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Wed, October 29, 2014

Jesus Preached 'Original Innocence'

By By TruthBook Staff

Here's an article that will warm the hearts of all who love Jesus, and certainly it will appeal to all Urantia Book reader/students out there. It is titled:

"Sure, the Pharisees Preached Original Sin -- But Jesus Preached Original Innocence"

The article is a good read: Click to read the article

The idea of original sin is such a distasteful and hopeless kind of doctrine. Many people grow up believing that they have been born under forfeit of original sin - that they are basically bad from the get-go; the churches teach, of course, that Jesus came as the ransomer, to save mankind from this forfeit and take all the blame on himself. This can leave the sincere believer in the position of feeling like a passive and undeserving recipient of God's graces - not really expected to DO anything, but just to accept their badness, and then accept that Jesus magically takes the badness away through his suffering. And somehow, we are expected to accept that this is the behavior of a loving heavenly Father.

One thing I really like about this article is this passage:

"Sin is not the default nature we are born with. If it were, then Jesus himself would have been a sinner simply because he was human, but the reality is actually the opposite. That is precisely why we shouldn't shun our humanity or the humanity of others, but rather embrace our humanity, including the quirky, complicated, and uniqueness of it all, so that we can be liberated to truly love. For we are all human, and in our humanity we were made in the image of God, and God is love. It is our core image."

Here are some Urantia Book teachings of Jesus that also speak to this issue:

"Do not become discouraged by the discovery that you are human. Human nature may tend toward evil, but it is not inherently sinful. Be not downcast by your failure wholly to forget some of your regrettable experiences. The mistakes which you fail to forget in time will be forgotten in eternity. Lighten your burdens of soul by speedily acquiring a long-distance view of your destiny, a universe expansion of your career."

This is from the section called Jesus' Teaching at Tyre, and that whole section is worth a read.

And this...Jesus is speaking to the apostle Thomas, and is from the section called Evil, Sin, And Iniquity:

"It was the habit of Jesus two evenings each week to hold special converse with individuals who desired to talk with him, in a certain secluded and sheltered corner of the Zebedee garden. At one of these evening conversations in private Thomas asked the Master this question: "Why is it necessary for men to be born of the spirit in order to enter the kingdom? Is rebirth necessary to escape the control of the evil one? Master, what is evil?" When Jesus heard these questions, he said to Thomas:
" 'Do not make the mistake of confusing evil with the evil one, more correctly the iniquitous one. He whom you call the evil one is the son of self-love, the high administrator who knowingly went into deliberate rebellion against the rule of my Father and his loyal Sons. But I have already vanquished these sinful rebels. Make clear in your mind these different attitudes toward the Father and his universe. Never forget these laws of relation to the Father's will:
" 'Evil is the unconscious or unintended transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Evil is likewise the measure of the imperfectness of obedience to the Father's will.
" 'Sin is the conscious, knowing, and deliberate transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Sin is the measure of unwillingness to be divinely led and spiritually directed.
" 'Iniquity is the willful, determined, and persistent transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Iniquity is the measure of the continued rejection of the Father's loving plan of personality survival and the Sons' merciful ministry of salvation.
" 'By nature, before the rebirth of the spirit, mortal man is subject to inherent evil tendencies, but such natural imperfections of behavior are neither sin nor iniquity. Mortal man is just beginning his long ascent to the perfection of the Father in Paradise. To be imperfect or partial in natural endowment is not sinful. Man is indeed subject to evil, but he is in no sense the child of the evil one unless he has knowingly and deliberately chosen the paths of sin and the life of iniquity. Evil is inherent in the natural order of this world, but sin is an attitude of conscious rebellion which was brought to this world by those who fell from spiritual light into gross darkness.
" 'You are confused, Thomas, by the doctrines of the Greeks and the errors of the Persians. You do not understand the relationships of evil and sin because you view mankind as beginning on earth with a perfect Adam and rapidly degenerating, through sin, to man's present deplorable estate. But why do you refuse to comprehend the meaning of the record which discloses how Cain, the son of Adam, went over into the land of Nod and there got himself a wife? And why do you refuse to interpret the meaning of the record which portrays the sons of God finding wives for themselves among the daughters of men?
" '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.
" 'The Greeks and others have taught you that man is descending from godly perfection steadily down toward oblivion or destruction; I have come to show that man, by entrance into the kingdom, is ascending certainly and surely up to God and divine perfection. Any being who in any manner falls short of the divine and spiritual ideals of the eternal Father's will is potentially evil, but such beings are in no sense sinful, much less iniquitous.'"

Here, Jesus redefines sin for us...he describes evil and iniquity, and outlines the differences between these three tendencies of mankind, but never does he say that man is inherently sinful.

This is information that the world needs to hear - the real teachings of Jesus as related in Part IV of The Urantia Book.

No more does man have to feel that he is a hopeless worm of the earth; instead, the religion of Jesus elevates and ennobles mankind through affirming that man is a child of God, and that he can proactively co-create his own destiny with God - a destiny of achievement, joy, adventure, and eventual union with God in Paradise. This is done by deliberate choosing - by actively pursuing truth, goodness and beauty in our everyday lives, and by growing in grace so that we begin to exhibit the fruits of spirit in our relations with others.

