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Mon, April 07, 2014

Jesus and Buddha on Suffering: A Lenten Meditation

By Paul Wallace  

It's Lent, the season of honesty. And the honest truth is: I hate suffering. I want it to go away, but it doesn't, so I try to get away from it.

Here in Atlanta there's a long straggly fellow who's always hanging around a particular exit ramp. He holds up signs asking for help. He doesn't walk up to my car. He just stands there looking at me. I don't look back. I sit and stare at the light, praying for green and despising his suffering because it suggests my own. I despise him because he is a mirror. When the light finally changes I hit the gas and turn the corner and immediately I feel better. But suffering -- his and mine and the world's -- has only increased.

In seminary I had a New Testament professor who said something I will always remember. He said that of all the world's religions he preferred Buddhism and Christianity because these two alone are sufficiently pessimistic about the human condition. Both, he said, turn toward suffering and look it in the eye without flinching. Buddhism does so through its hard-as-nails philosophy of detachment and Christianity does so by placing suffering at the exact center of its narrative. And although they do so differently, both insist that something -- something unspeakably good -- lies beyond suffering.

Suffering is everyone's problem. Jesus knows it and Buddha knows it, and they suggest a solution: invite suffering in. Be hospitable to it. Offer it a meal. Look the tall stranger in the eye, they say. But if I do I'll die, I say. Yes, they say, but the only thing that will die is what you think you are: your ego.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Yes, suffering is certainly an ever-present reality in our world...it is hard to avoid it...hard to just "hit the gas and turn the corner" and put it behind us, as this writer so aptly phrases it. Whether it is a personal kind of suffering that we experience in our lives, or whether it is the considerable suffering of the world-at-large, we always have a choice: be a part of the problem, or be a part of the solution.

Jesus taught the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of love over hate, the triumph of truth over falsehood...and yes, I'd have to agree with this writer that the main thing that can stand in the way of these victories is pandering to, and over-indulging, our little selves.  When we forget to see the big picture, when we look through the eyes of ego, when we have too narrow a view of reality, we can get wound up in suffering, and lose the lesson altogether.

I was raised a Catholic, where I was taught that suffering is redemptive, that even little children can "offer it up," or use suffering for the good of another. As an adult, I still use this strategy at times, as it really does seem effective at assuaging the pain of physical problems, and even other kinds of pain, such as emotional or psychological...

The Urantia Book gives us some food for thought as regards suffering...quite unique ways of viewing what we think of as suffering: for example:

Some of the amazingly fortuitous conditions occasionally prevailing on the evolutionary worlds may be due to the gradually emerging presence of the Supreme, the foretasting of his future universe activities. Most of what a mortal would call providential is not; his judgment of such matters is very handicapped by lack of farsighted vision into the true meanings of the circumstances of life. Much of what a mortal would call good luck might really be bad luck; the smile of fortune that bestows unearned leisure and undeserved wealth may be the greatest of human afflictions; the apparent cruelty of a perverse fate that heaps tribulation upon some suffering mortal may in reality be the tempering fire that is transmuting the soft iron of immature personality into the tempered steel of real character. ~ The Urantia Book, (118:10.9)

The universe view that is offered in Urantia Book teachings tends to put all of life's problems into a new a fresh package...taking the sting out of much of suffering's barbs by providing a goal that can definitely help the believer to transcend life's suffering, even while being in the midst of it...being thankful above all for ALL of life's circumstances is always a good perspective.

Here's a short vignette from The Urantia Book, where Jesus instructs Nathaniel about suffering:

At another of these private interviews in the garden Nathaniel asked Jesus: "Master, though I am beginning to understand why you refuse to practice healing indiscriminately, I am still at a loss to understand why the loving Father in heaven permits so many of his children on earth to suffer so many afflictions." The Master answered Nathaniel, saying: "Nathaniel, you and many others are thus perplexed because you do not comprehend how the natural order of this world has been so many times upset by the sinful adventures of certain rebellious traitors to the Father's will. And I have come to make a beginning of setting these things in order. But many ages will be required to restore this part of the universe to former paths and thus release the children of men from the extra burdens of sin and rebellion. The presence of evil alone is sufficient test for the ascension of man—sin is not essential to survival.

"But, my son, you should know that the Father does not purposely afflict his children. Man brings down upon himself unnecessary affliction as a result of his persistent refusal to walk in the better ways of the divine will. Affliction is potential in evil, but much of it has been produced by sin and iniquity. Many unusual events have transpired on this world, and it is not strange that all thinking men should be perplexed by the scenes of suffering and affliction which they witness. But of one thing you may be sure: The Father does not send affliction as an arbitrary punishment for wrongdoing. The imperfections and handicaps of evil are inherent; the penalties of sin are inevitable; the destroying consequences of iniquity are inexorable. Man should not blame God for those afflictions which are the natural result of the life which he chooses to live; neither should man complain of those experiences which are a part of life as it is lived on this world. It is the Father's will that mortal man should work persistently and consistently toward the betterment of his estate on earth. Intelligent application would enable man to overcome much of his earthly misery.

...good food for thought in this season of preparation for the Master's powerful declaration of liberation from the wages of sin and death - the resurrection. Even though suffering may be a given in this life, we have the ability to overcome completely the doom and gloom - simply by  entrenching ourselves fully in the kingdom and using our God-given capabilities to use it - or temper it -  for a higher good. Knowing that evil may be our natural estate, and also knowing that evil can be overcome by goodness, and by intelligent application of kingdom principles, is freeing indeed.

