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On the Iberiad Lake by Wassilij Dimitriewitsch Polenow

Religious Tradition - Just a Safe Refuge?

Religious tradition is the imperfectly preserved record of the experiences of the God-knowing men of past ages, but such records are untrustworthy as guides for religious living or as the source of true information about the Universal Father. Such ancient beliefs have been invariably altered by the fact that primitive man was a mythmaker. ~ The Urantia Book, (4:5.1)

Your religion is becoming real because it is emerging from the slavery of fear and the bondage of superstition. Your philosophy struggles for emancipation from dogma and tradition. Your science is engaged in the agelong contest between truth and error while it fights for deliverance from the bondage of abstraction, the slavery of mathematics, and the relative blindness of mechanistic materialism. ~ The Urantia Book, (12:9.5)

The great difference between a religious and a nonreligious philosophy of living consists in the nature and level of recognized values and in the object of loyalties. There are four phases in the evolution of religious philosophy: Such an experience may become merely conformative, resigned to submission to tradition and authority. Or it may be satisfied with slight attainments, just enough to stabilize the daily living, and therefore becomes early arrested on such an adventitious level. Such mortals believe in letting well enough alone. A third group progress to the level of logical intellectuality but there stagnate in consequence of cultural slavery. It is indeed pitiful to behold giant intellects held so securely within the cruel grasp of cultural bondage. It is equally pathetic to observe those who trade their cultural bondage for the materialistic fetters of a science, falsely so called. The fourth level of philosophy attains freedom from all conventional and traditional handicaps and dares to think, act, and live honestly, loyally, fearlessly, and truthfully. ~ The Urantia Book, (101:7.4)

One of the great lessons of this sojourn at Caesarea had to do with the origin of religious traditions, with the grave danger of allowing a sense of sacredness to become attached to nonsacred things, common ideas, or everyday events. From one conference they emerged with the teaching that true religion was man's heartfelt loyalty to his highest and truest convictions. ~ The Urantia Book, (155:3.5)

The acceptance of the traditional religions of authority presents the easy way out for man's urge to seek satisfaction for the longings of his spiritual nature. The settled, crystallized, and established religions of authority afford a ready refuge to which the distracted and distraught soul of man may flee when harassed by fear and tormented by uncertainty. Such a religion requires of its devotees, as the price to be paid for its satisfactions and assurances, only a passive and purely intellectual assent. ~ The Urantia Book, (155:5.9)

The religion of the spirit means effort, struggle, conflict, faith, determination, love, loyalty, and progress. The religion of the mind—the theology of authority—requires little or none of these exertions from its formal believers. Tradition is a safe refuge and an easy path for those fearful and halfhearted souls who instinctively shun the spirit struggles and mental uncertainties associated with those faith voyages of daring adventure out upon the high seas of unexplored truth in search for the farther shores of spiritual realities as they may be discovered by the progressive human mind and experienced by the evolving human soul. ~ The Urantia Book, (155:5.11)

". . . Are you fearful, soft, and ease-seeking? Are you afraid to trust your future in the hands of the God of truth, whose sons you are? Are you distrustful of the Father, whose children you are? Will you go back to the easy path of the certainty and intellectual settledness of the religion of traditional authority, or will you gird yourselves to go forward with me into that uncertain and troublous future of proclaiming the new truths of the religion of the spirit, the kingdom of heaven in the hearts of men?" ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (155:5.13)

"You have come out from among those of your fellows who choose to remain satisfied with a religion of mind, who crave security and prefer conformity. You have elected to exchange your feelings of authoritative certainty for the assurances of the spirit of adventurous and progressive faith. You have dared to protest against the grueling bondage of institutional religion and to reject the authority of the traditions of record which are now regarded as the word of God. Our Father did indeed speak through Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea, but he did not cease to minister words of truth to the world when these prophets of old made an end of their utterances. My Father is no respecter of races or generations in that the word of truth is vouchsafed one age and withheld from another. Commit not the folly of calling that divine which is wholly human, and fail not to discern the words of truth which come not through the traditional oracles of supposed inspiration. " ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (155:6.2)

