AOH :: URANTIA.TXT|
Evaluating the Urantia book, trance channeling and the superuniverse
EVALUATING THE URANTIA BOOK
by Stephen F. Cannon
The recent media attention given to "trance channeling" (See, Shirley
MacLaine's two best-selling books, Out On A Limb and Dancing in The
Light) has also led to a resurgence of interest in trance revelations.
Among these "New Age" revelations is a weighty volume called The Urantia
This four-pound, 2097-page tome (with 7-inch by 10-inch pages),
purports to be a history, cosmology and theology of the central and
superuniverse, the local universe and the history of our own planet,
which is properly named "Urantia." The last -- and most important for
Christians -- section of the book is a purported revelation of the true
life and teachings of Jesus.
According to the Urantia Brotherhood, which is "a voluntary and
fraternal association of believers in the teachings of The Urantia
Book," (Letter from Urantia Brotherhood dated Sept. 1977.), "The account
of the life and teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book is much more
complete than that of the New Testament, but not contradictory." (Basic
Concepts of The Urantia Book, Urantia Brotherhood, Sept. 1975, pg. 2)
An analysis of that section, however, shows not only contradiction of
the New Testament, but a systematic denial of all the basic tenets of
Orthodox Christianity. That Urantia doctrine and Christian doctrine are
contradictory can best be demonstrated by analyzing the book's origin
and its claims about Christ and His teachings.
The Urantia Foundation filed as a tax-exempt common law educational
foundation in 1950 in Cook County, Illinois. This group holds the
copyright to The Urantia Book and is committed to "perpetually preserve
inviolate the text of The Urantia Book and to disseminate the
principles, teachings and doctrines of (that book)." (Letter dated May
1978) The book was first published in 1955. Its beginnings, however, go
back to the early 20th century.
Dr. William Samuel Sadler (1875-1969), psychiatrist, surgeon,
theologian and author, appears to be the primary force behind the
compilation and publication of what was then known as the Urantia
Sadler was baptized into the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1888. He
rose to a position of prominence in that church and held various
appointments in church hospitals and sanitariums. There is ample
evidence that Sadler enjoyed a personal relationship with SDA prophetess
Ellen G. White, and was called on to write articles for and speak to SDA
As a result of the strong teachings of Adventism against Spiritualism,
Sadler spent a great deal of time debunking spiritistic phenomena. He
chronicled his findings in two books: The Truth about Spiritualism
(1923) and the more comprehensive The Mind at Mischief: Tricks of the
Subconscious Mind (1929).
In these two volumes, Sadler recounts his work with numerous psychics,
mediums, trance talkers, and automatic writers. He concludes that with
"... one or two exceptions ... all cases of psychic phenomena which have
come under my observation have turned out to be those of auto-psychis"
(i.e. tricks of the subconscious mind or outright fraud). (Mind at
Mischief, pg. 382) It is to one of these exceptions that our attention
In the appendix of The Mind at Mischief Sadler recounts a story of one
investigation into the psychic realm that he could not debunk. From the
summer of 1911 until the time of his writing in 1929 he had a subject
under observation who would go into a deep sleep out of which he could
not be awakened. Sadler wrote: "This man is utterly unconscious, wholly
oblivious to what takes place, and, unless told about it subsequently,
never knows that he has been used as a sort of clearing house for the
coming and going of alleged extra-planetary personalities" (Mind at
Mischief, pg. 383). Of the communications themselves "I can only say
that I have found in these years of observation that all the information
imparted through this source has proved to be consistent within itself.
... Its philosophy is consistent. It is essentially Christian and is, on
the whole, entirely harmonious with the known scientific facts and
truths of this age." (Mind at Mischief, pg. 384.) Sadler wanted to say
more on the subject, but the person under investigation would not give
his permission to do so.
Enter Harold Sherman.
Harold Sherman, author, screenwriter, and psychic investigator, came
into contact with Sadler and the original Urantia Forum in 1942. In his
book How to Know What to Believe (Fawcett Publishing House, Greenwich,
Conn. 1976) Sherman gives an account of his years as a Forum member and
recounts some details of the origin of the papers as told to him by
Sadler. Sherman recalls that "It was an evening appointment, and we
found the doctor to be in an unusually amiable, talkative mood, disposed
to give us a more complete version of the origin of the papers than we
had ever heard of before or since. As soon as the long session was over,
Martha (Sherman's wife) and I crossed the street to our apartment in the
Rutledge Hotel and worked into the early hours to make a detailed
written record of the information that the doctor had imparted." (How to
Know, pg. 62) The details of Sherman's account essentially fit within
the framework established by Sadler's account above and has the ring of
After recounting the details of how Sadler and his wife came into
contact with the "subject," and after observing on several occasions the
subject's apparent desire to talk while in a trance, Sadler began asking
him questions. It was then that they learned that the subject was being
used by extra-terrestrial entities. (How to Know, pg. 64) Apparently,
this question-and-answer format accelerated with the appearance of newer
and higher entities. As these events were happening with the sleeping
subject, the Sadlers began having a few friends over for Sunday
afternoon tea to discuss topics of religion and other mutual interests.
The year was 1923 and the Forum was born.
The subject of Sadler's encounter with extra-terrestrial entities
became the focus of the group meetings. Eventually, Forum members were
called upon to submit questions for the intelligences to answer. In
November 1923 the members put together a list of 4,000 questions. These
questions were submitted to the "higher intelligences." After several
weeks Sadler called to the home of the subject and there he found a
manuscript of 472 hand-written pages. According to the wife of the
subject, the entire manuscript had been written in one night. Sadler
wrote: "I took a look at the manuscript and saw to my great astonishment
that it was the answer to all of the questions that had been formulated
by ourselves in our forum group!" (How to Know, pp. 65-67)
Of course these questions led to further questions and more papers
came through. The first stage of the revelation came to a close late in
1934. It was several years later when the last group of papers were
revealed. Sherman recalls Sadler's words: "It was finally decided by
those controlling transmission of The New Revelation Book (The Urantia
Book) to permit seventy-five papers giving a detailed and comprehensive
account of Jesus' life on earth, from His birth to His death, to be
added." (How to Know, pg. 68)
Sadler supposedly summed up by saying "The book is eventually to be
published without any human personalities to be identified with it in
any way and no authorship to be ascribed to it. These higher beings have
refused to use their own names and have only specified their type of
being in the universe.
"There are only a few of us still living who were in touch with this
phenomenon in the beginning, and when we die, the knowledge of it will
die with us. Then the book will exist as a great mystery, and no human
will know the manner in which it came about," Sadler said. (How to Know,
This position of trying to divorce the book from all human origin has
been taken by the Urantia Foundation to this day. Any inquiry as to the
origination of The Urantia Book brings a copyrighted form letter titled,
The Urantia Book: The Question of Origin. While the above accounts of
the transmission of the book are alluded to, the main thrust of the form
letter is: "Don't be concerned with the mechanics of how the revelation
came to us, only judge the revelation on the basis of experiencing its
"First of all, let us acknowledge that no human being knows many of
the details and specifics regarding the origin of the Urantia Papers."
(The Urantia Book: The Question of Origin, Urantia Brotherhood Corp.,
1978, pg. 1)
"Only a first-hand experience of the superlative message of the book
can confirm the spiritual source of its origin. In reality, information
about its origin has nothing to do with the truth or spiritual quality
of the book." (The Urantia Book: The Question of Origin, pg. 2)
Subtle psychological pressure is brought to bear to try to make the
investigator guilty for even raising the question of origin. "Upon
reflection, you will recognize the persistent questions about the
unrevealed details concerning the origin of the book as a psychological
parallel to the recurring demand put to Jesus: 'Show us a sign.'" (The
Urantia Book: The Question of Origin, pg. 3)
Repeated attempts on my part to have the Foundation either confirm or
deny Sherman's account of The Urantia Book's genesis have met with
silence. In a letter to me from the foundation I was essentially told
the same thing that the Question of Origin paper advised, "...we hold
the issue of the authenticity or validity of the teachings of the book
to be a matter determined on the basis of personal faith and belief.
Only the individual, by reading the book and contemplating its
teachings, can determine for him/herself whether the teachings are
valuable. The wise person does not question, but they determine truth
for themselves and do not ask an authority to validate truth for them.
(Letter from Urantia Foundation to author dated Dec. 11, 1980)
Despite the foundation's position, the question of origin is
important. With so many purported divine revelations available, it is
necessary to examine the origin of each.
The Bible is clear in stating that any "revelation" is to be examined
in light of what has been already given in the Bible and the Person of
Jesus Christ. (Acts 17:11) We are cautioned to test supposed spirit
communication (1 John 4:1). If these communications do not square with
the already established Good News, we are to have nothing to do with
them, even if they come from angels. (Galatians 1:8)
By their desire to keep the origin of The Urantia Book a "mystery",
the foundation tries to make it more difficult to properly evaluate this
revelation and surround the book with an aura of mystical spirituality.
Once the facts are known about how the original papers came to be,
however, we can see that their origin is really no different than any
number of other communications from "extra-terrestrial" sources,i.e.,
channeling information, while in a trance, from alleged extra-
terrestrial beings who have possessed a subject. From Shirley MacLaine
to L. Ron Hubbard, bookshelves are loaded with knowledge and wisdom from
our supposed brothers from the stars, most of which is contradictory,
confusing and often downright silly.
In all such communications this author has examined, The Urantia Book
included, religion is brought up and Christianity is dismantled.
The Urantia Book on Jesus
The Urantia Book's section on the life of Jesus and his religion is
claimed to be much more complete than the New Testament but not
contradictory to it. A brief examination of the book proves that claim
to be false.
