Evolutionary versus Revelatory Religion
I'd like to clarify the difference between evolutionary and revelatory religion. Evolutionary religions are those religions that come from human beings who are attempting to explain what divinity is; reaching out to the supernatural, to God, to the Supreme, trying to explain reality—who we are, where we came from, cosmology, how God is a part of us or is not a part of us. Within those evolutionary religions there can be a lot of personal revelation that comes through people's own personal, genuine, religious experiences, and so there is also much truth within those evolutionary religions. Some examples of evolutionary religions that are present on Urantia right now are all of the major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and the Native American religions. Many of those evolutionary religions started from either an epochal revelation or a minor revelation and people have added their own interpretations and their experiences.
Revelatory religion is God reaching down to us mortals and explaining who He is to some degree and at some level. "Here I am." Many, many people within the evolutionary religions believe that their sacred texts are revelation, that God gave them that text, or that somehow it came through human beings inspired by God. So in most of those evolutionary religions there is tremendous truth and revelation within their texts. But pure revelatory religion will come directly from the celestial spirit beings themselves. The URANTIA Book teaches about five epochal revelations. An epochal revelation is one that is for the entire planet and is to be presented to cover and be appropriate for thousands and thousands of years. It's very, very big. It is for every race, every nationality, every person, every religion. We have the Fifth Epochal Revelation on this planet which is The URANTIA Book and the Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation (CFER) that is continuing to come through in The Cosmic Family volumes. Celestial spirit beings sent from Christ Michael (Jesus) are bringing this revelation.
The lesson today is taken from The URANTIA Book, from Paper 100 called "Religion in Human Experience." I'm taking it from a section within that paper, section six, called "Marks of Religious Living," found on pages 1100 and 1101. It is important to keep in mind what evolutionary religion is and what revelatory religion is throughout this teaching. A Melchizedek of Nebadon brought this paper through, so we are getting this from a celestial spirit being, a Melchizedek who tells us that, "Evolutionary religions and revelatory religions may differ markedly in method, but in motive there is great similarity." What I see as the motives that are similar in most religions today, whether they are evolutionary or revelatory religions, are to improve one's life circumstances, to become a better person, to grow in understanding of spiritual forces whatever they may be, and to help make this a better world to live in. I think almost every religion shares those motives.
Just this past week we saw a couple of documentaries about religious groups. One of them was about Dr. Malachi York. He says his "program" is not a religion, but from The URANTIA Book's definition of religion I would say that it is a religion. In his teachings he calls himself and his followers Nuwabians and his program "The Holy Tabernacle Ministries." Basically, from my understanding of what I saw and what I've read, which is very limited, he himself, who is a starseed, is tapping into past repersonalizations when he has been in Egyptian lives and has lived the evolutionary religious teachings in those past lives. He has impacted some starseed people as well as many first-time Urantian people, but for the starseed people he has awakened within them the memory of their repersonalizations in those Egyptian lives. What he basically has done in his community in Georgia, called the nation of the Nuwabians, is to re-ignite the life of the ancient Egyptian religions; the evolutionary religions, and so their art work, their dress, their ritual, their prayers, their buildings, all are taken from those old Egyptian ways. Those people are in a genuine religion and when the individuals in that community were interviewed, from what I could gather they had genuine personal religious experiences. They want to improve their own lives, and living in that beautiful community certainly beats living in some of the places that some of those people came from. They are becoming better people, and they are very excited about their healing and growth. They are wanting to understand more and more about divinity and spiritual forces, and they want the world to be a better place to live in. In their own way that is what they are attempting to do.
Another example was a documentary that Gabriel and I saw about a community of Hasidic Jews in New York City. As I watched this documentary on these people, their beliefs, and how they live their lives, I saw a very, very beautiful group of people who are committed to their religion and their expression of love and worship for God. There was much joy among those people, and there was much seriousness at the same time, and tremendous love, self-discipline, and dedication. There was magnificent beauty in those people also.
Those are just two examples of groups of people who are in what we would consider evolutionary religions because they are pulling from tradition and older religions that started from people trying to explain who God is. Revelation and inspiration from God came through many of the religious leaders in these religions. The old Egyptian religion is very, very complex and has many gods, and most of the Pharaohs believed that they were divinity. There was one Pharaoh who wanted to change the religion because through him was coming revelation, not an epochal revelation, but revelation. That was Ikhnaton, and through him was coming the teaching which I would say would be a continuation of the third epochal revelation to the planet which was Machiventa Melchizedek teaching that there is one God, one Universal Father. So that is why I say that there indeed was revelation within the Egyptian religion because after Ikhnaten brought that revelation in some of those teachings were continued in the Egyptian religions.
In this paper on religion and the human experience we are told that religion is not a specific function of life. For example, with true religion, you don't just go on Sundays, or you don't just do something on a particular day or a holiday. That is a function; that's not what true religion is. True religion is a mode of living, and that is what I saw in the Nuwabians and the Hasidic Jews in those two documentaries that I watched. They were living their religion moment to moment. The Melchizedek goes on to tell us that true religion is a whole-hearted devotion to some reality which the religionist deems to be of supreme value to him or herself and for all humankind—a whole-hearted devotion. I saw that again in the people of those two particular religious groups.
We too have a mode of living here at Global Community Communications, and we too live moment-to-moment, and we have a whole-hearted dedication to that religious living. There are so many so-called religions today. Some are very old, and some are quite new, and some are a combination. But what makes a religion genuine from a celestial spirit's perspective is not necessarily our perspective. The Melchizedek says that the accepted supreme value of the religionist may be "base" or even false but it can nevertheless be religious. We have examples of that in the history of this planet. How many religions have sacrificed humans? I'm not aware if there are any religions that do that today, but those who sacrificed truly believed that was of supreme value. We know that is very base. There are many other rites and rituals that have been performed in religions in the past that are still performed today in certain religions that we would consider base and that we would consider definitely false, and so would the celestial spirits. There are so many religious values that are founded on old superstitious beliefs and ceremonies that really have no meaning for the humans who are involved in them, and that's why a lot of people are leaving those modes of worship. Plus, they definitely don't have any meaning for the celestial spirit personalities who are involved with those human beings. The Melchizedek goes on to say on page 1100 that "A religion is genuine to just the extent that the value which is held to be supreme is truly a cosmic reality of genuine spiritual worth."
What Is Cosmic Reality and Genuine Spiritual Worth?
Well, what is cosmic reality? What does that mean? What is genuine spiritual worth? Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines "cosmic" as "relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness for the universe in contrast to the earth alone; it is characterized by greatness, especially in extent, intensity, and comprehensiveness." Using that definition then of "cosmic," we realize that many evolutionary religions would be ruled out just by that for they are so confined. They are confined to just being of the earth, or they are confined to just being of their race or their little group; their whole consciousness is very small. Many New Age religions, though, do have some cosmic understanding, and we all realize that the word "cosmic" is a buzzword now. Everywhere you look in advertising is the word "cosmic." It comes from advertising spiritual books, music, and teachings as well as cars and other items. Unfortunately, the word "cosmic" has been diminished to something very small, and so often when it's used, it's not being used to portray what it truly means—a vastness, greatness beyond our world.
What is genuine spiritual worth? That is a difficult question to answer, especially when it comes to an individual's personal religious experiences. No human on this world has any authority to decide if another person's religious experiences are genuine and of worth. Nobody has that authority; that is up to the celestial spirits and the individual human involved. In the past I've shared some of my own very personal religious experiences that were genuine and that were of worth. Some of those experiences came within the various evolutionary religions that I've been involved in, especially Christianity and Native American spirituality. I've also had religious experiences within a secular setting, for the threefold spirit of God works within us in all settings. The living spiritual forces of God work with us in many, many ways, and no other human being can tell us whether that is of spiritual worth or not. That is not our place. Almost all of you have had these religious experiences before you ever came into contact with The URANTIA Book, before you ever came into contact with Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation, and before you ever came here or even heard about Aquarian Concepts. How do you decide whether your experiences are of worth or not? An experience of genuine spiritual worth is one that in some manner, at some level, to some degree, aids you in your own personal ascension—whether it is on the physical level, the emotional level, the intellectual level, or the spiritual level. If that experience somehow pushed you forward a little bit, it is definitely a genuine experience, regardless of the setting that you had it in. That experience in some way brings you a little closer or a lot closer to the Universal Father. Possibly, a lot of the experiences that we humans value as very high in spiritual worth may be considered lower on that scale by our celestial spirit ministers and companions. And then some of those experiences that we don't even consider that important or that significant, we may even hate them as we remember them because they are so painful, may be considered very valuable by the celestial spirits on that scale of genuine spiritual worth. So it's a pretty individual thing. The Melchizedek points out that those things that happen within a human being when he or she responds to the religious impulse will bring about something. By the way, that religious impulse is innate in all human beings. We happen to live in a dominant culture that does everything to negate that innate impulse that is within us to want to reach for those religious experiences.