Your religion shall change from the mere intellectual belief in traditional authority to the actual experience of that living faith which is able to grasp the reality of God and all that relates to the divine spirit of the Father. The religion of the mind ties you hopelessly to the past; the religion of the spirit consists in progressive revelation and ever beckons you on toward higher and holier achievements in spiritual ideals and eternal realities. ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (155:6.4)

If something has become a religion in your experience, it is self-evident that you already have become an active evangel of that religion since you deem the supreme concept of your religion as being worthy of the worship of all mankind, all universe intelligences. If you are not a positive and missionary evangel of your religion, you are self-deceived in that what you call a religion is only a traditional belief or a mere system of intellectual philosophy. If your religion is a spiritual experience, your object of worship must be the universal spirit reality and ideal of all your spiritualized concepts. All religions based on fear, emotion, tradition, and philosophy I term the intellectual religions, while those based on true spirit experience I would term the true religions. The object of religious devotion may be material or spiritual, true or false, real or unreal, human or divine. Religions can therefore be either good or evil. ~ The Urantia Book, (160:5.3)

Ecclesiasticism is at once and forever incompatible with that living faith, growing spirit, and firsthand experience of the faith-comrades of Jesus in the brotherhood of man in the spiritual association of the kingdom of heaven. The praiseworthy desire to preserve traditions of past achievement often leads to the defense of outgrown systems of worship. The well-meant desire to foster ancient thought systems effectually prevents the sponsoring of new and adequate means and methods designed to satisfy the spiritual longings of the expanding and advancing minds of modern men. Likewise, the Christian churches of the twentieth century stand as great, but wholly unconscious, obstacles to the immediate advance of the real gospel —the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. ~ The Urantia Book, (195:10.8)

It is all too true that such a church would not have survived unless there had been men in the world who preferred such a style of worship. Many spiritually indolent souls crave an ancient and authoritative religion of ritual and sacred traditions. Human evolution and spiritual progress are hardly sufficient to enable all men to dispense with religious authority. And the invisible brotherhood of the kingdom may well include these family groups of various social and temperamental classes if they are only willing to become truly spirit-led sons of God. But in this brotherhood of Jesus there is no place for sectarian rivalry, group bitterness, nor assertions of moral superiority and spiritual infallibility. ~ The Urantia Book, (195:10.1)

When Tradition is not Necessarily Helpful

Slavery to tradition produces stability and co-operation by sentimentally linking the past with the present, but it likewise stifles initiative and enslaves the creative powers of the personality. The whole world was caught in the stalemate of tradition-bound mores when the Caligastia one hundred arrived and began the proclamation of the new gospel of individual initiative within the social groups of that day. But this beneficent rule was so soon interrupted that the races never have been wholly liberated from the slavery of custom; fashion still unduly dominates Urantia. ~ The Urantia Book(66:6.2)

Civilized man takes great pride in the character, stability, and continuity of his established institutions, but all human institutions are merely the accumulated mores of the past as they have been conserved by taboos and dignified by religion. Such legacies become traditions, and traditions ultimately metamorphose into conventions. ~ The Urantia Book(69:0.3)

Evolutionary Religion

The study of human religion is the examination of the fossil-bearing social strata of past ages. The mores of the anthropomorphic gods are a truthful reflection of the morals of the men who first conceived such deities. Ancient religions and mythology faithfully portray the beliefs and traditions of peoples long since lost in obscurity. These olden cult practices persist alongside newer economic customs and social evolutions and, of course, appear grossly inconsistent. The remnants of the cult present a true picture of the racial religions of the past. Always remember, the cults are formed, not to discover truth, but rather to promulgate their creeds. ~ The Urantia Book, (92:3.1)

Heavenly Traditions

JERUSEM, THE HEADQUARTERS of Satania, is an average capital of a local system, and aside from numerous irregularities occasioned by the Lucifer rebellion and the bestowal of Michael on Urantia, it is typical of similar spheres. Your local system has passed through some stormy experiences, but it is at present being administered most efficiently, and as the ages pass, the results of disharmony are being slowly but surely eradicated. Order and good will are being restored, and the conditions on Jerusem are more and more approaching the heavenly status of your traditions, for the system headquarters is truly the >heaven visualized by the majority of twentieth-century religious believers. ~ The Urantia Book, (46:1.0)