Labels:   Paul Walace    Lent    suffering    Jesus    Buddha    religion    Urantia Book    luck    bad luck    affliction   

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Thu, April 03, 2014

Book Review: The Final Days of Jesus

By Denny Burk  

Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger have produced a little gem of a book in The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived. The book aims to set forth from scripture just what the title suggests. The authors explain exactly how the last week of Jesus’ ministry unfolded, from Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday. They write,

“This book covers Jesus’ final days. In these pages you will read the eyewitness accounts of what the most important person who ever lived said and did during the most important week of his life… We will put the accounts together in roughly chronological order” (p. 13-14).

To that end the body of the book comprises chapters that correspond to each day of the week (see table of contents below). For each event in the final week of Jesus’ life, the scriptural text appears and is followed by concise commentary on that text. The commentary is very well done and will prove helpful to anyone wishing to get an informed perspective on these critical days of Jesus’ life.

I really appreciate what Köstenberger and Taylor have achieved in this book. There is a vast wasteland of skeptical commentary on the gospel accounts of Jesus life. But this is not that kind of book. They treat the gospels as reliable eyewitness testimony.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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It is so exciting to find the internet abuzz with Jesus. Every day, we see article after article - book after book - movie after movie - celebrating and lifting the name of Jesus up for all to see and consider. The thirst for knowledge about Jesus goes on unabated in this 21st century after his life in the flesh. This particular book looks like a good effort, but sadly, no recent book, article, or movie out there today can do proper justice to the amazing story of Jesus' last days.

As Urantia Book readers/students, we are privy to a unique and remarkable accounting of-not only Jesus final days-but of his entire life, covered in a nearly day-to-day chronicle that awes the reader with its thrilling narrative.

Part IV of The Urantia Book is the most complete and replete retelling of this God/man's life and teachings available anywhere on the planet. It is written by those who were true eyewitnesses to the power and majesty of Jesus' deceptively simple, humble life, and the tremondous impact it made, and still makes, on our lonely little world; and not only on our world, but millions of other worlds in this universe of Jesus' making. Reading it and gleaning the lessons on life through this retelling constitutes one of the highest achievements to which any of us can aspire: "to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it."

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.

In conjunction with this book review above, the reader may be pleased and excited to learn that this last week of Jesus life in The Urantia Book - while not essentially different in fact - is quite different in detail, content, and meaning. It is indeed, the "greatest story ever told," and your reading of the Urantia Book account will add immeasurably to your understanding and your appreciation of Jesus and his mission to our world.

Please click on  THIS LINK to go to the True Easter Story now. 

Labels:   Denny Burk    Easter Story    true Easter story    Urantia Book    Jesus and Easter    Holy Week    greatest story ever told    final days of Jesus   

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Thu, March 27, 2014

Jesus’ resurrection: What really happened?

By JAY PARINI  

Easter morning arrived with a holy hush, the day after the Sabbath, with little fanfare. The gospels pass over the Resurrection, and we never actually see Jesus waken, rub his eyes, stand and stretch. We don’t even see the rock that sealed the tomb actually rolled away. The joyous resurrection of Jesus happens off-stage, as it were. The first inkling of change occurred when some of the women close to Jesus came to visit his tomb. The gospel narratives vary on who turned up in the garden first: Mary Magdalene alone or with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with Salome (Mary’s sister or the mother of James and John). In John, the story plays out in suspenseful detail as Mary Magdalene visited the tomb by herself to mourn. To her amazement, she found the stone removed. In panic, she ran to tell Peter and another (unnamed) disciple, who hurried back to the tomb and discovered it empty, much to their distress and confusion. They assumed that someone had stolen the body. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene sat outside the tomb by herself, crying softly. She could hardly believe the things that had happened in the past few days, and the missing body of Jesus was really too much to bear.

Huge questions confront anyone thinking about Jesus. Did he really rise from the dead? Was there an actual Resurrection? If so, what would that look like? A large number of Christians throughout history have imagined a resuscitation, refusing to countenance the slightest hint that the Resurrection should be regarded as something beyond human understanding. I myself would argue this: life and death are mysterious, at best, and the membrane between the living and the dead is a porous one, perilously thin. Jesus rose from the dead, the scriptures say. I see no reason to doubt this. And yet a literalistic belief in the Resurrection cannot be, as many fundamentalist churches insist, the only important part of the “good news” of Christianity. The message of God’s love in operation in the world trumps everything and must be regarded as the necessary extension of the idea of rebirth, the social basis for true spiritual enlightenment. Nowhere more so than here does it matter that we find a proper balance between the literal and the figurative, giving full weight to the concrete meaning while relishing the mythic contours of the story.

The fundamentalist view of the cross, with its emphasis on the sacrificial or “substitutionary” aspect of the Crucifixion, evolved in the Middle Ages and solidified with Martin Luther’s insistence on the single, simple, and stable meaning of scripture; the text of the Bible itself became a mighty fortress that resists symbolic interpretations. (I would note that early in his career Luther was much more amenable to symbolic readings of scriptural passages.) To many, the idea of Christ as sacrificial lamb becomes the whole of the Christian message, to the disparagement of every other reading, leading to an exclusionary view of salvation. Yet the apostle Paul himself warned early Christians in his second letter to Corinth that to become an able minister of the new covenant one should not read the scriptures in ways that undercut their fullest meanings, “for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (II Corinthians 3:6).

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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This article is quite lengthy, and well worth the read. The passages above are the passages that I wish to expand upon in this blog.

