In evolutionary religion, the gods are conceived to exist in the likeness of man’s image; in revelatory religion, men are taught that they are God’s sons—even fashioned in the finite image of divinity; in the synthesized beliefs compounded from the teachings of revelation and the products of evolution, the God concept is a blend of:
1. The pre-existent ideas of the evolutionary cults.
2. The sublime ideals of revealed religion.
3. The personal viewpoints of the great religious leaders, the prophets and teachers of mankind.
Most great religious epochs have been inaugurated by the life and teachings of some outstanding personality; leadership has originated a majority of the worth-while moral movements of history. And men have always tended to venerate the leader, even at the expense of his teachings; to revere his personality, even though losing sight of the truths which he proclaimed. And this is not without reason; there is an instinctive longing in the heart of evolutionary man for help from above and beyond. This craving is designed to anticipate the appearance on earth of the Planetary Prince and the later Material Sons. On Urantia man has been deprived of these superhuman leaders and rulers, and therefore does he constantly seek to make good this loss by enshrouding his human leaders with legends pertaining to supernatural origins and miraculous careers.
Many races have conceived of their leaders as being born of virgins; their careers are liberally sprinkled with miraculous episodes, and their return is always expected by their respective groups. In central Asia the tribesmen still look for the return of Genghis Khan; in Tibet, China, and India it is Buddha; in Islam it is Mohammed; among the Amerinds it was Hesunanin Onamonalonton; with the Hebrews it was, in general, Adam’s return as a material ruler. In Babylon the god Marduk was a perpetuation of the Adam legend, the son-of-God idea, the connecting link between man and God. Following the appearance of Adam on earth, so-called sons of God were common among the world races.
But regardless of the superstitious awe in which they were often held, it remains a fact that these teachers were the temporal personality fulcrums on which the levers of revealed truth depended for the advancement of the morality, philosophy, and religion of mankind.
There have been hundreds upon hundreds of religious leaders in the million-year human history of Urantia from Onagar to Guru Nanak. During this time there have been many ebbs and flows of the tide of religious truth and spiritual faith, and each renaissance of Urantian religion has, in the past, been identified with the life and teachings of some religious leader. In considering the teachers of recent times, it may prove helpful to group them into the seven major religious epochs of post-Adamic Urantia:
1. The Sethite period. The Sethite priests, as regenerated under the leadership of Amosad, became the great post-Adamic teachers. They functioned throughout the lands of the Andites, and their influence persisted longest among the Greeks, Sumerians, and Hindus. Among the latter they have continued to the present time as the Brahmans of the Hindu faith. The Sethites and their followers never entirely lost the Trinity concept revealed by Adam.
2. Era of the Melchizedek missionaries. Urantia religion was in no small measure regenerated by the efforts of those teachers who were commissioned by Machiventa Melchizedek when he lived and taught at Salem almost two thousand years before Christ. These missionaries proclaimed faith as the price of favor with God, and their teachings, though unproductive of any immediately appearing religions, nevertheless formed the foundations on which later teachers of truth were to build the religions of Urantia.
3. The post-Melchizedek era. Though Amenemope and Ikhnaton both taught in this period, the outstanding religious genius of the post-Melchizedek era was the leader of a group of Levantine Bedouins and the founder of the Hebrew religion—Moses. Moses taught monotheism. Said he: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.” “The Lord he is God. There is none beside him.” He persistently sought to uproot the remnants of the ghost cult among his people, even prescribing the death penalty for its practitioners. The monotheism of Moses was adulterated by his successors, but in later times they did return to many of his teachings. The greatness of Moses lies in his wisdom and sagacity. Other men have had greater concepts of God, but no one man was ever so successful in inducing large numbers of people to adopt such advanced beliefs.
4. The sixth century before Christ. Many men arose to proclaim truth in this, one of the greatest centuries of religious awakening ever witnessed on Urantia. Among these should be recorded Gautama, Confucius, Lao-tse, Zoroaster, and the Jainist teachers. The teachings of Gautama have become widespread in Asia, and he is revered as the Buddha by millions. Confucius was to Chinese morality what Plato was to Greek philosophy, and while there were religious repercussions to the teachings of both, strictly speaking, neither was a religious teacher; Lao-tse envisioned more of God in Tao than did Confucius in humanity or Plato in idealism. Zoroaster, while much affected by the prevalent concept of dual spiritism, the good and the bad, at the same time definitely exalted the idea of one eternal Deity and of the ultimate victory of light over darkness.
5. The first century after Christ. As a religious teacher, Jesus of Nazareth started out with the cult which had been established by John the Baptist and progressed as far as he could away from fasts and forms. Aside from Jesus, Paul of Tarsus and Philo of Alexandria were the greatest teachers of this era. Their concepts of religion have played a dominant part in the evolution of that faith which bears the name of Christ.
6. The sixth century after Christ. Mohammed founded a religion which was superior to many of the creeds of his time. His was a protest against the social demands of the faiths of foreigners and against the incoherence of the religious life of his own people.
7. The fifteenth century after Christ. This period witnessed two religious movements: the disruption of the unity of Christianity in the Occident and the synthesis of a new religion in the Orient. In Europe institutionalized Christianity had attained that degree of inelasticity which rendered further growth incompatible with unity. In the Orient the combined teachings of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism were synthesized by Nanak and his followers into Sikhism, one of the most advanced religions of Asia.
The future of Urantia will doubtless be characterized by the appearance of teachers of religious truth—the Fatherhood of God and the fraternity of all creatures. But it is to be hoped that the ardent and sincere efforts of these future prophets will be directed less toward the strengthening of interreligious barriers and more toward the augmentation of the religious brotherhood of spiritual worship among the many followers of the differing intellectual theologies which so characterize Urantia of Satania.