<P style="text-align:left">The important thing is not the rapidity of your progress but rather its certainty. Your actual achievement is not so important as the fact that the direction of your progress is Godward.
Here is a true example of a tempest in a teapot regarding the inerrancy of the Bible: Accepting Pope Francis' revised 'Our Father' would imply Jesus was wrong by Andrew Guernsey. As you may have heard, Pope Francis made the case that the long-accepted translation of the Lord's Prayer in the Bible might be improved. He suggested that a slight difference in the translation of one of its phrases might be a closer representation of the actual working of the Father; he suggested changing "lead us not into temptation" to "do not let us fall into temptation." We actually think it is a better translation; furthermore it is a closer interpretation of the Lord's Prayer in The Urantia Book, too, which reveals this phrase to be "save us from temptation." More on that below; but here are some pertinent snips from the article:
"January 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As the press widely reported, Pope Francis has suggested changing the text of Our Father from "lead us not into temptation" to "do not let us fall into temptation."
"Pope Francis told TV2000 channel that to pray that God would "lead us not into temptation," as Christians have prayed for two millennia, 'is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.' Pope Francis insists that the Our Father's translation should be changed to render God's agency passive regarding temptation because 'I am the one who falls; it's not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn't do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It's Satan who leads us into temptation, that's his department.'
"Pope Francis' comments regarding the Our Father, however, are not merely esoteric issues of proper translation. Rather, Pope Francis' remarks imply that the words of Jesus Christ themselves are objectively erroneous, and that he as pope has the power to change them."
If you decide to wade through this article, your eyes may glaze over, as mine did. It is a lengthy, scholarly, and detailed thesis regarding the original translation: how it was done, who did it, divine inspiration, "dire implications" of the Pope's suggestion, the Ten Commandments," etc, etc. In my view this controversy is an example of those who, like the Scribes and Pharisees, "strain out the gnat and swallow the camel." Or, as in this Urantia Book passage, a case of maybe trying a little too hard to get the point across:
48:7.30 28. The argumentative defense of any proposition is inversely proportional to the truth contained.
Why be so concerned over this phrase, or the Pope's suggestion about it? Do we really believe that God will not approve of us if we use one or the other of these phrases? Is God so petty that he will not hear us if we don't adhere to the Biblical version of this prayer? I suspect that this is the very reason that Jesus was so reluctant to leave writings behind; he may have seen ahead and he maybe knew that this sort of thing could happen...he did not want his words to become stumbling blocks for his children. When he prayed, he prayed from the heart, and we can do the same.
<h3>The Simple Message</h3>
There's a simple message contained in this simple prayer that Jesus gave us. It has five basic themes:
Acknowledgment and praise of God
Acknowledgment of his kingdom which comes as a result of doing his holy will
A prayer for sustenance through our lives
A prayer to strengthen us for forgiving our brethren, and finally
a prayer to be delivered from evil
But, true to form, those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture can manage to ruin it for the sincere seeker by suggesting that the Biblical words - and ONLY those words - are the true words. ANY deviation is an affront to Jesus.
In all sincerity, I ask: do we really need to parse this phrase until it becomes almost meaningless? Can't we just all agree that we wish not to be hampered with evil in our lives? Can't we ask that of God without having to parrot the Biblically-correct version only?
Does this phrase change mean that people might think that Jesus was wrong, as the author charges?
It might mean that those who try to crystallize his teachings are the ones in error. I wonder if Jesus cares what we say, as long as we pray sincerely?
<h3>Sincere prayer is never an offense</h3>
Now, here's a real shocker for those who find the Pope's simple variation offensive: according to The Urantia Book, the Lord's Prayer (aka the Believer's Prayer) goes like this:
144:3.0 Said Jesus: "If, then, you ... desire such a prayer, I would present the one which I taught my brothers and sisters in Nazareth":
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come; your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our bread for tomorrow;
Refresh our souls with the water of life.
And forgive us every one our debts
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
Save us in temptation, deliver us from evil,
And increasingly make us perfect like yourself.
Yes, it is different in some respects; but is the meaning changed? We think not. In fact, it seems to me to be quite a lovely variation on the Biblical offering; and not far off the meaning that the Pope suggested. It is hard to imagine that this version can be offensive.
<h3>What else did Jesus teach about prayer?</h3>
Jesus was actually somewhat reluctant to formalize this prayer; but since the apostles asked for a standard prayer that they could share with believer's he consented. However, later in that section, we read how Jesus himself prayed, and the conditions for really effective prayer:
144:3.16 Jesus gave the apostles the prayer in collective form as they had prayed it in the Nazareth home. He never taught a formal personal prayer, only group, family, or social petitions. And he never volunteered to do that.