It is a quite beautiful account of the resurrection of Jesus, written by a man who is focused on looking for the human side of Jesus - an endeavor that is every bit as satisfying as simply accepting Jesus as the divine Son of God. He was, of course, both - son of man and Son of God. However, owing to the scarcity of information that we were left with in the Bible, much thought, reflection and imagination has to be undertaken to wrap one's mind around this amazing event. As the author says,

"The gospels pass over the Resurrection, and we never actually see Jesus waken, rub his eyes, stand and stretch. We don’t even see the rock that sealed the tomb actually rolled away. The joyous resurrection of Jesus happens off-stage, as it were."

And of course, he's right. Nevertheless, Christians and others who want to know about this event have only had these scanty Biblical accounts which say virtually nothing about the resurrection except after the fact. Even so, it is a testament to the power of the Scriptures that for these past 20 centuries, just these accounts have been sufficient to inspire generations of believers.

Now comes the 21st century, and still people are yearning to know more about Jesus. The internet is full of his name, book after book is written, exploring the different facets of his life and teachings...and his death and resurrection, as this article (excerpted from yet another book) does.

What if I told you that the every second of the resurrection was recorded by the angels; every question you may have had about it, answered; every niggling doubt you may have harbored, resolved?

Well, it's true. Part IV of The Urantia Book contains the entire life of Jesus, including every detail from his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his subsequent resurrection appearances. The Urantia Book account is indeed a center-stage presentation.

Rather than try to tell you what it says, I want to give you some links to The Urantia Book story, so that you can read these details for yourself, and come to your own conclusions whether it is a more satisfying and illuminating account than you have ever read. I am referencing the same events that are covered in the article above:

(NOTE: The Urantia Book authors use a term: "Morontia," which is a tern designation a state of existence midway between the material and the spiritual.)

Please see: the whole of Paper 188 The Time of the Tomb, which also includes The Burial of Jesus

Paper 189 deals with The Resurrection, and includes the details of the disposition of Jesus' material body, as well as Jesus' first appearance - to Mary Magdalene, and why he was not at first recognizable to her and the others.

The Urantia Book tells us that Jesus appeared to nearly 1000 people, in nineteen separate appearances, between the time of his death and the time of his resurrection, on Thursday, May 18, 30, A.D.  The following links will take you to all of them

Paper 190

Paper 191

Paper 192,  and

Paper 193

Finally, the author of the article above states:

"To many, the idea of Christ as sacrificial lamb becomes the whole of the Christian message, to the disparagement of every other reading, leading to an exclusionary view of salvation."

This is a profound observation. And in The Urantia Book, we are given two additional amazing "other readings" - treatises that give all believers a greatly expanded view of the meanings behind these world-changing events.

Please see: The Meaning of the Death on the Cross and, Lessons from the Cross

Everyone who loves Jesus can be grateful for the Bible and its accounts of Jesus' life in the gospels. Doesn't it always make you want to know even more? We all know that there are many details not covered in the Bible; but now, we have been given this amazing restatement of Jesus' life that is Part IV of The Urantia Book. It is a greatly expanded view of this God/man who we all love so dearly - a new way to look at him and his life - a new and inspiring re-telling of his matchless life and teachings for the minds of modern truthseekers.

Please have a look. Compare and prayerfully reflect...maybe you'll find some new insights, some new inspirations, some new validation that Jesus truly was ( and still is) the greatest human being ever to have lived.

Labels:   Jay Parini    Jesus    resurrection of Jesus    Urantia Book    Bible    Jesus in the Bible    what happened at the resurrection   

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Tue, March 25, 2014

Was Jesus divine? Publisher hedges bets with Bart Ehrman’s new book

By John Murawski   

Set side by side, the book jackets look almost like matching woodblock prints of a bearded, haloed figure. The titles mirror each other, too, featuring the same trio of names: Jesus, God, Bart Ehrman.

On one of the volumes, “How Jesus Became God,” Ehrman is clearly the author; but in the reversed “How God Became Jesus,” Ehrman is the nemesis of a concerted rebuttal.

So what gives?

The two books are an unusual publishing experiment, in which HarperCollins arranged to have a team of evangelical scholars write a counterargument to its hot-selling superstar writer. Ehrman and the evangelical team exchanged manuscripts and signed nondisclosure agreements so as not to pre-empt each other, but otherwise worked independently for their own HarperCollins subsidiaries, HarperOne and Zondervan.

Ehrman makes the provocative assertion that Jesus did not consider himself divine but was deified by his followers, and that early believers scattered clues about their all-too-human mythmaking throughout the New Testament.

“I’ve never, ever written a book that, in my opinion, is as important as this one, since the historical issues are of immense, almost incalculable importance,” Ehrman said. “The assertion that Jesus is God is arguably the single most important development in Western civilization.”

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Again, Jesus takes center stage...now at question is his divinity. It's a good thing that this is publisher offers an almost-instantaneous rebuttal, but as Urantia Book readers, we stand perplexed once again at the direction of this scholarly piece, and the attention that its's getting...

Perhaps it's the sheer mystery of this incarnation that is such a stumbling block for some. Even the revelators voice their inability to understand how this could have happened; nonetheless, they KNOW it happened, and report it in great detail.

120:4.5 "Urantia mortals have varying concepts of the miraculous, but to us who live as citizens of the local universe there are few miracles, and of these by far the most intriguing are the incarnational bestowals of the Paradise Sons. The appearance in and on your world, by apparently natural processes, of a divine Son, we regard as a miracle—the operation of universal laws beyond our understanding. Jesus of Nazareth was a miraculous person."

See this section called "THE INCARNATION—MAKING TWO ONE"

And see also, the entire paper called "The Bestowal of Michael on Urantia" to read all the details of this miraculous event in our planet's history.

In the end, it seems clear that believing in the fact of Jesus' divinity is  a matter of faith. But, once you know more about the life and teachings of Jesus,  it becomes far easier to adore this God/man as just who he claimed to be. Jesus several times declared that "He who has seen me has seen the Father." And when you read his life, see the miracles he performed, the healings he effected, and the transformations that he experienced in his own personality as he discovered for himself his own divinity, it is impossible to deny that he truly is the Son of God, as well as the son of man. 

Labels:   John Murawski    divinity of Jesus    Christianity    Bart Ehrman    religion    human Jesus    Urantia Book   

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Fri, March 14, 2014

JESUS to Release in High-Definition for 35th Anniversary

By Music Times  

On the heels of the theater debut of Son of God, JESUS – the most watched film in history, with billions of views – has now been re-mastered in high-definition with a new musical score in Dolby 5.1 surround sound in honor of its 35th anniversary.

The classic, re-titled The JESUS Film, will show in a handful of theaters starting March 24. For those in areas outside of the theater releases, a partnership with Cinedigm and Mission Home Video will make the high-definition video available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital format. The videos will hit retail and online stores nationwide on April 1, 2014.

The JESUS Film is an authentic portrayal of Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection as told in the biblical account from the Gospel of Luke. Nearly every word that Jesus speaks in the film is quoted directly from Scripture. To make sure His words were accurate, 450 leaders and scholars reviewed the script. Historical accuracy was ensured using clothing, pottery and other props made with first-century methods to portray a 2,000-year-old Palestinian culture.

Dr. Erick Schenkel, Executive Director of The JESUS Film Project®, a ministry of Cru, talked about the project in a press release, saying, "When the original JESUS film was released 35 years ago, it was ahead of its time. Yet, while the film has introduced billions of individuals around the world to the person of Jesus, few in the U.S. have ever seen it. We believe this new re-mastered version will give audiences an accurate picture of who Jesus is and why individuals around the world have chosen to follow Him, shown with production values they have come to expect."

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Again, we have the opportunity to see a film about the life of Jesus.  We think it is remarkable how many books, articles and movies about Jesus are flooding the stream of consciousness these days through various media.

Here at TruthBook.com we look on all of this with great interest, and not a little wistfulness as well. Knowing what we know - having at our fingertips the accurant restatement of the Master's life and teachings as revealed in The Urantia Book - it is difficult to keep seeing all of these noble attempts to portray Jesus for the masses, while the "rest of the story" is yet to be known by most of the world.

How do we get this story out to those who are looking for Jesus? This is our mission here at TruthBook, and we are doing our best to find those seekers after the truth, but it is slow going.

In the end, it is our opinion that any publicity for Jesus is good publicity...that all attempts to lift Jesus up should be applauded and encouraged. And so, we highly recommend this movie to our visitors.

But of course, we always have to add that for the most complete biography ever written about Jesus life and teachings, Part IV of The Urantia Book is the richest source on the planet today. Read it and share it!!!!

Labels:   music times    Jesus    Jesus in film    Urantia Book and Jesus    Christianity      

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Fri, March 07, 2014

Was Jesus Guilty of Bibliolatry?

By Russell and Duenes @wordpress  

Some people seem to think that there’s a real danger today of “bibliolatry” in evangelical Christendom. In other words, we should be clear that Jesus himself is central to our faith, and he is the one we must worship, not the Bible, lest we be like the Pharisees, who knew every word of Scripture, but missed Jesus himself. The words in the Bible must not be exalted above knowing Christ. But was the Pharisees’ problem that they held the Scriptures in too high a regard? Do we miss Jesus when we put ponder and puzzle over the Scriptures at great length, and bank on its total truthfulness, infallibility and inerrancy? De we commit “bibliolatry?” And then I wondered, if evangelicals can be guilty of “bibliolatry” today, if they can somehow worship the Bible itself, would Jesus himself be guilty of bibliolatry based on whatever criteria modern accusers are using? I would think so.

When Jesus was attempting to repel the devil, he said, “It is written…It is written…It is written.” His answers were Scripture and only Scripture. Jesus said that “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen shall by any means disappear from the Law until everything accomplished.” Then comes the kicker: “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” When Jesus cleansed the leper, he immediately sent him do what “Moses commanded” in the law. When John the Baptist asks whether Jesus is the One, Jesus responds by alluding to Isaiah 61. Jesus explains who John the Baptist is by quoting Scripture. Jesus describes his own ministry by analogy to Jonah in the fish and the Queen of Sheba coming to hear Solomon. When Jesus is explaining the truth about marriage and divorce, he explains it almost entirely in reference to Genesis 1. He speaks to the Rich, Young Ruler in terms of the Ten Commandments.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Did Jesus rely overmuch on the Scriptures? In both the Bible and The Urantia Book Jesus is shown to have cited Biblical truth many times. In Jesus' day, there were those who held these writings as sacred, holy, and inerrant. And this is still true today; in addition, we now have the New Testament that is held as equally inerrant by many.

This may seem like a conundrum...However, Jesus was very wise in his choice of passages with which to instruct his followers. Consider this passage from The Urantia Book:

From "The Positive Nature of Jesus' Religion"

159:5.1 At Philadelphia, where James was working, Jesus taught the disciples about the positive nature of the gospel of the kingdom. When, in the course of his remarks, he intimated that some parts of the Scripture were more truth-containing than others and admonished his hearers to feed their souls upon the best of the spiritual food, James interrupted the Master, asking: “Would you be good enough, Master, to suggest to us how we may choose the better passages from the Scriptures for our personal edification?” And Jesus replied: “Yes, James, when you read the Scriptures look for those eternally true and divinely beautiful teachings, such as:

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

“You should love your neighbor as yourself.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying, fear not; I will help you.