If you could be transplanted from your backward and confused world to some normal planet now in the postbestowal Son age, you would think you had been translated to the heaven of your traditions. You would hardly believe that you were observing the normal evolutionary workings of a mortal sphere of human habitation. These worlds are in the spiritual circuits of their realm, and they enjoy all the advantages of the universe broadcasts and the reflectivity services of the superuniverse. ~ The Urantia Book, (52:6.8)

Traditional Urantian Beliefs: The Voice in the Garden

. . . When the work of the Urantia Adam and Eve was prematurely launched, when they departed from the ordained plan, it was one of the seraphic Voices of the Garden who remonstrated with them concerning their reprehensible conduct. And your narrative of this occurrence well illustrates the manner in which your planetary traditions have tended to ascribe everything supernatural to the Lord God. Because of this, Urantians have often become confused concerning the nature of the Universal Father since the words and acts of all his associates and subordinates have been so generally attributed to him. In the case of Adam and Eve, the angel of the Garden was none other than the chief of the planetary helpers then on duty. This seraphim, Solonia, proclaimed the miscarriage of the divine plan and requisitioned the return of the Melchizedek receivers to Urantia. ~ The Urantia Book, (51:3.5)

Gods Mating With Humans

The presence of these extraordinary supermen and superwomen, stranded by rebellion and presently mating with the sons and daughters of earth, easily gave origin to those traditional stories of the gods coming down to mate with mortals. And thus originated the thousand and one legends of a mythical nature, but founded on the facts of the postrebellion days, which later found a place in the folk tales and traditions of the various peoples whose ancestors had participated in these contacts with the Nodites and their descendants. ~ The Urantia Book, (67:4.3)

The Sabbath-Day Tradition

It was a momentous day, and just before noon, about the time of the arrival of the seraphic messenger bearing the Jerusem acknowledgment of the installation of the world's rulers, Adam and Eve, moving apart from the throng, pointed to the Father's temple and said: "Go you now to the material emblem of the Father's invisible presence and bow down in worship of him who made us all and who keeps us living. And let this act be the sincere pledge that you never will again be tempted to worship anyone but God. " They all did as Adam directed. The Material Son and Daughter stood alone on the mount with bowed heads while the people prostrated themselves about the temple.

And this was the origin of the Sabbath-day tradition. Always in Eden the seventh day was devoted to the noontide assembly at the temple; long it was the custom to devote this day to self-culture. The forenoon was devoted to physical improvement, the noontime to spiritual worship, the afternoon to mind culture, while the evening was spent in social rejoicing. This was never the law in Eden, but it was the custom as long as the Adamic administration held sway on earth. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:4.5)

Halos Surrounding Celestial Beings

The bodies of Adam and Eve gave forth a shimmer of light, but they always wore clothing in conformity with the custom of their associates. Though wearing very little during the day, at eventide they donned night wraps. The origin of the traditional halo encircling the heads of supposed pious and holy men dates back to the days of Adam and Eve. Since the light emanations of their bodies were so largely obscured by clothing, only the radiating glow from their heads was discernible. The descendants of Adamson always thus portrayed their concept of individuals believed to be extraordinary in spiritual development. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:6.5)

Royal Intermarriage

The practice of some subsequent nations of permitting the royal families, supposedly descended from the gods, to marry brother to sister, dates from the traditions of the Adamic offspring—mating, as they must needs, with one another. The marriage ceremonies of the first and second generations of the Garden were always performed by Adam and Eve. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:6.9)

Man is Created From Clay

The majority of the world's peoples have been influenced by the tradition that Adam and Eve had physical forms created for them upon their arrival on Urantia. The belief in man's having been created from clay was well-nigh universal in the Eastern Hemisphere; this tradition can be traced from the Philippine Islands around the world to Africa. And many groups accepted this story of man's clay origin by some form of special creation in the place of the earlier beliefs in progressive creation—evolution. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:8.4)

Long-Lived Humans

When archaeologists dig up the clay-tablet records of the later-day Sumerian descendants of the Nodites, they discover lists of Sumerian kings running back for several thousand years; and as these records go further back, the reigns of the individual kings lengthen from around twenty-five or thirty years up to one hundred and fifty years and more. This lengthening of the reigns of these older kings signifies that some of the early Nodite rulers (immediate descendants of the Prince's staff) did live longer than their later-day successors and also indicates an effort to stretch the dynasties back to Dalamatia.

