Dear Truthbook family,
A dear friend from years' past contacted me, recently, and asked if I would post this letter to UB lists that I participate in.
Perhaps some of you will remember dear Andre and others will be happy to discover this new brother. He would love to hear from you and is in the process of discovering whether his handicap (blindness) will allow him to be an active participant here.
Please take time to get to know his story and to respond to him, privately, if so inspired.
Dear Students of the Fifth Epochal Revelation,
The following is my attempt to put into writing my initial reasons for rejecting the Urantia Book, and why I am ready to come back home to it after a ten year absence. I hope that you find my testimony both educational and edifying. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
; I am eager to rekindle old relationships and build new ones.
Let me say right up front that I am probably more conservative than most UB readers, both politically, morally, and even to some extent, religiously. I have been fed and nourished by evangelical Christianity, despite some of its wrong theology. I was reading the book since my teens, after a friend introduced me to it in school; he had grown up with the book. That was when I was fourteen, I am now 36.
About ten years ago, I discovered an article in a magazine called the Weekly Standard, a neocon publication that I read regularly. It was called EUGENICS AMERICAN STYLE, and it was written by Tucker Carlson; it may be available online, but I'm not sure. In any case, the article was about doctors who often pressure women to abort their Down's Syndrome children. I had always been uncomfortable with the book's eugenic statements, and I had always been pro-life, which probably puts me in a minority among the readership. I now realize, of course, that I don't have to support legal abortion in order to read the UB, but at the time, the article compelled me to connect abortion with eugenics, and I concluded there was no rational or humane way to implement any kind of ethical eugenics program.
I was also carrying around a lot of guilt and shame at the time, and was attracted to the atonement doctrine. I didn't believe God could truly accept or love me as I am, and the atonement doctrine gave me a sense of closure, at least temporarily. I went through all kinds of intellectual justifications for it; I would say things like "Jesus took my sin seriously enough to die for it", etc.
I was initially attracted to the Catholic Church, due to its long tradition of blending faith and reason, but that lost its appeal too, and I was basically a born-again nondenominational Christian for several years. Around this time, back in 2003, some very painful issues came up from my childhood and I sought therapy with a Christian counselor. It was one of the most important decisions I ever made. I realized that I was not only carrying around a lot of guilt and shame, but the vast majority of it was false guilt, guilt about things that were not even morally wrong. In short, as a child, I was pushed and pressured too hard, and was expected to perform in areas where my disability prevented me from excelling. If something was especially hard for me to do, I believed it was because I was lazy, not because my blindness made the task inordinately difficult.
While in therapy, I became very close to God. I practiced something called listening prayer, which involves writing my prayers down in a journal, and listening for God's still small voice, as he spoke back to me, and writing down His responses. God spoke directly to my situation, and gave me the love, affection, and affirmation I didn't always get from parents and teachers. He truly is a loving Father.
And since He is a loving father, I became increasingly uncomfortable with things I was hearing in church about God's wrath, vengeance, and judgement. This is not the God I know, I said to myself; this is not the God that whispered words of comfort to me in the midst of my pain. I tried finding satisfactory answers to these questions, but none of my Christian friends, even the most intelligent ones, like my favorite pastor, could answer them.
Another thing that happened was that I had an increasing desire to see my father. My father has been dead since 1995, and we had a very difficult relationship. He was very verbally abusive, and cussed me out on a regular basis while growing up. It was all very painful, and affected my self-image for years. When he first passed away, I had a strong desire to defend him, and forgive him. But that didn't last; soon the feelings of resentment came back in all their ugly glory. Over the years, I've had deeper experiences of forgiveness, but here is the evidence that I've fully forgiven him. I want to see him again, to reconcile with him. I want to wake up on the other side and ask him, "Dad, why did you treat me this way? Please explain." I want to work through this so we can bond as father and son like we never have before.
My Christian friends told me my dad was in Hell because he was an atheist, and had never accepted Jesus Christ as His personal Savior. But the concept of Hell made less and less sense to me. Why would God allow me to spend 25 years with this man, only to have him spend eternity in Hell so I could never see him again? I have unfinished business with him that needs to be addressed, and the UB gives me hope that someday, I can do so.
I don't believe my dad truly rejected God, he just rejected the fear and guilt he grew up with from his mother's Catholicism, which I think insulted his intelligence. My pastor told me my dad may never have repented of the way he treated me. Well, maybe not, at least not in this life, but here's the real issue: If I can forgive my dad, even though he didn't repent, surely God can. And that's the crux of the matter, if I am able to love, God can only be more loving, not less.
From an intellectual perspective the work of Matthew Block has strongly rekindled my interest in the UB. I found Matthew's work to be both fascinating and important, and it helped me tremendously. As I said earlier, I was uncomfortable with the eugenic statements in the UB. Matthew's work helped me put those statements in a historical context. To modern ears terms like "inferior" and "degenerate," sound awful to us. But they were very common terms in the 1930's, and didn't carry the same loaded connotations they do today.
One point Matthew made, that I found especially persuasive, was that he said the UB's statements about eugenics are actually very mild and cautious, compared to Dr. Sadler's own writings. For example, in the Planetary Adams paper, we are told "The difficulty of executing such a radical program on Urantia consists in the absence of competent judges to pass upon the biologic fitness or unfitness of the individuals of your world races." (Paper 51, P.585 - �4) I have a hard time believing the authors would have supported the kind of indiscriminate sterilization laws that were adopted by several states in the early 1900's; they were just reckless and radical, and have stained the practice of eugenics for years to come.
Also, reading Block's work has caused me to speculate on certain passages in the book. I'm beginning to think that some of the revisions in the papers were in response to questions asked by the Forum or Concact Commission. The statement I just quoted above may be one of them; Sadler and his fellows may have asked for comment on current eugenics efforts. But there are two others in particular I am thinking of. The first is in Paper 82 The Evolution of Marriage in the last section, called Racial Mixtures. In this section, the authors try to clarify statements they make about race, and soften their earlier, harsher-sounding rhetoric. Notice that this passage appears by itself, and has no connection to anything else in the previous sections of the paper. It looks like an addendum, or a parenthesis. From reading Block, I found out that this section was taken largely from a book called Race, Man's Most Dangerous Myth, written by Ashley Montagu in 1941, six years after the dating of Part III. So, was this added later in response to concerns on the part of the authors or the Contact Commission? Another similar passage is the section on the Limitations of Revelation. Again, it exists by itself, with no apparent connection to previous sections of the paper in which it appears. I wonder if some of the scientific statements in the book were in need of revision even at the time of its writing, and that these errors were caught by the Forum members or Contact Commission.
In closing, let me say a word about my Christian faith. Even though I've rejected some aspects of biblical Christianity, I have no regrets about the time I've spent, and continue to spend, in the conservative Christian community. Sadly, it's been my experience that far too many UB readers have been infected by political correctness when it comes to interfaith dialogue. Essentially, they are tolerant of every other faith except Christianity, which they seem to have no qualms about bashing. Too many readers come to the book with an anti-Christian axe to grind, and they cite certain passages of the book as prooftexts, or talking points, to confirm their prejudices. The book's view of Christianity is actually much more nuanced than a superficial reading would suggest. And most importantly, I learned some very important habits while in the Christian church, habits like prayer, both public and private, group worship, and fellowship with other believers. These things have been invaluable to me, and I hope I can bring these values into the UB community. Thank you for letting me express my heart and my mind.