“Neither shall the nations learn war any more.”

159:5.7 And this is illustrative of the way Jesus, day by day, appropriated the cream of the Hebrew scriptures for the instruction of his followers and for inclusion in the teachings of the new gospel of the kingdom. Other religions had suggested the thought of the nearness of God to man, but Jesus made the care of God for man like the solicitude of a loving father for the welfare of his dependent children and then made this teaching the cornerstone of his religion. And thus did the doctrine of the fatherhood of God make imperative the practice of the brotherhood of man. The worship of God and the service of man became the sum and substance of his religion. Jesus took the best of the Jewish religion and translated it to a worthy setting in the new teachings of the gospel of the kingdom.

Here is another enlightening story from The Urantia Book regarding Scripture:

One day, the apostle Nathaniel asked Jesus point-blank: “Master, could you trust me to know the truth about the Scriptures? I observe that you teach us only a portion of the sacred writings—the best as I view it—and I infer that you reject the teachings of the rabbis to the effect that the words of the law are the very words of God, having been with God in heaven even before the times of Abraham and Moses. What is the truth about the Scriptures?”

When Jesus heard the question of his bewildered apostle, he answered:

159:4.2 "Nathaniel, you have rightly judged; I do not regard the Scriptures as do the rabbis. I will talk with you about this matter on condition that you do not relate these things to your brethren, who are not all prepared to receive this teaching. The words of the law of Moses and the teachings of the Scriptures were not in existence before Abraham. Only in recent times have the Scriptures been gathered together as we now have them. While they contain the best of the higher thoughts and longings of the Jewish people, they also contain much that is far from being representative of the character and teachings of the Father in heaven; wherefore must I choose from among the better teachings those truths which are to be gleaned for the gospel of the kingdom.

159:4.3 “These writings are the work of men, some of them holy men, others not so holy. The teachings of these books represent the views and extent of enlightenment of the time in which they had their origin. As a revelation of truth, the last are more dependable than the first. 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.

159:4.4 “Many of these books were not written by the persons whose names they bear, but that in no way detracts from the value of the truths which they contain. If the story of Jonah should not be a fact, even if Jonah had never lived, still would the profound truth of this narrative, the love of God for Nineveh and the so-called heathen, be none the less precious in the eyes of all those who love their fellow men. The Scriptures are sacred because they present the thoughts and acts of men who were searching for God, and who in these writings left on record their highest concepts of righteousness, truth, and holiness. The Scriptures contain much that is true, very much, but in the light of your present teaching, you know that these writings also contain much that is misrepresentative of the Father in heaven, the loving God I have come to reveal to all the worlds.

159:4.5 "Nathaniel, never permit yourself for one moment to believe the Scripture records which tell you that the God of love directed your forefathers to go forth in battle to slay all their enemies—men, women, and children. Such records are the words of men, not very holy men, and they are not the word of God. The Scriptures always have, and always will, reflect the intellectual, moral, and spiritual status of those who create them. Have you not noted that the concepts of Yahweh grow in beauty and glory as the prophets make their records from Samuel to Isaiah? And you should remember that the Scriptures are intended for religious instruction and spiritual guidance. They are not the works of either historians or philosophers.

159:4.6 “The thing most deplorable is not merely this erroneous idea of the absolute perfection of the Scripture record and the infallibility of its teachings, but rather the confusing misinterpretation of these sacred writings by the tradition-enslaved scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem. And now will they employ both the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures and their misinterpretations thereof in their determined effort to withstand these newer teachings of the gospel of the kingdom. Nathaniel, never forget, the Father does not limit the revelation of truth to any one generation or to any one people. Many earnest seekers after the truth have been, and will continue to be, confused and disheartened by these doctrines of the perfection of the Scriptures.

159:4.7 “The authority of truth is the very spirit that indwells its living manifestations, and not the dead words of the less illuminated and supposedly inspired men of another generation. And even if these holy men of old lived inspired and spirit-filled lives, that does not mean that their words were similarly spiritually inspired. Today we make no record of the teachings of this gospel of the kingdom lest, when I have gone, you speedily become divided up into sundry groups of truth contenders as a result of the diversity of your interpretation of my teachings. For this generation it is best that we live these truths while we shun the making of records.

159:4.8 “Mark you well my words, Nathaniel, nothing which human nature has touched can be regarded as infallible. Through the mind of man divine truth may indeed shine forth, but always of relative purity and partial divinity. The creature may crave infallibility, but only the Creators possess it.

159:4.9 “But the greatest error of the teaching about the Scripture is the doctrine of their being sealed books of mystery and wisdom which only the wise minds of the nation dare to interpret. The revelations of divine truth are not sealed except by human ignorance, bigotry, and narrow-minded intolerance. The light of the Scriptures is only dimmed by prejudice and darkened by superstition. A false fear of sacredness has prevented religion from being safeguarded by common sense. The fear of the authority of the sacred writings of the past effectively prevents the honest souls of today from accepting the new light of the gospel, the light which these very God-knowing men of another generation so intensely longed to see.

159:4.10 “But the saddest feature of all is the fact that some of the teachers of the sanctity of this traditionalism know this very truth. They more or less fully understand these limitations of Scripture, but they are moral cowards, intellectually dishonest. They know the truth regarding the sacred writings, but they prefer to withhold such disturbing facts from the people. And thus do they pervert and distort the Scriptures, making them the guide to slavish details of the daily life and an authority in things nonspiritual instead of appealing to the sacred writings as the repository of the moral wisdom, religious inspiration, and the spiritual teaching of the God-knowing men of other generations.”

