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An Analysis and Critique of Claimed Contemporary Revelations from Jesus Christ

An Analysis and Critique of Claimed Contemporary Revelations from Jesus Christ

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The New Age movement is usually characterized as a broad cultural trend that is impacting the Christian West with non-Christian (i.e., non-biblical) philosophic and religious ideas of primarily Eastern origin. However, it is notable that this movement has not ignored the central figure of the Christian faith. Indeed, Jesus Christ is given a prominent place — at least on the surface — in the messages of a number of major New Age leaders and authors, and some of these sources explicitly claim to be modern-day supernatural revelations from Jesus.

"The New Age sources examined in this article explicitly claim to be modern revelations from Jesus Christ." 

Given the dominant role of Christianity in shaping Western civilization, it is not surprising that in seeking to reshape the religious sensibilities of the Western world some New Age leaders should find it desirable to make room for Jesus in their belief systems. However, Jesus the religious symbol was also an historical person whose life and message can be documented with some degree of scientific accuracy from historical records (including, but not limited to, the New Testament documents) surviving from antiquity. This raises the question of whether the New Age movement has actually established genuine connections with the historical Jesus, or whether its connections are superficial and unhistorical.

Before proceeding, one question should be answered unequivocally, since the relevance of this paper hinges on it: when the New Age revelations under consideration speak of "Jesus," do they explicitly mean to establish a connection to the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament Gospels? There can be no doubt that they do so intend, for almost all of the revelations, with varying degrees of detail and sophistication, offer reconstructions of Jesus’ life (especially the years from age twelve to about thirty, on which the gospels are silent) that are obvious elaborations on the New Testament record. The New Age sources analyzed in this paper go beyond simply offering a reinterpretation of the historical (New Testament) record about Jesus, and explicitly claim to be contemporary supernatural revelations from or about him. 1

The purpose of this paper, then, is to provide a concise examination and critique of the salient teachings of representative New Age sources which claim to be modern-day revelations from or about Jesus, and especially to consider the grounds which they adduce for connecting their message to him.

Analysis

A survey of the New Age movement reveals at least a half-dozen books and/or personalities (some with organized groups of followers, others with more informal audiences) whose messages explicitly and prominently feature the claim of contemporary revelation from or about Jesus. The chart below lists the major contemporary sources of these revelations, along with some of their historical antecedents. As the chart indicates, these claimed revelations can be grouped into three basic categories — theosophical-occult, pseudoscientific, and metaphysical — according to the dominant perspective of the message and its characterization of Jesus.

A brief explanation concerning the derivation of the categories: the theosophical-occult category is derived from the theosophical movement which traces back to the nineteenth century and in which the term occult refers to secret spiritual (gnostic) truth.

The pseudoscientific category attempts to characterize the unique perspective of The Urantia Book, which purports to fully engage scientific and philosophic questions by providing an expansive commentary on human history and culture, as well as describing a vast, quasi-astronomical cosmology. However, the custodians of the Urantia revelation rebuff questions about the means of its transmission, so that in the absence of any means of cross-checking its extraterrestrial or super-terrestrial material, these vast claims must be judged pseudoscientific.

Finally, the metaphysical category is derived from the fundamental premise of A Course in Miracles that evil is illusory. This premise may be familiar to many from the teachings of the Christian Science sect established by Mary Baker Eddy, to which A Course in Miracles has many analogies.

Three of the claimed revelations, one representing each of these categories, are especially important because they are actively circulating and attracting new followers: The Lost Teachings of Jesus (2 vols.) by Mark and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Urantia Book, and A Course in Miracles.

The theosophical-occult school is the best represented of the three categories of New Age Jesus revelations, has the fullest history, and fits most characteristically the cluster of themes usually associated with New Age thought: pantheism, karma, reincarnation, Eastern mysticism and astrology. While it is customary to think of the New Age movement as emerging from the 1960’s counterculture movement, it is interesting to note that Levi Dowling’s The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, first published in 1907, constitutes a full-fledged channeled work, replete with all the basic New Age jargon and astrological schemes of a new dispensation of human spiritual evolution and expanded consciousness.
                                