No more do we have to feel that we are worth-less. The religion of Jesus elevates the ordinary human being to an extraordinary child of God, able to realize daily the ennobling power of the love of God

As an aside, I also want to comment on the author's question about why Jesus chose to refer to himself as the "Son of man..."

In The Urantia Book, we learn of the Master's WHOLE life - not just the Biblical stories that have been heretofore available. And so we learn that when Jesus was 15 years old, he decided upon this title for himself:

126:3.6 "In the course of this year Jesus found a passage in the so-called Book of Enoch which influenced him in the later adoption of the term "Son of Man" as a designation for his bestowal mission on Urantia. He had thoroughly considered the idea of the Jewish Messiah and was firmly convinced that he was not to be that Messiah. He longed to help his father's people, but he never expected to lead Jewish armies in overthrowing the foreign domination of Palestine. He knew he would never sit on the throne of David at Jerusalem. Neither did he believe that his mission was that of a spiritual deliverer or moral teacher solely to the Jewish people. In no sense, therefore, could his life mission be the fulfillment of the intense longings and supposed Messianic prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures; at least, not as the Jews understood these predictions of the prophets. Likewise he was certain he was never to appear as the Son of Man depicted by the Prophet Daniel.
"But when the time came for him to go forth as a world teacher, what would he call himself? What claim should he make concerning his mission? By what name would he be called by the people who would become believers in his teachings?
"While turning all these problems over in his mind, he found in the synagogue library at Nazareth, among the apocalyptic books which he had been studying, this manuscript called "The Book of Enoch"; and though he was certain that it had not been written by Enoch of old, it proved very intriguing to him, and he read and reread it many times. There was one passage which particularly impressed him, a passage in which this term "Son of Man" appeared. The writer of this so-called Book of Enoch went on to tell about this Son of Man, describing the work he would do on earth and explaining that this Son of Man, before coming down on this earth to bring salvation to mankind, had walked through the courts of heavenly glory with his Father, the Father of all; and that he had turned his back upon all this grandeur and glory to come down on earth to proclaim salvation to needy mortals. As Jesus would read these passages (well understanding that much of the Eastern mysticism which had become admixed with these teachings was erroneous), he responded in his heart and recognized in his mind that of all the Messianic predictions of the Hebrew scriptures and of all the theories about the Jewish deliverer, none was so near the truth as this story tucked away in this only partially accredited Book of Enoch; and he then and there decided to adopt as his inaugural title "the Son of Man." And this he did when he subsequently began his public work. Jesus had an unerring ability for the recognition of truth, and truth he never hesitated to embrace, no matter from what source it appeared to emanate. "

You've heard it here before, but I want to say again that the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it is the most important knowledge that any of us can have. In The Urantia Book, we have this knowledge, and it's yours for the taking. It may just transform your life

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Tue, October 28, 2014

Evolution: Is It God's Plan?

By By TruthBook Staff

Pope Says Evolution Doesn't Mean There's No God!

That's interesting...The Urantia Book says the same thing!

The pope explained that God "created beings and let them develop in accordance with the internal laws that He has given to each one, so that they could arrive at their fulfillment," according to the translation.

Read the article HERE

The Urantia Book similarly explains evolution as God's technique of creation in time and space. As organisms (including man) develop, they naturally learn better ways of being and doing with every generation. God mandates that we "be perfect," and evolution is his way of ensuring that we can meet that mandate!

What IS Evolution?

"There is original endowment of adaptation in living things and beings. In every living plant or animal cell, in every living organism—material or spiritual—there is an insatiable craving for the attainment of ever-increasing perfection of environmental adjustment, organismal adaptation, and augmented life realization. These interminable efforts of all living things evidence the existence within them of an innate striving for perfection."
"Evolution is the rule of human development..."
"The process of planetary evolution is orderly and controlled. The development of higher organisms from lower groupings of life is not accidental."
"Evolution is a cosmic technique of growth."

What Does The Urantia Book Teach About Evolution?

Click to read about Evolution

Click to read about The Overcontrol of Evolution

Click to read about Physical Evolution

Evolution is Not Limited to Physical Organisms Alone

Click to read about Spiritual Evolution

Click to read about Mind Evolution

Click to read about The Evolution of Human Government

Click to read about The Evolution of Religion

Click to read about The Evolution of Marriage

We are thrilled to share this article with you. Earlier in this blog, we shared an article that the Pope believes in angels; it's good to know that the leader of the world's largest religion is in agreement with Urantia Book teachings on evolution, too.

WOW - What can happen next???

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Mon, October 20, 2014

Does Religion Really Matter?

By By TruthBook staff

In our modern, tech-savvy, and scientifically oriented American society, does religion really matter?

We've come across a short video that really packs a punch; only 90 seconds long, it tells us in a very succinct way what the effects of religion have had on our country in the view of a Chinese scholar who studied here in the states. We urge you to have a look:

Click to see the video now

Religion and American Culture

Religion has always been a part of American culture, even though the successful separation of church and state has been maintained. And, the teachings of The Urantia Book corroborate this wise mandate of our founding fathers:

70:1.14 One of the great peace moves of the ages has been the attempt to separate church and state.

Nevertheless, men and women of religious backgrounds have been instrumental in maintaining the running of the government. And countless citizens of America believe in the rule of law as a reflection of a higher, divine, law--law that provides order instead of chaos.