The records of such long-lived individuals are also due to the confusion of months and years as time periods. This may also be observed in the Biblical genealogy of Abraham and in the early records of the Chinese. The confusion of the twenty-eight-day month, or season, with the later introduced year of more than three hundred and fifty days is responsible for the traditions of such long human lives. There are records of a man who lived over nine hundred "years. " This period represents not quite seventy years, and such lives were regarded for ages as very long, "threescore years and ten" as such a life span was later designated.

The reckoning of time by the twenty-eight-day month persisted long after the days of Adam. But when the Egyptians undertook to reform the calendar, about seven thousand years ago, they did it with great accuracy, introducing the year of 365 days. ~ The Urantia Book, (77:2.10)

The Great Flood - Noah and the Ark

The traditions of a time when water covered the whole of the earth's surface are universal. Many races harbor the story of a world-wide flood some time during past ages. The Biblical story of Noah, the ark, and the flood is an invention of the Hebrew priesthood during the Babylonian captivity. There has never been a universal flood since life was established on Urantia. The only time the surface of the earth was completely covered by water was during those Archeozoic ages before the land had begun to appear. ~ The Urantia Book, (78:7.4)

Greek Mythology

Presently Greece and the Aegean Islands region succeeded Mesopotamia and Egypt as the Occidental center of trade, art, and culture. But as it was in Egypt, so again practically all of the art and science of the Aegean world was derived from Mesopotamia except for the culture of the Adamsonite forerunners of the Greeks. All the art and genius of these latter people is a direct legacy of the posterity of Adamson, the first son of Adam and Eve, and his extraordinary second wife, a daughter descended in an unbroken line from the pure Nodite staff of Prince Caligastia. No wonder the Greeks had mythological traditions that they were directly descended from gods and superhuman beings. ~ The Urantia Book, (80:7.5)

Women Bring Trouble

The sexes have had great difficulty in understanding each other. Man found it hard to understand woman, regarding her with a strange mixture of ignorant mistrust and fearful fascination, if not with suspicion and contempt. Many tribal and racial traditions relegate trouble to Eve, Pandora, or some other representative of womankind. These narratives were always distorted so as to make it appear that the woman brought evil upon man; and all this indicates the onetime universal distrust of woman. Among the reasons cited in support of a celibate priesthood, the chief was the baseness of woman. The fact that most supposed witches were women did not improve the olden reputation of the sex. ~ The Urantia Book, (84:4.4)

Transgression of Mores became Sin

Sin was ritual, not rational; an act, not a thought. And this entire concept of sin was fostered by the lingering traditions of Dilmun and the days of a little paradise on earth. The tradition of Adam and the Garden of Eden also lent substance to the dream of a onetime "golden age" of the dawn of the races. And all this confirmed the ideas later expressed in the belief that man had his origin in a special creation, that he started his career in perfection, and that transgression of the taboos—sin—brought him down to his later sorry plight. ~ The Urantia Book, (89:2.3)

Human Sacrifice - Abraham and Isaac

The spectacle of Abraham constrained to sacrifice his son Isaac, while shocking to civilized susceptibilities, was not a new or strange idea to the men of those days. It was long a prevalent practice for fathers, at times of great emotional stress, to sacrifice their first-born sons. Many peoples have a tradition analogous to this story, for there once existed a world-wide and profound belief that it was necessary to offer a human sacrifice when anything extraordinary or unusual happened. ~ The Urantia Book, (89:6.8)

The Star of Bethlehem

These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C. , there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. And it is a remarkable astronomic fact that similar conjunctions occurred on September 29 and December 5 of the same year. Upon the basis of these extraordinary but wholly natural events the well-meaning zealots of the succeeding generation constructed the appealing legend of the star of Bethlehem and the adoring Magi led thereby to the manger, where they beheld and worshiped the newborn babe. Oriental and near-Oriental minds delight in fairy stories, and they are continually spinning such beautiful myths about the lives of their religious leaders and political heroes. In the absence of printing, when most human knowledge was passed by word of mouth from one generation to another, it was very easy for myths to become traditions and for traditions eventually to become accepted as facts. ~ The Urantia Book, (122:8.7)

The Great Temptation of Jesus

The forty days in the mountain wilderness were not a period of great temptation but rather the period of the Master's great decisions. During these days of lone communion with himself and his Father's immediate presence—the Personalized Adjuster (he no longer had a personal seraphic guardian)—he arrived, one by one, at the great decisions which were to control his policies and conduct for the remainder of his earth career. Subsequently the tradition of a great temptation became attached to this period of isolation through confusion with the fragmentary narratives of the Mount Hermon struggles, and further because it was the custom to have all great prophets and human leaders begin their public careers by undergoing these supposed seasons of fasting and prayer. It had always been Jesus' practice, when facing any new or serious decisions, to withdraw for communion with his own spirit that he might seek to know the will of God. ~ The Urantia Book, (136:4.10)

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Of all the discourses which the Master gave his apostles, none ever became so confused in their minds as this one, given this Tuesday evening on the Mount of Olives, regarding the twofold subject of the destruction of destruction of Jerusalem and his own second coming. There was, therefore, little agreement between the subsequent written accounts based on the memories of what the Master said on this extraordinary occasion. Consequently, when the records were left blank concerning much that was said that Tuesday evening, there grew up many traditions; and very early in the second century a Jewish apocalyptic about the Messiah written by one Selta, who was attached to the court of the Emperor Caligula, was bodily copied into the Matthew Gospel and subsequently added (in p art) to the Mark and Luke records. It was in these writings of Selta that the parable of the ten virgins appeared. No part of the gospel record ever suffered such confusing misconstruction as this evening's teaching. But the Apostle John never became thus confused. ~ The Urantia Book, (136:4.10)

Legend of the Six-Day Creation

The story of the creation of Urantia in six days was based on the tradition that Adam and Eve had spent just six days in their initial survey of the Garden. This circumstance lent almost sacred sanction to the time period of the week, which had been originally introduced by the Dalamatians. Adam's spending six days inspecting the Garden and formulating preliminary plans for organization was not prearranged; it was worked out from day to day. The choosing of the seventh day for worship was wholly incidental to the facts herewith narrated.

The legend of the making of the world in six days was an afterthought, in fact, more than thirty thousand years afterwards. One feature of the narrative, the sudden appearance of the sun and moon, may have taken origin in the traditions of the onetime sudden emergence of the world from a dense space cloud of minute matter which had long obscured both sun and moon. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:8.1)

Zoroastrianism

This founder of a new religion was a virile and adventurous youth, who, on his first pilgrimage to Ur in Mesopotamia, had learned of the traditions of the Caligastia and the Lucifer rebellion —along with many other traditions—all of which had made a strong appeal to his religious nature. Accordingly, as the result of a dream while in Ur, he settled upon a program of returning to his northern home to undertake the remodeling of the religion of his people. He had imbibed the Hebraic idea of a God of justice, the Mosaic concept of divinity. The idea of a supreme God was clear in his mind, and he set down all other gods as devils, consigned them to the ranks of the demons of which he had heard in Mesopotamia. He had learned of the story of the Seven Master Spirits as the tradition lingered in Ur, and, accordingly, he created a galaxy of seven supreme gods with Ahura-Mazda at its head. These subordinate gods he associated with the idealization of Right Law, Good Thought, Noble Government Holy Character, Health, and Immortality. ~ The Urantia Book(95:6.2)

The Jewish traditions of heaven and hell and the doctrine of devils as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, while founded on the lingering traditions of Lucifer and Caligastia, were principally derived from the Zoroastrians during the times when the Jews were under the political and cultural dominance of the Persians. Zoroaster, like the Egyptians, taught the "day of judgment, " but he connected this event with the end of the world. ~ The Urantia Book(95:6.6)

