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How I Found the Urantia Book

—CHARLES "CHICK" MONTGOMERY (1968) 


I WAS BORN Charles Montén Montgomery in 1938, to attorney parents. At 13 I was confirmed Episcopalian; I never believed much, but liked the singing. I went to Harvard where atheism was fashionable: man is an accident, evolved from the mud, and consciousness an illusionary adjunct. That philosophy suited me fine. I had no morals, no faith, and a rip-roaring good time.

I dropped out of graduate school in 1963 and hitchhiked around Europe, smoking dope and playing guitar. In a state of open freedom, strolling by St. Peter’s in Rome, the thought occurred to me: “Something loves me and, when I find out what it is, I will call it God.” I began reading the New Testament, and Jesus became important to me for the first time.

Returning to California in 1964, I sampled various denominations. In the Pentecostal church in Echo Park I answered a call to raise my hand if I was willing to receive Jesus. I felt a great something, and rushed out energized and wept by the lake. On this day, if any, I was “born again.” Jesus had broken through my shell and touched my soul.

But faith was elusive. Could it really be true? Is there really a God? A trustworthy God? Five years followed, during which I wrote incessantly about my inner thoughts, took various hallucinogens, delved into astrology and the I Ching, and experienced wrenching swings between faith and doubt.

Finally, in a silent decision that sounds simple but actually involved great spiritual courage, I declared, “I believe in you, God, but I don’t know about this Jesus stuff.” It is as though I had cleared the decks for a new spiritual paradigm, for almost immediately, it seems, I was introduced to the Urantia Book.

It was the spring of 1969, and some close friends were celebrating the grand opening of their record shop in Pasadena Old Town. The Beatles’ White Album was on the racks. I soon found myself in deep philosophical conversation with Kermit Anderson, a tall and gentle total stranger who seemed oddly familiar, and who finally said, “I have a book you might like.” I dismissed the idea; people are always recommending books.

Shortly thereafter, at a party in my home, Kermit handed me the Urantia Book. Standing by the fireplace, I opened it at random and read a single sentence. Though I don’t remember what page it was, I do remember knowing instantly that this was an important book and that I would read the entire thing. I went to Hollywood and plunked down $12. It amazes me that such truth could be acquired for less than a penny a page.

I struggled with this book, so full of blessing and light, yet of such preposterous claimed origin. I concluded it was too broad and deep, too lengthy and flawless, to be the work of a single human, and doubted that a group of humans could maintain secrecy about such an elaborate hoax. It was too gracious and truth-filled to have been written by anyone who would stoop to pretend to be divine—unless that someone were superhuman and malevolent! Could it be a work of the devil? A printed wolf in sheep’s clothing, saying “Lord, Lord,” and even quoting scripture, to lure us away from the blood of salvation, into everlasting damnation?

It took me seven years to complete my first (and only) cover-to-cover reading. During that time, all residue of suspicion that the book was of human or demonic origin vanished and was replaced by a great tidal wave of gratitude, blessing, certainty and absolute confidence that the Urantia Book is exactly what it says it is: a revelation of epochal significance. All questions were answered, knowledge integrated, vision expanded and hope confirmed, and I was so relieved to be able to keep Jesus in my faith.

Believing these teachings unites me in utmost joy to those within the tiny, embryonic, dynamic, love-filled and growing community of believers who share the special brand of faith uniquely engendered by the Urantia Book.

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Chick is co-creator of Ascent to Paradise

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