Matthew Block's Theories of the

Origins of the Urantia Papers

This paper was addressed to a group of Urantians. It was sent via Internet email on Saturday, March 08, 2003 4:12 AM.


To Phil Calabrese and Matthew Rapaport

Reference: Matthew Block’s "Source Study of ‘Instruction for Teachers and Believers’ (159:3):"

159:3 is the Urantia Paper and Section Number.

Block’s study was first formally published by the 2001 issue of The Fellowship Herald.

If you go up to Saskia Raevouri’s web site you will find a complete copy.

I recommend downloading as a PDF file because it will appear in neat page format as designed by Saskia for publication. The HTML file will take much longer to download (if you are on a modem hookup) since the lengthy comparison chart designed by Block is in a series of JPG picture files. The download time for myself was about 15 minutes. Saskia scanned these pages for high resolution of more than 200,000 bytes each. The total HTML download is in excess of three megabytes.

Human or Divine Attribution

Nowhere in this study does Block acknowledge attribution to midwayer composition of Part IV of the Urantia Papers. Neither does he boldly say that it was of human composition. However, in his phrasing he implies human authorship. He shows how the study impacted upon him.

My own eight-year-long experience in studying these sources and seeing how they were used has allowed me to appreciate Part IV in a more acute way, not only as a portrait of Jesus’ life and teachings which is unsurpassed in spiritual power and narrative detail, but as a work of rare literary intelligence and skill.

I now see "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" as a masterpiece of both originality and adaptative creativity. It is the product of a stunningly bold and independent writer who drew confidently and artfully from the work of scores of 19th and 20th century Christian writers, pooling their insights into a narrative that enlarges upon the Gospels and reframes the whole story of Jesus with an amazingly new and intriguing cosmic-theological explanation of his mission and ministry.

One might believe that Block reaches heavenward when he says that the Jesus Papers of Part IV are unsurpassed in spiritual power and narrative detail. However, the phrases "a work of rare literary intelligence and skill" and "a masterpiece of both originality and adaptative creativity" indicate his position. Such phrases suggest a view of human creativeness, not celestial deftness in adaptation of human sources. A neutral person coming from outside the Urantia community would understand these remarks as supposing human origin. He does admit to "an amazingly new and intriguing cosmic-theological explanation," but this also is styled in terms of human composition. For Block it is "amazingly new and intriguing" because of its human originality, not because of its supermortal origin.

Neither does Block take the leap in this paper to assign the human source. He knew this would set many people on edge; by avoiding such assignment he maintained what he would style as "objectivity." He also had the problem that he must find a human being who could rise to such rare abilities. None would be found among the Contact Commission or among the Forumites, the only persons in contact with the Revelation during its stages of composition. (Later he admits to their literary and intellectual limitations.) Hence he was forced to reach to some superior human mind that Sadler kept hidden from the rest of the world. From Block’s other work we know this had to reach at least into 1942, since some of his discovered sources were published after the supposed last composition date of 1935. Both the testimony of Harold Sherman and Sadler’s own remarks shows changes being made to the Revelation after it was "completed and certified" in 1935.

However, in his more recent work, and in response to Phil Calabrese, he mentions how he traced the parallelisms in the Urantia Papers (58:2) with Stetson's "Solar Radiation and the State of the Atmosphere." He wrote:

"Since I've recently found that William S. Sadler, in writing several of his own books, culled from sources in much the same way the Urantia Book does, I am forced to face the hard question of whether Sadler himself wrote this deeply flawed section and others, as Martin Gardner suspected."

He goes on:

Many of the readers I've shown the Sadler-source parallels to have immediately recognized resemblances between Sadler's paraphrasing methods and those seen in the UB-Stetson, the UB-Weatherhead and the UB-Wieman parallels I've already presented. It remains for us in the Urantia community to reflect on the possible implications of this discovery, which many readers will surely find as surprising as I did.

Hence Block now boldly states his belief in the human source of this Section 159:3 of the Urantia Papers, William S. Sadler, although he does not mention it in this paper.

How he reconciles Sadler’s obvious purely human and limited writing style with "a work of rare literary intelligence and skill" and "a masterpiece of both originality and adaptative creativity" is beyond me. He apparently is trapped in what he believes is "Sadler's paraphrasing methods and those seen in the UB-Stetson, the UB-Weatherhead and the UB-Wieman parallels."