In the video, our Chinese friend observes that the reason religion is vital in our society is that people VOLUNTARILY obey the laws; the vast majority of people in this country rightly sense that abiding by the rules and laws of society makes a better world for all of us. And he further observes that we have learned this method of successful living largely through our religious traditions that have always taught us right from wrong.

What's Happened to Religion?

Today we are witnessing a drawing away from the formalized religions of previous centuries; we are witnessing a breakdown of formerly unassailable institutions of religion; people are leaving churches in droves and even questioning the value of religion. Institutionalized religion is no longer feeding the souls of its congregants as it once did. And, if we take an honest look at our society, the result appears to be a weakening of morality, a growing ignorance of the need for character development, and a thirst for ultimate truth through scientific fact alone.

92:7.14 Modern man is confronted with the task of making more readjustments of human values in one generation than have been made in two thousand years. And this all influences the social attitude toward religion, for religion is a way of living as well as a technique of thinking.

Like Clay Christensen, we wonder what will happen if our venerated institutions of religion fail to create a healthy sense of societal duty going forward? What of today's children, today's new generation of leaders? Without true religion, will they have the same sense of morality that is so vital to the smooth running of government and civilization?Will they be wise leaders and provide living examples of good citizenship? Will our citizenry, in its rejection of formalized religion, fail to evolve a workable and progressive kind of religion that will continue to uphold our society and its laws?

Why Are The Churches Emptying?

The teachings of The Urantia Book highlight the reasons for our modern disenchantment with modern religion, and many of us can recognize the truths in this list

99:6.3 The dangers of formalized religion are:

  • fixation of beliefs and crystallization of sentiments;
  • accumulation of vested interests with increase of secularization;
  • tendency to standardize and fossilize truth;
  • diversion of religion from the service of God to the service of the church;
  • inclination of leaders to become administrators instead of ministers;
  • tendency to form sects and competitive divisions;
  • establishment of oppressive ecclesiastical authority;
  • creation of the aristocratic "chosen-people" attitude;
  • fostering of false and exaggerated ideas of sacredness;
  • the routinizing of religion and the petrification of worship;
  • tendency to venerate the past while ignoring present demands;
  • failure to make up-to-date interpretations of religion;
  • entanglement with functions of secular institutions;

Most importantly,

  • it fails to hold the interest of adventurous youth and gradually loses the saving message of the gospel of eternal salvation.
  • Formal religion restrains men in their personal spiritual activities instead of releasing them for heightened service as kingdom builders.

Nonetheless, religion-and the continuing evolution of religion-is an important pillar of any successful society, as these Urantia Book passages explain:

Evolutionary Religion vs Revealed Religion

92:3.6 Without religion there would have been no enduring morality nor ethics, no worth-while civilization.

92:3.9 Religion fostered civilization and provided societal continuity; it has been the moral police force of all time. Religion provided that human discipline and self-control which made wisdom possible. Religion is the efficient scourge of evolution which ruthlessly drives indolent and suffering humanity from its natural state of intellectual inertia forward and upward to the higher levels of reason and wisdom.

And this sacred heritage of animal ascent, evolutionary religion, must ever continue to be refined and ennobled by the continuous censorship of revealed religion and by the fiery furnace of genuine science.

But, what to put in the place of evolutionary, institutionalized religions? Is there a way to go forward with a higher kind of religion that will meet the spiritual needs-not only of the individual religionist-but of society in general?

The Religion OF Jesus Can Meet That Need

195:6.10 Neither democracy nor any other political panacea will take the place of spiritual progress. False religions may represent an evasion of reality, but Jesus in his gospel introduced mortal man to the very entrance upon an eternal reality of spiritual progression.

195:9.4 Religion does need new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings. If Christianity persists in neglecting its spiritual mission while it continues to busy itself with social and material problems, the spiritual renaissance must await the coming of these new teachers of Jesus' religion who will be exclusively devoted to the spiritual regeneration of men. And then will these spirit-born souls quickly supply the leadership and inspiration requisite for the social, moral, economic, and political reorganization of the world.

And, speaking of Christianity (the dominant religion of this country, and this world) The Urantia Book teaches:

195:10.1 Christianity has indeed done a great service for this world, but what is now most needed is Jesus. The world needs to see Jesus living again on earth in the experience of spirit-born mortals who effectively reveal the Master to all men. 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.

Click to read the Life and Teachings of Jesus

Click to read about personal spiritual experience - the religion of Jesus

Click to read about The Future

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Mon, October 13, 2014

Angels Exist says the Pope and The Urantia Book

By By TruthBook staff

The religious leader of 1 billion Catholics can't be wrong, can he? Catholics have known the truth of angelic presence for centuries, and it's good to read this article which reminds the modern world that angels are real. Read the article here

Urantia Book readers (even if they are not all Catholic!) agree with Pope Francis about angels because our big blue book reveals the presence of angels, too, and in greater detail than ever revealed before; even the pope doesn’t have the whole story!

The Urantia Book explains who the angels are, where they originate, why and how they help us, and what their destiny is.

Check it out! Click to read about

...and more!

