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Message from the Board of Directors

Welcome to The Spiritual Fellowship Website! The Life and Teachings of Jesus in the Urantia papers, in our judgment, has the greatest potential of spiritually advancing our world of any event since the coming of Jesus over 2000 years ago. The history of religion shows that spiritual value systems are always established and promoted by some kind of religious organization.

The Spiritual Fellowship is seeking to establish the grass roots religious foundations that will carry the transforming message of the Urantia papers to the spiritually hungry people of the world. The Spiritual Fellowship is non-creedal and we support that living the teachings of love, forgiveness, and service is the most important thing a person can do. We invite you to join us in this outreach mission. By following this link you can read A Brief History of The Spiritual Fellowship by Dick Bain.

The Spiritual Fellowship believes in the importance of individual religious experience. We encourage you to have confidence in your personal religion as you strive to experience God and do good in the world. We enjoy celebrating God together where unity of love is the focus, not uniformity of beliefs. The Spiritual Fellowship believes that all cultures, all religions and indeed all people can agree that living in spiritual love unites us. Every human being is our spiritual brother or sister in the one worldwide family of God. God be with you as you journey through this lifetime.

Cordially, with loving fellowship ,

Richard Bain, Treasurer and acting Executive Director      Merlyn Cox, President and acting Chair

David Hitzeman, Director       Nancy Long, Secretary          Larry Mullins, Vice President

Meredith J. Sprunger, Chairman Emeritus and Director    

 

IN MEMORIAM: Irene Sprunger,  1916 to 2007.  Irene, our friend and fellow Board member, made her transition to the mansion worlds in the spring of 2007.  Her friendship and her contribution to The Spiritual Fellowship will be missed.  For 66 years she was the wife and life partner of Dr. Meredith Sprunger, the Chairman Emeritus of the TSF Board of Directors.  We and her family look forward to seeing her again on the mansion worlds one day

As our world enters a new era of spiritual enlightenment, The Spiritual Fellowship would like to share a larger vision – one reflective of the vast family of Our Heavenly Father, where we serve together in spiritual unity, not philosophical or creedal uniformity.

 Ours is a spiritual proclamation:

We are all children of a loving God.

The Role of The Urantia Papers in The Spiritual Fellowship

GENERAL:

The board of directors of The Spiritual Fellowship Website recognizes that no revelation, short of the attainment of the Universal Father, can ever be complete. All other celestial ministrations (including the Urantia Papers[1] themselves) can be no more than partial, transient, and practically adapted to the local conditions in time and space. In making their way into the evolutionary mainstream, the recording and propagation of these celestial ministrations accumulate human errors. Therefore, while basing The Spiritual Fellowship on the teachings of the Urantia Papers, we by no means believe these teachings to be the complete and final “word of God.” While understanding that, as the Papers tell us, such admissions as this may possibly detract from the immediate force and authority of all revelations, the Urantia Papers also teach us: “… the time has arrived on Urantia when it is advisable to make such frank statements, even at the risk of weakening the future influence and authority of this…revelation of truth to the mortal races of Urantia.” [2]

Indeed, never before has revelatory truth so clearly disclaimed its own infallibility and admitted its transient nature. This forthrightness calls upon us to clearly define the term revelation itself as it is used by the Papers before we attempt to explain our organization’s relationship to the fifth epochal revelation. A corollary question will then confront us: How can a religious organization be based upon a foundation of relative truth, even revelatory relative truth? This question is the most important, and perhaps most difficult issue of all. In answering it, we must understand that classic organizational models with 16th century command and control structures are irrelevant to the needs of The Spiritual Fellowship. A new organizational structure is called for, one that can serve a religious organization that is based upon a truly revolutionary concept.

CONTENTS:

PART I. The Nature Of Revelation: This section will deal with the need to carefully clarify the term revelation as it is used in the Urantia Papers and define the manner in which we intend to employ it.

PART II.  From A Pragmatic Perspective, Should We Conceal The Source Of Our Beliefs Or Openly Proclaim And  Embrace The Urantia Revelation? Corollary to the nature of revelation, we will then address the question of practicality: will an organization based upon the Urantia Papers grow more swiftly if it conceals its source?

PART III.  The Various Terms Used For The Urantia Papers. A side issue we will examine is the confusion some individuals less familiar with the Urantia Papers seem to have when they try to understand the terms: The Urantia Book, the Urantia Papers, and the fifth epochal revelation.

PART IV.  The Nature Of The Spiritual Fellowship Organization.  Finally, we will examine the larger question of how we will actually accomplish an organizational relationship to the fifth epochal revelation.

  1. THE NATURE OF REVELATION

“Truth is always a revelation: autorevelation when it emerges as a result of the work of the indwelling Adjuster; epochal revelation when it is presented by the function of some other celestial agency, group, or personality.” [P.1109 par. 4]

         Autorevelation: The Fragment of God that indwells the human mind continuously strives to present truth to the superconscious mind of its human host, and this is called autorevelation. Ideally, such autorevelatory presentations gradually help the human mind evolve to a more enlightened state. However, the human mind is ever fallible in its ability to understand, interpret and absorb truth.[3] Usually, the Adjuster’s message is “lost in the material currents of the energy streams of human mind; only occasionally do you catch an echo, a faint and distant echo, of the divine voice.” [1205 par. 5] What may filter through the human consciousness into the evolutionary mainstream will rarely be more than the faintest shadow of the truth the Thought Adjuster originally presented to the human mind.[4] We must ever be aware that most of the Adjuster’s work is superconscious, and “you are quite incapable of distinguishing the product of your own material intellect from that of the conjoint activities of your soul and the Adjuster.” [1207 par. 2]

         Epochal revelation: These are periodic ministrations to evolutionary mortals by celestial groups, agencies or personalities. There have been many events of religious revelation, but there have only been five epochal revelations in human history. [1007 par. 4]  The Urantia Papers state that Jesus of Nazareth was the fourth epochal revelation, and the Urantia Papers are the fifth. [1008 par. 1-2] As written before, epochal revelations are subject to restrictions relative to their content and subject to human error once they are presented. In the case of the Urantia Papers, some of the restrictions are plainly stated: “Let it be made clear that revelations are not necessarily inspired. The cosmology of these revelations is not inspired. It is limited by our permission for the co-ordination and sorting of present-day knowledge. While divine or spiritual insight is a gift, human wisdom must evolve.” [1109 par. 3]  Therefore, when designating the Urantia Papers as epochal revelation there is no implication that they represent the “final word of God.” You might be interested in reading a post about psychology of religion and spirituality.

The Urantia Papers do not qualify revelation in a hierarchical manner; all revelation of truth is divine, yet (to repeat) all revelation, short of the attainment of the Universal Father, is limited, and once delivered, is prone to human error. The Urantia Papers tell us there have been many events of religious revelation. [1007 par. 4]  The Spiritual Fellowship honors other revelations of truth, and recognizes that all religions contain truth[5].

How is one to judge which professed revelations are authentic revelations of truth, and which are not?  The Spiritual Fellowship does not provide an organizational doctrine to answer such a question. Only the individual, with the aid of the indwelling Spirit of God within (the Adjuster), and the Spirit of Truth, can make his or her personal determination of truth. As the revelators teach us in the Urantia Papers: “ … we know that there dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and that there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness.” [17 par. 2]

However, although all revelation is limited, it is also progressive. The fourth epochal revelation was Jesus of Nazareth, who revealed many new concepts to the human race. One of the most significant revelations Jesus made to human minds is the concept of living truth, or living revelation:

“This gospel of the kingdom is a living truth. I have told you it is like the leaven in the dough, like the grain of mustard seed; and now I declare that it is like the seed of the living being, which, from generation to generation, while it remains the same living seed, unfailingly unfolds itself in new manifestations and grows acceptably in channels of new adaptation to the peculiar needs and conditions of each successive generation. The revelation I have made to you is a living revelation, and I desire that it shall bear appropriate fruits in each individual and in each generation in accordance with the laws of spiritual growth, increase, and adaptative development. From generation to generation this gospel must show increasing vitality and exhibit greater depth of spiritual power. It must not be permitted to become merely a sacred memory, a mere tradition about me and the times in which we now live.” [1931 – par. 6]

Therefore, although revelation is partial and limited, it has the potential to be living revelation when it passes through individual human experience. Thus does epochal revelation become augmented by autorevelation when it is engaged in human experience and is enriched by the indwelling Father Fragment of the individual. So it is that the religious genius of the people often surpasses the dogmas and so-called sacred texts of their priests. The religion of Jesus is the religion of individual personal experience: “In the Master’s life on Urantia, this and all other worlds of the local creation discover a new and higher type of religion, religion based on personal spiritual relations with the Universal Father and wholly validated by the supreme authority of genuine personal experience.” [2087 – par. 4] and: “Jesus founded the religion of personal experience in doing the will of God and serving the human brotherhood; Paul founded a religion in which the glorified Jesus became the object of worship and the brotherhood consisted of fellow believers in the divine Christ. In the bestowal of Jesus these two concepts were potential in his divine-human life, and it is indeed a pity that his followers failed to create a unified religion which might have given proper recognition to both the human and the divine natures of the Master as they were inseparably bound up in his earth life and so gloriously set forth in the original gospel of the kingdom.” [2092 – par. 4]

The Urantia Papers themselves proclaim such a living truth—but only when it passes through the human experience: “Truth is living; the Spirit of Truth is ever leading the children of light into new realms of spiritual reality and divine service. You are not given truth to crystallize into settled, safe, and honored forms. Your revelation of truth must be so enhanced by passing through your personal experience that new beauty and actual spiritual gains will be disclosed to all who behold your spiritual fruits and in consequence thereof are led to glorify the Father who is in heaven. Only those faithful servants who thus grow in the knowledge of the truth, and who thereby develop the capacity for divine appreciation of spiritual realities, can ever hope to ‘enter fully into the joy of their Lord.’” [P.1917 – par. 3]

We recognize the Urantia Papers as the seed of revelation that cannot come to life on the pages of a book, or even by being read and studied. Truth must be lived. And likewise, while we honor and respect the truth in other revelations, we see them as living revelations only when they are appropriately lived. Moreover, we recognize that the Urantia Papers are a living seed such as the gospel Jesus proclaimed, and they are intended to unfailingly unfold their truths “in new manifestations and grow acceptably in channels of new adaptation to the peculiar needs and conditions of each successive generation.” The Papers make this principle clear:

“What a sorry sight for successive generations of the professed followers of Jesus to say, regarding their stewardship of divine truth: ‘Here, Master, is the truth you committed to us a hundred or a thousand years ago. We have lost nothing; we have faithfully preserved all you gave us; we have allowed no changes to be made in that which you taught us; here is the truth you gave us.’ But such a plea concerning spiritual indolence will not justify the barren steward of truth in the presence of the Master. In accordance with the truth committed to your hands will the Master of truth require a reckoning.” [P.1917 – par. 3; 1918 – par. 0]

The Urantia Papers identify themselves as the fifth epochal revelation. The board of directors of The Spiritual Fellowship believes the term: “epochal revelation,” as it is defined and used by the Urantia Papers, may be appropriately applied to the Urantia Papers without being perceived as a negation of other revelations of truth. We believe it is appropriate to state that we honor and respect all revelations of truth. We do not believe that there is, ever has been, or ever could be a complete divine revelation of truth on our evolutionary planet. Once more: we hold that the truths of a religion must be defined by living, not by the evaluation of words in a book or document, including The Urantia Book.

  1. FROM A PRAGMATIC PERSPECTIVE, SHOULD WE CONCEAL THE SOURCE OF OUR BELIEFS OR OPENLY PROCLAIM AND EMBRACE THE URANTIA REVELATION?

It has been argued that our organization will grow much more quickly if we assume the role of being a nondenominational Christian organization to interface and gain acceptance by other religions, and then gradually meld the teachings of the Urantia Papers with the teachings of these other religions. We see four dangers in this more expedient method of gaining members:

(1). Such a technique of concealment of sources and “bootlegging” selected material requires a discriminatory interpretation of the Urantia Papers, and places certain “chosen” individuals in our organization between the revelation and individual seekers of truth. We believe all individuals should be able to freely access the entire fifth epochal revelation and make their own personal interpretation and evaluation of its contents.

(2). By concealing the fact that the Urantia Papers identify themselves as the fifth epochal revelation, and failing to explain the limited nature of all revelations short of attainment of the Universal Father, we would be concealing one of the central revelations of the Papers themselves.

(3).  An organization based upon the Urantia Papers must be true to its core values. We must be uncompromisingly honest about our relationship to the Urantia Papers.

(4). There are countless nondenominational churches in existence that accept, or perhaps would accept, certain parts of the Urantia Papers. We recognize the value of such churches, but we do not seek to found another nondenominational church. Until now, there has been no worldwide religious organization openly based upon the teachings of the Urantia Papers—exclusively founded on the entire fifth epochal revelation. That is the organization we seek to found and develop. Our objective is to lay a foundation consistent with our core values, and then to simultaneously preserve the core and vigorously stimulate growth. We do not seek expedient shortcuts to acquire members, we believe openness about our nature and purpose is essential to preserve the integrity of the organization.

How do we suggest leaders and teachers in The Spiritual Fellowship maintain integrity while operating with common sense and effectiveness in the real world? We look to the model of Jesus, the Fourth Epochal revelation. He did not attempt to explain the “seven absolutes of infinity” to each person he met. Rather, he ground the grains of his truth small enough to fit the capacity of the individual. Jesus used the utmost prudence in sharing his truths, never seeking to destroy another’s beliefs but rather teasing out what truths he could find in a belief system and embellishing those until error was crowded out. Nor did he use psychic force or overwhelming argument to convince others. We have this revealed model to study, and we have the living presence of the Spirit of Truth:

“Pentecost, with its spiritual endowment, was designed forever to loose the religion of the Master from all dependence upon physical force; the teachers of this new religion are now equipped with spiritual weapons. They are to go out to conquer the world with unfailing forgiveness, matchless good will, and abounding love. They are equipped to overcome evil with good, to vanquish hate by love, to destroy fear with a courageous and living faith in truth. Jesus had already taught his followers that his religion was never passive; always were his disciples to be active and positive in their ministry of mercy and in their manifestations of love.” [2064 – par. 3]

Teachers and leaders who would presume to base their methods upon those of the Master need to be trained carefully and thoroughly. It will take time to develop methods and curriculum and instructors. We should point out that, even when confronted by the Sanhedrin court, Jesus never failed to respond to questions about his nature or his mission on earth. [1999 par. 2] Likewise, leaders and teachers of The Spiritual Fellowship, should be ever-willing to reveal the source of the information which may pass through them (and thus become living truth), to be the Urantia Papers. Our purpose is not to contrive a public image which will allow The Spiritual Fellowship to grow as quickly as possible, but rather to project an image that is ever-loyal and consistent with our core beliefs.

Surely there are many leaders of remarkable potential in the Urantia movement who are rarely, if ever, heard from. Beyond existing readership, there are countless millions who are seeking truth, and whom we believe would respond to an enlarged revelation of the “new and everlasting religion” of Jesus placed in a new cosmic perspective. We believe the fresh energy and ideas of such seekers of truth must be attracted to our organization. Another potential resource that deserves further actualization is the youth of the Urantian movement. We believe The Spiritual Fellowship’s organizational commitment toward espousing the revealed program of the Master will result in “thousands of apparently indifferent youths” who will “rush forward to enlist in such a spiritual undertaking, and they would not hesitate to go all the way through with this great adventure.” [Page 2085 par. 2]

“It is futile to talk about a revival of primitive Christianity; you must go forward from where you find yourselves. Modern culture must become spiritually baptized with a new revelation of Jesus’ life and illuminated with a new understanding of his gospel of eternal salvation. And when Jesus becomes thus lifted up, he will draw all men to himself. Jesus’ disciples should be more than conquerors, even overflowing sources of inspiration and enhanced living to all men. Religion is only an exalted humanism until it is made divine by the discovery of the reality of the presence of God in personal experience.” [2084 par. 1]

PART III.   THE VARIOUS TERMS USED FOR THE URANTIA PAPERS

There have been several English language publications containing the Urantia Papers in whole or part since they were first published by Urantia Foundation in 1955 as The Urantia Book. In 1994 the Jesus Papers were published and sold under the title: God’s Bible: The Life and Teachings of Jesus. In 1995 the Urantia Papers were published complete and sold under the title: The Urantia Papers, and in another printing that year as: God’s Bible. In 1996, the Urantia Papers were published as The Urantia Book by the Fellowship for Readers of the Urantia Book (Uversa Press). In 1999 the Jesus Papers (minus Paper 120) were published under the title: Jesus: a New Revelation. In 2002, the Urantia Papers were published again by Uversa Press under the title The Urantia Book. Since that time Urantia Foundation has trademarked the title: The Urantia Book, and litigation may be necessary to determine whether Urantia Foundation is the only publisher who can use the title: The Urantia Book.

It is obviously confusing to newer readers when the terms The Urantia Book, the Urantia Papers, and the fifth epochal revelation are used interchangeably by Urantians. The Papers themselves refer to themselves as “the Urantia Papers.” The Papers also state that they are the “fifth epochal revelation.” However, the board of directors of The Spiritual Fellowship believes that each individual should decide which term is appropriate according to the context it is being used. We do not believe we should attempt to dictate the use of one specific term, or make an “official” statement regarding the various names used to refer to the revelation.