Major New Age Views of Jesus Christ
Theosophical-Occult Pseudoscientific, Philosophical Metaphysical
 Jesus as ascended (occult) master Jesus as angelic administrator ("Creator Son") Jesus as example of right thinking
Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (1901)

 
The Urantia Book (1955) Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, With Key to the Scriptures (1875)
Levin Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ (1907)   A Course in Miracles (1975)
Alice Bailey, From Bethlehem to Calvary (1937): The Reappearance of the Christ (1948)    
David Spangler, Revelation (1976)    
Benjamin Crème, The Reappearance of the Christ (1980)    
J. Z. Knight, "Jesus Speaks" (1981)    
Mark & Elizabeth Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus (1984); The Lost Teachings of Jesus (1986)    


A. Who is Jesus?

1. Negatively defined

As will be detailed through the course of this paper, the various claimed New Age Jesus revelations have both substantial differences among themselves in their teachings, and outright contradictions on a number of points in their respective reconstructions of the life of the historical Jesus and on other matters. However, they are in remarkable agreement on several basic points, including the question of who Jesus is not: each declares emphatically that he is not the unique son of God of orthodox Christianity, nor is his role as a spiritual teacher, though acknowledged as important, in any way exclusive.

Among the occult revelations, The Aquarian Gospel, for instance, says that the doctrine that Jesus was eternal God in the flesh is "wholly at variance with the teachings of Jesus himself and of his apostles."2 The Lost Teachings of Jesus informs readers that "Churches have changed it all around. They think of Jesus as the only begotten Son of God without understanding that this is the matrix from which we were all made."3 Benjamin Crème’s revelation complains that "the Christian Churches have released into the world a view of the Christ which is impossible for modern people to accept: as the one and only Son of God …. To my mind the Churches have overemphasized the divinity of the Christ. He is divine, but in the [same] way that you and I are divine.4

In the pseudoscientific category, The Urantia Book agrees, explaining that "Jesus founded the religion of personal experience in doing the will of god," but that this was perverted by the apostle Paul, who "founded a religion in which the glorified Jesus became the object of worship."5 It describes orthodox Christianity as "the religion about Jesus," and offers to direct us back to "the religion of Jesus."6

And finally, in the metaphysical category, A Course in Miracles strikes at Jesus' unique status by teachings that indeed, God has only one son, but this Son is then defined as the totality of his one creation, so that each of us is "an integral part of the whole Sonship."7

2. Positively defined

The theosophical-occult New Age revelations present Jesus Christ as the enlightened master or world teacher of the Piscean astrological dispensation or age. There are really two distinct Christologies within this group. In the dominant conception, represented by Besant, Dowling, Bailey, Knight and Prophet, Jesus is a man who, through a series of occult initiations — usually considered to have taken place over multiple lifetimes (reincarnations) — completes a process of spiritual evolution (or occult initiation) by which he achieves the office of "the Christ" and joins a fellowship of other ascended masters, variously described as including Buddha, Melchizedesk, St. Germain and other great religious or occult figures of the past. Each of these ascended masters is said to have made an important contribution to the spiritual advancement of the race during his earthly career, and allegedly continues to play a role in the spiritual affairs of the planet.

David Spangler and Benjamin Crème propose a somewhat different, adoptionist Christology, whereby the man Jesus is overshadowed by a "mighty spirit being" (whom Crème identifies as Lord Maitreya). By this process Jesus is said to have become a vessel for channeling cosmic forces that work to raise the entire human race to a higher level of spiritual consciousness. We are said by Spangler and Crème to presently stand at the dawn of a new age in which this process will be repeated, moving the planet up yet another notch on the scale of spiritual evolution.8

In The Urantia Book Jesus is presented as but one of hundreds of thousands of "Creator Sons," angelic creatures who administer a vast expanse of local universes on behalf of the "Paradise Trinity." Jesus was the name for the earthly incarnation ("bestowal") of the Creator Son of the system in which earth (Urantia) is located: his real name is Michael.

According to A Course in Miracles (which reads like an updated version of Christian Science), Jesus was merely a man, but the first to cast off the veil of unreality created by the ego and to fully understand the illusory nature of sin and evil. In doing this he was able to practice true forgiveness (which the Course defines as denying the reality of sin — one’s own and that of others); Jesus is thus the preeminent example of right thinking.

B. What was Jesus’ mission and message?

1. Negatively defined

As with the issue of Jesus’ identity, there is remarkable agreement among the various New Age revelations that his message and mission do not correspond to the major doctrines of orthodox, biblical Christianity, most importantly, that (1) man stands morally guilty before a personal, holy God; that as such (2) he is under the sentence of eternal punishment, and that (3) salvation is based on the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. To cite just a few examples, in a tape-recorded J. Z. Knight channeling session, Jesus thunders: "Never taught I of hell, never taught I of punishment."9 And both Dowling’s Aquarian Gospel and The Urantia Book describe the revulsion of the 12-year-old Jesus upon first witnessing the Temple sacrifices, and his refusal to celebrate the Passover feast because of its religious symbolism of sin and atonement.10 A Course in Miracles says simply that "Judgment is not an attribute of God," and that Jesus came as a lamb only in the sense of his innocence: "Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God."11 Indeed, the Course has Jesus saying, "the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take" And that "the message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted."12 In other words, the cross was a teaching device to show that persecution, suffering, death and propitiation are illusory or false beliefs.

2. Positively defined

For the theosophical-occult New Age revelations, Jesus’ mission was to teach the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man to society at large and to initiate the spiritually advanced in occult mysteries. His death and resurrection are understood as an "occult crucifixion and ascension" that releases cosmic powers for the spiritual transformation of the race.

In The Urantia Book the incarnation — called "Michael’s bestowal" — is described as a requirement placed on "Creator Sons," to enable them to rule more wisely. Jesus’ coming is described as "the fourth epochal revelation" in the history of Urantia, the previous (third) epoch being that of Melchizedesk, and the fifth "epochal revelation" being The Urantia Book. The Universal Father loves all his creatures, and down through the aeons of time has sent this continuous stream of special messengers, through whose ministries mankind is to progressively evolve upward.

C. What grounds are advanced for connecting the New Age revelations to Jesus?

1. Negative: the supposedly flawed, inadequate nature of the New Testament record.

None of the New Age Jesus revelations flatly reject the Bible. Instead, they will alternately (1) engage in its radical reinterpretation along non-historical-grammatical lines, (2) attack the fidelity of its textual transmission, (3) deny that the apostolic authors properly understood Jesus’ message, (4) reject the delimitations of the New Testament canon in favor of the second and third century gnostic gospels, or (5) practice some combination of the first four methods.

The older theosophical-occult New Age works engage primarily in figurative or allegorical reinterpretation of selective passages of the Bible to produce a theory that Jesus had secret, occult teachings which were orally transmitted to the apostles and other adepts down through history. Among the more recent sources, Elizabeth Clare Prophet uses this methodology, but also marshals evidence against the integrity of the New Testament records and in favor of the Gnostic gospels (including the Nag Hammadi literature) from modern biblical critical scholarship and from several journalistically tenuous turn-of-the-century accounts that report a journey by Jesus to India and Tibet during his young manhood (where his initiation into the secrets of Eastern mysticism is chronicled), the period on which the Bible is silent (the so-called "lost years" of Jesus).13

The Urantia Book relies on the tools of mainstream, liberal critical scholarship to mount an attack against the inspired authorship and evangelical interpretation of the Bible, based on a sophisticated understanding of biblical critical studies and history of religions and comparative religions studies (contemporary with the time in which it was written, 1934-35).

2. Positive: impressive contemporary supernatural channeling experiences.

All of the New Age Jesus revelations mentioned in this paper claim to have their origin in some form of channeling from a supernatural agency. Two of the contemporary channeled works — The Urantia Book and A Course in Miracles — are especially impressive in their scope and level of sophistication, as well as the unusual circumstances in which they were produced.

The Urantia Book is nearly 2,100 pages in length and claims to have been channeled through a patient of University of Chicago psychiatrist William Sadler, with the patient having no knowledge of the wide-ranging historical and philosophic subject matter covered in the book, and no memory of the material following the channeling session.14

Dr. Sadler’s patient has recently been identified as Wilfred C. Kellogg, son of Rev. Charles L. S. Kellogg (a Seventh-day Adventist minister) and a half-nephew to the founder of the Kellogg Cornflake Company. He was also Dr. Sadler’s brother-in-law. The theology of The Urantia Book bears a number of similarities with Adventist teaching, including the doctrines of soul sleep, the ultimate annihilation of the unsaved, and Jesus being Michael the archangel before his incarnation. Wilfred Kellogg was a founding trustee of the Urantia Foundation and died in 1956.15

A Course in Miracles with its attached Workbook for Students and Manual for Teachers totals 1,188 large pages. It was purportedly channeled through Helen Schucman, an atheistic Jewish psychologist at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, with assistance from Schucman’s colleague Dr. William Thetford.16 One measure of its sophistication is the intellectual caliber of some of its adherents. As an example, Roger Walsh, an M.D., Ph.D. professor of psychiatry and philosophy at the University of California at Irvine, who has studied the Course for 10 years, writes that, "I’m now at the point where I feel it’s on a par with any other material or discipline I’ve seen."17

These works are impressive both in their scope and in the apparently supernatural manner in which they were produced, and it is the combination of these factors that constitutes the argument for a supernatural connection to Jesus.

Critique

A. The biblical and extra-biblical records are adequate for establishing a reliable picture of the character and message of the historical Jesus.

The limits of this presentation do not allow for an extensive consideration of the evidence for the historical trustworthiness of the New Testament documents, and these facts are readily available in other sources.18 However, by way of outline, there are five basic criteria by which the authenticity and adequacy of the New Testament records concerning Jesus Christ can be demonstrated: (1) they were all written circa A.D. 50-95, during the generation alive at the time of Jesus’ public ministry, (2) they were written under eyewitness control, (3) the core of the New Testament — the four gospels and the Pauline epistles — were widely circulated and accepted as authentic witnesses to Jesus by the early second century, (4) there is excellent manuscript evidence demonstrating the faithful transmission of these New Testament books, and (5) a number of basic facts regarding the life of Jesus and his ministry as described in the New Testament are corroborated by near-contemporary non-Christian witnesses.19

The charge from some New Agers that we should question the biblical picture of Jesus’ person, message and mission on the basis of second and third century documents such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Nag Hammadi materials, which paint him as a teacher of Gnostic secrets, is dismissed by the majority of New Testament scholars.20 Similarly, the notion that the process of establishing the canon of the New Testament was an arbitrary political matter, with the Gnostic gospels excluded and suppressed because they embarrassed orthodox Christians, is not supported by an objective evaluation of the facts of history.21

B. The New Age Jesus revelations sharply conflict with the character and message of the historical Jesus.

A number of examples were considered earlier in this paper of the fundamental conflict of the claimed New Age Jesus revelations and the New Testament record. These revelations are at variance with the only sound historical date for the life and teachings of Jesus, an awesome obstacle to establishing their credibility and reliability.

