Something that I believe is worth discussion is the topic of social identity as an emerging youth community and/or for that matter, as a larger community.  I believe there are many of us like myself who have read and reread the wisdom found in the paper Social Problems of Religion only to find ourselves further perplexed at how best to mitigate the world’s and our community’s imperfections.  The most recent personal challenge has been trying to consider our function as a leadership body.  How do we best further the mission of the Fellowship while embodying the teachings of the Urantia Book without infringing on the liberties of personal religious expression?  How do we create structure in social community while maintaining a culture of coreligionist collectivism?

For me, it is a semantics debate over the interpretation of the mission of the Fellowship.  Our purpose is the “study and dissemination of the teachings of the Urantia Book.”  In my mind, the study element manifests itself when individuals of all types of personal religious background come together to share wisdom and discuss meanings in the reading of the UB.  Putting my organizational lens on, this means bringing together anyone with the sincere desire to study what the book means regardless of religious background or affiliation.  This is not a place to discuss anything but the meanings and ideas contained in the words of this book.  I believe other texts would be allowed, not as a focus of study, but to expand on the interpretation of ideas and meanings found in the Urantia Book.  The same goes for personal experience.  It is not the intention of the community to make the focus of study one or more individual’s personal religious experiences but rather to allow those experiences into the context of study, on a personal level, to discuss meanings found in the text.  Our goal is to study together as individuals.

The other half of the mission statement is “the dissemination of the teachings.”  To me this statement is a completely separate idea.  Sharing the written information, knowledge, philosophy, or wisdom found in the book or the book itself is not necessarily the same thing as disseminating the teachings.  My understanding is that disseminating the teachings is most effectively accomplished by living the teachings, by being a positive missionary evangelist of your personal religion (not our).  If this interpretation is valid, then our charter compels us to aid in the socialization of personal religionists as the method for the dissemination of the teachings.  Our mission is to unite individuals around the common goal of disseminating the teachings by fostering the value and ideal of living the teachings.  Sharing the words, knowledge, philosophy, etc. can be accomplished in the more objective environment of study groups.

There is a very significant implication to this in that if the Fellowship is providing a social infrastructure for those being a ‘positive missionary evangelist of their religion,” then there can exist a situation where people with differing levels of belief in the Urantia Book are all in the same room. Now what happens?  There are 7 people whose belief system is 95% congruous with the Urantia Book teachings, 4 people whose belief system is 80% congruous, and 1 person whose beliefs are 50% congruous.  All 12 people are both personal religionists and leaders in the Fellowship.  Now a situation arises at this Fellowship event where the one person is promoting his belief system, in a sincere and positive manner, and it just so happens it is regarding an issue that he is not in agreement with the beliefs contained in the Urantia Book and the other 11 leaders personal beliefs.  For some reason, he/she doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the story of his life is a metaphor.  He/she preaches the realization of the fruits of the spirit, the Fatherhood of God, brotherhood of man, service to one’s fellows, and ritual worship via speaking in tongues.

Now this irks the 4 at 80% and really irks the 7 at 95%. How should they respond as individuals and how do they respond as members representing the Fellowship? As individuals, the discussion is simple, to treat this outlier as Jesus would, tolerantly sharing one’s personal beliefs of enlightened consciousness.  How do we respond as a social organization?  Do we outcast him from leadership or publicly announce that he/she is in no way affiliated with the Fellowship because the message is in contradiction to the teachings? This is tricky.

From one vantage he is disseminating the opposite beliefs of those found in the Urantia Book and therefor it is a legitimate response.  From another perspective, he/she acting as an evangelist of his/her personal religion is perfectly disseminating the teachings in that he/she is living them.  What do we do?  We must dissociate ourselves from his beliefs.  But I argue if as an organization we condemn him for his actions then it is the organization which is acting in contradiction to its own purpose of disseminating the teachings.  In fact it might seem we want to further encourage his actions, just discourage his beliefs.  But as a social organization we cant make a statement about one individual’s beliefs, that would place our function in the realm of a social religion. it may seem like in this model, we can’t have both.

The only solution I can think of is to make a disclaimer and let him continue:  “The beliefs of an individual who is functioning as a positive missionary evangelist in no way reflect those of the Fellowship.”  This allows the organization to foster the teachings as found in his actions while dissociating itself with the misrepresentation of the beliefs found in his words.  And by not condemning his actions, the Fellowship is not acting in contradiction to its own purpose.

And if this is the way we treat one individual with 50% personal belief congruity, how do we treat those whose beliefs are 95% the same as the Urantia Book? or 99.9% ? It must be the same. I believe it is the responsibility of the organization to make this disclaimer about any individual with a personal interpretation, condensation of teaching, distillation of belief, etc. If we are not allowing the belief system of one individual to represent the Fellowship then we should not allow the belief system of any individual represent the beliefs of the Fellowship.[/wpcol_1half_end]

The challenge in this whole scenario is that I believe many people interpret the idea of ‘dissemination of the teachings’ as sharing the words, philosophy, wisdom ,etc. contained in the Urantia Book. From an organizational lens however, the obstacle is that some of the ideas contained within the book are factual (we share as a social-educational function), some are discussions of values (unite around as a social function), some a description of the goals of destiny (unite around as a social function), and others beliefs. How do we differentiate this as an organization? Because the second the organization reinforces or disseminates a specific belief (meaning not objective study), we are acting as a religious organization. So I ask the question, in the context of community identity and purpose, can ‘disseminate the teachings’ be interpreted as ‘disseminating the beliefs’?

I won’t answer that question, but I bring up this whole issue to get to this assumption. I believe because we study together, a process of examining the beliefs, values, and goals found in the Urantia Book, that we have the expectation or assumption that when we live as positive missionary evangelists together (of our personal faiths) we would see a greater harmony of beliefs. And this expectation ultimately results in the development of a judgement reflex.  We spend so much time discussing very specific meanings and beliefs in the context of study that the second we hear different beliefs in the context of personal missionary evangelism we freak out. “That’s not what the Fellowship supports!”