To say that The Urantia Book takes a dim view of the Bible is an
understatement. On page 1767, The Urantia Book quotes Jesus saying to
Nathaniel: "Nathaniel, you have rightly judged; I do not regard the
Scriptures as do the rabbis. ... These writings are the work of men,
some of them holy men, others not so holy. ... The Scriptures are faulty
and altogether human in origin, but mistake not, they do constitute the
best collection of religious wisdom and spiritual truth to be found in
all the world at this time."
There goes the authenticity of the Old Testament.
The New Testament is dismissed on page 2091 as "a discussion of Paul's
religious experience and a portrayal of his personal religious
With the Judeo-Christian Scriptures out of the way, the stage is set
for denial of orthodox Christianity.
Saying at one point that it was deliberate, at another that it was
unintentional, The Urantia Book maintains that early Christianity was
transformed from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. (The
Urantia Book, pg. 2075) First, Jesus taught the "true" gospel of the
Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. This message was corrupted
by the Apostles Paul and Peter (The Urantia Book, pg. 2091) and then
further changed by other apostles. (The Urantia Book, pg. 1825) The
Christian churches are the chief obstacles to the true teachings of
Jesus (The Urantia Book, pg. 2085) and Christianity is an obstacle to
the spiritual advancement of human civilization. (The Urantia Book, pg.
2084) The two greatest mistakes of Christianity are: 1) The organization
of Christian teachings so completely around the person of Jesus and 2)
"...to connect the gospel teaching directly onto Jewish theology, as
illustrated by the Christian doctrine of the atonement." (The Urantia
Book, pg. 1670)
The blood atonement of Jesus Christ appears to be the doctrine most
rigorously attacked by The Urantia Book. Paul and Greek philosopher
Philo were the chief misinterpreters of the significance of the
atonement, The Urantia Book says, and it was these two who blended in
the pagan ideas of atonement with the religion of Jesus. (The Urantia
Book, pg. 1339) The Urantia Book maintains that the very idea of blood
atonement is barbarous, puerile, primitive, and pagan. "It is an affront
to God to believe, hold, or teach that innocent blood must be shed in
order to win his favor or to divert the fictitious divine wrath." (The
Urantia Book, pg. 60)
Despite clear biblical passages to the contrary, (Romans 5:8-9;
Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22) The Urantia Book tells us that Jesus did
not die to atone for man's sin (for there is no real sin, The Urantia
Book, pp. 984, 1739, 2093). The Urantia Book also says that man does not
obtain salvation through Christ's sacrifice. (The Urantia Book, pg.
2016) "All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted
and grounded in selfishness ... Salvation should be taken for granted by
those who believe in the fatherhood of God." (The Urantia Book, pg.
The rejection of this key doctrine of blood atonement leads the
authors of The Urantia Book to denials of other key doctrines. If there
is no real sin (as noted above), then there is no need for any
atonement. No atonement is needed because there was no fall of man. (The
Urantia Book, pg. 846) Man is ever evolving to higher and higher planes.
Also, since Christianity teaches blood atonement, then Christianity must
be denied. (The Urantia Book, pg. 1011) If no real blood atonement
(physical) was needed, then no physical resurrection was needed. (The
Urantia Book, pp. 2020-2021) And, if there was no need for the purity of
the Messiah's bloodline, then there was no need for the virgin birth of
Jesus. (The Urantia Book, pg. 1327)
How one can read the above and draw the conclusion that this does not
contradict the New Testament defies both reason and logic. Moreover, how
one can say that despite the systematic denials of The Urantia Book that
this volume is "essentially Christian" stretches the imagination to the
It is apparent that one can either accept the teachings of The Urantia
Book or one can accept the Bible. One can't accept both. Their teachings
On the one hand is the Bible, which has been substantiated as to its
historicity, authenticity, and authority by internal bibliographical,
archaeological and philological tests. On the other hand is The Urantia
Book, which was given to us by trance channeling through an unknown
subject supposedly possessed by extra-terrestrial spirits named
Manovandet Melchizedek and Vorondadek Son.
One can choose the real Jesus Christ, the only manifestation of God in
human flesh who was miraculously born of a virgin, who suffered the
shedding of his blood to cleanse us all from real original sin, and who
rose bodily, physically from the grave to give a sign to everyone that
he was who he said he was -- God Incarnate. Or you can choose the Jesus
of The Urantia Book: Michael of Nebadon; a son of the Eternal Son of the
Paradise Trinity, "grandson" of God the Father, one of over 700,000
creator Sons. This Jesus was born naturally into the world to show us
that "We must earn every inch of progress by study and training under
the guidance of angels and other competent teachers, and chiefly by
service which we give to those following us." (Basic Concepts, pg. 2)
It can either be justification by the grace of God through faith in
the finished work of Jesus the Christ, or a constant striving to earn
inches of progress by trying to pull oneself up by one's spiritual
bootstraps. It can either be the eternal rest in that grace as explained
in the Bible or it can be the constant struggle of works righteousness
enumerated in The Urantia Book.
It cannot be both; the time for choosing is now.
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