159:4.11 Nathaniel was enlightened, and shocked, by the Master’s pronouncement. He long pondered this talk in the depths of his soul, but he told no man concerning this conference until after Jesus’ ascension; and even then he feared to impart the full story of the Master’s instruction.

The revelation about Jesus' life and teachings from The Urantia Book is so valuable a resource to us modern-day people. What Jesus says here is so sensible, so logical, and so believable. Jesus had a remarkable discernment when it came to recognizing and utilizing truth, no matter from where he found it. We could do no worse than to follow his lead in this, as well as in all other aspects of living a successful spiritual life.

Labels:   Jesus and the Bible    Jesus and Scripture    Urantia Book    Bibliolatry    Jesus and Nathaniel    Jesus cites Scripture      

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Sun, March 02, 2014

'The One' Jesus Movie will Focus on the Lost Years of Christ

By Jeannie Law  

On the site The One is described as "a coming of-age story" that will explore Jesus' early life and developmental years as he comes to learn He is the Son of God.

The movie is set to shed light on the period of Jesus' life that is not written about in detail in The Bible, ages 13 to age 30, when he began his ministry. The only information that is recorded about that time period in Jesus' life is discussed in Luke 2, which states that Jesus "grew, and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him."

According to Deadline, The One is expected to stay true to the spirit of Jesus' image as chronicled in The Bible.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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People are getting excited about this new Jesus movie. We here at TruthBook are ready to see it, too. But, of course, it's a given that this artistic effort will be missing a lot. Why? As much as we would love to embrace this effort, we are aware that no one on the planet knows the true story of Jesus' "missing years" if they are unaware of the revelation of Jesus' life and teachings in The Urantia Book. I only wish that some creative movie-maker would discover the treasures of Part IV of the revelation.

 

Now, THAT would be a movie to get really excited about!!!

 

In the meantime, we applaud any effort that lifts Jesus up for all to see. Even if it is an imagined scenario of the time in Jesus' life that is in question, he is being lifted up; people are talking about him. If you explore the internet these days, Jesus is one of the hottest topics out there, so we feel it's all to the good. We think that the world is hungrier for Jesus in 2014 than it's ever been, and we are doing our best (short of making a mainstream film) to keep the Master's name and the truth of his life lifted up for all those who search for him.

Labels:   The One movie    Urantia Book    Jesus    life and teachings of Jesus    lost years of Jesus life    Jesus as a child   

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Wed, January 29, 2014

Jesus' baptism something we all can learn from

By Rev. William Joseph Rauch  

The baptism of Jesus is the theme this Sunday for churches that follow the traditional church year and use the Revised Common Lectionary system. This commemoration of Jesus’ baptism near the beginning of the new year has a long history in Christian tradition.

It comes near Christmas because the New Testament provides next to nothing about the intervening period in Jesus’ life between his birth and his baptism around the age of 30-something.

Actually, his baptism represents a dramatic beginning to Jesus’ public life and ministry. In fact, in the account in Matthew 3:13-17, Jesus is recorded as speaking for the first time, when he dialogues with John the Baptist about John’s hesitation to baptize someone whom he clearly senses to be God’s messiah.

“I need to be baptized by you,” John says to Jesus, “and do you come to me?” Jesus’ response is a bit ambiguous, but basically it means that John should proceed with baptizing him because it was the will of God. And it is from that moment that each of the four Gospels goes on to describe all the wondrous activity that Jesus’ ministry involved — healing sick people, feeding the hungry and preaching Good News, leading eventually to the awesome events of Good Friday and Easter. In any case, his baptism is the proclamation that the day of his public ministry has arrived.

In part, baptism represents something similar for Christian believers. Among various other meanings, baptism marks the beginning of an person’s participation in Jesus’ ongoing ministry through the church. St. Paul writes in Galatians: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” So in theological terms baptism constitutes an intimate connection between Jesus and the believer.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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This article is a good one, worth a read, and it shows how woefully scanty is the information that has come down to us through the centuries in the Scripture. Not that the information is wrong, but that it is so paltry. For example, the article tells us that this is the first instance where Jesus is said to have spoken. Of course, Urantia Book readers know otherwise. Jesus was saying plenty, from childhood on...

But the occasion of Jesus' baptism is indeed a momentous one, and it does mark Jesus' formal entrance into his public ministry. Adding the narrative from The Urantia Book to your understanding of this occasion will be mind-expanding. I'll guide you through it.

Where was Jesus before he came to John for baptism? He had completed the sojourn on Mt Hermon, where he finally and for all time vanquished the apostate Caligastia and Satan, Lucifer's emissary. This occasion is the one that the Bible terms the "Great Temptation." If you click on the link, you'll discover its real purpose in Jesus' life.

Following that, Jesus went back to Capernaum and to his work in Zebedee's boatshop, until he received word that John the Baptist was drawing very close to Capernaum in his mission of baptizing believers:

134:9.8 As time passed, rumors came to Capernaum of one John who was preaching while baptizing penitents in the Jordan, and John preached: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and be baptized.” Jesus listened to these reports as John slowly worked his way up the Jordan valley from the ford of the river nearest to Jerusalem. But Jesus worked on, making boats, until John had journeyed up the river to a point near Pella in the month of January of the next year, A.D. 26, when he laid down his tools, declaring, “My hour has come,” and presently presented himself to John for baptism.

But a great change had been coming over Jesus. Few of the people who had enjoyed his visits and ministrations as he had gone up and down in the land ever subsequently recognized in the public teacher the same person they had known and loved as a private individual in former years. And there was a reason for this failure of his early beneficiaries to recognize him in his later role of public and authoritative teacher. For long years this transformation of mind and spirit had been in progress, and it was finished during the eventful sojourn on Mount Hermon.