C. The competing New Age Jesus revelations sharply conflict with one another.

If the various New Age Jesus sources are true revelations from God or other supernatural powers, we may reasonably expect them to be consistent among themselves, but this is not the case at all. The instances of basic chronological and other contradictions are numerous. Consider a few notable examples:

(1) According to Besant’s reconstruction of Jesus’ young manhood, he spent the period from his twelfth year to his twenty-ninth year in an Essene Community in Egypt,22 whereas Mark and Elizabeth Prophet place him in various locations in India or Tibet during this period.23

(2) The Urantia Book tells us that Jesus toured the Mediterranean and visited India and the Far East in the company of an Indian merchant and his son,24 while according to J. Z. Knight he made the trip with John the Baptist,25 and Dowling has him escorted by an Indian prince named Ravanna.26

(3) Dowling, the Prophets, Spangler and others make astrology and reincarnation fundamental truths,27 but The Urantia Book ridicules astrology and castigates the doctrine of reincarnation as a blight on the civilizations that have long believed it — notably India.28

Because they so seriously contradict one another, the various New Age Jesus sources must be considered competing claims of supernatural revelations from God. If any one is thought to be true, the authenticity of all those that contradict it on fundamental points must necessarily be rejected.

D. The channeling phenomenon is a wholly inadequate basis for establishing ultimate spiritual truth-claims.

Thoughtful New Age thinkers acknowledge that an adequate explanation for channeling is extremely difficult, and that this is complicated by the numerous examples of fundamental contradiction and incompatibility within the huge body of purportedly channeled material. In a recent article in Gnosis magazine, for example, Swedenborgian minister and author James Lawrence candidly acknowledges,

As all channeled material reputes to be from higher realms and beings, they claim a certain authority, which makes their contradictions hard to reconcile.29

Conclusions

The claimed New Age Jesus revelations place their adherents in a classic Catch-22 situation: in order to accept any of these revelations as a touchstone of truth, one must acknowledge certain fundamental premises — namely, the reality of the historical Jesus and his deep significance as a source of spiritual truth, hope, and salvation. Yet, as we have seen, the content of each of the New Age revelations stands fundamentally opposed to what the historical evidence reveals about Jesus’ person, work, and message. This contradiction cannot be resolved by simply denying the authenticity of the New Testament records, since all of the New Age Jesus revelations presume the reality of the historical Jesus, which in turn is grounded almost entirely in the New Testament records.

To accept the historical Jesus described in the New Testament is to demolish, by turn, each of the various New Age Jesus revelations, while to reject the New Testament is to erase the most substantial historical records for Jesus, and thus to undermine the historical foundation upon which the revelations are based. Thus, both the acceptance and the rejections of the New Testament doom the entire class of New Age Jesus revelations — a classic Catch-22.

The New Age Jesus revelations are both a "flight from history"30 and a flight from reason. They are a flight from history because they are established on subjective, contemporary experiences that contradict the historical records; they are a flight from reason because they can only be accepted as authentic by ignoring these blatant contradictions.

Evaluated by the only truth test for cross-checking their authenticity — the biblical and extrabiblical historical records for Jesus — they are fraudulent. There is no good reason to trust them and many good reasons for concluding that they are delusive concoctions sure to lead one to intellectual and spiritual delusion.

 



BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Bailey, Alice A. From Bethlehem to Calvary. New York: Lucis Publishing Company, 1937, 1965.

_______ . The Reappearance of the Christ. New York: Lucis Publishing Company, 1948, 1984.

Barnett, Paul. Is the New Testament History? Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Publications, 1986.

Besant, Annie. Esoteric Christianity. Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House, 1901, 1987.

Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1987.

A Course in Miracles. Vol. 1, Text. Vol. 2, Workbook for Students. Vol. 3, Manual for Teachers. Tiburon, California: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975, 1985.

Crème, Benjamin. The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom. Lost Angeles: Tara Center, 1980.

Dart, John. The Jesus of Heresy and History. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.

Dowling, Levi H. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Marina Del Rey, Calif.: DeVorss & Co., Publishers, 1907, 1964. (The edition published in London by L. N. Fowler and Company is paginated differently.)

France, R. T. The Evidence for Jesus. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986.

Goodspeed, Edgar J. Famous Biblical Hoaxes. 1931. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1956.