The Midwayers Preserve Human Tradition

The midway culture, being the product of an immortal planetary citizenry, is relatively immune to those temporal vicissitudes which beset human civilization. The generations of men forget; the corps of midwayers remembers, and that memory is the treasure house of the traditions of your inhabited world. Thus does the culture of a planet remain ever present on that planet, and in proper circumstances such treasured memories of past events are made available, even as the story of the life and teachings of Jesus has been given by the midwayers of Urantia to their cousins in the flesh. ~ The Urantia Book, (77:9.9)

We are Moving Past Tradition

Urantia society can never hope to settle down as in past ages. The social ship has steamed out of the sheltered bays of established tradition and has begun its cruise upon the high seas of evolutionary destiny; and the soul of man, as never before in the world's history, needs carefully to scrutinize its charts of morality and painstakingly to observe the compass of religious guidance. The paramount mission of religion as a social influence is to stabilize the ideals of mankind during these dangerous times of transition from one phase of civilization to another, from one level of culture to another. ~ The Urantia Book, (99:1.3)

Jesus and Tradition

The religion of Jesus is the most dynamic influence ever to activate the human race. Jesus shattered tradition, destroyed dogma, and called mankind to the achievement of its highest ideals in time and eternity —to be perfect, even as the Father in heaven is perfect. ~ The Urantia Book, (99:5.3)

Jesus' originality was unstifled. He was not bound by tradition or handicapped by enslavement to narrow conventionality. He spoke with undoubted confidence and taught with absolute authority. But his superb originality did not cause him to overlook the gems of truth in the teachings of his predecessors and contemporaries. And the most original of his teachings was the emphasis of love and mercy in the place of fear and sacrifice. ~ The Urantia Book, (100:7.5)

The Master was a pattern of reverence. The prayer of even his youth began, "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. " He was even respectful of the faulty worship of his fellows. But this did not deter him from making attacks on religious traditions or assaulting errors of human belief. He was reverential of true holiness, and yet he could justly appeal to his fellows, saying, "Who among you convicts me of sin?" ~ The Urantia Book, (100:7.16)

The magical and mythological parentage of natural religion does not invalidate the reality and truth of the later revelational religions and the consummate saving gospel of the religion of Jesus. Jesus' life and teachings finally divested religion of the superstitions of magic, the illusions of mythology, and the bondage of traditional dogmatism. But this early magic and mythology very effectively prepared the way for later and superior religion by assuming the existence and reality of supermaterial values and beings. ~ The Urantia Book, (103:9.4)

In silence they started out, arriving at Jericho for the night. Only once did they pause, and that on the brow of Olivet, when the lad raised his staff aloft and, quivering from head to foot under the surging of intense emotion, said: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, and the people thereof, what slaves you are—subservient to the Roman yoke and victims of your own traditions—but I will return to cleanse yonder temple and deliver my people from this bondage!" ~ The Urantia Book, (125:6.9)

Jesus did not despise the Pharisees and Sadducees personally. It was their systems of teaching and practice which he sought to discredit. He was hostile to no man, but here was occurring the inevitable clash between a new and living religion of the spirit and the older religion of ceremony, tradition, and authority. ~ The Urantia Book, (173:3.3)

"My brother, good and evil are merely words symbolizing relative levels of human comprehension of the observable universe. If you are ethically lazy and socially indifferent, you can take as your standard of good the current social usages. If you are spiritually indolent and morally unprogressive, you may take as your standards of good the religious practices and traditions of your contemporaries. But the soul that survives time and emerges into eternity must make a living and personal choice between good and evil as they are determined by the true values of the spiritual standards established by the divine spirit which the Father in heaven has sent to dwell within the heart of man. This indwelling spirit is the standard of personality survival. " ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (132:2.2)

Jesus did not teach his apostles that religion is man's only earthly pursuit; that was the Jewish idea of serving God. But he did insist that religion was the exclusive business of the twelve. Jesus taught nothing to deter his believers from the pursuit of genuine culture; he only detracted from the tradition-bound religious schools of Jerusalem. He was liberal, bighearted, learned, and tolerant. Self-conscious piety had no place in his philosophy of righteous living. ~ The Urantia Book, (140:8.30)