Matthew Block himself is far more articulate than Sadler. Yet he admits to a superiority of workmanship that impresses even him.

Block’s direct avoidance of admission of supermortal origin shows the internal struggle with which he has lived in his daily investigation. This schizoid conflict, based on the technicalities of parallelism on one hand, and the admitted masterly, and spiritual, construction on the other, certainly could not give him peace of mind. His more recent boldness to elect to human composition shows how he has resolved the issue. In doing so he rejects the inspirational and instructive power of the Urantia Papers that have spiritually uplifted so many of us, redirected our lives, and given us powerful insights into God and his methods in Creation.

Block’s Social Context

Block points out a racial-religious environment for the Revelation when he says:

"For sixty-five years the vast and intricate connection between the Jesus papers and Anglo-American Protestant literature could have been investigated rather easily . . .

". . . the source books I’ve found were readily available and widely read by Christian students and scholars in America and Britain.

In so doing he defines what he believes to be the social context and origin of the human personality who must have composed the Papers. Since he now resorts to Sadler he has become comfortable with the possibility that Sadler used texts that were readily available and familiar to him, "Sadler’s kind of reading material."

None of us who are familiar with the Revelation would deny such context. It definitely was styled toward that social milieu. Block might even view it as limited to that era.

I personally must admit to the way it spoke directly to me. Born in 1930, and steeped in the fundamentalist Christian attitudes of Protestant evangelical theology I was perfectly at home with the style of the Revelation, especially Part IV, (but not its celestial content). Sometimes I even suspected that it must have been designed especially for myself and others of the same era and similar religious background. The many quotations from Paul, the Old Testament prophets, the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation, and support for the judgment concepts of the Bible certainly reassured my concerns about its origins.

Apocalypticism and Sadler’s Personal Philosophies

This is where Block fails to admit the dichotomy between the teachings of the Papers and Sadler’s personal philosophy. One of my first insights into Sadler was offered to me by Everett Johnson. I met Everett in 1968 and developed a close friendship with him. Everett had discovered the Papers in a public library in Denver, Colorado in 1960. He was trained as an aeronautical engineer, but was a sincere religious seeker. He was stunned by the religious power of the Papers and immediately traveled to Chicago to have a personal chat with Sadler. During that conversation Sadler made an admission that was at the center of my personal reaction to the Revelation. Sadler stated that he did not know what to do with the apocalyptic content of the Papers.

From my research into Sadler and the background leading to the Papers I was intimately familiar with Sadler’s personal religious philosophy. I had met with Bud Kagan, Carolyn Kendall, Barrie Bedell, Jim Mills, and others of the younger generation who knew Sadler intimately and who would deny an apocalyptic interpretation of the Papers. In fact, they spurned me because of my apocalyptic stance. Many other personalities from the Urantia Foundation camp universally deny apocalyptic interpretation of the Papers. Their views are directly in line with, and conditioned by, Sadler’s personal philosophies. Thus, this philosophical denial is well neigh universal among the general body of Urantians. Although Sadler understood apocalyptic religious thought from his history with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, his understanding was limited by biblical apostolic views. He left apocalyptic notions behind after he left the SDA in 1913. He grew into a solid, conservative, mid-western mind, with faith in God and Country.

For example Sadler would not have composed:

P.1086 - §4 Mechanical inventions and the dissemination of knowledge are modifying civilization; certain economic adjustments and social changes are imperative if cultural disaster is to be avoided. This new and oncoming social order will not settle down complacently for a millennium. The human race must become reconciled to a procession of changes, adjustments, and readjustments. Mankind is on the march toward a new and unrevealed planetary destiny.

Conceptually, such remarks were beyond Sadler. Christian concepts of a heavenly millennium with personal rule by Jesus Christ are grossly different from this view that suggests a continuing world struggle. Who in all of Christendom would construct the idea that a revolutionary revamping of the world would take a thousand years to settle down? This idea strongly suggests that there is to be no direct celestial management of world affairs, contrary to universal (fundamentalist) Christian thought. Further, what has this thousand-year period to do with the "end of the thousand years" described by John in his Apocalypse?

