|While teaching law in London in 1982, I learned that the Vicar of a
nearby Anglican church was a "closet reader" of The Urantia Book.
He was reluctant to see me in his church office or rectory, so we agreed
to meet in a convenient neighborhood pub. I explained to him that I was
attracted to the book because over 98% of its quotations were from the
Bible, the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. As an adult Bible class teacher
and certified lay speaker, I wanted to know what both the Bible and The
Urantia Book said about a text or concept before I used it.
The margins of my Urantia Book contained all the Bible references I could find for each quotation and concept, and I could go from The Urantia Book to the Bible with ease; but without marginal notes in a Bible referring to the page and line of relevant passages in The Urantia Book, it was impossible to go from the Bible to The Urantia Book using this same technique. Therefore, I used a computer program to rearrange my marginal notes into a format which facilitated going in either direction. I showed him the latest printout of this material which I brought to England for my own personal use.
The Vicar expressed interest in examining the printout and borrowed it. This was the last I saw of it. He reported that it proved most useful in helping him prepare his talks and asked to keep it a while. After selecting a Biblical text or texts on which to base his sermon, he checked the appropriate part of the printout to determine if any such text were treated in The Urantia Book.
If so, he also read The Urantia Book version. If he liked it, he would use it; if not, he would disregard it. He volunteered that he was surprised that so many of his texts, particularly from the Gospels, were found in The Urantia Book and that he had used far more Urantia Book materials than he had ignored.
I asked him if his congregation knew that he was using the book in preparing his sermons. He replied, "No, they are not ready for that yet. Whenever appropriate I incorporate teachings of the book not only in my talks, but in my public and private conversations, but the source of the teachings--no." He pointed out that there was very little difference between the Bible and The Urantia Book concerning the incidents that happened during the lifetime of Jesus, and that he found The Urantia Book interpretation to be the more acceptable, even without accrediting the source. The same was true of many Old Testament stories--they made more sense in The Urantia Book s historical perspective.
When I was preparing to leave England, the Vicar still had the printout. He asked that I leave it with him because he found it useful and, since I had the original disks, I could duplicate the printout. There was no indication as to whether or not it improved the quality of his homilies, but it certainly facilitated the preparation process.
Ministers who have personal reservations about the authenticity of the book, or feel that their congregations are not ready for it, may wish to expand their exposition of Biblical themes with illustrations and concepts inspired by The Urantia Book. Its Christology reflects some lofty concepts only dimly presented in the Bible. In my judgment, the Jesus depicted in Part IV of the book is both more "human" and more "divine" than the Jesus shown in the pages of the Bible. Furthermore, the Foreword and first ten papers of The Urantia Book present the most highly developed and succinctly presented concepts of Deity it has been my privilege to find in all other sources combined. A full understanding of these papers cannot help but provide a new paradigm against which to see and understand God.
The late Clyde Bedell compiled a combination concordance and topical index which is published under the coined name Concordex. It is the most comprehensive instrument available through which one can find any specific item or general concept in The Urantia Book. Any serious researcher is handicapped without it.
The computer printout referred to above has now been published under the coined name Paramony. It is an extensive cross-reference between The Urantia Book and the Bible through which the user can go in either direction between similar passages of the two books. It is also useful as either a parallel or a harmony.
Those who love the Bible will find the Paramony to be a most useful tool. It can be used to deepen one s understanding and love for either book by becoming aware of their similarities and differences; or it can be used to point out the shortcomings or limitations of either book. The Paramony is not a commentary on either book, but rather a tool for discovering if a matter covered in one is also included in the other and, if so, where it is located. Comparisons are left to the reader.
Those formerly apathetic to Christianity, or even turned off by it, who have found a personal relationship with God through The Urantia Book often develop a curiosity about the Bible. The Paramony offers them an easy access to parallel Biblical teachings. It is surprising how many people have developed a new respect for the Bible through this process. No one should be afraid of truth; indeed, we should all welcome it. Yet, Pilate s perennial question, "What is truth?" still challenges humankind. Readers of the Bible and/or The Urantia Book are confronted with this problem of truth evaluation. One person s "truth" is another person s "heresy," and still another person s "superstition." Although the Bible and The Urantia Book are in basic agreement concerning the nature of God and spiritual reality, each person must rely on his or her inner spiritual guidance in making their own truth affirmations.
Ministers, by the nature of their training and practical needs, are usually interested in commentaries on the relationship between God and humankind. It makes little difference whether such commentaries confirm, challenge, or contradict their beliefs. In any case their thinking is stimulated. Hopefully, the end result of this intellectual and spiritual grappling is growth. The Vicar in the above story is a case in point. He is still a closet reader. He accepts, or puts on a shelf, much of Urantia Book theology for himself; but he is not ready to ask his parishioners to do so. Yet he is subconsciously preparing a way for their acceptance of the book by using its teachings in his sermons.
Upon my return from England, I found my home church had a minister who was extremely personable and reflected a deep love of God, but whose sermons were not very inspiring. As chairman of the Parish-Pastor Relations Committee, this concerned me. One day I took him aside and asked him to do me a personal favor. I handed him a copy of The Urantia Book, and a copy of the paperback "Experimental Edition" of the Paramony which was hot off the press. I told him I had printed 200 copies of a prototype of the Paramony as an experiment to determine whether or not illustrations from The Urantia Book would be useful to ministers in the preparation of their sermons. I asked him to not read The Urantia Book until he had determined the scripture which he was to use as a text, and then to look up the passage in the Paramony. If it referred to a passage in The Urantia Book, he was to read it for possible use in his sermon.
The next few Sundays several members of the congregation commented to me on how good his sermons were. Each Sunday I checked his text with the Paramony and found at least one reference to it in The Urantia Book. On no Sunday did his approach to his subject conflict with the approach of The Urantia Book. It was not until the fifth Sunday, when he was preaching on "The Woman at the Well," that I had proof positive that he was using The Urantia Book as a reference source: he called the woman "Nalda." Not a soul in the congregation except me and my wife noticed it.
Since publication of the first hardback edition of the Paramony in 1986, I have received many letters from ministers, Sunday School teachers, and others telling me how useful it has been in helping them to prepare for their public presentations. The real surprise is how many have written to say it has helped them with their private studies of the two books. Only one letter contained a criticism, and even that letter was more positive than negative. Several pointed out typographical errors, which will be corrected in the 2nd edition. Letters indicating both errors and omissions are invited.
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship