A History of the Urantia Papers

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A History of the Urantia Papers

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A History of The Urantia Papers
by Larry Mullins
with Dr. Meredith Justin Sprunger


"There exists in all personality associations of the cosmic mind a quality which might be denominated the `reality response.' It is this universal cosmic endowment of will creatures which saves them from becoming helpless victims of the implied a priori assumptions of science, philosophy, and religion. This reality sensitivity of the cosmic mind responds to certain phases of reality just as energy-material responds to gravity. It would be still more correct to say that these supermaterial realities so respond to the mind of the cosmos. "THE URANTIA BOOK, pages 191-192

"Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge."

ARE THERE SPIRITUAL BEINGS OF higher intelligence in the vast universe? Do they take any notice of us? Presuming there are such intelligences and they do care about us, would they ever try to communicate with us and attempt to assist us? In other words, is the concept of revelation a valid premise? What would or what could higher, more mature intelligences of greater spiritual development safely reveal to us?

If you have pondered the plausibility of such things, the story of the Urantia Papers will interest you. ("Urantia" is the name given in the Papers to identify the planet Earth.) The story of the Urantia Papers spans a period from approximately 1906 to 1955, culminating in the publication of The Urantia Book. Although there are over a half-million copies of The Urantia Book in print, an appropriately documented and complete presentation of the story behind them has never before been presented. Yet, this virtually unknown epic is perhaps the most remarkable of the turbulent twentieth century.

The first and most common question about The Urantia Book is: "Who wrote this?" Sometimes even a casual reader, with no intention of studying the material, is stimulated to curiosity. The over one million words of the Urantia Papers are nothing less than an unprecedented attempt to establish an immense integration of three bodies of knowledge: [1]. Scientific fact; [2]. Spiritual realities; and [3]. Philosophical truth.

Traditionally, the three great disciplines have been restricted to logic-tight compartments and dealt with separately. Each of these disciplines science, religion, and philosophy contains essential, but inadequate, information about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. The Urantia Papers drew upon the highest human knowledge available up to the time of their writing to propose extraordinary new relationships between the key disciplines. The Papers suggest fresh possibilities and augment their ideas with original revelatory information. The result is an uplifting vision for humankind that is without parallel or precedent in literature.

The Urantia Papers claim to be an epochal revelation; yet they take the unique revelatory position of disclaiming infallibility. 1 The Papers are unquestionably profoundly religious, yet they do not attempt to establish a new religion. Rather, they seek to philosophically integrate evolutionary scientific knowledge with spiritual truth. Although some of the scientific content of the Urantia Papers is dated, if the most modern scientific data were to be substituted it its place, the broad philosophical synthesis would still work. The Papers are essentially an exposition and expansion of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth placed in a splendid cosmological context on a scale that has never before been attempted on this planet. Perhaps the suspicions of any thinking person will be aroused by such sweeping claims. However, an honest mind will also discover that there are far too many substantial and original concepts in the Urantia Papers for them to be brushed off as an esoteric fabrication.

I have spent more than thirty years studying the Urantia Papers. I have had dozens of discussions with many people who had personal knowledge about the events that culminated in the materialization of the Papers. As a result, I am utterly convinced that, circa 1906 - 1955, non-material beings of super-human intelligence and maturity interfaced regularly with a group of (eventually) six mortals for the purpose of providing a religious revelation of epochal significance.

The people involved were neither psychics nor dilettantes. On the contrary, the key figure, Dr. William S. Sadler, was a nationally prominent psychiatrist and the author of 42 books. Dr. Sadler had a well-deserved reputation as a debunker of psychic phenomena. In his book, The Mind at Mischief, he refers to those who engage in such esoteric phenomena as generally: "Fraudulent mediums and self-deceived psychics." The story of his struggle against honest recognition of what took place before his eyes and the validation of what he had trained all his life as a scientist to debunk, is a fascinating subplot to the history of the Urantia Papers.

However, Dr. Sadler and the other five central protagonists in these events are all gone now. Aside from the Papers themselves, the six key players left only fragments of information about how the Urantia Papers came to be. There is not, nor has there ever been, an authority on the Urantia Papers neither on their origin nor their remarkable contents. How the Papers were materialized into the English language is not fully known. Although no human author has ever been associated with the Urantia Papers, there was a seventh individual who is critically important to this discussion. He has been called the "sleeping subject," or the "contact personality." All accounts indicated he was an ordinary person who was somehow involved with the materialization of the Urantia Papers. We know only that he was not a so-called medium, and although the entire text of the Urantia Papers was originally in written form, we can reasonably declare that he was not the author nor did he "channel" or "automatic-write" the text of the Urantia Papers. The Urantia Papers tell us that a part of God indwells each normal and morally conscious mortal, and this Divine Fragment somehow participated in the materialization, but the mind of the human sleeping subject was not used. Dr. Sadler emphatically and repeatedly stated that no known psychic phenomena were associated with the materialization of the Urantia Papers. The sleeping subject has never been, and will probably never be, identified.

Surely, the original intent of the unseen Revelators was not to create mysteries, but rather establish a framework that would allow the Urantia Papers to stand on their own. It was apparently deemed desirable by the Revelators that readers would base their evaluation of the Urantia Papers purely upon their content, and not upon some supposed "miraculous" source. Therefore, neither the identity of the "sleeping subject" nor what little the team of six knew about the materialization of the Papers were to be disclosed. However, human nature being what it is, there has gradually developed much speculation about the identity of the subject and the method and circumstances by which the Urantia Papers came to be. 2

For these reasons, conjecture has unfortunately filled the void. Due to the nature of the material in the Urantia Papers, they attract a great variety of individuals. Some are allured by the apocrypha surrounding the origin of the Urantia Papers more than by the spiritual message of the Papers themselves. Likewise, critics of the Urantia Papers have generally focused upon erroneous accounts of the origin of the Papers and the alleged foibles of the people involved in the Urantia Movement, and have not seriously considered the content of the Revelation. Serious scholars have been repelled by the bizarre speculations of a few Urantian pretenders as well as by commentaries by critics of the Papers many of whom claim to have special status and to have exclusive possession of "inside" information.

However, in recent years a valid body of known historical background facts about the Papers has gradually emerged. If we could stand back, so to speak, and view all the information available in one sweeping glance, we would likely be confused. Yet, if we cautiously and discriminatively begin to follow the chronological thread of verifiable data, we can trace a consistent, documented, and continuous path. The sources are scattered and varied, but the emerging body of information is consistent within itself -- plausible, and generally satisfying.

I have hoped that an accurate, documented history of the Urantia Papers would eventually be formulated, but this has not happened. So, I have decided to make the effort. This account will not be encumbered by any "official" sanction or approval. At the outset, it is important to understand that this is a history of the Urantia Papers, not a history of what has been called the Urantia Movement. We will discuss the readership and the personalities involved only to the degree they are related to the history of the Urantia Papers.

I would not attempt the writing of this history without the help of Dr. Meredith Justin Sprunger. He is an ordained minister with an educational background in philosophy and theology, a social scientist with a doctorate in psychology, and has had a distinguished career as a college professor and administrator. He has also had an extensive writing career, and is currently the editor of The Spiritual Fellowship Journal. Dr. Sprunger was acquainted with three of the six individuals who made up the team (known as the Contact Commission) that interfaced with the celestial Revelators. When I met Dr. Sprunger in the mid-seventies, I had many questions about the origin of the Urantia Papers. Information was extremely difficult to come by in those days. I knew that he had written several papers on the origin, content and the significance of the Urantia Papers, and had authored the only "official" material that was published by Urantia Foundation (the publishers of The Urantia Book) on the origin of the Revelation. I was certain that Dr. Sprunger knew more than he was allowed to present in his official pamphlets. To my surprise, I found him to be open and candid about what he knew. Unlike any individual in the "inner circles," his explanations were clear and refreshing. He supplied me (as he has many seekers) with his own writings about the Papers, and also prudently disclosed many interesting things Dr. Sadler had told him. My curiosity was soon dispelled, and I followed Dr. Sprunger's advice and continued to evaluate the Urantia Papers on the basis of their content. Over the years I have become completely convinced that the Urantia Papers are exactly what they purport themselves to be: a Revelation of epochal significance.

However, I was convinced that many questions about the origin remained unanswered, and several "forbidden" doors had never been opened to candid investigation. As stated, I had hoped eventually some Urantian old-timer would fearlessly open those doors and begin an authentic historical investigation. Then it dawned on me one day that I had become an "old-timer" myself. I had been handed a first edition of The Urantia Book by Clyde Bedell, who was one of the first Urantians, and a charter member of a group called the Forum. I had watched Clyde pore over an immense table covered with files of 3 x 5 cards, as he prepared his original Concordex of The Urantia Book. I worked for Clyde for three years, and discussed the Urantia Papers and his experiences in the Forum numerous times. In the seventies I had several conversations with one of the surviving Contact Commissioners, and served for eight years as a General Councilor in what was then called the Urantia Brotherhood.