A thematic pursuit of millennia periods and a thousand-year earthly era, repeatedly mentioned in the Papers, with both terrestrial and celestial application, shows how far beyond Sadler these ideas extend. Phrases such as "planetary millennial reigns," "millennial resurrections," "regular millennial and dispensational roll calls," and "Urantia has never experienced a spiritual age, a millennium of cosmic enlightenment" were not in Sadler’s repertoire. How could Sadler possibly invent "One Paradise-Havona day is just seven minutes, three and one-eighth seconds less than one thousand years of the present Urantia leap-year calendar?" Or that "The Teacher Sons usually remain on their visitation planets for one thousand years of planetary time?"

Such revolutionary concepts extended beyond Sadler’s religious and intellectual limitations. Even more, how would Sadler create the idea that "Mankind is on the march toward a new and unrevealed planetary destiny." Such notion is beyond the wildest speculation of fundamentalist Christian theologies that expect a termination of the terrestrial globe at the end of the Millennium.

Where would Block find such parallels? They do not exist.

Refer to my web site at,

and companion papers where I do a thorough study of that period.

Of course, this whole array of millennial remarks smacks strongly of the thousand years mentioned by John. Either John was privy to revelations about that period which he did not describe to us, or Sadler elaborated beyond our own (and his) wildest notions. How many Urantians have avoided study of the period simply because of that implication? How many are willing to accept that the period is oncoming, now at our doorstep? Certainly not Sadler nor the entire body of Urantians who reject such apocalyptic framework.

Prophecies of Doom

On the other hand, Sadler strongly believed in rescue of our present social order via revision of the current social methods, as attested by many of his writings, from The Theory and Practice of Psychiatry, to Race Decadence. Again, would Sadler invent this doom?

P.2081 - §5 Materialism denies God, secularism simply ignores him; at least that was the earlier attitude. More recently, secularism has assumed a more militant attitude, assuming to take the place of the religion whose totalitarian bondage it onetime resisted. Twentieth-century secularism tends to affirm that man does not need God. But beware! this godless philosophy of human society will lead only to unrest, animosity, unhappiness, war, and world-wide disaster.

This is a highly prophetic remark. It says that our current social order is about to be destroyed through a universal catastrophe. Can anyone deny that we ourselves created the mechanism for just such social cataclysm, and that we did so after publication of this prophecy? Am I to follow Block and suppose that this prophetic doom was Sadler’s invention? The suggestion is absurd.

Sadler’s personal philosophies were in direct conflict with these and other clear prophecies of the Urantia Papers.

P.1489 - §1 Urantia will not enjoy lasting peace until the so-called sovereign nations intelligently and fully surrender their sovereign powers into the hands of the brotherhood of men — mankind government. Internationalism — Leagues of Nations — can never bring permanent peace to mankind. World-wide confederations of nations will effectively prevent minor wars and acceptably control the smaller nations, but they will not prevent world wars nor control the three, four, or five most powerful governments. In the face of real conflicts, one of these world powers will withdraw from the League and declare war. You cannot prevent nations going to war as long as they remain infected with the delusional virus of national sovereignty. Internationalism is a step in the right direction. An international police force will prevent many minor wars, but it will not be effective in preventing major wars, conflicts between the great military governments of earth.

Little did any of us expect how this prophecy referred directly to the United States, and its current isolation from the rest of the world. If our ambitions are denied by international forum we will "go it alone." Did we not create an international police force to prevent many minor wars? But events are now rapidly unfolding to a major world disaster. The people of the United States, and many Urantians, strongly believe in the "delusional virus of national sovereignty," and will follow its agendas to doom for the nations.

P.1490 - §3 With scientific progress, wars are going to become more and more devastating until they become almost racially suicidal. How many world wars must be fought and how many leagues of nations must fail before men will be willing to establish the government of mankind and begin to enjoy the blessings of permanent peace and thrive on the tranquillity of good will — world-wide good will — among men?

How many Urantians even today are willing to accept the literal meaning of those statements? Does not anyone recognize how our coming destructions will be almost racially suicidal? How, then, can Block assign Sadler to such prophetic creation?

Block’s Intellectual Trap

Block trapped himself with the mechanistic marvel of his parallelism. Such loss of faith in the spiritual inspirational power of the Papers could only have derived from lack of a personal religious experience, an experience for which so many of us now thank God. Block can find adherence to his interpretation among many other Urantians only because they also knew the Urantia Papers merely from an intellectual fascination.

After they are done with this view of the creation of the Papers, they will be left with the dry husk of intellectualism, and the awesome loss of the kernel of eternal values.

