Although an obscure work with a largely sparse community of believers, The Urantia Book
(also called the Urantia Papers and among its community as "The Fifth Epochal Revelation") is a treatise on the origin, structure, and history of the universe in four parts, divided into one hundred ninety-six 'papers' dealing with different subjects; the Papers concern themselves largely with presenting reality as teeming with life comparable to Earth, which in its own vernacular is referred to Urantia (YOO-RAN-TCHA)
, which is under the administration of Michael of Nebadon, who is for all intents and purposes God. The fourth part is by far its most popular and widely-read of the four, and it is about the life, ministry, and personal faith of Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Book states is Michael of Nebadon in his final Bestowal mission (i.e. manifestation/incarnation) in his universe. Since this site is occupied with expounding upon the Jesus of history and his kingdom of God, we'll be looking at how the Papers portray Jesus.
Unlike other New Age texts, which commonly pitch Jesus as either the reincarnation of an ancient world-teacher or a master-soul awakening us to our own divinity, the Book is quite unique in its portrayal of Jesus, even if it links him to some complicated and unnecessary cosmology. The fourth part's mission statement seems to be rather noble—make Jesus' teachings the forefront of his movement, and place less emphasis on him and more on his personal religious beliefs. Part IV often repeats the difference between a religion about Jesus and the personal religion of Jesus. "Of course I can wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment!" I thought to myself; for a while I believed that some parts of the Papers had 'God's fingerprints on them,' but then I delved a litte deeper into the Book. "What exactly do they mean by the 'religion of Jesus,' or the 'kingdom of heaven?'" I asked. On the surface, it seemed that myself and the Urantians had some common ground here. But as it turns out, I was trying to initiate a conversation in Latin while they only responded in Igpay Atinlay.
I am very disappointed in what I've found. According to my brief study of the Papers, Jesus' gospel of the kingdom consisted of two components: the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man—points which have no error in them inherently, but when paired with the Jesus presented in the text (one which I will prove is utterly foreign to the son of Mary we find in the gospels) are poisonous to one's faith. For one, Jesus' style is completely mutilated into long paragraphic sermons that even the author of John would scoff at. Let's just take a look at how different Jesus sounds.
|"LORD OF THE SABBATH" EPISODE
|According to Mark
||The Urantia Papers
"Did you never read what David did when he and those with him had need and hungered? How he entered into the house of God to Abiathar the high priest, and ate the loaves of the Presence, which it is not lawful to eat except for the priests? And he gave to those with him also! The sabbath came about because of the man, not the man because of the sabbath, so that the Son of Man is also Master of the sabbath.
"You are indeed zealous for the law, and you do well to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; but did you never read in the Scripture that, one day when David was hungry, he and they who were with him entered the house of God and ate the showbread, which it was not lawful for anyone to eat save the priests? and David also gave this bread to those who were with him. And have you not read in our law that it is lawful to do many needful things on the Sabbath day? And shall I not, before the day is finished, see you eat that which you have brought along for the needs of this day? My good men, you do well to be zealous for the Sabbath, but you would do better to guard the health and well-being of your fellows. I declare that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. And if you are here present with us to watch my words, then will I openly proclaim that the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
The Jesus that the Papers would have you believe is the real one is very wordy and often appears to ramble, a problem found often in New Age texts. Now I hear your indignant cries—"But Jesus was a rambler too! Just look at the Sermon on the Mount!"—the difference here is that scholars are almost certain that the Sermon on the Mount did not happen as a single historical event; rather it was a literary device used by the Matthean authors to draw multiple traditions and sayings of Jesus circulating at the time together into one coherent whole. The same also with Luke's Discourse on the Plain. Jesus' teaching style appears to utilize hyperbolic satire, illustrative stories, and subversion of expectations as tools to expound upon his concept of the kingdom of God. The Jesus of the Urantia Book, however, does no such thing. He uses little illustrative licence, instead choosing to directly explain every little metaphor or expression he uses. He openly admits to his divinity and answers questions as regards to how the seraphic hosts operate.
But beyond the way Jesus preaches in the Book, a far more pressing matter is what exactly he preaches about. Like I said before, the two-component gospel is both an inaccurate and a far too simplistic interpretation of Jesus' message, or gospel. It is true that Jesus called God 'Father,' and it is true that Jesus was deeply concerned with how people treated other people, but if these were the only relevant parts of the gospel of the kingdom, then we would see far more of those two and far less of dis