Grant, R. M. "The New Testament Canon." In The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 1, From the Beginnings to Jerome, edited by P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, 284-307. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1963.

Habermas, Gary R. The Verdict of History. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1988.

Hoyt, Karen, ed. The New Age Rage. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1987.

James, M. R. The Apocryphal New Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924, 1986.

Klimo, Jon. Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1987.

McDowell, Josh, and Bill Wilson. He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus. San Bernardino, Calif.: Here’s Life Publishers, 1988.

Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987, 1988.

Prophet, Elizabeth Clare. The Lost Years of Jesus. Livingston, Mont.: Summit University Press, 1984.

Prophet, Mark L., and Elizabeth Clare Prophet. The Lost Teachings of Jesus. Vol. 1, Missing Texts, Karma and Reincarnation. Livingston, Mont.: Summit University Press, 1986. Vol. 2, Mysteries of the Higher Self, 1988.

Raschke, Carl A. The Interruption of Eternity: Modern Gnosticism and the Origins of the New Religious Consciousness. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1980.

Skutch, Robert. Journey Without Distance: The Story Behind A Course in Miracles. Berkeley, Calif.: Celestial Arts, 1984.

Spangler, David. Revelation: The Birth of a New Age. San Francisco: The Rainbow Bridge, 1976.

The Urantia Book. Chicago: Urantia Foundation, 1955.

Winterhalter, Robert. The Fifth Gospel: A Verse-By-Verse New Age Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1977, 1988.

Journals and Periodicals

Canon, Stephen F. "Evaluating the Urantia Book." Personal Freedom Outreach Newsletter (St. Louis, Mo.), October-December 1987, 4-6.

Gardner, Martin. "Notes of a Fringe-Watcher." Skeptical Inquirer 15, no. 3 (1991): 242-44, with significant corrections appearing in 16, no. 1 (1991): 27-28.

Geisler, Norman L. "The New Age Movement." Bibliotheca Sacra 144 (1987): 79-104.

Halverson, Dean C. "A Course in Miracles: Seeing YourSelf [sic] as Sinless." SCP Journal 7, no. 1 (1987): 18-29.

_______ . "A Matter of Course: Conversation with Kenneth Wapnick." SCP Journal 7, no. 1 (1987): 8-17.

Klimo, Jon. "The Psychology of Channeling." New Age Journal, November-December 1987, 32ff.

Koffend, John. "The Gospel According to Helen." Psychology Today, September 1980, 74-90.

Lawrence, James F. "The Swendenborgian Church." Gnosis, Summer 1989, 55-61.

Miller, Elliot. "Channeling: Spiritistic Revelations for the New Age, Part 1." Christian Research Journal 10, no. 2 (1987): 8-15.

_______ . "Channeling: Spiritistic Revelations for the New Age, Part 2." Christian Research Journal 10, no. 3 (1988): 16-22.

Rhodes, Ronald C. "The new Age Christology of David Spangler." Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (1987): 402-418.

Walsh, Roger. "The Perennial Wisdom of A Course in Miracles." Common Boundary, January-February 1989, 10-17.

"Who is Jesus and Why Did He Come to Earth?" Special issue of The Jesusonian (Boulder, Colo.). 1988, 13.

Other Sources

Knight, J. Z. Jesus Speaks. Audio-cassette recording of the "Ramtha Dialogues," vol. A, no. 3. Yelms, Wash.: J. Z. Knight, 1981.

_______ . Story of Jesus. Audio-cassette recording of the "Ramtha Dialogues," vol. A., no. 13. Yelms, Wash.: J. Z. Knight, 1982.

Sprunger, Meredith J. Origins of The Urantia Book. Boulder, Colo.: The Jesusonian Foundation, 1988. Pamphlet.

_______ . The Urantia Book and Religious Studies. Boulder, Colo.: The Jesusonian Foundation, 1988. Pamphlet.

_______ . The World Mission of The Urantia Book. Boulder, Colo.: The Jesusonian Foundation, 1988. Pamphlet.
 



ENDNOTES

Complete publication data for the books and authors which appear in these Endnotes can be found by referring to the Bibliography, above.