The Urantia Book dates Jesus' baptism to Monday January 14, A.D. 26:

Here is the section called Meeting of Jesus and John, where the actual baptism takes place. In it we read:

135:8.6 There was a tone of finality and authority in Jesus’ voice. John was atremble with emotion as he made ready to baptize Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan at noon on Monday, January 14, A.D. 26. Thus did John baptize Jesus and his two brothers James and Jude. And when John had baptized these three, he dismissed the others for the day, announcing that he would resume baptisms at noon the next day. As the people were departing, the four men still standing in the water heard a strange sound, and presently there appeared for a moment an apparition immediately over the head of Jesus, and they heard a voice saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” A great change came over the countenance of Jesus, and coming up out of the water in silence he took leave of them, going toward the hills to the east. And no man saw Jesus again for forty days.

The entire next paper - Paper 136 - is devoted to Jesus' baptism and it's ramifications. You can read all about the profound meaning of the baptism HERE, wherein we read:

136:2.7 This day of baptism ended the purely human life of Jesus. The divine Son has found his Father, the Universal Father has found his incarnated Son, and they speak the one to the other.

And following the baptism, Jesus again went into seclusion in the hills of Mt Hermon for forty days in order to make final plans and decisions that would guide the public ministry upon which he was about to embark. About this event The Urantia Book teaches:

136:3.3 Jesus did not go into retirement for the purpose of fasting and for the affliction of his soul. He was not an ascetic, and he came forever to destroy all such notions regarding the approach to God. His reasons for seeking this retirement were entirely different from those which had actuated Moses and Elijah, and even John the Baptist. Jesus was then wholly self-conscious concerning his relation to the universe of his making and also to the universe of universes, supervised by the Paradise Father, his Father in heaven. He now fully recalled the bestowal charge and its instructions administered by his elder brother, Immanuel, ere he entered upon his Urantia incarnation. He now clearly and fully comprehended all these far-flung relationships, and he desired to be away for a season of quiet meditation so that he could think out the plans and decide upon the procedures for the prosecution of his public labors in behalf of this world and for all other worlds in his local universe.

Finally, what did Jesus say about "water baptism?"

141:6.5 The apostles made great progress during the sojourn at Amathus. But they were very much disappointed that Jesus would give them no suggestions about dealing with John’s disciples. Even in the important matter of baptism, all that Jesus said was: “John did indeed baptize with water, but when you enter the kingdom of heaven, you shall be baptized with the Spirit.”

And about the "baptism of the Spirit," Jesus said:

148:4.8 Men are, indeed, by nature evil, but not necessarily sinful. The new birth — the baptism of the spirit — is essential to deliverance from evil and necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but none of this detracts from the fact that man is the son of God. Neither does this inherent presence of potential evil mean that man is in some mysterious way estranged from the Father in heaven so that, as an alien, foreigner, or stepchild, he must in some manner seek for legal adoption by the Father. All such notions are born, first, of your misunderstanding of the Father and, second, of your ignorance of the origin, nature, and destiny of man.

So, there you have it. We here at TruthBook love the Bible - we respect it and its teachings, and yet, we are committed to exposing as many believers as possible to the greatly expanded and faithfully restated life and teachings of Jesus as presented in The Urantia Book. It is time for the world to be aware of Jesus' life as it was, and the purposes of his mission.

Labels:   Rev. William Joseph Rauch    Jesus    baptism of Jesus    John the Baptist    God    Bible    Jesus mission      

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Fri, January 17, 2014

Did Jesus Plagiarize the Golden Rule?

By Kyle Beshears  

Everyone knows Jesus’ teaching, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” This teaching is so famous that it has its own title – the Golden Rule.

While is is widely acknowledge that Jesus taught it, some believe that this is not unique to him. In fact, critics claim that Jesus actually plagiarized the Golden Rule from those who taught before him. They point out that other religious teachers and philosophers had been teaching the rule to their students long before Jesus ever delivered his famous Sermon on the Mount.

One such critic, the popular blogger Friendly Atheist, posted a cartoon poking fun at the fact that Jesus did not come up with the Golden Rule. Rather, it was around long before Jesus (although the cartoon mistakenly references the Hadiths, which came hundreds of years after Jesus.)

The conclusion? Jesus plagiarized from other religious teachers and did not do unto others has he would not have done unto himself.

But therein lies the key to whether or not Jesus actually plagiarized. Do not against do. Negative versus positive.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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All Urantia Book readers will appreciate this article. I sure do...

Using the term "plagiarism" is so unnecessary and really inflammatory against Jesus. Any teacher worth his/her salt will take the best from any source of truth and package it for new hearers. Jesus was the pioneer in this regard.

Jesus never claimed to have coined either the teaching, or the name of this teaching that has become to be known as the Golden Rule. He did, however, improve it and made it eminently accessible and useful to a whole new generation of believers by - as the article suggests - turning it on its head and changing it from a "thou shalt not" to a suggestion of a positive action. Jesus did this not only with the golden rule, but also with Scripture, where he gleaned only the most positive messages, those messages that were most consistent with the teachings of his mission and the truths of God. He advised his followers to do likewise...

One of the first Urantia Book references to the Golden Rule is the following

70:1.2 War is an animalistic reaction to misunderstandings and irritations; peace attends upon the civilized solution of all such problems and difficulties. The Sangik races, together with the later deteriorated Adamites and Nodites, were all belligerent. The Andonites were early taught the golden rule, and, even today, their Eskimo descendants live very much by that code; custom is strong among them, and they are fairly free from violent antagonisms.