From the Mother of angels - the Universe Mother Spirit - to the amazing and comforting description of Seraphic Planetary government on our world, the presence and the ministry of angels is fully explored. Did you know that there is actually an angelic divisional headquarters located right here on earth? It is true... you can read about it here

Here's a brief idea of just how many angels are actually present here on our world (Urantia), according to the Chief of Seraphim who authored Paper 114 on angels:

114:0.2  At noon today the roll call of planetary angels, guardians, and others on Urantia was 501,234,619 pairs of seraphim. There were assigned to my command two hundred seraphic hosts—597,196,800 pairs of seraphim, or 1,194,393,600 individual angels. The registry, however, shows 1,002,469,238 individuals; it follows therefore that 191,924,362 angels were absent from this world on transport, messenger, and death duty. (On Urantia there are about the same number of cherubim as seraphim, and they are similarly organized.)

No matter how bad things seem to be at times, it is a comforting thing to know that the hosts of Heaven know all about us, they have our back, and are working behind the scenes to guide, not only individuals, but this world in the right direction.

By the way...do angels really have wings? Click to read about it here

Click to visit our Angel page...all angels, all the time!

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Thu, October 09, 2014

Did Jesus Really Exist?

By By TruthBook staff

Just recently, we came upon a couple of articles that were making the outrageous claim that Jesus never walked the earth...that he never even existed! It was time to write a blog...

Well, since then, we now came across an article whose authors roundly refute this hypothesis, saying that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." We like that...and we'd like to expand upon it here.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read the article.

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About this article, though...while the authors do refute the claims of Jesus' non-existence, they are not exactly enthusiatic about Jesus, relegating him to a relatively unimportant "wannabe messiah..." Pretty disrespectful, but then these authors evidently don't know Jesus very well, either.

As far as historical records, it's important to note that the New Testament is itself a historical record, filled with eyewitness accounts of the Master's life; even the Koran honors Jesus, refering to him as "Messiah." And in our modern times, hundreds of books and numerous movies about Jesus are being produced at a feverish pace...a lot of press for someone who never existed, we'd say!!!

Of course, for Urantia Book readers, the truth of the existence of Jesus as an historical figure is accepted fact as a result of revelation regarding the vast context within which Jesus is placed. The Urantia Book lifts the Jesus of the Bible out of his primarily Christian context into a whole new understanding of this God/man. Jesus in The Urantia Book is a Savior for ALL peoples: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish...even for the inhabitants of a whole universe...beings who love and honor this God/man as much as we do here.

Discovering who Jesus really was through the modern-day revelation of truth that is The Urantia Book- the beloved Son of God, the Creator of the universe in which we live, the compassionate Sovereign Ruler who has earned his sovereignty through hard-won experience - endears this amazing personality to any and all who read the accounts of his life in The Urantia Book and provides a stirring new context within which to appreciate Jesus, and the reality of his presence here.

Understanding the context of Jesus' appearance on our world through the revelation of The Urantia Book should put to rest any doubts as to his reality. We learn new and thriling facets of Jesus...details of his existence even before he came here. From his status as a "Michael Son," on high, this loving Son of God took it upon himself to incarnate as a helpless baby in the town of Bethlehem for an express purpose - a purpose that has heretofore been largely lost in the mists of time.

Far from the traditional ideas of who Jesus was - that of atoner, ransomer, substitute sufferer - the Urantia Book accounts of Jesus' existence before his arrival here tell a story of a compassionate Creator who saw this world of his making plunged into darkness by the evil rebellion against universe government. This rebellion under the direction of Lucifer held our world in sway for thousands of years until this Creator Son decided that this was the world upon which he would make the final bestowal of himself and take a final stand for goodness, truth and beauty.

Previously, and even while the drama of the rebellion played out on our world, this Michael-Son was engaged in six other bestowals of himself - bestowals into the likeness of all creatures that exist in his universe. He made these bestowals for the express purpose of gaining living experience as all types of created beings, so that he could claim legitimate and sympathetic sovereignty, knowing first-hand the trials and challenges that all of his children face.

When it came time to incarnate and bestow himself as a human being-his seventh and final bestowal-he chose this backward, rebellion-scarred world upon which to play out this final appearance as one of his universe creatures, so that the spectacles of his goodness, his righteousness, and his love would shine even brighter against such a sordid background.

A major purpose of Jesus' mission here was to reveal God the Father himself to us. Said Jesus: "therefore have I come into the world to show the Father to your creature eyes." Jesus said more than once: "He who has seen me has seen the Father," so when we see this compassionate, loving, sympathetic Savior, we can rest assured that God is all of that, and even more.

And while Jesus was here, he vanquished and soundly defeated those forces that put our world into such jeopardy so many thousands of years ago. When Jesus faced his enemies on Mt Hermon, the rebellion was settled, once and for all time.

After Jesus' brutal death, his followers were a dejected lot, becoming re-energized and re-purposed when Jesus resurrected. It is the resurrection of Jesus that then took center-stage, and the real message and purpose of his bestowal were lost in the sifting of this new reality of the risen Savior. At Pentecost, the Spirit of Truth - Jesus' Spirit - was poured out, and the apostles, and others, became once again, zealous in their proclamations of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Click to read about The Beginnings of the Christian Church

There's a lot of good news associated with Jesus life here...because Jesus incarnated here, human beings are now privileged to have a fragment of God the Father indwelling their minds; Jesus himself is still present as the promised Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, helping each of us to navigate the turbulent waters of life; and with the advent of The Urantia Book we now have a complete accounting of the life and teachings of Jesus as a true example of what it means to live a religious life dedicated to doing the will of God.