Noble and Grand Qualities Resulting from Genuine Religious Experience
When a person does begin to move into that genuine religious experience, that person will embrace the qualities of nobility and grandeur. This is what the Melchizedek tells us. What are some of those qualities that celestial spirits consider noble and grand as a person begins to move into more and more of these religious experiences? The Melchizedek discusses several of these qualities in this section of The URANTIA Book (pages 1100-1101). These are qualities that we here in the community of Aquarian Concepts are striving to attain on a moment-to-moment basis. I'm going to go fairly quickly through them because you can think about them on your own. As we move into genuine religious experiences these are some of the qualities we should begin to have within us and in our lives:
A consciousness of universe citizenship
The URANTIA Book and Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation (CFER) are wonderful gifts in giving us that.
An awareness of making contact with sources of superhuman power
What is going to happen tonight with the visitation of The Bright and Morning Star? Some of you here are more aware of those sources of superhuman power, those personalities, those living spiritual forces working within our lives on a daily basis. Some of you are more aware of that than others. But there becomes an awareness that there is something beyond just us; that there is something above human beings.
There is an energizing with the assurance of belonging to a superior and ennobled fellowship of the sons and daughters of God
You get more energy with the assurance of belonging to a fellowship of sons and daughters of God. The song that Jeru and BenDameean sang was a song celebrating that reality. The song that the choir sang today is a song celebrating that reality. Our daily lives in community celebrate that reality.
Religious experience can bring an augmented consciousness of self-worth because of the stimulus of the quest for the highest universe objectives, supreme goals.
As you begin to shift in what you value and think is important, and that which you reach for becomes higher and more supreme, you can't help but begin to like yourself a little more, have a little more respect for yourself, and become more conscious of what a wonderful ascending son or daughter of God you really are.
There is a surrender to the intriguing drive of an all encompassing motivation which imposed heightened self-discipline. It lessens emotional conflict and it makes life truly worth living.
Genuine religious experience brings a higher meaning of purpose to your life; life becomes more exciting and more worth living. You have this all-encompassing motivation that just consumes every aspect of you and your life, of wanting to become more disciplined in making godly choices. You will also have less and less emotional conflict with others over petty grievances, and you will have less inner conflict as your minds and hearts embrace values of eternal worth.
The morbid recognition of human limitations is changed to the natural consciousness of mortal shortcomings.
Instead of walking around depressed and dejected, and instead of saying "Oh my God, I can never do anything right; I'm worthless man, I'm so limited," you begin to become more accepting of your humanness as well as others' limitations. You are more intelligent about it and have a natural consciousness that all mortals have shortcomings, yet you are always striving to overcome them. But you don't beat up on yourself or others and often have a lightness and sense of humor about the qualities of being human.
This is all associated also with moral determination and spiritual aspiration to attain the highest universe and super universe goals.
Even though you are aware of your limitations and are balanced in seeing your error and wrongdoing, you begin to respect yourself more; you begin to value yourself more, to love yourself more. This balance in understanding humans is associated with being determined to become more perfect, more Christ-like and more "universe conscious."
