Questioning Authority

 Door-to-door Sagacity

Some Jehova Witnesses came to my door the other day and left me with some pamphlets (after thoroughly and dubiously questioning my claims to being a weekly church attendee).

One good turn deserves another, so I decided to critique the wisdom of the literature that inspired them to tromp around strange neighborhoods (since I’m a blogger now and always desperate for material). It also felt like a gift horse kick from on high to get my own spiritual discussion group going (and be a little less “in your face” about it).

The problem (as I see it) with religions that narrowly focus on the Bible as the only true source of revelation is that – although it contains a lot of good wisdom – who said it contains all good wisdom? Does it say that in the Bible somewhere?

Since that was a rhetorical question, I can answer it: The Bible does not claim to be the last word on all revelation, therefore you are overstepping your bounds as a Bible student to say that something is not possible if it does not say it in the
Bible!

Expanded Resources Are Now Available

In this day and age, there are lots of good sources of spiritual wisdom besides the Bible, so why not do a little cross referencing – like any good scholar does – if you find the Bible a little too vague on your desired topic? Each source should pass a person’s own internal criteria for revelation of course; and if it does, they should add it to their list of study materials.

Alas – as I see with the Jehova Witness study materials – people not only limit themselves to one source, they limit themselves to one official interpretation of that source, rejecting all else. One thing I’ve noticed about people who come to my door hoping to enlighten me, is that if I mention a topic counter to “the way they’ve been taught”, they tell me so and leave.

In my humble opinion (IMHO), this means they’ve been indoctrinated into someone else’s belief and aren’t willing to examine all of the evidence – even though that’s what they’re ostensibly expecting from me. They seem to have allowed the “accepted opinion” of their church leaders to become their own and have turned off their thinking caps.

Jehova Witness Doctrine

For the purposes of this blog entry, I will focus on the questions found on the back of the February 1, 2013 issue of “The WatchTower” (shown below with their answers below the question, interpreted exclusively from the Bible):

Where did the Devil come from?

God did not create the Devil. Instead, God created the
angel who later became the Devil, also known as Satan. Jesus imiplied that at one the time the Devil had been truthful and guiltless. Originally, then, the Devil was a righteous angelic son of God – John 8:44

How could an angel become the Devil?

The angel who became the Devil chose to oppose God and
incited the first human pair to join him. He thus made himself Satan, which means “Resister”. Genesis 3:1-5; Book of Revelations 12:9.

Like the rest of God’s creatures, the angel that became
the Devil had the freedom to choose between doing right and wrong, but he developed a desire to be worshipped. His desire for glory was stronger than his desire to please God. Matthew 4:8-9; James 1:13-14.

How has the Devil continued to influence humans? Should
you fear him? You can find the answers to these questions in the Bible.

Checking the Facts

First, checking the Bible to see if I agree with their interpretation of the references they cite:

Where did the devil come from?

Referring to the biblical quote (John 8:44):

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. – John 8:44 KJV

These words were spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees, who were
continually trying to manipulate Him into violating their scriptural edicts so
they could stone him to death. No mention of Satan here, nor any explanation of
where the devil came from – just a reference to the devil as the “father of
lies”.

Next question:

How could an Angel* become the Devil?

* capitalization is mine because for some reason they consistently favored Devil over angel in capitalizing (:-0)!

Looking at the referenced biblical quotes (Genesis 3:1-5):

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:1-5 KJV

This is the famous scene where Eve is deceived by the serpent into eating the fruit and getting kicked out of the garden of Eden. Is the serpent the same as the devil?

Next quote (Revelation 12:9):

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Revelation 12:9 KJV

Okay, here it does say that the serpent is also called the devil – also called the dragon – and that “his angels were cast out with him” (implying that he himself is probably an angel too). But it looks to me like it clearly identifies Satan as being someone else and not the Devil! And that between them, they deceived the whole world (I.E. use of the word “which” instead of “that” or “who”, and no mention on the word “Satan” meaning “resister” here, so they must have pulled that from somewhere else).