Jesus taught that effective prayer must be:
1. Unselfish —not alone for oneself.
2. Believing—according to faith.
3. Sincere—honest of heart.
4. Intelligent—according to light.
5. Trustful—in submission to the Father's all-wise will.
When Jesus spent whole nights on the mountain in prayer, it was mainly for his disciples, particularly for the twelve. The Master prayed very little for himself, although he engaged in much worship of the nature of understanding communion with his Paradise Father.
Elsewhere in The Urantia Book, we learn that saying a formulaic prayer is really unnecessary; if it is the best we can do, there's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes, when we regularly say a standardized prayer by rote, it can be so familiar to us that we can even find our mind wandering...not focused on prayer at all. The Urantia Book advises:
91:8.12 Words are irrelevant to prayer; they are merely the intellectual channel in which the river of spiritual supplication may chance to flow. The word value of a prayer is purely autosuggestive in private devotions and sociosuggestive in group devotions. God answers the soul's attitude, not the words.
These teachings about effective prayer are consistent with Urantia Book teachings that encourage the believer to approach God as the heavenly Father...to develop and nurture a true Father-child relationship with him and speak to him in natural, heartfelt, and sincere words - real sentiments arising from our deepest heart.
And speaking of variations, Jesus gave the apostles several variations on this basic prayer, some of which Jesus said were from other inhabited planets (those he called "not of this flock"). And yet, they all basically contain the same five elements discussed above- just in different terms. Here are just two of these beautiful "Parable Prayers" :
144:5.2 Our Father in whom consist the universe realms,
Uplifted be your name and all-glorious your character.
Your presence encompasses us, and your glory is manifested
Imperfectly through us as it is in perfection shown on high.
Give us this day the vivifying forces of light,
And let us not stray into the evil bypaths of our imagination,
For yours is the glorious indwelling, the everlasting power,
Even so, and everlastingly true.
* * * * *
Our creative Parent, who is in the center of the universe,
Bestow upon us your nature and give to us your character.
Make us sons and daughters of yours by grace
And glorify your name through our eternal achievement.
Your adjusting and controlling spirit give to live and dwell within us
That we may do your will on this sphere as angels do your bidding in light.
Sustain us this day in our progress along the path of truth.
Deliver us from inertia, evil, and all sinful transgression.
Be patient with us as we show loving- kindness to our fellows.
Shed abroad the spirit of your mercy in our creature hearts.
Lead us by your own hand, step by step, through the uncertain maze of life,
And when our end shall come, receive into your own bosom our faithful spirits.
Even so, not our desires but your will be done.
And there are five more of these variations which we think are simply lovely. And we suspect that God accepts them and their sincere sentiments every bit as much as the so-called sacredly correct version from the Bible:
What do YOU think?
Please see our topical study on PRAYER, which is rich with numerous links that will take you into a wealth of prayer teachings from Jesus and from the authors of The Urantia Book.
<h3>A new revelation</h3>
As we often say - we are not in the business of trashing anyone's religion or anyone's beliefs; nevertheless, we write these blogs for those among us who are seeking more than traditional Christianity - those who are willing to think outside the box of crystallized dogmas, so-called sacred scriptures, and tired theologies from centuries past. The Urantia Book is here on our world as a means to help the sincere seeker do just that. Its teachings are solid, inspiring, informational, transformative. Most especially, we recommend Part IV of The Urantia Book - the Life and Teachings of Jesus: the most valuable knowledge that a seeker can find about the Master anywhere!
When I saw this title, I was immediately interested...how could someone possible believe this? The article is called: We can't know Jesus without a church by Jim Ketchum. To be fair, the author appears to be confusing what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "Christian community" with the concept of "church." But I guess maybe it is not all that confusing; where else does Christian community happen other than church these days? But is it true that we can't know Jesus outside of a church? We'll blog on this idea below, using Urantia Book teachings, but first, here are a few snips from the article:
<blockquote>"Declining church attendance, especially among millennials – those reaching adulthood early in the 21st century – shows little sign of reversing itself. Data gathered by the Pew Research Center show that, among those born between 1990 and 1996, fully 36 percent identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated.
"Ask and you'll find a host of reasons: Millennials don't relate to organized religion. They tend not to be doctrinaire. They don't see religion speaking to the problems they face, and they don't see the church offering any practical solutions.
"The Rev. Peter Marty has decided millennials don't go to church mostly because it's inconvenient.