So, we can see that this golden rule has been taught in one form or another for generations before Jesus appeared on earth. Here on TruthBook, we have a page dedicated to the many different permutations of this age-old rule. Please see it HERE

It is such a beautiful and sensible and inspiring teaching, it is no wonder that Jesus adapted it for his mission. Putting a positive spin on traditional-type teachings like this was Jesus' specialty.

And of course, the best of this teaching was when he translated and transposed the idea of "doing unto others" into this beautiful statement.

"The spiritual level. And then last, but greatest of all, we attain the level of spirit insight and spiritual interpretation which impels us to recognize in this rule of life the divine command to treat all men as we conceive God would treat them. That is the universe ideal of human relationships. And this is your attitude toward all such problems when your supreme desire is ever to do the Father’s will. I would, therefore, that you should do to all men that which you know I would do to them in like circumstances.”

Jesus called this the "Rule of Living."

Read more about The Rule of Living HERE

No matter what, Jesus' teachings always accentuated the positive approach to life, to conflict, to evil, and to any problem:

159:5.11 ...Jesus abhorred the idea either of retaliation or of becoming just a passive sufferer or victim of injustice. On this occasion he taught them the three ways of contending with, and resisting, evil:

1. To return evil for evil—the positive but unrighteous method.

2. To suffer evil without complaint and without resistance—the purely negative method.

3. To return good for evil, to assert the will so as to become master of the situation, to overcome evil with good—the positive and righteous method.

One of the apostles once asked: “Master, what should I do if a stranger forced me to carry his pack for a mile?” Jesus answered: “Do not sit down and sigh for relief while you berate the stranger under your breath. Righteousness comes not from such passive attitudes. If you can think of nothing more effectively positive to do, you can at least carry the pack a second mile. That will of a certainty challenge the unrighteous and ungodly stranger.”

The Jews had heard of a God who would forgive repentant sinners and try to forget their misdeeds, but not until Jesus came, did men hear about a God who went in search of lost sheep, who took the initiative in looking for sinners, and who rejoiced when he found them willing to return to the Father’s house. This positive note in religion Jesus extended even to his prayers. And he converted the negative golden rule into a positive admonition of human fairness.

Read about The Positive Nature of Jesus' Religion HERE

I just hope I see the day when the world becomes familiar with The Urantia Book and its amazing restatement of the teachings of Jesus. It really IS what the world needs now...

Labels:   Kyle Beshears    golden rule    Jesus    Urantia Book    plagiarism    religion    spirituality    thou shalt not    positive religion   

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Thu, January 09, 2014

Jesus and Mary: It's complicated

By Jay Parini  

(CNN) -- No image is more central to the story of Christmas than that of baby Jesus in the arms of his mother, Mary. It was painted and sculpted over and over again, by such artists as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. It's a picture of tender mercy and boundless love between a mother and her son. But these first gentle moments (even experienced in the humble environs of a manger) are perhaps the easiest of any parent-child relationship.

The story that would develop for Jesus and his mother, as presented in the gospels, was complicated, and not very unlike what happens in many families: a tale of enchantment, then disenchantment, of resistance and reconciliation.

The first scene in the Gospels after the Nativity occurs when Jesus is 12, on the cusp of adolescence. The boy accompanies his family to Jerusalem for Passover week. After the celebrations, his family leaves -- failing to notice that Jesus has been left behind. Searching for three frantic days, at last they find him in Herod's great Temple, among a group of elders, who are amazed by his knowledge of the scriptures. When Mary questions him about his behavior, Jesus replies somewhat testily: "Why did you come looking for me? Didn't you know I must be about my Father's business?"

Okay. He was smart, perhaps a bit sassy. As the only glimpse we get of Jesus before the age of 30, it's a telling instance, however.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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A complicated relationship? That is an understatement, I would say...

Even readers of the Bible are given the idea that all was not always ideal between Mary and her "child of Promise." But then, what relationship of any parent and child is totally without conflict? The fact that Jesus happened to be --not only a human child -- but also a developing Son of God incarnate only served to make this primary relationship even more fraught with potential conflict. And far from being the kind of near-divine personage that Mary is made out to be by the Christian churches, The Urantia Book portrayal of this pivotal figure in Jesus' life is that of a normal, human mother of a normal, human child. Like many of her time, Mary herself entertained doubts and worries, right up the the time of Jesus untimely death.

Mary and Joseph alike experienced seasons of doubt, hope, disappointment, and all of the other parental challenges that human parents go through with their offspring. The fact that they were entrusted with the care and upbringing of this remarkable child lends an air of drama that is unique, but any parent of a child can identify with the worries and the challenges of parenting in general, and all parents will be able to sympathize and understand when the disagreements come up.

The Urantia Book chronicle of Jesus' life between the Biblical stories of his birth and the times of his being lost in the temple are filled with details of the life he lived as child being raised by these two stalwart and chosen caretakers of the Son of God. And after the death of Joseph, The Urantia Book gives us numerous details of the kind of relationship that Mary had with her son as he began to "be about the Father's business."

Here at TruthBook, we have several studies about Mary, taken from The Urantia Book and colllated for your ease of enjoyment. It is easy to follow the progression of Mary's attitudes regarding her son - from loving and anxious mother - to bewildered with bruised feelings nearer the end of Jesus life and ministry, to sorrowful and devastated, grieving the incomprehensible murder of her eldest child. In the end, we see Mary just as she was - a devoted and loving mother doing the best she knew how.

Please see our study of Mary HERE

Labels:   Jay Parini    Mary mother of Jesus    Jesus and Mary    Jesus    Bible    Urantia Book      

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