  1. THE NATURE OF THE SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP ORGANIZATION

How then can we develop an organization that seeks to openly relate to and serve the fifth epochal revelation? Do we have a model to follow? What will such a religious organization be like? A charter member of The Spiritual Fellowship, suggests the following idea:

“Can we really imagine a church where authority and power are shared by all the participants,  where neither financial gain, nor power, nor prestige are of any real    importance; where human resources are valued above all else;  where, at times, any one might be the leader, regardless of their title;  where people are so bound by a clear purpose that they are held together despite all their obvious disparities and different needs, and march, as it were, in the same direction, toward the same goal,   even though everyone knows it cannot possibly be achieved in our lifetime?”

In the passage above are many features of the ideal “chaordic” organization. Some readers have heard the term “chaordic” used when discussing the organization of The Spiritual Fellowship. The term is one of many that are being used by organizational experts. The term represents a new paradigm, one based upon the principles of the new science, quantum physics. It is not an “anything goes” concept, but rather an exquisite, mature balance between chaos and order. By studying the manner in which chaordic, self-organizing systems operate in nature, we can learn a great deal about developing an organization that is truly organic and responsive to changing situational fields.

What structure will such a chaordic organization take? Eventually the organizational model for The Spiritual Fellowship will be a flattened out web-like complex, organized in clusters of teams. Imagine a central facilitating team, and lines of communication connecting it with clusters of teams surrounding it. Information and feedback will flow back and forth between the facilitation central team and the surrounding teams with lightning speed. Teams will interconnect with lateral lines of communication. Leaders will be elected by those they serve.

It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss chaordic principles in depth. Indeed, to repeat: we are attempting to form a religious organization of a kind that has never existed before. To this end, we need constructive organizational ideas from the membership of The Spiritual Fellowship. To understand the chaordic process as applied to organizations, we recommend reading: The Birth of the Chaordic Age by Dee Hock, and Leadership and the New Science by Margaret J. Wheatly.

As far as interfacing with other religions organizations, we will openly express our belief in, and make accessible to all, the “new and everlasting religion” of Jesus as restated, enlarged, and supported by the complete Urantia Papers:

“The time is ripe to witness the figurative resurrection of the human Jesus from his burial tomb amidst the theological traditions and the religious dogmas of nineteen centuries. Jesus of Nazareth must not be longer sacrificed to even the splendid concept of the glorified Christ. What a transcendent service if, through this revelation, the Son of Man should be recovered from the tomb of traditional theology and be presented as the living Jesus to the church that bears his name, and to all other religions! Surely the Christian fellowship of believers will not hesitate to make such adjustments of faith and of practices of living as will enable it to ‘follow after’ the Master in the demonstration of his real life of religious devotion to the doing of his Father’s will and of consecration to the unselfish service of man. Do professed Christians fear the exposure of a self-sufficient and unconsecrated fellowship of social respectability and selfish economic maladjustment? Does institutional Christianity fear the possible jeopardy, or even the overthrow, of traditional ecclesiastical authority if the Jesus of Galilee is reinstated in the minds and souls of mortal men as the ideal of personal religious living? Indeed, the social readjustments, the economic transformations, the moral rejuvenations, and the religious revisions of Christian civilization would be drastic and revolutionary if the living religion of Jesus should suddenly supplant the theological religion about Jesus.” [2090 – par. 3]

CONCLUSION

The Spiritual Fellowship is a work in progress. The goals of The Spiritual Fellowship are ambitious and challenging. We seek to do something that has never before been attempted on a large scale by any Urantian organization:

MISSION

The Spiritual Fellowship is a religious organization whose mission is to bring the spiritual teachings of the Urantia Papers to all people.

OUR CORE VALUES

The Spiritual Fellowship believes the Urantia Papers present an expanded revelation of the Life and Teachings of Jesus and a fuller revelation of God and our relationship to God.  While recognizing that, short of the attainment of God, our Universal Parent, any revelation is imperfect, The Spiritual Fellowship recognizes the value of a continuing study of the Urantia Papers and other spiritual sources for inspiration and guidance. The Spiritual Fellowship is committed to motivating, empowering, and supporting all people in their growing relationship with God and encouraging a philosophy of loving service among God’s children, our spiritual brothers and sisters.

There are many ways to serve God, many religious paths. This is the path of The Spiritual Fellowship. We honor all religions that bring humankind closer to God. We welcome all who wish to join us, and wish God’s blessings and grace to accompany all those who choose another way.