Many times during the training of the twelve Jesus reverted to this theme. Repeatedly he told them it was not his desire that those who believed in him should become dogmatized and standardized in accordance with the religious interpretations of even good men. Again and again he warned his apostles against the formulation of creeds and the establishment of traditions as a means of guiding and controlling believers in the gospel of the kingdom. ~ The Urantia Book, (141:5.4)

Jesus' antagonism to the Jewish traditions and slavish ceremonials was always positive. It consisted in what he did and in what he affirmed. The Master spent little time in negative denunciations. He taught that those who know God can enjoy the liberty of living without deceiving themselves by the licenses of sinning. Said Jesus to the apostles: "Men, if you are enlightened by the truth and really know what you are doing, you are blessed; but if you know not the divine way, you are unfortunate and already breakers of the law. " ~ The Urantia Book, (147:6.6)

The Paschal Lamb

On this visit occurred one of those periodic outbreaks of rebellion against tradition—the expression of resentment for those ceremonial practices which Jesus deemed misrepresentative of his Father in heaven. Not knowing Jesus was coming, Lazarus had arranged to celebrate the Passover with friends in an adjoining village down the Jericho road. Jesus now proposed that they celebrate the feast where they were, at Lazarus's house. "But, " said Lazarus, "we have no paschal lamb. " And then Jesus entered upon a prolonged and convincing dissertation to the effect that the Father in heaven was not truly concerned with such childlike and meaningless rituals. After solemn and fervent prayer they rose, and Jesus said: "Let the childlike and darkened minds of my people serve their God as Moses directed; it is better that they do, but let us who have seen the light of life no longer approach our Father by the darkness of death. Let us be free in the knowledge of the truth of our Father's eternal love. " ~ The Urantia Book, (127:6.6)

The Tradition of Ritual Hand-Washing

Then one of the Jerusalem spies who had been observing Jesus and his apostles, said: "We notice that neither you nor your apostles wash your hands properly before you eat bread. You must well know that such a practice as eating with defiled and unwashed hands is a transgression of the law of the elders. Neither do you properly wash your drinking cups and eating vessels. Why is it that you show such disrespect for the traditions of the fathers and the laws of our elders?" And when Jesus heard him speak, he answered: "Why is it that you transgress the commandments of God by the laws of your tradition? The commandment says, `Honor your father and your mother, ' and directs that you share with them your substance if necessary; but you enact a law of tradition which permits undutiful children to say that the money wherewith the parents might have been assisted has been `given to God. ' The law of the elders thus relieves such crafty children of their responsibility, notwithstanding that the children subsequently use all such monies for their own comfort. Why is it that you in this way make void the commandment by your own tradition? Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, saying: `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. '

"You can see how it is that you desert the commandment while you hold fast to the tradition of men. Altogether willing are you to reject the word of God while you maintain your own traditions. And in many other ways do you dare to set up your own teachings above the law and the prophets. "

Jesus then directed his remarks to all present. He said: "But hearken to me, all of you. It is not that which enters into the mouth that spiritually defiles the man, but rather that which proceeds out of the mouth and from the heart. " But even the apostles failed fully to grasp the meaning of his words, for Simon Peter also asked him: "Lest some of your hearers be unnecessarily offended, would you explain to us the meaning of these words?" And then said Jesus to Peter: "Are you also hard of understanding? Know you not that every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up? Turn now your attention to those who would know the truth. You cannot compel men to love the truth. Many of these teachers are blind guides. And you know that, if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit. But hearken while I tell you the truth concerning those things which morally defile and spiritually contaminate men. I declare it is not that which enters the body by the mouth or gains access to the mind through the eyes and ears, that defiles the man. Man is only defiled by that evil which may originate within the heart, and which finds expression in the words and deeds of such unholy persons. Do you not know it is from the heart that there come forth evil thoughts, wicked projects of murder, theft, and adulteries, together with jealousy, pride, anger, revenge, railings, and false witness? And it is just such things that defile men, and not that they eat bread with ceremonially unclean hands. " ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (153:3.3)