How can you attain the highest universe and superuniverse goals if you don't have any cosmic consciousness or understanding of cosmic reality or have any idea what universe and superuniverse goals are? You have to educate yourself about them, and that is where the revelatory religion comes in that is found in The URANTIA Book, the Fifth Epochal Revelation, and in the Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation. With this intent to strive for the attainment of supermortal ideals comes always—as long as you're striving—increasing patience, forbearance, fortitude, and tolerance. Do you believe that? Do you see that happening within yourselves? Are you increasingly becoming more patient with situations? Are you able to tolerate difficult people and difficult situations better? Do you have more forbearance and fortitude, which basically means the strength to put up with the difficulties that come your way?
True religion is living love. It is a life of service, and there comes to be a detachment from much that is purely temporal and trivial.
I think all of us here in Divine Administration have discovered that things that were so important to us at one time in our lives no longer are. We are actually embarrassed to think that they were that important before, because we see how trivial they were and how temporal. So now, when we get together with people that we used to share those "old order" values with, it's difficult for us to have a conversation with them because we are no longer interested in talking about the things that we used to talk about. There is a painful thing that happens when we get back with people who we really, really love who haven't taken the steps that we have taken in becoming dedicated to this level of spiritual growth and this community. One of those painful sacrifices is the schism, the space, that happens between us and those we love who have been a very important part of our lives but don't share our values and perceptions. Naturally, we still love and want to interact with them, but there usually is a sense of separation because we have taken steps that may seem foreign to our loved ones. In reality, we love them even more intensely as a result of our religious experiences.
What else happens within a genuinely spiritual person is a desire for more socialization. We will want to be with others and join their company, especially those kindred spirits. I know that there is a misconception that as a person becomes more religious they become more monkish; they become more detached from human beings, and they want to go up into the mountains and go into a cave. A lot of people have the idea that a really spiritual person is someone who is able to do that, to spend months and years fasting up in the mountains, hardly ever communicating with people. That is not so. That is a false assumption. For as you come to love God more, thus loving yourself more—loving yourself in a healthy way more within God's divine pattern—you can't help but love others more. Remember the first and second commandment that is taught in the Bible, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And thou shalt love thy neighbor as you love yourself." That is what happens in true religious experience. Guess what else can happen and should happen? It is not becoming like the Penetentes who beat themselves, "Oh my gosh, we're so sinful," going through these rituals of carrying the cross that Christ carried, and they literally beat themselves. I'm sure you've met people who consider themselves as very religious and who seem very constipated and are not fun to be around. Life is dull with them. From a celestial spirit perspective, continual suffering and dullness is not true religious experience. Guess what? You have more fun and begin to have a heightened sense of humor and light-heartedness with genuine religious living. There is an enhanced appreciation of your human existence, of being a human being at this moment in time and space on this beautiful planet, Urantia. This world is confused; it is strife-torn, and yet it's such a beautiful planet. The human beings on it are so beautiful, and to be a part of that existence, there is an enhanced appreciation of being in the moment as a human being on Urantia. In that enhanced appreciation new meanings are added to every aspect of your life. Even going to the bathroom can become a sacred act and have more richness and new meaning.
Genuine religious experience adds new meaning to all of life and generates new types of enthusiasm, zeal, and courage.
I was just talking to an ascending daughter about courage. She feels like she has a new sense of courage in her because she has gone through some genuine religious experiences that are personal within her own ascension process and her own growing closer to God. How many of you do feel like you are more enthusiastic, more zealous and more courageous overall in life, whether it's sitting down to have a good meal or working in the garden or teaching or some other activity? Many of us feel that we are more and more becoming cosmic cheerleaders. Many are beginning to feel that within themselves the spirit of the crusader can be born, but it's very important that the crusading spirit is controlled by spiritual insight and loyal devotion to the commonplace social obligations of human loyalties. You can go over the edge if you become a crusader and aren't balanced in it. We have seen that happen before in many lifetimes, and then you are not truly being guided by God. Think of the crusaders themselves, those people who went on terrible, murderous crusades in the name of God, who had nothing to do with that at all. They had the spirit of the crusader, but they did not have the true spiritual wisdom and insight as to who God really was. They did not have that cosmic consciousness. In their minds, God was a Catholic, and He also was a killer. "If you don't believe in Me the way you should and be a Catholic then you don't deserve to live." It's not that kind of a crusader spirit that God wants.