That’s quite different from the Jehovah Witness explanation and I see no reason not to believe my interpretation, especially if the quoted text is the only proof we have. What do you think (but before answering that, you might want to read on)?

The next statement from the pamphlet says that the devil’s desire for glory was stronger than his desire to please God and that he had the freedom to choose between right and wrong, and that the passages from Matthew 4:8 and James 1:13-14 will bear this out:

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world,
and the glory of them;
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Matthew 4:8-9 KJV

A quote from the story of Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert and meeting the devil, who tempted him to take allegiance with him instead of God. I’m satisfied that the Devil had desire for glory, but the next reference seems a bit odd:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. James 1:13-14 KJV.

This attempt to explain how an angel became the devil uses the example of a man being “drawn away of his own lust”, and is a pretty big leap of faith to assume that an angel experiences the same temptation as a man! I’m just not comfortable drawing that conclusion on my own.

And finally:

How has the Devil continued to influence humans? Should you
fear him?

The Jehovah Witnesses say that the answers to these questions can be found in the Bible, but unfortunately – as we’ve seen here -  every question the Bible answers, it sometimes poses more that are not. Since we’re only batting about 50% so far, I’m not going to try to answer  “Can the devil can still influence humans” because I don’t think it can be without making an unjustified leap of logic (IMHO). But are there any additional reference materials that can shine more light on this topic and perhaps answer these questions in a more satisfactory manner?

The Urantia Book

I’m glad you asked! There’s a book – available on-line in its entirety – that adds a whole new layer of knowledge to exactly such questions as these – the oddly named “Urantia Book”.

“Urantia” is the name of Earth in the higher planes, but the question of who authored the book is itself the subject of considerable research (as explained on the web site), since “they” don’t reveal who the (human) authors are. Naturally they want to avoid the possibility that the purity of the message may be corrupted over time (a la the Pharisees and earlier scripture) if it becomes too strongly associated with one individual or group.

But it would seem that as we enter the new millenium spiritual sources have arisen to the challenge of a faster evolving planet, supplying a plethora of answers to our long held questions, even adding new knowledge about things we’d never think to ask about! And the best part is that it’s on-line and fully searchable!

So without  further ado, let’s see if the Urantia Book can answer these Watchtower questions with a little more finality. But first, let’s take a look at what Jesus said about relying entirely on the Bible for ones spiritual wisdom:

Urantia Book on Jesus and the Bible

One of the great things about the Urantia Book is that it has transcripts of what Jesus said when he was on Earth (because spiritual sources have records of such things). Here, he was having a conversation with Nathaniel (the same Nathaniel of whom He said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” John 1:47 KJV):

159:4.6 “The thing most deplorable is not merely this erroneous idea of the absolute perfection of the Scripture record and the infallibility of its teachings, but rather the confusing misinterpretation of these sacred writings by the tradition-enslaved scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem. And now will they employ both the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures and their misinterpretations thereof in their determined effort to withstand these newer teachings of the gospel of the kingdom. Nathaniel, never forget, the Father does not limit the revelation of truth to any one generation or to any one people. Many earnest seekers after the truth have been, and will continue to be, confused and disheartened by these doctrines of the perfection of the Scriptures.

Wise words bordering on common sense if you ask me. The important point to me here was that “The Father does not limit the revelation of truth to any one generation or to any one people”. This means that we could have prophets in our midst now and that this has always beent the case with every generation (I.E. Edgar Cayce, Ellen White, Frederick Oliver, Joseph Smith Jr., Mohammed, etc).

Where did the Devil Come From?

Let’s now see if we can answer this question. This information is readily available in the chapter called “The Lucifer Rebellion” and I will start off with its description of Lucifer, since this helps answer one of the later questions anyways:

Lucifer

LUCIFER was a brilliant primary Lanonandek Son of
Nebadon. He had experienced service in many systems, had been a high counselor of his group, and was distinguished for wisdom, sagacity, and efficiency. Lucifer was number 37 of his order, and when commissioned by the Melchizedeks, he was designated as one of the one hundred most able and brilliant
personalities in more than seven hundred thousand of his kind. From such a magnificent beginning, through evil and error, he embraced sin and now is numbered as one of three System Sovereigns in Nebadon who have succumbed to the urge of self and surrendered to the sophistry of spurious personal liberty — rejection of universe allegiance and disregard of fraternal obligations, blindness to cosmic relationships.