But isn’t it? ‘Study’ and ‘dissemination of the teachings’ have to be separate ideas because In my opinion, if we want a group of people evangelizing with identical beliefs, values, and goals, we need to form a religion and that is not what this organization is. The social role of the organization needs to be one of only judging whether the goals of the individual (i.e. being a positive missionary evangelist or fostering personal relationship with God) or the values of the individual (i.e. fruits of the spirit) are in harmony with the teachings of the Urantia Book, not the beliefs.  We should have a public disclaimer about personal beliefs to emphasize this (like the one above).

The other way I propose to emphasize this is by branding the organization as being an interfaith organization.  First off, what better way to penetrate to the heart of the Urantia Book, the message of sublime liberty through a personal relationship with a loving God, than to say everyone here is of their own faith? Everyone here has found God in the experience of the Urantia Book or elsewhere and strives to know Him personally. Everyone is of their own personal religion. We are a social organization of such individuals.    What better way to encourage sincere individuals of all walks of life to study the Urantia Book together?  What better way to set a foundation and foster a culture of overcoming differences?

Someone pointed out to me that we already adhere to the notion of personal religion as a community, that interfaith has a different social connotation. The connotation that implies members of different religious organizations coming together to further a purpose of social good rather than faith based conflict.

Wait.  Aren’t we a social organization centered around the social-educational goal of study of the Urantia book and the social goal of ‘disseminating the teachings’ as interpreted as fostering the socialization of personal religionists?  I think its perfect! It makes one ask the question why we call ourselves an interfaith organization?  Effect one of considering this question is that it instills the value of tolerance as something fundamental to the organizational function.  A connotation that is missing from ‘personal religion’..  The second is for outreach.  People hear Urantia Book Fellowship and think religion.  Saying interfaith forces one to consider the organization from a different lens.  It allows us to introduce the value of personal religion in the context of working together to do social good (i.e. educational study or loving service to our fellows).  I can’t think of anything that is not both literally and figuratively accurate about representing a social organization like ours as interfaith.

But I guess that’s why I wrote all this, to get your feedback. And obviously this whole argument is moot if we just forbid all evangelism as part of the community function, but I imagine that’s off the table?  I’m very interested to get your thoughts on these ideas.  I will say from limited experience that it is very easy to introduce the Urantia Book this way.

” Just as certainly as men share their religious beliefs, they create a religious group of some sort which eventually creates common goals. Someday religionists will get together and actually effect co-operation on the basis of unity of ideals and purposes rather than attempting to do so on the basis of psychological opinions and theological beliefs. Goals rather than creeds should unify religionists. Since true religion is a matter of personal spiritual experience, it is inevitable that each individual religionist must have his own and personal interpretation of the realization of that spiritual experience. Let the term “faith” stand for the individual’s relation to God rather than for the creedal formulation of what some group of mortals have been able to agree upon as a common religious attitude. ” Have you faith? Then have it to yourself. (UB 99:5.7)

Spread the word ❤

Feel free to share this article by using any of the following buttons:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on telegram
Share on email

17 thoughts on “Interfaith?”

  1. Miranda Clendening

    Thank you so so much for this very well thought out submission 🙂 I really, really felt truth in the things you have said. I have done very in depth study on this particular subject in the Urantia Book. There are many, many places where it talks about ‘our Religion’, the Religion of Jesus’, ‘True Religion’, etc. But, you hit on the main points…that religion is our own personal experience. I believe we are to help foster each other’s own personal experience and be a supportive, loving community where values and meanings grow through the experiences of loving service together.
    The term Interfaith Organization allows ANYONE to walk through our doors or into one of our groups knowing they can keep their own dynamic personal faith without having to adopt a ‘creedal formulation of what some group of mortals have been able to agree upon as a common religious attitude'(UB 99:5.7)
    Thank you Geoff!
    As always…Peace, Love, and Blessings, Miranda

  2. Miranda Clendening

    After a lot of prayer and contemplation and discussion amongst friends and family…it occurs to me that creating and fostering a social organization that fosters the UB teachings and values without requiring strict, specific beliefs can definitely be done very, very well as an interfaith organization. I have even asked as many people as I could in the last few days if they would feel comfortable being a part of an interfaith organization that fully accepts one’s own beliefs and fosters everyone’s own personal religious journey that could help provide them with community, support, and fellowship with a common goal of helping each other become the most loving people possible and providing opportunities for group service projects and ways to develop experiential wisdom. I have gotten a very positive response from pretty much everyone I asked who I know are from different religious faiths and very different walks of life. So, I do TRULY believe that developing a social organization that we label as interfaith is one thing we should be trying to do!
    On the other hand though, there is another issue here as well… What about those of us that do believe the pretty authoritative text in the Urantia Book to be 90-100% true and want to find others to pursue the very scholarly in depth study of a very difficult text which is hard to do if many of your group don’t read or agree as much with the book? There has to be 2 different subjects we are talking about here.
    These are my thoughts. PLEASE comment as much as possible!
    As always, PEACE, LOVE, and BLESSINGS, Miranda

    1. Miranda,

      Thank you for investing so much time thinking about this important issue. I am hoping more people who are leaders in the community read these thoughts and chime in on the discussion as well.

      You mention an obstacle related to the study of the UB. There are some who believe it to be an epochal revelation and others who think it to be an Epochal revelation (The E being capitalized because it is absolute). You voice concern of uniting these different sets of individuals under the common purpose of study. Unfortunately, this is the devicive root of many sects (religious or otherwise). People historically prefer to be surrounded by like minds rather than like hearts, and that is the crux of the issue. We can ask about the logisitics of a study group for those who have like minds (90-100% UB), how do we create that?

      If by “we” I mean the Fellowship? The answer is we cant.