"...as theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, we cannot know Jesus 'apart from Christian community.' Translate that as 'church.'
"That's why church remains worth doing – every Sunday, no matter who shows up."
In our opinion, church very well may be "worth doing," but in its present state, it is largely not a place that is conducive to change and improvement; as a result, fewer and fewer people consider it worthwhile. The church in general needs a considerable overhaul - doctrinally, socially, and theologically. No more are people inclined to be told what to do - expecially when they are expected to follow a set of arbitrary rules and regulations that ring hollow to their own experiences as spiritual and truthseeking beings. If church was truly spritually sustaining, no amount of "inconvenience" could prevent a sincere seeker from showing up.
The author of the article above does a very good job in the front part of the article explaining his understanding of the reasons that millenials - and others - are leaving and even avoiding church participation. These are reasons that are covered very well in Urantia Book teachings about organized religion, and we'll look at those in a minute. Nevertheless, the idea of the socialization of religion (Christian community) is very sound:
99:6.2 There is a real purpose in the socialization of religion. It is the purpose of group religious activities to dramatize the loyalties of religion; to magnify the lures of truth, beauty, and goodness; to foster the attractions of supreme values; to enhance the service of unselfish fellowship; to glorify the potentials of family life; to promote religious education; to provide wise counsel and spiritual guidance; and to encourage group worship. And all live religions encourage human friendship, conserve morality, promote neighborhood welfare, and facilitate the spread of the essential gospel of their respective messages of eternal salvation.
There cerrtainly are those churches that provide some of these attractions for their congregations; those are likely the churches that will ultimately survive this time of change in the Christian church. There is nothing wrong with finding Jesus in church and then socializing one's experiences with others... far from it.
But the main point that I want to address in this article is the idea that the author of the article posits: We can't know Jesus outside of a church.
When I was growing up, I was taught this in my church and I believed it - maybe you grew up in a church like mine that so thoroughly indoctrinated you that that church became - not just a place of prayer, but an entire way of life. Deviation from the rules, independent thought, questioning of dogma...these were never encouraged; in fact, these things were taught as heresy; any deviation from the church's rules was considered dangerous, even sinful. And I dare say that many who have left the church have left in the wake of just that kind of thinking.
It could be that many HAVE found Jesus in churches such as these; I did, and for that, I personally am grateful. However, I suspect that any seeker for truth can and will find Jesus whether they espouse a certain religion or not - and often may find Jesus in spite of the church's teachings. In my own case, I left the church, and even pretty much disowned God in the process, but there was always something about Jesus and his unvarnished words that prevented me from disowning him, too.
Later on, after many years of recovery from the church's overarching influence on my life, I was lucky enough to find The Urantia Book, where I was able to successfully connect with the Jesus that I always suspected was the true Jesus. And he was not a part of any church.
Urantia Book teachings allowed me to discover that Jesus was not inextricably bound to any church, but that he belongs to a whole universe of diverse beings of his creation. I learned that Jesus is not a Christian and that he did not establish any church; instead, that his mission was the establishment of the kingdom of heaven in the hearts of his children. I learned that Jesus is still here in the form of the Spirit of Truth - a spiritual presence in the minds of all people.
The Urantia Book presents a completely new and completely accessible picture of Jesus that transcends any church or any church teachings. Furthermore, it is a picture of Jesus that is accessible to anyone - a reality of of his teachings and his legacy that may even be best appreciated OUTSIDE of any institutionalized and/or organized church. Coupled with the rest of the teachings in The Urantia Book, which transform the reader's whole framework of reality itself, the beiever's connection with Jesus - and the heavenly Father - becomes the strongest spiritual foundation one can possess.
The gospel of the kingdom, as taught by Jesus, becomes the solid foundation upon which to build a lasting, fruitful relationship with Jesus that can propel the believer into the saving acceptance of sonship with God and service for the brother/sisterhood of all his children. And this is an eternal reality - citizenship in the kigdom of Heaven - that can be had right here and now.
Urantia Book teachings successfully transfer the believer's dependence on ecclesiastical authority to the acknowledgment and reliance on the authority of God's literal presence in his/her mind. This beneficent presence, coupled with the presence of the Spirit of Truth and the Holy Spirit are all that the believer needs to navigate the troubles waters of earthly life.
Many, many Urantia Book reader/students come from the Christian churches; and many still attend those churches and do what they can to act as leaven that might help to transform Christianity from within. But to say that Jesus can't be found except in these churches is error.
<h3>Why is it that the Christian church is not the best place for finding Jesus?</h3>
For one thing, Jesus is largely misunderstood by the churches. He is seen as a sacrificial lamb, and we are seen as hopeless sinners who need redemption through his blood. The atonement doctrine has been a huge stumbling block for seekers who desire to reconcile the idea of a loving Father and a peaceful Savior with the Biblical concept of an angry, vengeful god who requires blood sacrifice. Adoption of this institutionalized picture of Jesus is incompatible with a loving God. And this may be one large reason that people are weary of church. The doctrine about the atonement is a rock-solid pillar of belief that must be accepted before one is in good standing as a Christian. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Please see our topical study on ATONEMENT and find out why it is such a stumbling block for modern minds.
Another reason that church is not the ideal place to find Jesus is that the church is full of authority figures who espouse an idea of Jesus that condones just the opposite of what Jesus taught: he taught peace; the churches have long supported war-mongering in the name of patriotism. Jesus taught detachment from wealth; many churches are fixated on obtaining more and more money to further the church's (not Jesus') agenda. Jesus taught that man is not the child of the devil; the churches teach that man is a craven sinner. Jesus taught unity; the churches are completely sectarian:
99:6.1 Sectarianism is a disease of institutional religion, and dogmatism is an enslavement of the spiritual nature. It is far better to have a religion without a church than a church without religion. The religious turmoil of the twentieth century does not, in and of itself, betoken spiritual decadence. Confusion goes before growth as well as before destruction.
99:6.3 But as religion becomes institutionalized, its power for good is curtailed, while the possibilities for evil are greatly multiplied. 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; it creates the evil discrimination of religious castes; it becomes an intolerant judge of orthodoxy; it fails to hold the interest of adventurous youth and gradually loses the saving message of the gospel of eternal salvation.
99:6.4 Formal religion restrains men in their personal spiritual activities instead of releasing them for heightened service as kingdom builders.
103:5.11 ...this must not be construed as meaning that there is no place in a progressive society for home, social institutions, church, and state.
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.
For further study on Urantia Book teachings about Christianity please click HERE
And for a probing and thorough commentary on Christianty and its manifold problems in this modern century - problems that are even discussed in the article cited above - please click HERE, wherein we read this, regarding the Christian church:
195:9.9 Christianity has dared to lower its ideals before the challenge of human greed, war-madness, and the lust for power; but the religion of Jesus stands as the unsullied and transcendent spiritual summons, calling to the best there is in man to rise above all these legacies of animal evolution and, by grace, attain the moral heights of true human destiny.
195:9.10 Christianity is threatened by slow death from formalism, overorganization, intellectualism, and other nonspiritual trends. The modern Christian church is not such a brotherhood of dynamic believers as Jesus commissioned continuously to effect the spiritual transformation of successive generations of mankind.
195:9.11 So-called Christianity has become a social and cultural movement as well as a religious belief and practice. The stream of modern Christianity drains many an ancient pagan swamp and many a barbarian morass; many olden cultural watersheds drain into this present-day cultural stream as well as the high Galilean tablelands which are supposed to be its exclusive source.
In the next section called The Future," we read this about ecclesiasticism and the divided state of Christianity:
195:10.8 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.
195:10.11 Christianity is seriously confronted with the doom embodied in one of its own slogans: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The non-Christian world will hardly capitulate to a sect-divided Christendom. The living Jesus is the only hope of a possible unification of Christianity. The true church—the Jesus brotherhood—is invisible, spiritual, and is characterized by unity, not necessarily by uniformity. Uniformity is the earmark of the physical world of mechanistic nature. Spiritual unity is the fruit of faith union with the living Jesus. The visible church should refuse longer to handicap the progress of the invisible and spiritual brotherhood of the kingdom of God. And this brotherhood is destined to become a living organism in contrast to an institutionalized social organization. It may well utilize such social organizations, but it must not be supplanted by them.
This blog is a way of connecting you, the reader, with the saving message and uplifting teachings of The Urantia Book, a modern-day revelation of truth mandated by celestial government. It is mind-expanding, spiritually uplifting, and eternally adaptable for any seeker of truth. And certainly for any seeker for the truth of Jesus, for whom Part IV of The Urantia Book can be a life-line of truth and sanity in a false and darkened world, especially when realized as the culmination of the rest of the revelation in the first three parts.
<P style="text-align:left"> "The weary soul of the wandering mortal finds eternal rest in the arms of the Most High; the wise man hungers for the divine embrace; the earth child longs for the security of the arms of the Universal Father."
<P style="text-align:left">If you truly desire to overcome the habit of criticizing some friend, the quickest and surest way of achieving such a change of attitude is to establish the habit of praying for that person every day of your life.
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