The Master's Ministry
Fortifying the Foundation
Part III - Preparing Statements of Beliefs
July 11, 2015
In Part II, we offered two suggestions that we believe will help fortify The Urantia Book Communities (“UB Communities”): (1) taking a stand by publishing statements of beliefs on UB websites; and (2) by developing “genuine second-milers,” those who are doers, not just learners. The response was overall very positive. However, we received a particularly well-articulated email expressing concern about our first suggestion – to publish statements of beliefs. This and a couple other emails have shown us that this suggestion was not clearly stated and so we hope to add further clarification in this article.
Unifying not Universal
The major misconception is that we seem to be urging the UB Community to publish “a universal statement of beliefs” – a type of creed. That is not what we are suggesting. We do not see a need for a universal statement of beliefs because The Urantia Book itself serves as the “universal statement.” What we propose is that the websites that promote The Urantia Book publish a “unifying” statement of beliefs – a statement that supports the purpose of that particular website and unifies that purpose with the community it seeks to attract. For example, this website www.TheChristExperiment.Org is primarily seeking to attract those who already honor Jesus Christ as Lord. And so our Statement of Beliefs itemizes those beliefs that unify us with the Christian community – beliefs that are supported by both the New Testament and The Urantia Book.
As we have said many times, we believe the most productive and revelation-ready community is the Christian community. There are over 2 billion Christians who already hold most of the beliefs expressed in The Urantia Book. They just need to be shown the similarities. And if the Christian community can accept The Urantia Book, it will no longer be a “house divided,” but a “house united.” That change alone will go far in attracting the non-Christian communities to The Urantia Book. (UB 195:10.15,16)
While we believe Christianity should be the primary group that receives the Fifth Epochal Revelation, that does not mean that Christians should be the only ones whom the UB Community reaches out to. Not all UB readers have a connection to Christianity. So, for those readers, requiring them to go to a people they have no connection with would be counter-productive. Taking a cue from how the “Prince’s Schools” were set up, it seems most productive to educate the best minds of a certain group and then send those educated minds back to up-step their own group. (UB 50:3.1)
Thus, we envision several different types of ministries, i.e., a ministry to Jews, to Hindus, to Buddhists, to Muslims, to atheists, to scientists, to educators, even to politicians (not to effect change in politics, but to effect change in the politician), etc. And each type of ministry, though all founded on The Urantia Book, would have a somewhat different ‘statement of beliefs.’
For example, a ministry directed to Christians might have a statement of beliefs similar to our Statement of Beliefs. Ministries directed to non-Christian religious groups might include beliefs that are shared by the tenets of their religion and by The Urantia Book which serves to unify the two schools of thought. A ministry whose purpose is to promote unity among readers of The Urantia Book might have a statement of beliefs that promotes socialization of faith; a ministry directed to young people might have a statement that motivates young people to leadership and action; and a ministry directed to educators, scientists, and politicians, might include statements that would attract those individuals to The Urantia Book. A ministry whose purpose is to disseminate The Urantia Book might have a statement of beliefs along these lines:
We believe there is a God who is the First Source and Center of all creation who wants his creations to know Him. We believe this God progressively reveals knowledge to man according to man’s capacity to comprehend such knowledge. We believe this God has made a greater revelation to 21st century man that fully and satisfactorily answers man’s most pressing questions. We believe that revelation is contained in The Urantia Book.
We also suggest that statements of beliefs be positive in nature – stating what you do believe, not what you do not believe. Statements delineating what you do not believe can be off-putting and give the impression that your group is critical and/or judgmental. It is easy to say what you don’t believe, but it takes real effort to articulate a positive statement of what you do believe.
These are just a few examples to give individuals who engage in these types of ministries a clearer understanding of what we are proposing – namely to identify themselves to their intended audiences by effective and targeted statements of beliefs. Statements of beliefs such as these allow the UB Community to demonstrate to other religious communities the principle of ‘unity without uniformity’ in a practical and tangible way.