      The conversation must be thought of in a different light, in the perspective of personal religionists. You want to study the Epochal revelation? Start a study group. The Fellowship offers resources in terms of space, supplies, support, etc., but no leader representing the Fellowship, only a member there of. You want to study the epochal revelation (lower case)? Start a study group. The Fellowship offers resources…

      If people are inclined to start study groups with a religious motif (90-100% belief), do it!, but not on behalf of the Fellowship. It must happen on behalf of oneself. The role of the social organization that is the interfaith Fellowship is to provide support and facilitate networking for the study of the Urantia Book, at all levels. To embody that belief system is the role of its members, and to each his/her own.

      These are my thoughts 🙂 Hopefully I was able to communicate them clearly. Peace, love, and blessings to you as well !

      1. My heart is not one with those that deny Christ and his design. It is not one with those that belittle the work of the divine. It is not one with those that do so in any way,including by those who do so by doing so to there book.

        There will be an organization who shares my heart by sharing the mind of God. I will fight and die for it if necessary. What are you willing to fight for if not the divinity of Christ and the authority of the book? Is it really this,is it really “interfaith”?

        1. I’m a little confused, has anyone belittled the work of the divine?

          I would switch your wording and say that I would fight for the authority of Christ and the Divinity of the book. Meaning that in the experience of this book, I have learned to understand the mechanisms that govern my relationship with God and who He is. I have been enabled to trust the authority of Christ, that loving, living spirit who enhances the meanings and values of my daily experiences. The same personal experiences with which we each strive to grow and understand ourselves better. The personal understandings with which we struggle to reconcile differences between others with in the common (yet often mutually misunderstood) journey of loving God with all of ones mind, body, and soul.

          Is not the embodiment of reconciling these differences while growing closer to our Father embodied in both “interfaith” and the authority of Christ and the divinity of the UB?

  3. Miranda Clendening

    I agree. I don’t feel that anywhere in what Geoff or I said that we were ‘denying Christ or his design’ or ‘belittling the work of the Divine’. Quite the opposite. We both put all of our faith and efforts towards the doing of God’s will and his Divine plan and I can’t speak for Geoff but I heavily rely on my Relationship with Christ through his Spirit of Truth to help guide all I do.

    (2090.4) 196:1.3 To “follow Jesus” means to personally share his religious faith and to enter into the spirit of the Master’s life of unselfish service for man. One of the most important things in human living is to find out what Jesus believed, to discover his ideals, and to strive for the achievement of his exalted life purpose. Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.
    (2090.5) 196:1.4 The common people heard Jesus gladly, and they will again respond to the presentation of his sincere human life of consecrated religious motivation if such truths shall again be proclaimed to the world. The people heard him gladly because he was one of them, an unpretentious layman; the world’s greatest religious teacher was indeed a layman.
    (2091.1) 196:1.5 It should not be the aim of kingdom believers literally to imitate the outward life of Jesus in the flesh but rather to share his faith; to trust God as he trusted God and to believe in men as he believed in men. Jesus never argued about either the fatherhood of God or the brotherhood of men; he was a living illustration of the one and a profound demonstration of the other.

    (2091.10) 196:2.1 You may preach a religion about Jesus, but, perforce, you must live the religion of Jesus.

    (2087.5) 196:0.5 Theology may fix, formulate, define, and dogmatize faith, but in the human life of Jesus faith was personal, living, original, spontaneous, and purely spiritual. This faith was not reverence for tradition nor a mere intellectual belief which he held as a sacred creed, but rather a sublime experience and a profound conviction which securely held him. His faith was so real and all-encompassing that it absolutely swept away any spiritual doubts and effectively destroyed every conflicting desire. Nothing was able to tear him away from the spiritual anchorage of this fervent, sublime, and undaunted faith. Even in the face of apparent defeat or in the throes of disappointment and threatening despair, he calmly stood in the divine presence free from fear and fully conscious of spiritual invincibility. Jesus enjoyed the invigorating assurance of the possession of unflinching faith, and in each of life’s trying situations he unfailingly exhibited an unquestioning loyalty to the Father’s will. And this superb faith was undaunted even by the cruel and crushing threat of an ignominious death.
    (2088.1) 196:0.6 In a religious genius, strong spiritual faith so many times leads directly to disastrous fanaticism, to exaggeration of the religious ego, but it was not so with Jesus. He was not unfavorably affected in his practical life by his extraordinary faith and spirit attainment because this spiritual exaltation was a wholly unconscious and spontaneous soul expression of his personal experience with God.
    (2088.2) 196:0.7 The all-consuming and indomitable spiritual faith of Jesus never became fanatical, for it never attempted to run away with his well-balanced intellectual judgments concerning the proportional values of practical and commonplace social, economic, and moral life situations. The Son of Man was a splendidly unified human personality; he was a perfectly endowed divine being; he was also magnificently co-ordinated as a combined human and divine being functioning on earth as a single personality. Always did the Master co-ordinate the faith of the soul with the wisdom-appraisals of seasoned experience. Personal faith, spiritual hope, and moral devotion were always correlated in a matchless religious unity of harmonious association with the keen realization of the reality and sacredness of all human loyalties — personal honor, family love, religious obligation, social duty, and economic necessity.
    (2088.3) 196:0.8 The faith of Jesus visualized all spirit values as being found in the kingdom of God; therefore he said, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus saw in the advanced and ideal fellowship of the kingdom the achievement and fulfillment of the “will of God.” The very heart of the prayer which he taught his disciples was, “Your kingdom come; your will be done.” Having thus conceived of the kingdom as comprising the will of God, he devoted himself to the cause of its realization with amazing self-forgetfulness and unbounded enthusiasm. But in all his intense mission and throughout his extraordinary life there never appeared the fury of the fanatic nor the superficial frothiness of the religious egotist.