53:0.2 In the universe of Nebadon, the domain of Christ Michael, there are ten thousand systems of inhabited worlds.
In all the history of Lanonandek Sons, in all their work throughout these thousands of systems and at the universe headquarters, only three System Sovereigns have ever been found in contempt of the government of the Creator Son.

glossary

Nebadon is the name of the universe containing Earth (there are over 700,000 universes but their definition does not equate to the Earthly definition of “everything there is” because elsewhere it says that some of them can be seen from Earth).

Christ Michael is Jesus, since it is explained elsewhere (in the book) that he is an ArchAngel Michael; which is not his name, but his class of ArchAngel (I.E. top dog god class in the angelic hierarchy below God, the original creator). There are 700,000 (give or take one) ArchAngel Michaels, each having created their own physical universe, but they are not total sovereign owners until they complete their “bestowal” (I.E. living through a cycle of lives as a creature on one of their worlds). Christ Michael I.E. Jesus, chose Earth – out of 10,000 potential inhabited worlds in the universe that he created (Nebadon)!– to do his bestowal.

Lucifer was a Primary Lanondeck Son, meaning he was at or near the top of the spiritual hierarchy that rules Nebadon. He was personally responsble for development on 607 inhabited planets in the Nebadon realm (our universe) before he went bad.

Malchesedeks. Anyone familiar with the Bible should recognize this name (I.E. the “priest of Salem” that met with Abraham). The Makchesedeks are apparently higher in the hierarchy than Lucifer was since they commisioned his assignment.

Satan

In the early days, Lucifer had a very low or no profile on Earth because he always sent his lieutenant Satan to Earth for any meetings with the “Planetary Prince”. Both were held in high esteem when they were working for God. In fact, the star system that contains Urantia (Earth) is called Satania and it is large (containing over 7,000 solar systems; not necessarily all inhabited). Strangely, I was not able to confirm that it was named after Satan, or vice versa, but that could be because of his currently discredited status in the universal hierarchy.

Satania is one of one hundred local systems which make up the administrative organization of the constellation of Norlatiadek, having as immediate neighbors the systems of
Sandmatia, Assuntia, Porogia, Sortoria, Rantulia, and Glantonia. The Norlatiadek systems differ in many respects, but all are evolutionary and progressive, very much like Satania.

41:2.2 Satania itself is composed of over seven thousand astronomical groups, or physical systems, few of which had an
origin similar to that of your solar system. The astronomic center of Satania is an enormous dark island of space which, with its attendant spheres, is situated not far from the headquarters of the system government.

Satan was of the same class being as Lucifer (Primary Lanonandeks), but was more of a “newbie” as opposed to Lucifer, who was a seasoned administrative veteran of several star systems already.

The Devil

 

53:1.4 Very little was heard of Lucifer on Urantia owing to the fact that he assigned his first lieutenant, Satan, to advocate his cause on your planet. Satan was a member of the same primary group of Lanonandeks but had never functioned as a System Sovereign; he entered fully into the Lucifer insurrection. The “devil” is none other than Caligastia, the
deposed Planetary Prince of Urantia and a Son of the secondary order of Lanonandeks. At the time Michael was on Urantia in the flesh, Lucifer, Satan, and Caligastia were leagued together to effect the miscarriage of his bestowal mission. But they signally failed.

Caligastia had been the Planetary Prince of Earth for 300,000 years already when the invite came from Lucifer to join the rebellion, which he readily accepted.
The Planetary Prince is the diety placed directly in charge of the inhabitants progress; not visible to physical mortals. He was deposed by Jesus (after His resurrection) who has now been the “Planetary Prince Pro Tem” for the last 2000 years.

Here are a few more characters mentioned in the Bible and how they fit into the scheme of things:

53:1.5 Abaddon was the chief of the staff of Caligastia. He followed his master into rebellion and has ever since acted as
chief executive of the Urantia rebels. Beelzebub was the leader of the disloyal midway creatures who allied themselves with the forces of the traitorous Caligastia.

Glossary

Abbadon – Book of Revelation 9:11

Beelzebub – Matthew 12:24,27

Midway Creatures – Invisible beings that are halfway between the spirit dimension and 3rd dimension who do a lot of the actual hands-on work in administering God’s laws in the 3rd dimension (executing karma for example).

For a thorough comparison between what the Bible says and what the Urantia Book says about topics related to the Lucifer Rebellion, see this web page.

The Serpent

The “Dragon” is a euphemism for all of these bad boys working together:

53:1.6 The dragon eventually became the symbolic representation of all these evil personages. Upon the triumph of Michael, “Gabriel came down from Salvington and bound the dragon (all the rebel leaders) for an age.” Of the Jerusem seraphic rebels it is written: “And the angels who kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, he has reserved in sure chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day.”

How could an Angel become the Devil?

Since Lucifer was only one of three system sovereigns to go bad, this issue has been looked at quite rigorously (by celestial high command), but all they could conclude was:

53:2.2 There were no peculiar or special conditions in the system of Satania which suggested or favored rebellion. It is
our belief that the idea took origin and form in Lucifer’s mind, and that he might have instigated such a rebellion no matter where he might have been stationed. Lucifer first announced his plans to Satan, but it required several months to corrupt the mind of his able and brilliant associate. However, when
once converted to the rebel theories, he became a bold and earnest advocate of “self-assertion and liberty.”

And finally,

How has the Devil continued to influence humans and should we
fear him?

After reading all that, it is surprising to see that the devil is still around!:

53:8.6 The last act of Michael before leaving Urantia was to offer mercy to Caligastia and Daligastia, but they spurned his tender proffer. Caligastia, your apostate Planetary Prince, is
still free on Urantia to prosecute his nefarious designs, but he has absolutely no power to enter the minds of men, neither can he draw near to their souls to tempt or corrupt them unless they really desire to be cursed with his wicked presence.

Michael left Urantia by ascending on a beam of light after his resurrection as Jesus (Daligastia is Caligastia’s assistant, who also joined the rebellion).

A word of warning is in order after reading this however. If you’re ever tempted to say “the devil made me do it” after indulging some sinful urge, and feel like you’re safely protected by this “New Age Scripture” – the powers-that-be also have this to say:

53:8.9 In general, when weak and dissolute mortals are supposed to be under the influence of devils and demons, they are merely being dominated by their own inherent and debased tendencies, being led away by their own natural propensities. The devil has been given a great deal of credit for evil which does not belong to him. Caligastia has been comparatively impotent since the cross of Christ.

Conclusion

If you’re a serious Bible student and new to the Urantia Book, you probably have a lot more questions after reading all of that; and it’s quite possible that after reading the entire Urantia Book, your questions still wouldn’t be answered. But I have read large chunks of it and found most – if not all – of my questions answered more satisfactorily than the Bible by itself.

The Bible is and always will be an excellent resource, but there’s nothing wrong with now-and-then going to the Urantia “Cliff Notes” Book for the actual answer to questions that have haunted us throughout the ages.

As for myself, when I first discovered the Urantia book, I immediately started adding the material to my own book (unpublished as of yet), which was an attempt to use the Cayce readings (and a few other sources) for a truer picture of human pre-history. I was using the on-line version on a daily basis when a hard cover copy of the book appeared in my life as if by magic: It was on the $3.00 specials at my local bookstore (which I used to browse nightly on my evening walks). They didn’t have any record of the book in their inventory and had to charge me $3.00 on a “general merchandize” category (it’s a very thick and large, hard cover book which is worth more like $100). Personally, I have no problem with the idea of a Divine material manifestation because that wasn’t the first time it’s happened (nor will it be the last), but admittedly, your mileage might vary with the idea.

 

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