Jesus transcended all the teachings of his forebears when he boldly substituted clean hearts for clean hands as the mark of true religion. He put reality in the place of tradition and swept aside all pretensions of vanity and hypocrisy. And yet this fearless man of God did not give vent to destructive criticism or manifest an utter disregard of the religious, social, economic, and political usages of his day. He was not a militant revolutionist; he was a progressive evolutionist. He engaged in the destruction of that which was only when he simultaneously offered his fellows the superior thing which ought to be. ~ The Urantia Book, (149:2.11)

I Call You out of Darkness

"I have called upon you to be born again, to be born of the spirit. I have called you out of the darkness of authority and the lethargy of tradition into the transcendent light of the realization of the possibility of making for yourselves the greatest discovery possible for the human soul to make—the supernal experience of finding God for yourself, in yourself, and of yourself, and of doing all this as a fact in your own personal experience. And so may you pass from death to life, from the authority of tradition to the experience of knowing God; thus will you pass from darkness to light, from a racial faith inherited to a personal faith achieved by actual experience; and thereby will you progress from a theology of mind handed down by your ancestors to a true religion of spirit which shall be built up in your souls as an eternal endowment. " ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (155:6.3)

"I bear none of you ill will. The Father loves you, and therefore do I long for your deliverance from the bondage of prejudice and the darkness of tradition. I offer you the liberty of life and the joy of salvation. I proclaim the new and living way, the deliverance from evil and the breaking of the bondage of sin. I have come that you might have life, and have it eternally. You seek to be rid of me and my disquieting teachings. If you could only realize that I am to be with you only a little while! In just a short time I go to him who sent me into this world. And then will many of you diligently seek me, but you shall not discover my presence, for where I am about to go you cannot come. But all who truly seek to find me shall sometime attain the life that leads to my Father's presence. " ~ Jesus, The Urantia Book, (162:2.7)

The Remembrance Supper and Divine Communion

In instituting this remembrance supper, the Master, as was always his habit, resorted to parables and symbols. He employed symbols because he wanted to teach certain great spiritual truths in such a manner as to make it difficult for his successors to attach precise interpretations and definite meanings to his words. In this way he sought to prevent successive generations from crystallizing his teaching and binding down his spiritual meanings by the dead chains of tradition and dogma. In the establishment of the only ceremony or sacrament associated with his whole life mission, Jesus took great pains to suggest his meanings rather than to commit himself to precise definitions. He did not wish to destroy the individual's concept of divine communion by establishing a precise form; neither did he desire to limit the believer's spiritual imagination by formally cramping it. He rather sought to set man's reborn soul free upon the joyous wings of a new and living spiritual liberty.

Notwithstanding the Master's effort thus to establish this new sacrament of the remembrance, those who followed after him in the intervening centuries saw to it that his express desire was effectively thwarted in that his simple spiritual symbolism of that last night in the flesh has been reduced to precise interpretations and subjected to the almost mathematical precision of a set formula. Of all Jesus' teachings none have become more tradition-standardized. ~ The Urantia Book, (179:5.4)

The Living Jesus - Stepping out of Tradition

The time is ripe to witness the figurative resurrection of the human Jesus from his burial tomb amidst the theological traditions and the religious dogmas of nineteen centuries. Jesus of Nazareth must not be longer sacrificed to even the splendid concept of the glorified Christ. What a transcendent service if, through this revelation, the Son of Man should be recovered from the tomb of traditional theology and be presented as the living Jesus to the church that bears his name, and to all other religions! Surely the Christian fellowship of believers will not hesitate to make such adjustments of faith and of practices of living as will enable it to "follow after" the Master in the demonstration of his real life of religious devotion to the doing of his Father's will and of consecration to the unselfish service of man. Do professed Christians fear the exposure of a self-sufficient and unconsecrated fellowship of social respectability and selfish economic maladjustment? Does institutional Christianity fear the possible jeopardy, or even the overthrow, of traditional ecclesiastical authority if the Jesus of Galilee is reinstated in the minds and souls of mortal men as the ideal of personal religious living? Indeed, the social readjustments, the economic transformations, the moral rejuvenations, and the religious revisions of Christian civilization would be drastic and revolutionary if the living religion of Jesus should suddenly supplant the theologic religion about Jesus. ~ The Urantia Book, (196:1.2)

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