1. For example, see: Besant, Esoteric Christianity, 87; Course in Miracles, 3:56; Crème, Reappearance of the Christ, 14; Halverson, “Conversation with Kenneth Wapnick,” 10-11 (Wapnick helped Helen Schucman and William Thetford put A Course in Miracles in published form); Knight, Jesus Speaks; Prophet and Prophet, Lost Teachings, 1:34, 36, 84; Spangler, Revelation, 16, 17, 20, 21, 46-52; Sprunger, Origins of The Urantia Book; Sprunger, The World Mission of the Urantia Book; and Urantia Book, 1, 1341-44.

2. Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, 13.

3. Prophet and Prophet, Lost Teachings, 1:67.

4. Crème, 47.

5. Urantia Book, 2092.

6. Ibid., 2091: see also Sprunger, The Urantia Book and Religious Studies.

7. Course in Miracles: Text, 29.

8. Crème, 46-48: Spangler, 120-121.

9. Knight, Jesus Speaks.

10. Dowling, 52 (18:2-12); Urantia Book, 1378-79.

11. Course in Miracles: Text, 29, 33.

12. Ibid., 85 (italics in original).

13. Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus.

14. Sprunger, Origins.

15. Gardner, “Notes of a Fringe-Watch,” 16:27-28 and 15:243.

16. Skutch, Journey Without Distance, 55ff.

17. Walsh, “The Perennial Wisdom of A Course in Miracles,” 10.

18. See especially Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels; Barnett, Is the New Testament History?; Habermas, The Verdict of History; and France, The Evidence for Jesus.

19. On this last point, see Barnett, 16-31, and McDowell and Wilson, He Walked Among Us, 23-70.

20. Blomberg, 208ff. Blomberg shows the shallow factual foundations and biased nature of theories by those few New Testament scholars who have championed the gnostic view of Jesus based on the Gospel of Thomas and other documents from Nag Hammadi, and cites the opinions of other New Testament scholars — including non-evangelicals — who share his views. For a journalistic account of the Nag Hammadi literature that is sympathetic to the radical scholars, see Dart, The Jesus of Heresy and History. Also, cf. Winterhalter, The Fifth Gospel. Through a New Ager, Winterhalter makes rather modest claims for the Gospel of Thomas and points out a number of sayings it attributes to Jesus, which cannot be considered genuine.

21. Grant, “The New Testament Canon,” 1:285. Grant, a liberal scholar, notes that “the three Synoptic Gospels were undoubtedly widely accepted in the second century as the rival gospels (According to the Hebrews, According to the Egyptians, According the Thomas, etc.) were not.” In other words, even very early — long before the establishment of a unified Church under the Roman bishop — the fact that the gnostic gospels did not record genuine sayings and historical details of the life of Jesus was evident to the majority of Christians. Cf. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, James, in his standard work on the new Testament apocryphal books (though before the Nag Hammadi discovery) says regarding those who make cavalier declarations about the arbitrary rejection of gnostic and other apocryphal works on the life of Christ. “The best answer to such loose talk has always been, and is now, to produce the writings and let them tell their own story. It will very quickly be seen that there is no question of any one’s having excluded them from the New Testament: they have done that for themselves.”

22. Besant, 89.

23. Prophet and Prophet, Lost Teachings, 2:83.

24. Urantia Book, 142ff.

25. Knight, Story of Jesus.

26. Dowling, 56-101 (21:1-60:22).

27. Dowling, 10, 76 (37:10-16); Spangler, 120; Prophet and Prophet, 1:47, where Jesus is called the “Piscean Master.”

28. Urantia Book critical of astrology, 963, 988, 990, 1337, 1680; and of reincarnation, 953, 1035, 1431, 1811, and esp. 1029.

29. Lawrence, “The Swedenborgian Church,” 59.

30. Raschke, The Interruption of Eternity, 23ff.