Fortunately, my wife Joan (who had originally suggested this project) has a remarkable knowledge of the Papers. I have always depended upon Joan's insights and integrity when developing Urantia undertakings. Even so, we came to realize that we needed help, and that an adequate history of the Urantia Papers could only be achieved with group wisdom and collaboration. A team effort by several Urantians would be necessary. I first sought out our friend Dr. Sprunger. Gradually we added several seasoned Urantians who have an exceptional knowledge of the Urantia Papers, and a great deal of experience in the Urantia Movement.

The following pages will delve deeply into the origin of the Revelation. Dr. Sprunger's early investigations have produced a great deal of information. His knowledge is the product of years of research and hours of discussion with those associated with the origin of the Papers. During the period of his inquiry, Dr. Sprunger had continued to serve pastorates in the United Church of Christ. His career as a faculty member of the Indiana Institute of Technology also went forward. In addition to serving as head of the Department of Psychology, he also chaired the division of Liberal Arts and served as President. In his own investigations, he has been careful to maintain academic objectivity and to exercise critical evaluation of both the Urantia Papers and the Urantia Movement. He cross-validated the essential elements of the episodes we are about to relate with people who had first-hand experience with the events associated with the origin of the Urantia Papers.

The story of the Urantia Papers also required the assembling of a mosaic of older documents and correspondence, more recently available documents, and testimony from a great number of sources. Not all sources I used were friendly to this inquiry. Yet, some individuals who have strong agendas to prove the Urantia Papers to be a fraud have sometimes provided vital links and illuminated dark corners. At other times, individuals who have sought to explain or rationalize errors or obscure the facts have provided information that could not have otherwise been obtained. Whatever the source, I drew upon evidence that was plausible, verifiable and consistent with other credible elements of the puzzle. The reader can develop personal conclusions from the resulting assemblage.

I pledge to the reader that I have been candid in these pages. In the spirit of a sincere quest for truth, with the guidance and suggestions of Joan, Dr. Sprunger and several esteemed Urantians, I have related everything I have personally learned from various sources, and have documented those sources. When in doubt, I admitted it. If I needed to speculate, or draw a general conclusion, I have disclosed this to the reader. If an editing team member strongly disagreed with a conclusion, I have drawn out and presented his or her views in addition to my own. The essential testimonies of the protagonists who were there, and who played roles in this extraordinary drama have been documented. Otherwise, in the case of verbal information that I have personally acquired from various Urantian veterans, I used only things I have heard from at least two or more sources independently, and that were generally harmonious with other data. On this basis, I believe the basic historical facts have been fairly, reasonably and clearly established. Even when not varnished, embellished or speculated upon, these facts form clear patterns and weave an intriguing and fairly complete tapestry.

Histories are inescapably adversarial and painful processes. The people who undertook this task of developing a good, sound history are aware that the final product is a compelling argument that could help shape the destiny of the Urantia Papers. The stakes are high, because what is ultimately at issue are the various philosophies and agendas of those who seek to control the Urantia Revelation. It will come as no surprise then, that the interpretations of the events relating to the Urantia Papers are destined to be fiercely contested. Sometimes the facts about the Urantia Papers are at issue, but more often the meaning of the facts will be the center of historical controversy. Our effort to develop a good history was very carefully orchestrated, but we are aware that it will not contain the final words. Our team discovered many unexpected things along the way that need a great deal more research. What we will attempt to achieve here are three cardinal goals: [1]. To establish a reasonable foundation of documented facts, [2]. To open as many heretofore "forbidden" doors as possible for further investigation, and [3]. To lay down threads for future Urantians to pick up, follow, and develop. In short, we are attempting a beginning.


