The Urantia Book Fellowship


Why Some Ministers Don't Read The Urantia Book
Larry Austin

Spiritual Fellowship Journal
Fall 1993


Almost everyone who discovers the astounding wealth of truth in The Urantia Book is highly motivated to share the book with others. Church members frequently show the book to their minister in the hope that he or she will discover in its pages the amazing richness of spiritual insight which has inspired them.

The reader may give the book to the minister without explanation or personal comment hoping that the Spirit of Truth will inspire open-minded receptivity. Sometimes the book is given to the clergy person along with pamphlets, guides, Concordex, Paramony, and a personal testimony of its high spiritual quality. Either too little or too much introductory information may jeopardize a positive response to the parishioners invitation to take a look at this imposing volume. In any case, the minister will probably be on guard when examining a book claiming to be new revelation.

Endeavoring to temper enthusiasm, be objective, and give prudent advice, the layperson may recommend reading the book from front to back, start with the life and teachings of Jesus, or examine the book randomly as interest dictates. Whatever approach is used to intrigue the pastor into a serious examination of its contents, the reader does so with great anticipation. As time passes there is anxious speculation as to what the ministers judgment will be.

Typically, there will be no response for some period of time. Perhaps even a half year will transpire, and then the minister finally returns the book with a "thanks, but no thanks" rejection. Sometimes the pastor will make still more critical remarks, referring to the book as unchristian or a work of the devil, and will admonish the parishioner to have nothing to do with it. The ministers observations clearly indicate that he or she has read very little of the book. The parishioner, who so enthusiastically and lovingly placed this unique book in the hands of the minister, experiences disappointment, dejection, and in some cases, deep hurt. Some people take the ministers disinterest or rejection as a personal attack on their value judgment, and a calloused insensitivity to their exhilarating discovery of enlarged revelatory truth with its intrinsic transforming power.

This joyous reader, now changed to a despondent sharer, wants to know why the minister will not read the book -- not just any book, but The Urantia Book -- which the reader regards as a most special compendium of revelatory knowledge. When asked why, some ministers will state the real reasons with a sincere sense of pastoral authority guided by a particular theological viewpoint. Others will give superficial answers to conceal their real reasons for rejecting the book.

I came across The Urantia Book in 1968 while in college, and then began a short teaching career after graduating from the seminary, and before entering the Christian ministry. In this pilgrimage I have personally experienced some of the usual ecclesiastical reasons for laying the book down and rejecting its contents as a revelatory resource. As a reader and minister who now reads the book faithfully, I have wrestled for years to understand why for long periods of time I did not read The Urantia Book. I have loaned or given the book to some of my clerical colleagues for their perusal in the hope that they might accept it as a valuable theological and spiritual resource. But, in fact, most reject it! Or, if not rejecting it outright, they simply do not read it. As a result of sharing the book with others in my profession and having it returned to me with a polite, chagrined refusal to examine it closely, I believe I have been able to identify several specific reasons why some ministers perceive the book as not worth their time.

One of the simplest reasons why some ministers don't read The Urantia Book is that it is too long -- 2097 pages. One look as its size, and ministers determine that there is not enough time in their daily schedule to give the book even half-a-chance at a fair reading. Sometimes when the book is placed in their hands and they feel how heavy it is -- about five pounds -- they will hand it back. For many ministers when first introduced to the book, its size and weight are too intimidating for them to consider taking the time to read it.

Many decide against procuring a copy because it is too expensive and troublesome to acquire. Even more troubling is information about authorship. If they are told that authorship is anonymous, or that it was written by supermortal beings, they reject the book out of hand -- especially if they are told the book purports to be new revelation.

In some cases, ministers have heard about the book before a reader presents it to them. They may have read about it in Larson's Book of Cults or may have seen it in a bookstore among the occult or New Age books, which in their experience suggests inferior quality. In such instances, when the book is shared with them, they ignore it without a second thought. They assume they know it contains false and dangerous teachings, and question the credibility of the person recommending it.

The above reasons are simple and straightforward grounds for not reading The Urantia Book. Other reasons for ministers not reading it involve more sophisticated explanations to account for their negative judgments based on a cursory examination of only some of its parts. Examining the book by reading here and there, some ministers claim that it is too much like a textbook, and that many of the unfamiliar words are difficult to pronounce, making it hard to read and enjoy.

They dismiss the book's content as high-minded ivory-tower talk. Other ministers, after a hasty and scattered reading, assume that it is a work of gnosticism, syncretism, or mysticism. In short, ministers who give the book superficial consideration, and try to classify it according the theological knowledge they possess, usually see it as a heterodox or even a heretical document.

Some, who have read a few of the pages more closely and discovered a clear critique of the dangers of institutional religion, cast the book aside because of its criticism of clerical authoritarianism and dogmatism.

Certain other ministers look at the book to investigate its teaching on particular doctrines, such as the atonement, the rapture, or the resurrection. If they find the book's ideas are contrary to their own theological positions, they reject it and often warn the one who presented it of the dangers of its teachings. Still other ministers leaf through the book and read random samplings of such stories as Andon and Fonta or the rise of the Sangik races and become disenchanted with the book's presumably outrageous, fictionalized narratives. On the basis of these stories, they assume the book lacks authentic substance and dismiss it from their minds.

Many ministers, however, who spend some significant time with the book, find it interesting, edifying, and provocative. Since the book claims to be revelatory, they are confronted with the upsetting question of what their colleagues in ministry might think of them if they were to find out about their reading such an unorthodox book. To protect their careers, they never mention the book to their peers; or out of fear and a sense of guilt, they stop reading the book until a safer time. In one case, a wife was so angry at her husband for being fully immersed in The Urantia Book that she gave him an ultimatum: either the book or the marriage, not both. He chose the marriage and sent the book back to the reader who had introduced it to him.

Occasionally, a few philosophically-minded ministers determine that the book's philosophical orientation in some parts tends to be Platonic or Kantian, and since their own philosophic viewpoints may be Aristotelian or Kierkegaardian, they dismiss the book as irrelevant.

Some ministers will disavow the validity of the book because a favorite miracle story, such as Peter walking on the water, seems to be discredited. Others will be disappointed that a miracle story, such as the feeding of the five thousand, is verified. Some will lay the book aside after reading about the nature of the Trinity or the Creative Mother Spirit because it differs from the literal Biblical picture. Others will criticize the book for its reference to God as the Universal Father because they regard such references as sexist. Ministers can find a multitude of reasons for not seriously evaluating the The Urantia Book. They miss one of the greatest opportunities for spiritual enlightenment and growth available to this generation.

In summary, some of the reasons why many ministers don't read The Urantia Book are: a lack of energy, time, and motivation; fear of heresy, change, and criticism; and uncertainty about the book' authorship, orientation, and language. It takes a hunger for truth, courage, commitment, honesty, and humility to read this imposing document. It requires attentiveness and concentration to discover the basic foundations which underlie the sometimes complicated, but always forthright, teachings contained in its 196 papers.

Once we are wholeheartedly dedicated to evaluating the book on its internal merits -- assessing its message of truth as it relates to our inner spiritual experience -- a new vision of reality will open and an explosion of enthusiastic wonder and joy will startle the mind and expand the heart with spiritual insight that brings forth a marvelously dynamic understanding of who we are and what our destiny is. If you are a minister, take a bold faith-risk and read The Urantia Book. Your life will never be the same!

A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship