In my view, The Urantia Book (or UB) is an unprecedented disclosure of ultimate cosmic realities and the divine personalities behind them. At the same time, I realize that a cursory look at the UB’s huge catalog of higher beings can be bewildering. I think it is fair to wonder why the text must go so far with its listings of unusual-sounding beings such as Universe Circuit Supervisors, Perfectors of Wisdom, Tertiary Supernaphim, Ministering Spirits of the Central Universe, and Mighty Messengers. I am aware that many inquirers, upon viewing these unwieldy lists, conclude that the UB is another obscure channeled tome destined to be ignored on dusty bookshelves.
But be patient, dear reader—for it all depends on one’s premise. For some esotericists and New Agers, the supreme organizing principle of the cosmos is energy; for others, unity or nonduality. Mind or consciousness is the key for some, and for others, it’s evolution. But for the Urantia Revelation, the supreme premise is personhood. The centrality of personality is the surprising core of this teaching, to which we now turn.
In any situation whatever, human or divine, we learn in the UB that the personalities involved are the most precious and crucial factor. “Everything nonspiritual in human experience, excepting personality, is a means to an end. Every true relationship of mortal man with other persons—human or divine—is an end in itself.” [UB:112:2.8] In other words, the reality of the personal—at any level and in any dimension—is the most vital element of the wide cosmos. The personal is the point.
“The universe is mind made and personality managed.” [UB: 1:6.7] God in eternity plans and creates all things and beings. Deity personally sets in motion the impersonal laws of nature, and then oversees and manages the outworking of every facet of evolutionary reality through coordinate and subordinate Deity associates. For example, we read that single-celled life is formulated in their laboratories and then planted on newly habitable planets by specialized personal beings known as Life Carriers, who go on to carefully oversee and support biological evolution over billions of years.(Paper 36 is entirely devoted to their story.) And the lawful physical evolution of stars and galaxies is planned and catalyzed by special supervising personalities—something like cosmic engineers. This über-science-fiction corps of beings are, like the Life Carriers, revealed for the first time in the Urantia Revelation. (See Paper 29, “The Universe Power Directors.”)
Philosophically speaking, energy, mind, consciousness, evolution, and even spirit are subsidiary to that which is personal, says the UB. They all function in service to the dignity of personality, which is “superordinate” in relation to all these factors. Thus it would be fair the call the Urantia Revelation a personalist teaching, in line with the contemporary philosophic movement known as personalism. In addition personality, or personhood, is also the central element of human self-system according to the UB’s teaching.
As stated in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Personalism always underscores the centrality of the person as the primary locus of investigation for philosophical, theological, and humanistic studies. It is an approach or system of thought which regards or tends to regard the person as the ultimate explanatory, epistemological, ontological, and axiological principle of all reality.”
So, what is meant in the UB by having the status of personhood? The first point to bear in mind is that the Urantia Book’s definition of personality diverges greatly from that of today’s psychology, which regards personality as the pattern of our outward human behavior—the observable set of traits, attitudes, skills, or type of temperament we exhibit. But according to the Urantia text, each of us has a God-given personality that is unchanging. All other factors of self change or grow, but personality does not and cannot. “Throughout all stages of evolutionary growth, there is one part of you that remains absolutely unaltered, and that is personality—permanence in the presence of change.” [UB: 112.1]
And yet, as we will see in much more detail later, personality is somehow able to host our living reality and unify the attributes of our subjectivity while also being the very source of will, creativity, and self-consciousness. Our unchanging personality is,
paradoxically, the factual foundation of the objective reality of our ever-changing human subjectivity.
To be a person is to enjoy an exclusive and singular perspective on reality that is unique in all universes. Personhood is that attribute of being that lets us exist as sovereigns in our own sphere of self-determination and creativity, allowing us to freely choose experiences, grow in knowledge and virtue, and evolve a personal soul. Of course, at the same time, each unique human personality is only one of a near-infinite number of other unique persons. Angels and humans share this divine endowment of personality, not as something we attain, but as a sheer gift that remains with us and as us for an eternity. Further, being a person permits us to recognize and love other persons as equals—spontaneously so. Even after our radical transmutation in the resurrection halls of the afterlife, we can instantaneously recognize and be recognized by those we once knew on Earth. Because personality is supreme over all other factors of selfhood, an acquaintance we may run into at a high school reunion or even in the afterlife can intuitively seem like “that someone I knew before”—even if their physical appearance has changed drastically.
To be a person is to be adorable by nature, lovable almost by reason of divine fiat; behold any young child to confirm that truth. And that’s why our Divine Parents cannot help but love each one of us, their children. Likewise, we can’t help but fall in love with other persons once we get to know them over time. The glory of the idiosyncratic uniqueness of a free and living person is what arouses our love and affection for them.
If all this sounds too abstract, consider the lesson of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Recall the scene when the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Ebenezer Scrooge a God’s-eye view of thepersonalities of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the rest of Cratchit’s
humble family joyously celebrating Christmas Day with what little they have. Scrooge soon understands them in the way that those on the other side of the veil always do, sees the error of his ways, and falls in love with them. This story is in fact Dickens’s own rendition of an Near Death Experience life review.
Personality is both that which knows and loves and that which can be loved and known. Theologically speaking, we can say that Deity personality is, by definition, absolute in its ability to know other persons and infinite in its capacity to love them. The Urantia Revelation (and most Christian and Islamic theologians) teach that personhood is the central characteristic of God, who is absolute love personified.
But the UB goes further in its celebration of the personal: “Personality is not simply an attribute of God. . . . Personality, in the supreme sense, is the revelation of God to the universe of universes.” [1:5.13] As such, the personalness of Deity transcends God’s other core characteristic—that of being a pure spirit.
God as Father and Mother is the absolute person and the source and destiny of all personalities, and alone gifts us with personhood. We’ve noted as well that God confers on us a pure-spirit fragment as an additional and essential part of our self-system. But again, the personality portion of our selfhood is antecedent to and independent of our spirit endowment. In other words, for you and me, the component of personality in our self-system has logical (actually, theological) priority over the soul or even the Indwelling Spirit feature or the self, especially since our personhood is the source of sovereign free will—the most divine of all attributes of the self.