Did Jesus exist? Of course he did...2000 years of devotion say he did; countless legions of followers of this God/man say he did; Jesus' story is told and retold on this world every day, in all parts of the world. EVERYONE knows the name of Jesus. And Jesus still lives. He lives in us as the Spirit of Truth. He reigns as supreme and sympathetic Sovereign of our universe, and knowing the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it constitutes the most important knowledge that any one of us can have.

The Urantia Book has that story, and it is there for you.

Jesus lived...and Jesus still lives...

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Wed, October 08, 2014

Life after death is Real

By By The TruthBook staff

Figure on path in serene space

Death is the great equalizer; no one escapes it, and it is rare that we can get a glimpse at the reality beyond the veil. The Urantia Book is very clear on the matter, and we are gifted with a very detailed description of what life after death is like, what it is for, and who gets to experience it. And yet, it still remains part of the great unknown. So, when we saw this article which validates those who have had "near-death" experiences, we were happy to see that science, once again, is helping to corroborate what Urantia Book readers already know - that there IS consciousness beyond the death experience.

The article is called "Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that 'out of body' and 'near-death' experiences may be real"

We have a collection of pages and features that will help you familiarize yourself with Urantia Book teachings about this most interesting topic that affects each and every one of us, sooner or later.

We have fielded many questions about life after death over the years. Click to read more in Life Challenges

Finally, maybe you wonder about death itself...what does death really mean? Click to read our topical study about Death and most importantly, how YOUR self survives death.

Click to read about Personality Survival

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Wed, October 01, 2014

"Wayward" - The Lost Son

By By Breathecast review

'Wayward: The Prodigal Son,' is a new film based on Jesus' memorable moral tale about a son who abandoned his family in order to live a lifestyle of fame and sin before finding redemption in an unlikely source. The inspirational movie will debut in theaters sometime in the near future.

"[The upcoming film] tells the story of Tyler McMillan [Landon Henneman], a pampered rich kid who gets it all and almost loses everything, including his own life," according to a statement.

Cedar Fort Entertainment's Acquisition Manager Spencer Harden revealed the message behind of the future film. It's about a father's eternal love for his child, no matter how morally corrupt the child was prior to repentance.

"We all know someone who has gone astray," said Harden in a statement, according to a Christian Todayreport, "Every parent hopes it won't happen to their child, but they grow up with minds of their own."

Film director (in addition to writer and producer) Rob Diamond explained why he created his upcoming film, where he also plays as Tyler's dad Robert McMillan.

"I made 'Wayward: The Prodigal Son' because the Biblical story has always touched a deep place in my soul," said Diamond, according to a Christian Today report, "I have been on the receiving end of forgiveness many times for the mistakes I've made in my life. It's the perfect story of love, redemption and forgiveness."

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

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This looks like it might be a good movie coming up. I watched the trailer and thought it was well-done...so maybe the actual film will not disappoint. I guess we'll see. But I am going to watch for it in November. Maybe we'll write another blog about it by then...

This movie is the enactment of one of the most famous parables of Jesus...one of the most famous and one of the most beloved.

The account of the Lost Son in The Urantia Book is very touching. In it, Jesus tells three parables together, with this parable of the lost son last; this section of The Urantia Book shows Jesus' skill and care in how he ministered to his followers with these parables.

The Urantia Book also gives the context in which these events of Jesus life take place. At this time, for example, Jesus was teaching at Pella, and this was after the resurrection of Lazarus; the chief priests and the Pharisees were finalizing their charges against Jesus, and planning his demise. Here were their charges against Jesus:

169:0.4 1. He is a friend of publicans and sinners; he receives the ungodly and even eats with them.

2. He is a blasphemer; he talks about God as being his Father and thinks he is equal with God.

3. He is a lawbreaker. He heals disease on the Sabbath and in many other ways flouts the sacred law of Israel.

4. He is in league with devils. He works wonders and does seeming miracles by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils.

Meanwhile, Jesus is teaching, preaching, influencing, and enlarging the Kingdom.

Click to read The Parable of the Lost Son

And speaking of the Kingdom, in the very next paper we read a full exploration of the kingdom of Heaven, including Jesus' concepts of the Kingdom, which you will find very enlightening.

The parable of the Lost Son is as relevant today as it was in Jesus' time. Do you know someone who's fallen on hard times? Are you a parent whose child is "wayward?" Knowing this story, and being willing to retell it - or live it - in real-life situations may be of great help to someone in need some day.

Let's hope that the movie will do justice to this wonderful, touching, inspiring parable that tells of God's undying love for his children.

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Tue, September 23, 2014

Substitutionary Atonement-Is It True?

By By MICHAEL BROWN

Did Jesus really pay for our sins on the cross, taking our punishment for us? Did He really die as an atoning sacrifice on our behalf?

In recent years, this doctrine, known as penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), has come under increasing attack, with some Christian leaders claiming that for God to punish His Son for our sins would be an example of "cosmic child abuse" (Steve Chalke).