    (2093.3) 196:2.9 Jesus led men to feel at home in the world; he delivered them from the slavery of taboo and taught them that the world was not fundamentally evil. He did not long to escape from his earthly life; he mastered a technique of acceptably doing the Father’s will while in the flesh. He attained an idealistic religious life in the very midst of a realistic world. Jesus did not share Paul’s pessimistic view of humankind. The Master looked upon men as the sons of God and foresaw a magnificent and eternal future for those who chose survival. He was not a moral skeptic; he viewed man positively, not negatively. He saw most men as weak rather than wicked, more distraught than depraved. But no matter what their status, they were all God’s children and his brethren.
    (2093.4) 196:2.10 He taught men to place a high value upon themselves in time and in eternity. Because of this high estimate which Jesus placed upon men, he was willing to spend himself in the unremitting service of humankind. And it was this infinite worth of the finite that made the golden rule a vital factor in his religion. What mortal can fail to be uplifted by the extraordinary faith Jesus has in him?
    (2093.5) 196:2.11 Jesus offered no rules for social advancement; his was a religious mission, and religion is an exclusively individual experience. The ultimate goal of society’s most advanced achievement can never hope to transcend Jesus’ brotherhood of men based on the recognition of the fatherhood of God. The ideal of all social attainment can be realized only in the coming of this divine kingdom.

    To me, this kingdom means ALL of us that want eternal survival. ALL humans have a divine spark within us and have potential to be part of this kingdom. Jesus loved ALL men.

    (1991.3) 185:3.3 Jesus to Pilate: “Do you not perceive that my kingdom is not of this world? …My presence here before you in these bonds is sufficient to show all men that my kingdom is a spiritual dominion, even the brotherhood of men who, through faith and by love, have become the sons of God. And this salvation is for the gentile as well as for the Jew.”

    …or for ANYONE of any race, religion, or beliefs that wants a life of eternal survival, goodness, love, joy, through unselfish to service to our brothers and sisters.

    Sorry to get preachy. Much Love my brother Andrew.

    As always, PEACE, LOVE, and BLESSINGS, Miranda

  4. Miranda Clendening

    After posting my last message- I had very strong leadings towards the Urantia Book to find more wisdom from some of my favorite parts that provide great Wisdom about this subject. Please let me share if you are interested.

    (1041.5) 94:12.7 All Urantia is waiting for the proclamation of the ennobling message of Michael, unencumbered by the accumulated doctrines and dogmas of nineteen centuries of contact with the religions of evolutionary origin. The hour is striking for presenting to Buddhism, to Christianity, to Hinduism, even to the peoples of all faiths, not the gospel about Jesus, but the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus.

    (1031.9) 94:4.8 …Hinduism…has usually been a tolerant religion. Its great strength lies in the fact that it has proved to be the most adaptive, amorphic religion to appear on Urantia. It is capable of almost unlimited change and possesses an unusual range of flexible adjustment from the high and semimonotheistic speculations of the intellectual Brahman to the arrant fetishism and primitive cult practices of the debased and depressed classes of ignorant believers.
    (1032.1) 94:4.9 Hinduism has survived because it is essentially an integral part of the basic social fabric of India. It has no great hierarchy which can be disturbed or destroyed; it is interwoven into the life pattern of the people. It has an adaptability to changing conditions that excels all other cults, and it displays a tolerant attitude of adoption toward many other religions, Gautama Buddha and even Christ himself being claimed as incarnations of Vishnu.
    (1032.2) 94:4.10 Today, in India, the great need is for the portrayal of the Jesusonian gospel — the Fatherhood of God and the sonship and consequent brotherhood of all men, which is personally realized in loving ministry and social service. In India the philosophical framework is existent, the cult structure is present; all that is needed is the vitalizing spark of the dynamic love portrayed in the original gospel of the Son of Man, divested of the Occidental dogmas and doctrines which have tended to make Michael’s life bestowal a white man’s religion.

    Christ’s words when he appeared to people after His resurrection:
    (2041.6) 191:4.3 “Peace be upon you. You all know that we have one Father in heaven, and that there is but one gospel of the kingdom — the good news of the gift of eternal life which men receive by faith. As you rejoice in your loyalty to the gospel, pray the Father of truth to shed abroad in your hearts a new and greater love for your brethren. You are to love all men as I have loved you; you are to serve all men as I have served you. With understanding sympathy and brotherly affection, fellowship all your brethren who are dedicated to the proclamation of the good news, whether they be Jew or gentile, Greek or Roman, Persian or Ethiopian. John proclaimed the kingdom in advance; you have preached the gospel in power; the Greeks already teach the good news; and I am soon to send forth the Spirit of Truth into the souls of all these, my brethren, who have so unselfishly dedicated their lives to the enlightenment of their fellows who sit in spiritual darkness. You are all the children of light; therefore stumble not into the misunderstanding entanglements of mortal suspicion and human intolerance. If you are ennobled, by the grace of faith, to love unbelievers, should you not also equally love those who are your fellow believers in the far-spreading household of faith? Remember, as you love one another, all men will know that you are my disciples.
    (2042.1) 191:4.4 “Go, then, into all the world proclaiming this gospel of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men to all nations and races and ever be wise in your choice of methods for presenting the good news to the different races and tribes of mankind. Freely you have received this gospel of the kingdom, and you will freely give the good news to all nations. Fear not the resistance of evil, for I am with you always, even to the end of the ages. And my peace I leave with you.”

    Jesus’ Instruction for Teachers and Believers
    (1765.3) 159:3.1 Jesus spent a day and a night and, in the course of the evening’s discussion, gave expression to the principles which should guide those who preach truth, and which should activate all who teach the gospel of the kingdom. Summarized and restated in modern phraseology, Jesus taught:
    (1765.4) 159:3.2 Always respect the personality of man. Never should a righteous cause be promoted by force; spiritual victories can be won only by spiritual power. This injunction against the employment of material influences refers to psychic force as well as to physical force. Overpowering arguments and mental superiority are not to be employed to coerce men and women into the kingdom. Man’s mind is not to be crushed by the mere weight of logic or overawed by shrewd eloquence. While emotion as a factor in human decisions cannot be wholly eliminated, it should not be directly appealed to in the teachings of those who would advance the cause of the kingdom. Make your appeals directly to the divine spirit that dwells within the minds of men. Do not appeal to fear, pity, or mere sentiment. In appealing to men, be fair; exercise self-control and exhibit due restraint; show proper respect for the personalities of your pupils. Remember that I have said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, and if any man will open, I will come in.”
    (1765.5) 159:3.3 In bringing men into the kingdom, do not lessen or destroy their self-respect. While overmuch self-respect may destroy proper humility and end in pride, conceit, and arrogance, the loss of self-respect often ends in paralysis of the will. It is the purpose of this gospel to restore self-respect to those who have lost it and to restrain it in those who have it. Make not the mistake of only condemning the wrongs in the lives of your pupils; remember also to accord generous recognition for the most praiseworthy things in their lives. Forget not that I will stop at nothing to restore self-respect to those who have lost it, and who really desire to regain it.
    (1765.6) 159:3.4 Take care that you do not wound the self-respect of timid and fearful souls. Do not indulge in sarcasm at the expense of my simple-minded brethren. Be not cynical with my fear-ridden children. Idleness is destructive of self-respect; therefore, admonish your brethren ever to keep busy at their chosen tasks, and put forth every effort to secure work for those who find themselves without employment.
    (1766.1) 159:3.5 Never be guilty of such unworthy tactics as endeavoring to frighten men and women into the kingdom. A loving father does not frighten his children into yielding obedience to his just requirements.
    (1766.2) 159:3.6 Sometime the children of the kingdom will realize that strong feelings of emotion are not equivalent to the leadings of the divine spirit. To be strongly and strangely impressed to do something or to go to a certain place, does not necessarily mean that such impulses are the leadings of the indwelling spirit.
    (1766.3) 159:3.7 Forewarn all believers regarding the fringe of conflict which must be traversed by all who pass from the life as it is lived in the flesh to the higher life as it is lived in the spirit. To those who live quite wholly within either realm, there is little conflict or confusion, but all are doomed to experience more or less uncertainty during the times of transition between the two levels of living. In entering the kingdom, you cannot escape its responsibilities or avoid its obligations, but remember: The gospel yoke is easy and the burden of truth is light.
    (1766.4) 159:3.8 The world is filled with hungry souls who famish in the very presence of the bread of life; men die searching for the very God who lives within them. Men seek for the treasures of the kingdom with yearning hearts and weary feet when they are all within the immediate grasp of living faith. Faith is to religion what sails are to a ship; it is an addition of power, not an added burden of life. There is but one struggle for those who enter the kingdom, and that is to fight the good fight of faith. The believer has only one battle, and that is against doubt — unbelief.
    (1766.5) 159:3.9 In preaching the gospel of the kingdom, you are simply teaching friendship with God. And this fellowship will appeal alike to men and women in that both will find that which most truly satisfies their characteristic longings and ideals. Tell my children that I am not only tender of their feelings and patient with their frailties, but that I am also ruthless with sin and intolerant of iniquity. I am indeed meek and humble in the presence of my Father, but I am equally and relentlessly inexorable where there is deliberate evil-doing and sinful rebellion against the will of my Father in heaven. *
    (1766.6) 159:3.10 You shall not portray your teacher as a man of sorrows. Future generations shall know also the radiance of our joy, the buoyance of our good will, and the inspiration of our good humor. We proclaim a message of good news which is infectious in its transforming power. Our religion is throbbing with new life and new meanings. Those who accept this teaching are filled with joy and in their hearts are constrained to rejoice evermore. Increasing happiness is always the experience of all who are certain about God.
    (1766.7) 159:3.11 Teach all believers to avoid leaning upon the insecure props of false sympathy. You cannot develop strong characters out of the indulgence of self-pity; honestly endeavor to avoid the deceptive influence of mere fellowship in misery. Extend sympathy to the brave and courageous while you withhold overmuch pity from those cowardly souls who only halfheartedly stand up before the trials of living. Offer not consolation to those who lie down before their troubles without a struggle. Sympathize not with your fellows merely that they may sympathize with you in return.
    (1766.8) 159:3.12 When my children once become self-conscious of the assurance of the divine presence, such a faith will expand the mind, ennoble the soul, reinforce the personality, augment the happiness, deepen the spirit perception, and enhance the power to love and be loved.
    (1767.1) 159:3.13 Teach all believers that those who enter the kingdom are not thereby rendered immune to the accidents of time or to the ordinary catastrophes of nature. Believing the gospel will not prevent getting into trouble, but it will insure that you shall be unafraid when trouble does overtake you. If you dare to believe in me and wholeheartedly proceed to follow after me, you shall most certainly by so doing enter upon the sure pathway to trouble. I do not promise to deliver you from the waters of adversity, but I do promise to go with you through all of them.

    As Always, PEACE, LOVE, and BLESSINGS, Miranda

  5. I am very sorry that my comment was taken to mean that either one of you had denied Christ and the concern it must have caused you. It was meant in reference to the scenario put forth in the original post.

    Specifically, the part about Jesus stating,” Now a situation arises at this Fellowship event where the one person is promoting his belief system, in a sincere and positive manner, and it just so happens it is regarding an issue that he is not in agreement with the beliefs contained in the Urantia Book and the other 11 leaders personal beliefs. For some reason, he/she doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the story of his life is a metaphor. He/she preaches the realization of the fruits of the spirit, the Fatherhood of God, brotherhood of man, service to one’s fellows, and ritual worship via speaking in tongues.” I hope this clarifies my point.

