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How I Found the Urantia Book—MEREDITH SPRUNGER (1955) 


MY SPIRITUAL PILGRIMAGE began at the age of four when I recall saying to myself, “There is something about life that I do not understand, but I’m going to find out.” During the years that followed, my life was shaped by a series of peak experiences that led me through academic majors in philosophy and theology preparatory to ordination as a minister in the United Church of Christ.

After years of developing sermons and papers formulating my own spiritual experience that was centered in the religion of Jesus rather than the religion about Jesus, I realized that a new spiritual approach was needed in mainline Christian theology. I tentatively outlined a couple of books which needed to be written, and after some procrastination, I finally committed myself to the discipline of writing these books. Shortly after making this decision, the Urantia Book was placed in my hands.

In December of 1955 my wife Irene and I had stopped in to visit our friends, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Brueseke, in South Bend, Indiana. In addition to his pastoral activities, Ed served as chairman of a theological commission in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (later united with the Congregational Christian denomination to become the United Church of Christ). During the course of the visit Ed picked up a big blue book and handed it to me, saying, “Judge Louis Hammerschmidt (a member of his congregation) gave me this book. Some businessmen think this is a new Bible.”

I looked at the table of contents and read chapter headings like “The Messenger Hosts of Space,” written by One High in Authority, and “The Corps of the Finality,” authored by a Divine Counselor and One Without Name and Number! As I handed the book back to Ed, we had a hearty laugh about businessmen thinking they had a new Bible. I assumed that that would be the last I would see of the book.

At the time I was vice-president of the Indiana-Michigan Conference and Judge Hammerschmidt was the layperson on our conference board. In January I picked up the judge to attend a board meeting in Jackson, Michigan. During the trip Hammerschmidt brought up the topic of spiritualism, which he did not accept, and was a bit surprised that I had made a study of it. After a pause he turned to me and said, “Say, I’ve got a book that I would like to have you read and tell me what you think of it.” I knew he was referring to the Urantia Book, but to avoid hurting his feelings I replied, “Okay, Judge. Send it to me.”

When the book arrived I set it aside, not wanting to waste my time reading what appeared to be either esoteric nonsense or some elaborate system of theosophy. Periodically, I would read a bit in it here and there but I was not impressed. That summer I took it along on vacation but things didn’t get boring enough for me to look at the book. In September I realized that I would be in a meeting with Hammerschmidt in October and I had to read something and tell him what I thought about it.

Looking over the table of contents, I saw it had a section on the life and teachings of Jesus. I thought that with my theological training I could make short work of this section. As I started reading I did not find what I’d expected to find—something like The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi. The story of the early life of Jesus was more believable than the accounts one finds in the apocryphal stories of the boyhood of Jesus. It was something that might reasonably have happened.

As I proceeded to that aspect of the life of Jesus covered by the New Testament I was even more impressed. Some of the traditional theological problems were handled by the events of the story in a way that made more sense than anything I had ever read. I found the Urantia Book’s narrative to be solidly rooted in the New Testament realities. There were times when I read with tears streaming down my face. When I finished reading “The Life and Teachings of Jesus” I was theologically and spiritually inspired. Whoever had produced a life of Jesus of this quality, I thought, must have something significant to say in the rest of the book.

Thus motivated, I started with the Foreword and read the entire book. I discovered that the first three quarters of the book was even more amazing and profound than “The Life and Teachings of Jesus”! The teachings of the Urantia Book resonated and harmonized with my experience and highest thinking. The substance of the two books I had planned to write was expressed far better here than I could have possibly done. If this is not an authentic picture of spiritual reality, I said to myself, it is the way it ought to be! Science, philosophy, and religion were integrated more effectively in the Urantia Book than in any other philosophical or theological system known to me. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the most inspiring and authentic picture of spiritual reality available to humankind.

I gave copies of the Urantia Book to around a dozen of my colleagues and all of them except one—who admitted that he hadn’t read it—confirmed my evaluation of its high quality.

Our clergy group spent several years interviewing the people connected with the publication of the book and researching events associated with its origin. Since then I have devoted myself to sharing the Urantia Book with college students and the clergy of mainline Christianity.

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Irene and Meredith Sprunger at the 1960 picnic