This past Saturday, I was able to debate this important issue with pastor Brian Zahnd, who was eloquent in his arguments against PSA, claiming that it made our Father into a "monster god" and a "pagan deity." (You can watch the debate here.)

Are these charges true?

As I stated in the debate, I find it highly offensive when anyone characterizes my heavenly Father, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, as a "monster" who engaged in "cosmic child abuse."

This is a perverse description of the glorious gospel, since the doctrine of PSA describes the greatest act of love the world has ever seen: The Father sending His Son to die in our place, and the Son willingly laying down His life to save us from our sins and to make us holy. What love!

We sinned; He died. We were guilty; He took our punishment.

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

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This matter of the atonement doctrine (known in this article as “penal substitutionary atonement (PSA)” is one that is going to be raised more and more by those who love God and know him as a loving Father. Once accepted as fact by so many of us, the idea of this kind of "ransom" being a necessary element of winning God's love is making less and less sense, as the idea of a loving, forgiving God is becoming more popular through the individual's experience with the God of Love.

The author of this article, while certainly well­-meaning, takes great offense at God being characterized as a "monster" and a "cosmic" child abuser; one has to see, though, that if this kind of "substutionary" behavior by a human father were to happen, child abuse would be a mild accusation; that father would spend time in prison for a long time!

The idea of a human father offering one of his innocent children as a death sacrifice in order to pay for the sin of an erring child would be unthinkable...and yet, we are expected to believe that the Universal Father of all is so offended at what his created children have done, that he offered Jesus in just the same way that, in a human father, would certainly constitute abuse of the worst kind. Can human beings have more compassion than God? Is God's ability to control his own emotions less developed than a human father's? This is what the atonement doctrine expects us to believe.

One of the cardinal themes throughout The Urantia Book is the loving character and merciful nature of the heavenly Father. In its pages, the atonement doctrine is roundly rebutted and logically dismantled so that by the time one grasps the GOODNESS of God, the so­-called "wrath of God" that must be appeased by killing an innocent in place of a sinner becomes unthinkable; it is totally uncharacteristic of this new and healthy picture of God that we see in The Urantia Book.

Here are few Urantia Book passages that speak to this issue:

Righteousness implies that God is the source of the moral law of the universe. Truth exhibits God as a revealer, as a teacher. But love gives and craves affection, seeks understanding fellowship such as exists between parent and child. Righteousness may be the divine thought, but love is a father's attitude. The erroneous supposition that the righteousness of God was irreconcilable with the selfless love of the heavenly Father, presupposed absence of unity in the nature of Deity and led directly to the elaboration of the atonement doctrine, which is a philosophic assault upon both the unity and the free­willnes of God. ~ The Urantia Book, (2:6.5)
When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all­-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature. ~ The Urantia Book, (188:4.8)

Remember, Jesus of Nazareth was the embodiment of God; he said more than once that "he who has seen me has seen the Father." Did we ever see Jesus being unloving? Did we ever see Jesus exhibiting behavior that placed one person in jeopardy for the sins of another? Jesus was the new revelation of God that was to replace the Old Testament picture of God as judge, as wrathful, as punishing. He did a great job of it, but his message was distorted by subsequent generations of believers. The true mission of Jesus to our world has been grossly misunderstood. Now comes The Urantia Book to right that misconception.

In the article above, the author is liberal with quotes from the NT and especially Paul. But Paul did not even know Jesus; his conversion experience was what brought him to God, but he was a man of his time, and was desirous of making converts like himself. He worked within the parameters of his time; and, atonement was a common belief in those days, as was the belief in a wrathful deity.

Here’s more about Paul from The Urantia Book:

The Apostle Paul, in his efforts to bring the teachings of Jesus to the favorable notice of certain groups in his day, wrote many letters of instruction and admonition. Other teachers of Jesus' gospel did likewise, but none of them realized that some of these writings would subsequently be brought together by those who would set them forth as the embodiment of the teachings of Jesus.
And so, while so­-called Christianity does contain more of the Master's gospel than any other religion, it does also contain much that Jesus did not teach. Aside from the incorporation of many teachings from the Persian mysteries and much of the Greek philosophy into early Christianity, two great mistakes were made:

The effort to connect the gospel teaching directly onto the Jewish theology, as illustrated by the Christian doctrines of the atonement—the teaching that Jesus was the sacrificed Son who would satisfy the Father's stern justice and appease the divine wrath. These teachings originated in a praiseworthy effort to make the gospel of the kingdom more acceptable to disbelieving Jews.Though these efforts failed as far as winning the Jews was concerned, they did not fail to confuse and alienate many honest souls in all subsequent generations. ~ The Urantia Book, (149:2.2)

It is difficult to translate an act of barbarism such as was suffered by Jesus into an act of love on the behalf of a supposedly loving Father. Love for whom? It does not seem very loving to Jesus.

Jesus certainly did lay down his life, and he did it willingly, but not to appease some fictitious wrath of his Father’s. Jesus made it plain that mankind is not inherently evil - that man is not born under forfeit of sin, and so, again, the atonement becomes even more fictitious a theory.