Unified, not Uniform
Unity without uniformity is already exhibited in the arts. Dancers, musicians, vocalists all focus on different aspects of music, but all are united in honoring music. The same with painters and sculptors, or even the different genres of music and dance. They all manage to bring their unique gifts together in harmony without dishonoring any gift. Another example is the human body. The body members – arms, legs, eyes, ears, nose, etc., all have different functions and highlight a different aspect of the body, but all work in harmony. This is a lesson the Apostle Paul tried to teach the congregation at Corinth at 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, especially these verses:
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many....If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. ... If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
– 1 Corinthians 12:12-15, 17-20, 26
Likewise, those engaged in the different types of ministries mentioned above would in no way be opposed to any of the other types of ministries, but would be in complete harmony with them. A ministry to Christians would be in harmony with a ministry to Jews, which would, in turn, be in harmony with a ministry to Muslims, which would be in harmony with a ministry to Buddhists, etc., because each ministry comes under the umbrella of the greater universal statement of beliefs, The Urantia Book. This is how to promote a ‘shared faith’ rather than ‘interfaith.’
This method of segregating and stating relevant beliefs was also practiced by Jesus during his earthly ministry. He had been educated in the Jewish religion system. He well knew its tenets, the working of the Jewish religious mind, and the reasoning behind their rituals. He also knew the bigger universal picture of religion and religious beliefs as demonstrated in his informal ministry throughout the Mediterranean. Yet, in his formal ministry to the Jews, he limited his concepts and teachings to matter that were important to Jews for the purpose of effecting change and upliftment in the Jewish religious mind. He was not discounting other religious peoples, he was simply working to effect change in this one area first. Thereafter, he commissioned his disciples to carry that message to other peoples who would in turn teach others.
Interestingly, The Urantia Book makes this observation about how the apostles carried out their ministry:
“Each of the apostolic teachers taught his own view of the gospel of the kingdom. They made no effort to teach just alike; there was no standardized or dogmatic formulation of theologic doctrines. Though they all taught the same truth, each apostle presented his own personal interpretation of the Master’s teaching. And Jesus upheld this presentation of the diversity of personal experience in the things of the kingdom, unfailingly harmonizing and co-ordinating these many and divergent views of the gospel at his weekly question hours....”
Unfortunately, it is this very diversity that has been so poorly understood and eventually led to division. The Apostle Paul tried to prevent the early disciples from using diversity as a means of division in his first letter to the Corinthians. He wrote:
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
– 1 Corinthians 1:10-15
Paul was showing that the diversity in the groups, being led by different teachers, need not cause division. All such teachers were united in Christ and so the students should likewise be united. We wrote two articles about this matter, Fitly United in the Same Mind, and Unity Not Uniformity. This same point is made in The Urantia Book:
“It is just because the gospel of Jesus was so many-sided that within a few centuries students of the records of his teachings became divided up into so many cults and sects. This pitiful subdivision of Christian believers results from failure to discern in the Master's manifold teachings the divine oneness of his matchless life. But someday the true believers in Jesus will not be thus spiritually divided in their attitude before unbelievers. Always we may have diversity of intellectual comprehension and interpretation, even varying degrees of socialization, but lack of spiritual brotherhood is both inexcusable and reprehensible."
If the UB Communities could effect this type of “unified diversity,” it can be a shining example that could serve to unify other human endeavors, such as in science, in education and even in politics. And it will go far in erasing or minimizing the stigma that is now attached to The Urantia Book as being a demon-inspired misleading cult book and the UB Community as being a confused and disorganized lot. But it all begins with well thought out statements of beliefs to let your target audience know what you are about.
So with these clarifications, we again encourage the UB Community to consider articulating your beliefs that support your purpose and will attract your audience – unifying statements of beliefs under the umbrella of the greater universal statement of beliefs, The Urantia Book.
All those who accept The Urantia Book have the opportunity to be the lights of the world. We are all part of an infinitely large and glorious universal family. And as we each pursue the various roles we have chosen for ourselves, may we remain in union with the Master and his Fifth Epochal Revelation in our quest for perfection of knowledge and wisdom as faith sons of God, doing the Father's Will.
And as always, we welcome your comments.
Your Family in the Faith,
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