RESOLVING APPARENT CONFLICTS BETWEEN
The Urantia Book and The Bible
We have presented The Urantia Book as being in harmony with the Bible and as a type of “Teacher’s Edition” to the Bible. Yet, anyone who decides to critically examine The Urantia Book (“UB”) will eventually come across information from skeptics and opponents purporting to showthat the UB is “new age” propaganda that is in conflict with the Bible, designed to mislead Christians, and of demonic origin. If any of those things were true, it would be understandable why people would reject the UB. But a fair examination of both the Bible and the UB shows that those opinions are inaccurate. We encourage you to set aside the hysteria of skeptics and critically examine the UB for yourself, taking into consideration not just the negative reviews, but the many positive reviews about the UB as well.
Finding the Unity of The UB and the Bible
The first thing we want to say about the supposed conflicts between the UB and the Bible is that there are actually very few conflicts. The conflicts that are usually raised are not conflicts between the UB and the Bible, but are, in fact, conflicts between the UB and traditional Christian theology – its various doctrines and interpretations of the Bible. And much of those conflicts arise from misstating, distorting or taking out of context what the UB actually says.
What the UB actually does is it broadens and clarifies many of the teachings and hard-tounderstand concepts in the Bible, and, in many cases, it serves to unify Christian thought. It shows how perceived conflicts between the beliefs of differing Christian sects are not conflicts at all, but are instead various views of the same thing. It is like two people arguing about an orange, one saying it’s a fruit and the other saying it’s a sphere. Both are correct depending on the perspective being evaluated – its nature or its shape.
We illustrated how apparently conflicting views are not really in conflict in our discussion of whether Jesus died on a cross as is promoted by much of Christianity, or whether he died on an upright stake as some Christian sects teach. An examination of the UB’s teaching on the subject reveals that both are correct – i.e., Jesus was affixed to a cross and then the cross was hung on a stake.
So rather than being a divider, the UB can serve as a great unifier, and the instrument through which the world of Christianity can fulfill its goal of being ‘one body under the one Lord Christ Jesus, and the one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6) To that end, it will be helpful to consider a methodology that has already been successfully used by practically every Bible reader in resolving the apparent conflicts within the Bible canon itself.
The Old Testament vs. The New Testament
Any honest reader of the Bible has to acknowledge that there are many apparent conflicts between what is presented in the Old Testament and what is presented in the New Testament of the Bible, so much so that many Christians in the 1st century initially rejected the Old Testament. (See Marcionism as one example.) The major apparent conflict was the character of God. The olden prophets wrote that God is the jealous and wrathful God of Israel, and that God hates evildoers and takes vengeance on those who do not obey his law. But, in the New Testament, Jesus teaches that God is a kind, merciful and compassionate Father who so shows no favoritism to any one type of people, but who loves all men and pardons sin. Yet, this major conflict was resolved and, in time, the two testaments were joined together as one body of work, and accepted as a harmonious whole. The way Christians reached that harmony provides a methodology that we can utilize today to harmonize the UB and the Bible.
The harmony between the two testaments was achieved by accepting the New Testament as a continuing revelation of the Old Testament, and then resolving conflicts in favor of the newer revelation. This is the method Jesus used and encouraged in his teachings. He said to the Jews of his day:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
– Matthew 5:17
It was not his intention to rebut, condemn or destroy the old ways and methods of understanding and serving God. He knew that to do so would also destroy faith. The wisdom of Jesus’ method is shown in modern times when a person’s devout religious beliefs are proven to be in error or their religious organization is revealed as false. While this may free them from being misled, it leaves them with a void that can quickly result in a complete lack of faith and belief in God. Jesus described such an outcome:
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
– Matthew 12:43-45
Instead, Jesus “fulfilled” their teachings, meaning that he satisfied, completed and concluded their expectations. He then introduced a new and more excelling way – the ‘new wine in new wineskins,’ as he illustrated.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
– Matthew 9:16-17
Jesus was explaining that his teachings should not be interpreted within the context and
parameters of the old Jewish traditions. Doing so would destroy the old traditions and lay to waste the new teachings. Jesus wanted the old traditions preserved within its context, while at the same time preserving his new teachings in a new context. Thus, we could look at the olden traditions as ‘one way of viewing matters’ and the new teachings as ‘a new way of viewing matters.’ The Apostle Paul showed how we do that when he wrote:
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:9-1
Paul was explaining that Christians are to put away the old way of thinking and adopt a new, more mature way. He went so far as to tell the Corinthian Christians that holding on to the old ways would blind them from knowing truth:
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Paul further explained that God used the Hebrew prophets to speak on his behalf, but in the latter part of the days, he spoke by means of Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1-2) Thus, whenever there is a conflict between the Old and New Testament, followers of Jesus always side with Jesus and his fuller and more complete explanation of matters in the newer revelation, the New Testament.
Harmonizing the Old and New Testament in this way accomplishes Jesus’ goal of fulfilling the old way, while, at the same time, presenting the new way. And it effectively closes the door to many atheistic arguments about a jealous, wrathful, bloodthirsty and sometimes petty God, and opens the door to an enlightened understanding of our Heavenly Father, while retaining a reverent respect and appreciation for the Old Testament writings.
We can use the same method Christians have already used to harmonize the Old Testament with the next revelation in the New Testament, and harmonize the Bible with the next revelation contained in the UB. After 2,000 years, our increase in knowledge, experience, and challenges certainly warrants a further revelation! Those who approach the UB using this methodology will see that the UB is not conflicting ‘new age propaganda,’ but is actually an expansion and continuation of the existing divine revelation found in the New Testament.
If in your examination of the UB, you discover matters that you believe conflict with the Bible, please write us and we will attempt to resolve the conflict by engaging in the three-step process: (1) identify the apparent conflict; (2) clarify what is actually written in the Bible and what is actually written in the UB; and (3) widen the perspective to show how what is written in the two revelations does not actually conflict. We believe we can find the harmony. You can send us an email on the Contact Us page. Any emails received identifying an apparent conflict will be posted below.
We look forward to your examination, and as always, we welcome your comments and/or objections to what we publish.
Your Family in the Faith,