    As for the belittlement of the divine, I was referring to what I assume is the cause of all but the relatively minor disagreements that people in our community have with the book and causes them to think of the book in terms of percentage points of correctness. That being the idea that one somehow, has more wisdom and better knowledge than a Universal Censor or a Divine Minister. Or is it perhaps they think the book is just a very well “channeled” work or even the work of shrewd and deceptive men?

    In a follow up post it was stated “You mention an obstacle related to the study of the UB. There are some who believe it to be an epochal revelation and others who think it to be an Epochal revelation (The E being capitalized because it is absolute). You voice concern of uniting these different sets of individuals under the common purpose of study. Unfortunately, this is the devicive root of many sects (religious or otherwise). People historically prefer to be surrounded by like minds rather than like hearts, and that is the crux of the issue. We can ask about the logisitics of a study group for those who have like minds (90-100% UB), how do we create that?” I wanted to make it clear that my heart is not, in fact like theirs, other than the way all hearts are, of course. I know from some personal experience how hard it is to share in ones religious journey with those that chose to believe in reincarnation, for instance. I know it would be easier for me to make progress in my quest to find God in a Christian church than in a group that, despite saying it was about the Book, allowed in all sorts of new age and occult ideologies.

    I would also like to say how much I appreciated Geoff’s article and thought it showed keen insight. It was great to finally see an intellectual understanding of policies put fourth by certain segments of our community. I think it is very important to have these discussions now that the issue of co-operation with cults and further acceptance of occult elements and mental dissociation (100:5.9) (“channeling”) is being brought up in the community.

    With respect, Andrew

    1. Thanks Andrew for helping clarify and thanks Miranda for your extensive book references, I love being able to scroll up the page and center myself on a relevant passage.

      I can see the root of the misunderstanding. My intention was to objectively describe a hypothetical ‘beliefs and values’ system. If by saying my friend is atheist for example, I in no way am intending to reinforce any belittlement of the Divine nature of Christ that could be insinuated by that individual’s choice of perspective.

      Second, you mention your belief that your religious life would be better served in a Christian community than in one which is empathetic to those individuals with differing occult belief systems. To reinterpret this statement it sounds like you might value less the discord among people who believe in atonement and a God of historical vengeance (my understanding of a Christian worldview) as compared to those individuals who believe in channeling. Although some personal experience compels me to agree with you, the purpose of my article was to try and step outside my inherently flawed personal belief system and lens of prejudgment. My goal is to discuss how an idealized social organization with a specific purpose should act.

      I very much respect your personal beliefs towards religious growth. If you want to choose a study group where individuals who believe in reincarnation are not invited, I fully support that choice, in fact, I believe this social organization should network, support, and foster such study groups for individuals like yourself all over the world. But if someone’s personal experience has justified reincarnation, how can I (the responsible member of a social organization designed with the purpose of the study of the Urantia Book), how can I in good conscience not provide a space for that sincere individual to study the Urantia Book as well and network and unite like minded individuals on his/her behalf as well? Maybe you wont be in the same study group, but can’t we all be in the Urantia Book Fellowship?

      I want to understand the meaning of who Jesus is when he “dares to love his enemies.” How do we embody this value as a social organization with a dual purpose of the study of the Urantia Book and the dissemination of the teachings as I discuss above?

      So if you are interested, I would ask you contextualize your very relevant concerns to the conversation of how a responsible social organization should act. If you have done so already I apologize for my misunderstanding of your points.

      With mutual respect,
      Your brother,

  6. Miranda Clendening

    Thank you Andrew for clarifying and thank you Goeff and Andrew for bringing up such good points. After posting what I said and contemplating Geoff’s points more, I do still feel that the Fellowship as an Interfaith organization would work very well and allow us to introduce and disseminate the teachings to people of many different beliefs instead of just coming in contact with those that already believe much like we do. An interfaith organization can help bring people together for fellowship, help build community, offer support to families/parents, help people build strong character and understand values and their meanings in our lives, and help us learn to love and accept those with many differing beliefs without fear.
    But, what about those who do believe the Urantia book to be 90-100% truth? I don’t feel that offering study groups is the only way we should foster building community of like minds. Don’t people hunger for worship together, prayer together, exploration of what it means to be a ‘Jesusonian’? I know I do, but I don’t necessarily think that it should be the job of the Fellowship to do this part. Maybe just in the future, as these kinds of things become available in different areas, the Fellowship can just be an avenue to share info and help unite those that are looking for all of this too. Just more of my thoughts 🙂

    As Always, PEACE, LOVE, And BLESSINGS, Miranda

    P.S. I also wanted to share this image posted by our friend Pato Banton on his facebook group. It is beautiful and fits with our discussion perfectly…

  7. As individuals, we get Thought Adjusters directly from our Father as authoritative guides. The Thought Adjusters are here to guide our individual path.

    As a human family, we receive epochal revelations of various types. The epochal revelations serve as the authoritative guide for our human family. Our challenge, of course, is learning how to coordinate and integrate these two types of authoritative guidance into our lives, both as individuals and as a group.

    Paper 195, Section 8: Secular Totalitarianism reviews the swing from religious authoritarianism to secular totalitarianism. Notwithstanding the role the church plays in religious authoritarianism, the general context of these remarks is our individual relationship to God. Parallels can be drawn between this section and the evolution of how Urantia Book readers relate to The Urantia Book as an expression of authoritative group guidance. In our culture, the interfaith (coexist) dispositions and philosophies have become so strong and pervasive that they are starting to show up like an “ism.”

    Consider the following substitutions as food for thought . . .

    195:8.5 Materialism denies God [Evolutionary religion denies the authenticity of The Urantia Book], secularism [interfaithism] simply ignores him [the issue of The Urantia Book’s superior status in relation to other texts]; at least that was the earlier attitude. . . . Twentieth-century secularism [interfaithism] tends to affirm that man does not need God [that Urantia Book organizations do not need to foster the teachings about the authoritative nature of The Urantia Book]. But beware! this godless philosophy of human society [this philosophy that pits the authority of Thought Adjusters against the authority of epochal revelation] will lead only to unrest, animosity, unhappiness, war, and world-wide disaster [community fragmentation].

    195:8.6 Secularism [interfaithism] can never bring peace to mankind [to the community of reader-believers]. Nothing can take the place of God [acknowledging the authenticity of The Urantia Book and embracing ALL of its teachings] in human society [in creating a group to advance this epochal revelation]. But mark you well! do not be quick to surrender the beneficent gains of the secular revolt from ecclesiastical totalitarianism [gains of the split]. Western civilization [The Fellowship] today enjoys many liberties and satisfactions as a result of the secular revolt [the refusal to allow the Urantia Foundation to oppress members with lawsuits, licensing requirements, and trying to control the social evolution of Urantia Book reader-believers]. The great mistake of secularism [interfaithism] was [is] this: In revolting against the almost total control of life by religious authority [In rejecting the religious authoritarianism of the Urantia Foundation], and after attaining the liberation from such ecclesiastical tyranny, the secularists [interfaithists] went on to institute a revolt against God himself [the authenticity and unadulterated integrity of The Urantia Book], sometimes tacitly and sometimes openly.

    This type of exercise can be done with the whole section, of course. I’m not going to do that here. Instead, I want to encourage everyone to reread that section with an eye toward getting this type of perspective on some of our current challenges. My particular way of writing this up is, of course, just one person’s creative attempt to get some insights from this type of comparison. I’d love hear what other people think about doing this type of inquiry.

    1. Halbert,

      Thank you for your thoughts. Admittedly, I am slightly perplexed at what you are talking about.

      For example, in paragraph two you mention that the Urantia Book is an authoritative guide and later ‘with unadulterated integrity’. That would imply to me that the words chosen in the book have intentional meaning. Yet the exercise you ask us to participate in is using words like ‘secular’ in the UB (literally meaning having no religious spiritual basis) to be in some way analgous with a completely opposite term like ‘interfaith’ (which is rooted in the implicit belief that the Thought Adjuster in its various names around the world is the authoritative guide for the human family and that we should endeavor to reach common goals beyond specific belief systems). How does that work? I feel it would be more meaningful if the words had similar connotation or defintion.

      I then have a number of questions about what you are saying, like:

      1) Isn’t the Urantia Book an example of evolutionary religion? Epochal revelations are intended to evolve the spiritual and religious consciousness of our planet? Did you not mean to say ‘past authoritative religion has a problem with the UB’ instead of evolutionary?

      2) You say foster the ‘teachings’ that the UB is an authoritative text. Where is that teaching? Would that not be better stated as ‘belief’? Isn’t it your or my belief that the teachings are authoritative?

      3) Do you believe that the Thought Adjuster has more, less, or equal authority than the text of the Urantia Book? It seems like you are implying in 195:8:6 that they are the same? Isn’t one part of God and the other a book (lower case)?

      Thanks for spending time contemplating this issue. This is defintely a useful conversation to continue. Hopefully more members of the community can weigh in !

      Best Regards,

      1. Regarding your questions, Goeff:

        1) The Urantia Book is revealed religion. You are evolutionary religion, with the opportunity to be guided by an authoritative revealed religion.

        2) The Forward, the Parts, and the Papers often begin or end with explicit statements regarding the authority of the authors to instruct. Search “I know whereof I speak” to see how this is also done in other places.

        3) The best analogy I can give you is that “a good son knows how to appropriately honor both his father and his mother.” For guidance on this issue, review 33:3.3.

  8. Hey, so in response to Halbert’s comment, I feel there is something that needs to be further clarified about my post. There exists a generalized discussion of interfaith and the associated universal religious system of thought ‘interfaithism’. But that is not what I am talking about. I agree that general interfaithism does undermine the supreme value of the UB.

    What I intend to discuss is the value of interfaithism as it applies to our social community’s goals, values, and purposes. The values of the organization are laid out in black and white in the UB, the fruits of the spirit. The goal and purpose of the UB is also laid out in black and white; the individual, then global attainment of personal relationship with God and the emergent realization of the brotherhood of man on Earth. These are the distilled goals, purposes, and values found in the Urantia Book which I agree we should insist upon as authoritative. We can do this because they are Supreme values and represent our Absolute destiny.

    Our mission as a social organization is to unite around these principles, and I believe this can be done in a way which allows for theological differences to exist. In fact, as Miranda has shown, I believe we are taught to.

    Is the Urantia Book AN authoritative text on supreme values and the personal goals of destiny (arguably the best)? Yes. But it can never be an authoritative text of personal beliefs, because as you said from the beginning, the Thought Adjuster is that authoritative personal guide. Also, beliefs are based on our entirety of life experience which the UB is only a part (albeit a significant part).

    This is the truest model I know of for unity without uniformity, yet another goal of the UB. And that is why IMO it is the responsibility of the leadership to commit to embodying and embracing interfaithism as it applies to our community.


  9. What a great conversation! Thanks to all of you for participating and to Geoff for starting it.
    I think that this quote also has value in thinking about all about this:
    Jesus went over to Gamala to visit John and those who worked with him at that place. That evening, after the session of questions and answers, John said to Jesus: “Master, yesterday I went over to Ashtaroth to see a man who was teaching in your name and even claiming to be able to cast out devils. Now this fellow had never been with us, neither does he follow after us; therefore I forbade him to do such things.” Then said Jesus: “Forbid him not. Do you not perceive that this gospel of the kingdom shall presently be proclaimed in all the world? How can you expect that all who will believe the gospel shall be subject to your direction? Rejoice that already our teaching has begun to manifest itself beyond the bounds of our personal influence. Do you not see, John, that those who profess to do great works in my name must eventually support our cause? They certainly will not be quick to speak evil of me. My son, in matters of this sort it would be better for you to reckon that he who is not against us is for us. In the generations to come many who are not wholly worthy will do many strange things in my name, but I will not forbid them. I tell you that, even when a cup of cold water is given to a thirsty soul, the Father’s messengers shall ever make record of such a service of love.” 159:2.1
    So I agree that we need to put these teachings to use by creating a culture of tolerance. This ‘interfaith model’ you’ve brought up Geoff, is something I didn’t understand at first but now I get it.
    The idea of having “faith but having it to yourself” is what we are considering. Geoff, you ask “can ‘disseminate the teachings’ be interpreted as ‘disseminating the beliefs’?” I think the teachings are the book and the beliefs are the individual’s reaction to those teachings which will always be unique. We simply must embrace tolerance as fundamental to the way we disseminate the teachings.
    When I introduce the book I always tell people that this book does not close you down to other beliefs. If you are a Christian it will enhance that. If you are a Buddhist or a Muslim you will also be gratified by the teachings. If you are an atheist you may change your mind about that. But this book is inclusive not exclusive. So I think you are on the right track with your thinking. Readers have always been encouraged to attend their own church or mosque, be active with their communities and individual service projects.
    Is it the responsibility of the leadership to commit to embodying and embracing interfaithism as it applies to our community? Yes, I believe so. I think we already have but continue to be reminded when various personalities shake us up.
    Perhaps we should get clear about our ideals, purposes and goals.

  10. Tommie Clendening

    My daughter, Miranda, is a YAYA and directed me to read several articles on this website. After reading them, I made some comments to her & she requested that I post them here.

    First, an individual was making the point that we need to have a much more “professional” marketing of The URANTIA Book. I agree.

    And I agree with Richard Omura on several fronts. First, it is not the Ubook which is important, but the truths contained therein. For me, it is not so important that I present the book, but that I live the truths of the book in my life. I always remember the line in Paper 155, the end of section 1, where it says, “Let me emphatically state this eternal truth: If you, by truth co-ordination, learn to exemplify in your lives this beautiful wholeness of righteousness, your fellow men will then seek after you that they may gain what you have so acquired. The measure wherewith truth seekers are drawn to you represents the measure of your truth endowment, your righteousness. The extent to which you have to go with your message to the people is, in a way, the measure of your failure to live the whole or righteous life, the truth-coordinated life.” Many of Jesus’ teachings were in parables & open to interpretation, only a few times was he this explicit. This statement is like a mathematical equation: If you do this, this will happen. If you fail to do this, others will not be drawn to you.

    Pretty simple in theory.

    Then I remember the time the apostles were complaining about a man who was evangelizing about Jesus in a neighboring town, but teaching in a way they (the apostles) felt was wrong. (Paper 159:2) They felt this other teacher’s facts were not always accurate, after all he had not traveled & lived with Jesus, as they had… And, Jesus told his apostles to leave the other teacher alone. That it was not their job to judge or censor another. Only to live their own lives as a reflection of their Father’s will as best they could discern that will. I believe this applies to all of us. What is a good way for one to present THE UB will not be suitable for another. We are different, individuals, each with our own strengths, talents, etc.

    In one of the articles here it was stated that we “don’t want to come across as another DIANETICS.” And I would ask, “Why not?” Please be more explicit. What is it about that organization that “we don’t want to be like?” To me, DIANETICS, the Mormons, the Red Cross are all examples of organizations who do a good job of getting the observer’s attention. And, often, you can’t tell who the sponsoring organization is, until the very end of their advertisement, but their message caught your attention. I know we have an 800# that is not used much – I would speculate it doesn’t get many calls because it is not publicized well. Why not? And who answers this #? How are they trained? Someone mentioned that THE URANTIA BOOK must be “portrayed truthfully & accurately.” Who decides how this is done? How are people to be “truly qualified?” Is there training? A certification? I have always felt that it is not up to us to decide if the world is ready… But, as an organization, we certainly could come up with levels & means of qualification for those who are interested. Another writer on this site noted that we certainly have “teachers so well-versed in race, eugenics, etc.” within our readership that could answer questions. But do these same individuals have good people skills? Do they have good public speaking/presentation skills, plus the inclination & desire to present THE UB in this way? Are they friendly & personable to kindly answer a seeker’s questions (without trying to convert or condemn)?

    One statement in an Interfaith article of Geoff Theiss on this site can be used as an example: He is speaking loosely about evangelizing & makes the statement “if one gets irked in response to another’s partial understanding/teaching…” “Getting irked” is a personal issue, and a perfect example. How one feels & responds/reacts to another is a very personal matter and one that depends very much on one’s maturity level. And maturity level can be increased by teaching, learning from experience, even enhanced and sped along with pertinent observation & guidance (just as Jesus did with His apostles). The way someone understands, accepts (or doesn’t!), a teaching or book is not up to anyone but that individual. And that should not be perceived as a personal affront. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    I really like and agree with Geoff’s suggestion of the general disclaimer. This would allow participants to maintain their individual creativity without the organization having to OK, police, or edit each member’s input. It could save a lot of grief! And he stated, “Everyone is of their own personal religion. What better way…” YES! Very well said.

    In all of this I like the term “interfaith” and the purpose of “social good” and tolerance (non-judgment) must be fundamental. There was also mention of “forbidding evangelism.” This would be unnecessary with a blanket disclaimer in place!

    Such fruitful, thought-provoking discussions!! I agree it is past time to be doing more, reaching more. But carefully structuring and defining our organizations (and their services, members responsibilities, liabilities, etc.) will make the way this happens so much easier.

    It is not up to me what another does or believes. The only one I have any control over is me.

    “Have you faith? Then have it to yourself.” UB 99:5.7

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Whether you’re curious about our courses, want to join us as a volunteer, or would like to make a contribution, feel free to reach out :)