First of all, thank you to the Urantians upon whose shoulders I needed to stand to write this history. I thank first the original Urantians who produced the 1955 printing, and next, my thanks to Meredith Sprunger, for all of his years of leadership, wisdom and insight. Thanks to Joan Batson Mullins, my partner and unfailing inspiration, whose remarkable knowledge of the Papers, fairness and integrity always lift Urantian projects to another level. Thank you, Joan, for making the last several years for me the happiest of my life. To young Urantian Michelle Mullins, for her help with the charts and graphs, for deciphering the worn and fading documents of the early Urantians, and for her faith in her dad. To Kathleen Mullins, whose dauntless search for truth changes lives, one of which has been my own. To Eric Cosh, a Urantian who has faithfully, over the years, given lavishly of his time, talent and effort in behalf of the Revelation. To James "JJ" Johnson, a steadfastly committed Urantian who went far beyond the "second" mile to help in this project. JJ's remarkable observation and unsurpassed knowledge of the Urantia Papers has helped make this effort much more than it would have been without him. To Dr. Ángel Sánchez-Escobar of Seville, Spain, for his forbearance, insight and valiant service to Spanish-speaking Urantians, and his support, assistance and Spanish translation of our history. To Jeanney Horn, whose exceptional editing skills greatly lifted and improved the final product. To Merritt Horn, whose remarkable insights and uncompromising scholarship brought to full disclosure the loss of an inviolate printed version of the original text, and helped this history beyond measure. To David Kantor, whose energetic commitment to the Urantia Revelation and intense integrity and courage are a benchmark for this day and generation of Urantians. To Andre Radatus, who brings balance, forbearance and reasonable fairness to any Urantian project he undertakes. To Rosey Lieske, for her years of support and encouragement, and for her exemplary interface with Spanish speaking countries and her grasp of meta-values that is unexcelled in the movement. To Norm Du Val, a passionate, devoted Urantian who is always willing to assist in absolutely anything to help the Revelation. To David Biggs, one of those great Urantians who have toiled tirelessly for years in behalf of the Revelation with little recognition or acknowledgement. To Dr. Jill Strunk, a devoted Urantian who has been of immeasurable help as a skilled editor and advisor over the years. To Victor McGonegal, who has been a lifelong friend, who got his book about the same time I did from Clyde Bedell, and who has long provided servant-leadership to the large, independent Urantia group in Washington D.C. To Kristen Maaherra and Eric Schaveland, whose insights, advice and documentation over the years have widened my perspective and understanding immeasurably, and for their courage in standing steadfast on the principle of a free Revelation. To Donald Shea Green, friend, supporter and faithful anchor of our Living the Teachings Group. To Mary Doubek, who inspires and serves her sisters and who lifts the hearts of her students. To the young Kruger men, Micah, Damon, and Aaron, who strive to live the teachings with us and who will one day go forth to help turn the world upside down. To Angie, Jesse and Haley Thurston of our youth's study group who remind me every week what this Revelation is all about -- and to Claire and Chuck Thurston for supporting the group so energetically. To Tom Choquette for his encouragement and many kind assists, his deep insights into the real meaning and mission of the Urantia Papers, and for his remarkable outreach to youth. To Behzad Sarmast and Marielle Tavares for their understanding friendship and beautiful fellowship. "Behz," as we know him, is one of those extraordinary Urantians who fearlessly research and seek the truth -- and who skillfully write and generously present their findings to make them accessible to others. To Clyde Bedell, who gave me my first Urantia Book and told me, just before his death, "There are dozens of unseen helpers all around us who are itching to help us if we would only start doing something." To Berkeley Elliott, who first taught me about servant-leadership and who introduced me to my first Urantian "family" in Oklahoma City. Of course, thank you to those unseen and unheard helpers whom I hope one day to meet. To the entire fellowship of believers of all faiths who strive to serve humankind and to actualize integrity, benevolence and excellence. To all those Urantians whose work I have referenced, without whom we would have virtually no record at all. To those who agree with my conclusions, and to those who dispute them and will help clarify issues by reasonable debate, and especially to those who will create vastly improved histories in the future, thank you my brothers and sisters.

I have made a sincere effort to disclose the truth fairly, to the best of my ability, as it appeared to me. In striving to do this, I may have unavoidably offended some people. If so, in the words of Shakespeare: "As you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free."


1. Although the claim of Revelation is made, the Papers disclaim infallibility: "The Urantia Papers . . . of which this is one, constitute the most recent presentation of truth to the mortals of Urantia. These papers differ from all previous revelations, for they are not the work of a single universe personality but a composite presentation by many beings. But no revelation short of the attainment of the Universal Father can ever be complete. All other celestial ministrations are no more than partial, transient, and practically adapted to local conditions in time and space. While such admissions as this may possibly detract from the immediate force and authority of all revelations, the time has arrived on Urantia when it is advisable to make such frank statements, even at the risk of weakening the future influence and authority of this, the most recent of the revelations of truth to the mortal races of Urantia." [1008 - par. 2]

2. The identity of the sleeping subject continues to fascinate readers. A book published in 1999 by John M. Bunker and Karen L. Pressler sought to prove Edgar Cayce was the subject. (Edgar Cayce and The Urantia Book, 1996). The Cayce family denies this, and Dr. Sprunger and other Urantian scholars remained unpersuaded as well. My own judgment compels me to refute this idea. Cayce died in 1945, which was very probably ten years before the final messages were received. Also, the Cayce writings, with their emphasis on reincarnation and psychic phenomena, are far afield from the Urantia Papers.

1996). The Cayce family denies this, and Dr. Sprunger and other Urantian scholars remained unpersuaded as well. My own judgment compels me to refute this idea. Cayce died in 1945, which was very probably ten years before the final messages were received. Also, the Cayce writings, with their emphasis on reincarnation and psychic phenomena, are far afield from the Urantia Papers.

Continued at: http://www.divinitywithinus.org/study/A ... Papers.htm
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