In order to understand Jesus’ mission, one has to understand who he was, and why he came here; all of this is detailed in The Urantia Book...but one reason Jesus came is so that he could truly live the life of a typical human being. Jesus needed this experience so that he could regain sovereignty over this world as an understanding and compassionate ruler - a ruler who understands firsthand how human beings live; completing this mission gave him the right to take our world back from the archdeceiver and rebels who were holding it hostage. A typical life includes death. Jesus had to die, yes, but the manner of his death was determined - not by God - but by wicked and evil men, who were threatened by Jesus’ religion of personal spiritual experience with God which was anathema to the rulers of that time.

Click to read more about the Meaning of Jesus’ Death on the Cross

In The Urantia Book, we are given a new restatement of the Life and Teachings of Jesus...a restatement that is gleaned from the eyewitnesses who were there, and who recorded every movement of the Master as he walked our earth. It should make perfect sense to anyone who understands the importance of the Son of God’s incarnation as a human being that this record was preserved. For 2000+ years, all that we have had as records are the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; now, we have the complete story; week by week, and oftentimes day by day, we see the Master - as an infant, a toddler, a schoolboy, an adolescent, a young man, and finally, as the self-conscious Son of God, establishing the Kingdom on earth. His mission and his purposes are stated...his true identity is revealed...and his loving nature (which is also the same nature of God) is outlined in every page of Part IV of The Urantia Book.

Of great importance is the knowledge that God himself was revealed by this God/man...a LOVING God. Atonement cannot be part of his nature, and Jesus never taught such error. Instead, Jesus reveals a loving parental Father who loves all of his children with an eternal love that would never require violence upon an innocent to be realized and appreciated.

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Thu, September 18, 2014

So how would Jesus vote?

By By Great Falls Tribune - Opinion page

What appears at first blush to be a political campaign sign in a yard in Chester reads, upon closer examination, "Elect Jesus for Savior."

It's clever, but it also raises intriguing questions about how Jesus Christ would view today's politics and politicians if he were walking the earth today.

For example, would Jesus be interested in the Occupy Wall Street movement, since he was no big fan of money-changers and sent them scurrying out of a temple?

Would he lean toward folks who are devout Christians? Polls show Republicans have more adherents with regular church attendance.

Or would Jesus lean toward the Democrats, who have more support among the downtrodden, such as the poor and minorities?

Pretty clearly, Jesus in his time was an anti-establishment Jewish man who caused big headaches for officials of the day and drew large crowds.

For our part, we don't think Jesus would care for the nasty partisan bickering that afflicts much of the modern American political scene, or the fact that not much gets done in Washington, D.C. He wouldn't care for dishonesty, spin or bribery, of course. Which raises the possibility that the Messiah might not vote at all.

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

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 Now that election season is once again upon us, it's a good time to think about values and about character. Even though it is not yet a presidential election, this congressional election finds many of the same issues that have dogged our political process still all-too-active. Division and polarization seems to be the order of the day. Character seems to be lost in the debate...

How would Jesus vote?

It's a question that was posed to us probably ten years ago - or more, and it's a really good time to revisit the well-thought-out reply, written by a staff member from that time:

Here's the reply in its entirety:

I think this is a great topic and it's understandable that people who love Jesus would ponder this at election time.

I have gotten some interesting insights when considering this question of how Jesus would vote. In the first place, I don't think Jesus would ever allow his political position to be known. Jesus fully understood his own power. One of the greatest powers of all is the power of influence. Knowing that humans would take the easy path of having Jesus make all of their decisions for them without thinking these things through for themselves, I think he would keep his political opinions to himself. I'm not suggesting that most of us should do that, but I think that the Pope, for instance, should keep his politics to himself. Religious leaders should never endorse political candidates; this whole election has really driven home for me the wisdom of the separation of church and state.

Clearly, Jesus calls us to learn how to think—not what to think. When we all become adept at independent cosmic thinking we will naturally come to more Godlike conclusions and be able to make more Godlike decisions. That is, decisions which create the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people for the greatest amount of time.

These scientific, moral, and spiritual insights, these cosmic responses, are innate in the cosmic mind, which endows all will creatures. The experience of living never fails to develop these three cosmic intuitions; they are constitutive in the self-consciousness of reflective thinking. But it is sad to record that so few persons on Urantia take delight in cultivating these qualities of courageous and independent cosmic thinking. The Urantia Book, (16:6.9)

We know from his life and teachings that Jesus deliberately avoided making pronouncements on political issues. The closest he came was "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." We could write a novel on what he meant by that. But suffice to say, it doesn't give us much to go on at election time. However, I think we can look at his life by example and infer some definite qualities to look for in a leader. Here are some things I have thought of:

  • He was honest and sincere. He said what he meant and meant what he said. He spoke the truth even when the truth hurt. He was loyal to the highest principals in the highest sense of the word. He would be righteously indignant of the false and malicious political spin and negativity that we have become accustomed to.
  • He was courageous. He was willing to put himself on the line even to the point of direct contradiction with the powerful religious rulers of his day.
  • He was fair. He never would have thought only of the interest of his people (the Jews) or his nation (Israel). There was no self-interest in him. Everything he did was for the greatest good for all. From my point of view, the most powerful man in the world should also be a good world citizen. A true leader would want to lead mankind, not just America, into a new and better way of life. As Jesus said,

