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Did Jesus establish a church?

In The Urantia Book, we learn that Jesus' mission on Earth was one of revelation—revelation to mankind of the loving character of God, the goodness of God, and the love and mercy of God as spiritual Father. Jesus proclaimed the good news that man is a child of God, and the resultant truth that all men are brethren.

Jesus did not incarnate in order to establish a church, and he did not counsel his disciples to establish churches. His mission was to proclaim the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of mankind, and to free mankind from the bondage of churches of authority. He himself, a child of Jewish parents, raised in the churches and synagogues of his day, later was murdered for his refusal to conform to the authority of that very belief system in which he was raised. Jesus was not wholly opposed to churches; he worked with members of churches, and honored and encouraged church members, but, as The Urantia Book so well points out:

(100:5.1) The world is filled with lost souls, not lost in the theologic sense but lost in the directional meaning, wandering about in confusion among the isms and cults of a frustrated philosophic era. Too few have learned how to install a philosophy of living in the place of religious authority. (The symbols of socialized religion are not to be despised as channels of growth, albeit the river bed is not the river.)

(Bolding of text is mine)

Jesus' message was one of spiritual liberation—liberation from set dogmas, creeds, and established tenets—into a new way of realizing and finding God, who, he taught, indwells every human mind. This new way of discovering God and recognizing Truth had nothing to do with setting up churches. Instead, it proclaimed that the Kingdom is within each of us, discoverable by each individual.

There was a church established, of course, and the following quote outlines for us how this occurred:

(170:5.14) When Jesus' immediate followers recognized their partial failure to realize his ideal of the establishment of the kingdom in the hearts of men by the spirit's domination and guidance of the individual believer, they set about to save his teaching from being wholly lost by substituting for the Master's ideal of the kingdom the gradual creation of a visible social organization, the Christian church. And when they had accomplished this program of substitution, in order to maintain consistency and to provide for the recognition of the Master's teaching regarding the fact of the kingdom, they proceeded to set the kingdom off into the future. The church, just as soon as it was well established, began to teach that the kingdom was in reality to appear at the culmination of the Christian age, at the second coming of Christ.

This Christian church and its many offshoots, while good in many respects, still maintains many of the unfavorable aspects of all established churches, in that it demands a loyalty to dogma, to rules and regulations, that have little to do with the reality of the Kingdom as Jesus taught it. Jesus taught that the Kingdom is within—right now—and that one enters its gates simply by faith that one is, in fact, a child of God. No creedal pressure was brought to bear by Jesus on any of his followers. The new gospel of Jesus proclaimed that man is a child of God, and that faith is the only price of entry into the Father's kingdom. It is this very simplicity, I believe, that is sometimes very hard to grasp by human minds.

The idea of making a church that packages "the truth" for its followers is directly opposed to the actual teachings of Jesus. A church as a social organization, or as a place where believers can share their faith is a good idea, but churches as they are now operate on the planet, largely run counter to the idea of spiritual freedom, as Jesus taught it.

Consider this quote from The Urantia Book:

(103:5.12) When a member of a social religious group has complied with the requirements of such a group, he should be encouraged to enjoy religious liberty in the full expression of his own personal interpretation of the truths of religious belief and the facts of religious experience. The security of a religious group depends on spiritual unity, not on theological uniformity. A religious group should be able to enjoy the liberty of freethinking without having to become "freethinkers." There is great hope for any church that worships the living God, validates the brotherhood of man, and dares to remove all creedal pressure from its members.

I invite you to visit Truthbook.com and take a look at Great Jesus Stories where you will find, not only the complete life of Jesus, but all of Jesus' teachings regarding the establishment of the Kingdom. Scroll down the menu for a topic that is of interest.

Date published:
Author: Staff