polarities: the educated intellectuals versus the unlearned masses, the prophets versus the priests, and the rigid conservatives versus the flexible liberals. In each religious group the educated, prophetic, and open people are the first to recognize and accept new truth. When we look at the religions of the world as total entities, it would appear that Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are evolutionally the best prepared to receive the teachings of The Urantia Book. Islam is probably the most defensive and reactionary world religion; yet, it accepts the prophets of other religions in its sacred scriptures and its sufis are quite open to truth from outside sources.
Our Christian Heritage
Although we should bring the good news of The Urantia Book to all of the religions of the world, Christianity is particularly prepared to receive its message.The Christian Church is the major evolutionary religion rooted in the teachings of Jesus. In many ways the authors of The Urantia Book express a special interest in upstepping the Christian Church. They refer to Christianity as the best of the religions of the twentieth century (p. 2083), the best exponent of Jesus' lifework on earth (p. 2085), one of the world's greatest powers for good (p. 2085), the cocoon in which the kingdom now sleeps (p. 1866), and, if enhanced by the Fifth Epochal Revelation, the greatest hope of the world (p. 20086).
Establish Common Ground
There are basic approaches which we should keep in mind when relating to any religious group. We should always start by establishing common ground. All of the religions of the world have much in common with The Urantia Book. We need to emphasize the positive aspects of each religious faith. Add to those spiritual realities which people most need and desire.Be cautious and tactful in correcting errors when such negative communication cannot or should not be avoided. Highlight service and living faith rather than theology. Engage in fellowship and dialogue with openness while avoiding unnecessary structure and rigidity. Stress spiritual truths and avoid economic, political, and moral involvement. Spiritual truths and principles are universal. The moral and social application of these principles is determined by many environmental and developmental factors.
Importance of Indigenous People
Outreach work is best conducted by indigenous people. Those who are social and religious members of the group where interface is sought are the missionaries most likely to be effective. Work within the religious institutions of society when possible. Jesus taught within the synagogues of Judaism until he was barred from doing so. Paul was able to communicate meaningfully with the Jews of his day because he was a scholar of Judaism. Work at the point of psychological readiness and do not expect too much change in people. Allow the evolutionary process to determine their rate of growth.
Significance of Social Confrontation
Anyone familiar with the history of religious movements will appreciate the significance of social confrontation. A religious faith and philosophy does not become a force in a society until it enters a period of social challenge. No matter how irenic, loving, and wise a new and advanced religious view of life may be, it does not achieve effective communication and viability in any community or nation until it experiences a time of social confrontation.
The Urantia Book is just beginning to enter this period. The evangelicals and fundamentalists are starting to write brochures and books in which The Urantia Book is singled out as one of the modern heresies. Dr. Sadler used to say, "When the Catholic Church places The Urantia Book on its banned list, get ready to sell a lot of books." The Catholic Church finally recognized this reaction and discontinued its banned list. Nevertheless, the evolutionary role of confrontation is basic to the testing and growth of all religious movements.
Rather than fearing this time of evaluation and testing, we should anticipate and welcome it. The Urantia Book can stand the most rigorous examination. And there will be some serious challenges. It will not begin to serve the nation and the world, however, until in each local community it enters this period of confrontation. This marks the beginning of its public service.
Laypersons Catalysts of Growth
Historically religious professionals have been among the last to constructively recognize and respond to new revelation or major reform movements. For many reasons centering around personal security, institutional preservation, and professional training, ministers and priests will not read the entire The Urantia Book or seriously examine it until enough laypersons in their churches or religious institutions are reading it. Although it is important for ethical reasons to introduce religious leaders to The Urantia Book early in our outreach ministry in a community, we should realize that, with few exceptions, laypersons will be the first to recognize its quality. Laypersons have been the founders of virtually all of the major world religions. The majority of the great religious advances in spiritual growth on our planet have been spearheaded by those outside the power structure of religious institutions. Laypersons will also be the key facilitators and the dynamic force actualizing the spread of the good news of The Urantia Book.
Outreach ministry is the most important need and the greatest latent potential in the Urantia movement today. "A new and fuller revelation of the religion of Jesus is destined to conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and to overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism. 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." (p. 2082) "The gospel of the kingdom must be proclaimed to all the world." (p. 1804)
This great mission depends on dedicated missionaries! We can be disciple-type followers who quietly live the enlarged gospel in our personal lives. This is good but not the level of dedication needed to bring this new epochal revelation to our society and the world. Only apostle-type workers filled with enthusiasm, wisdom, courage, and dedication will be able to bring this transforming spiritual message to humanity. Such apostles of new truth are inevitably called to serve in the atmosphere of social confrontation. This is why Jesus warned his apostles that as bearers of new truth they would experience rejection in their own families and hostility in society. Growth is always a traumatic experience for individuals and society.
The difficult and sometimes controversial task of introducing The Urantia Book to society is best carried out by organizations designed for this purpose. Many organizations of this nature will come into being. This pluralism of service groups will evolve a loose network assuring creative diversity and dynamic variety in outreach ministry.
Grass Roots Viability Basic
The history of the growth of religious movements also teaches us the importance of establishing stable groups at the grass roots of society. Growth does not take place in a grandiose manner. It proceeds through channels of social communication to develop a viable constituency in specific, local communities. In time, centers of influence evolve and gradually the entire society and culture is permeated by the new stimulus to spiritual growth.
Today we stand at the beginning of the public phase of outreach ministry in the Urantia movement. The first stage of public ministry is characterized by curiosity and indifference which is eventually followed by opposition and social confrontation. The real quality of the spiritual message is then tested by this challenging individual and social experience. Movements become a social reality when the truths they proclaim become indigenous in the lives of people in local communities.
Challenge of the 21st Century
Such pioneering ministry is never easy; it demands vision, courage, wisdom, and perseverance. Each of us has an unusual opportunity to shape the future of our world by helping to introduce a new and inspiring revelation to our community and culture. Such a fortuitous opportunity comes to a generation only once in thousands of years. What a happy and challenging historical moment! We are standing on the threshold of one of the most promising and exciting eras of human history. I hope that each of us will respond to this challenge of spiritual destiny and, thereby, find fulfillment and joy in sharing with our fellows the best Good News of the century!