In our strivings to bring genuine community to our lives, we should begin to have dynamic and sublime peace, that peace that passes all understanding, that cosmic poise which betokens the absence of all doubt and turmoil.
I don't think any of us are there one hundred percent. We are all working on that. But how many of you do feel that you have more of a sense of peace in you than you did before? It is a wonderful feeling isn't it? I'm sure that we all still have our turmoil and, at times, doubt, but the peace is becoming more profound within us. The thing that I want to point out is you notice that this kind of peace is not that laid back peace, that "Hey man, Jesus was never in a hurry you know. I'm going to just hang out and be cool. I'm going to be real slow. I'm going to be plodding. Man, I feel so peaceful." Remember it didn't say just a sublime peace, it said a dynamic peace. What does the word "dynamic" mean? Action, energy, movement. So with this dynamic peace then, we strive to become more efficient, getting things done in a timely manner without coming across as frantic, uptight or stressed. That's quite a challenge too. But these are things that we are definitely striving for. That is how Jesus was able to do it. He didn't come across as stressed or uptight or frantic. That is why He never seemed to be in a hurry, and yet, He got a lot of things done in a day. When you read that last section of The URANTIA Book, "The Life and Teachings of Jesus," it's amazing how much He got done in a day, amazing, and yet, He never seemed to be in a hurry. He was so efficient.
We know from reading The URANTIA Book that within divine administration, functioning in the highest way in divine administration—from the spirit levels, superuniverse and universe spirit levels, morontia constellation and system levels, clear down to this little world here on the material level—that to function within divine administration means to be efficient, effective, and to get things done in a timely manner. When we get to those levels of spiritual stability that we are striving for, we become immune to disappointment—immune to disappointment. The URANTIA Book talks about fattening on disappointment and feasting upon uncertainties. Occasionally, we are there, but not moment to moment yet. We are striving for that; it's unfolding within us. There is also a sense of security of religionists who are walking in cosmic revelation, for they have such a bigger consciousness of God the Supreme and an awareness of the Ultimate. Where do you get that consciousness? From the Fifth Epochal Revelation, The URANTIA Book, and the Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation, and that sense of security grows within you as you grow within the intellectual understanding of the cosmology of a cosmic God and a cosmic Christ.
What is the difference then in the marks of evolutionary religions and revelatory religion? The Melchizedek says that even evolutionary religion can have most of those manifestations that he had listed and I just went through. Most of those genuine religious experiences can happen within evolutionary religions if they are genuine experiences. Here is what Melchizedek says though: "...but revelatory religion is excellent as well as genuine."
The new loyalties of enlarged spiritual vision create new levels of love and devotion, of service and fellowship, and all this enhanced social outlook produces an enlarged consciousness of the Fatherhood of God and the brother/sisterhood of humankind.
Mother Teresa is a beautiful example who lived her religion and loved human beings and lived that love in service to others in the most unlovely places, and with the most unlovable people—meaning people who are dying, who smell, who have disease, who might give that disease to you, who don't have a future, who can't give you a future or help you in your future. That's where she spent her time. She spent that within her own evolutionary religion, and she was a genuine religionist. Just think what Mother Teresa could have done if she had walked into revelatory religion, if her consciousness had even become bigger. Just think of how she could have inspired people to move into that expanded consciousness. She could have then had the vision to inspire and influence national leaders to make tremendous changes within their own governments. That is what revelation can do.
The characteristic difference between evolved and revealed religion is a new quality of divine wisdom which is added to purely experiential human wisdom. But it is experience in and with the human religions that develops the capacity for subsequent reception of increased bestowals of divine wisdom and cosmic insight.
In other words, you never throw away what you have experienced in your past religions, in your past expressions; you just build and build and build on them. Think of the lotus flower that keeps opening up, unfolding petal after petal after petal; you just keep adding, building on and building on.
I'd like to close with something that is credited to Paul from the New Testament in the Bible. He says, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else shall be able to separate us from the love of God."
-Niánn Emerson Chase