"When you once begin to find God in your soul, presently you will begin to discover him in other men's souls and eventually in all the creatures and creations of a mighty universe. But what chance does the Father have to appear as a God of supreme loyalties and divine ideals in the souls of men who give little or no time to the thoughtful contemplation of such eternal realities?" (155:6.13)

  • He was wise. He understood human nature well enough to know how certain people would react in certain situations.
  • He was patient. He waited for the right time to act and chose his battles and his opportunities very carefully.
  • He was respectful and trusting. He believed in men because he knew that God is in them. He empowered men to decide and act and supported the wisdom of the group. When the group made a decision he honored it.
  • He was merciful. He understood the human condition and was forgiving of human frailty. However, he abhorred deliberate wickedness, he said that more was expected of the Master than of the servant, and in the end he did not tolerate the corruption of false leaders.
  • He was sympathetic. He had real insight into the human heart and the human condition. He had real compassion for humanity and wanted all people to "have life and have it more abundantly."
  • He was truly kind. I don't think he would ever have resorted to harming anyone or allowing anyone to be harmed. He once said that he would not defend himself against harm unless he discerned that God was not present in the person who sought to harm him.

Clearly, we can't expect a leader, even one with as much power as a US president, to possess all the wonderful qualities that Jesus did. There were many powerful men in Jesus day that had no respect for Jesus and thought him foolish and weak. There are many powerful people today, even those who profess to follow Jesus, who would never endorse his non resistant and non violent ways. Many who think that, although Jesus ideals are truly good, they're not practical and they won't work.

Sadly, at this point in time, we are stuck with the reality of always having to choose between the "lesser of two evils." That is, two mortal [candidates] who are anything but perfect. We can take the easy way out and vote along party lines, trusting that at least our basic political philosophies will be upheld, or we can look at each [candidate] and try to discern their true character.

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Sat, September 13, 2014

Jesus was not a "Bible-Believer"

By By Frank Schaeffer

Jesus certainly was not a “Bible believer,” as we use that term in the post Billy Graham era of American fundamentalist religiosity that’s used as a trade-marked product to sell religion. Jesus didn’t take the Jewish scriptures at face value. In fundamentalist terms, Jesus was a rule-breaking relativist who wasn’t even “saved,” according to evangelical standards. Evangelicals insist that you have to believe very specific interpretations of the Bible to be saved. Jesus didn’t. He undercut the scriptures.

A leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” If Jesus had been a good religious Jew, he would have said, “Be healed,” and just walked away. Instead, he stretched out his hand and touched the leper, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean,” even though he was breaking the specific rules of Leviticus. Two chapters teach that anyone touching a person with leprosy is contaminated.

The stories about Jesus that survived the bigots, opportunists and delusional fanatics who wrote the New Testament contain powerful and enlightened truths that would someday prove the undoing of the Church built in his name. Like a futurist vindicated by events as yet undreamed, Jesus’ message of love was far more powerful than the magical thinking of the writers of the book he’s trapped in. In Jesus’ day the institutions of religion, state, misogyny and myth were so deeply ingrained that the ultimate dangerousness of his life example could not be imagined. For example his feminism, probably viewed as an eccentricity in his day, would prove transformational.

Jesus believed in God rather than in a book about God. The message of Jesus’ life is an intervention in and an acceleration of the evolution of empathy. Consider this story from the book of Matthew: “A woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.”

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

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Can I get an "Amen?"

This article is a breath of fresh air, in my opinion. In it, the author asks important questions and posits revolutionary ideas about Jesus, which, taken to heart, can give any believer a new idea about who Jesus was and what his life was meant to be.

This article caught my eye because it echoes what I have learned of Jesus through the teachings of The Urantia Book, a modern-day revelation of God.

In Jesus' day, the Scriptures were thought to be inerrant, much as they are thought to be still today. But, did Jesus believe that? He did not. As this author has discovered through critical thought, "Jesus believed in God rather than in a book about God." This statement is akin to The Urantia Book's statement that Christianity is a religion about Jesus, rather than the religion of Jesus.

For centuries, the Scriptures have been the sole source of information about Jesus and his life...about God and his purposes. But, how's that working for us? Because of the belief that the Bible is inerrant in its teachings, mankind has felt licensed to kill, maim, shame, and otherwise direct and control the spiritual lives of spiritual seekers, believing that this is what God has mandated. And yet, we know that Jesus was the revelation of God to struggling mankind. Did Jesus act in this way? Did he try to direct and control through Scripture? Did he ever use strong-armed tactics to keep his believers in tow? If Jesus did not, then we can rest assured that God does not act that way, through Scripture or otherwise.

One aspect of Jesus' life that is touched on in this article is Jesus' revolutionary attitude towards women. This attitude and his subsequent actions with women are underscored and given a lot of attention in The Urantia Book.

Click to read more about Jesus and Women

One day, Nathaniel asked Jesus: “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?”

What follows is Jesus' enlightening discourse on the truth of the Scriptures. I find it to be so important to our modern-day understanding of this topic that I am adding it here in its entirety:

"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.
“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.
“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.
"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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
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.

Bible believers of this age may be shocked as well, AND enlightened. The time is ripe for a new understanding of the role of Scripture in our lives. None have said it better than the Master...

Click to read an extended study about the Gospels and Scripture as presented in The Urantia Book for the 21st century truth-seeker

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