As I view this process I plainly perceive the methods whereby the true children of God are becoming separated from the unbelievers. The wheat is being separated from the chaff, and Matthew Block is serving as an instrument for just such sieving.

Confirmation of Block’s inner lack of spiritual rebirth is found in many different ways. For example, he goes on to remark about the social religious context during the creation of the Papers, and the shifting attitudes of the "neo-orthodoxy" then emerging in the Western world. As he says:

By the time "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" was published as a component of The Urantia Book in 1955, the sources, which had been so popular earlier in the century, were eclipsed by the emergence in the Protestant world of neo-orthodoxy, a trend of thought which scorned liberalism’s concepts of Jesus, God, human nature, religion, modern culture, and the church, the very type of concepts which the author of Part IV so freely incorporated into the narratives.

I am uncertain exactly how Block meant this. As the Encyclopedia Britannica states:

After the 1920's many theologically liberal ideas were challenged by Neo-orthodoxy, a theological movement in Europe and the United States that used the traditional language of Protestant orthodoxy and advocated a return to biblical faith centered in Christ, although it accepted modern critical methods of biblical interpretation.

If I understand Block correctly he regards the "source material" as predating the neo-orthodoxy movement, but admits that this new religious attitude was the basis for the formulation of much of the conceptual structure of the Papers. Certainly the concepts of liberalism arising from the mid part of the 17th century did not influence their design. That trend in theology divorced itself from the "old-fashioned" concepts of a God-centered universe, and gave rise to the godlessness now pervasive in our mainline seminaries, the godless theories of social philosophies that saw their epitome in Communism, the complete secularization of science, and the casting of vast segments of humanity upon the rocks of hopelessness.

Look about you! Do you not daily witness moral degradation and social collapse, from marriages to institutions, directly as the result of such godlessness?

If anything, considered strictly from the human point of view, the Papers were designed to rescue mankind from such discouraging philosophies and their sinister fate. But that will not happen until man is forced into a reexamination of his social and religious philosophies.

Sadler could never have risen to the cosmic spiritual rescue of mankind expressed in the Papers. Neither did he recognize how the most outstanding proponent of personal liberty and social freedom, the model for the world, the United States, would degenerate into equal godlessness, while carrying on with only the shell of her former religious aspirations. Sadler, among countless Urantians, still clung to the hope of "liberty and freedom." They were, and still are, proud of this great land.

The inability of a large segment of Urantians to recognize the "old-fashioned" religious inspiration of the Papers is a testimony to new-age philosophies that have captured and absorbed their thinking and attitudes. Block apparently is motivated by his background in this occult influence. Thus he sees the religious milieu of the Papers as deriving from someone who was well at home with that "old" psychology. Block does not recognize the intent of the Revelation to return to those "old-fashioned" values, and that someone like Sadler was necessary to permit them to reach the world, a personality who would not outright reject the teachings. They were fashioned in a social environment that could still tolerate those values, before the current godlessness became so pervasive in our society. The timing of the Urantia Papers had more than one crucial component.

Block goes on to the extreme view that:

Assuming, then, that (Weatherhead’s) Jesus and Ourselves was written before, and in complete independence of, Part IV’s "Instruction for Teachers and Believers," the latter text can be seen as the product of a conscious adaptation of the former. Indeed, the section appears to have been created as a vehicle for incorporating material from Weatherhead. The project which the author of 159:3 apparently set for him/herself was to draw material from Weatherhead’s 20th century book of sermons and convert it into a heretofore unrecorded (i.e. in human literature) instruction, "[s]ummarized and restated in modern phraseology," given by Jesus himself during an evangelical tour of the Decapolis in the summer of A.D. 29.

Clearly, if Block believes that this "the section appears to have been created as a vehicle for incorporating material from Weatherhead" he cannot accept it as anything but of human inception, even with inferior purpose. Under this view the "author" of the Urantia Papers was casting about to find reasons for using other human authors; the purpose of this important religious composition was to find an excuse to use Weatherhead. Such position seriously degrades Sadler’s integrity, and gives rise to the notion of pure plagiarization. In the process, and far worse, it demotes such inspirational material to petty intent. Given this position Block cannot take the opposite view that our celestial brothers used a convenient human source as the foundation for important spiritual instruction.

I personally took this Section with deep respect. I responded to it in my heart. Regardless of its origin it carries supreme exhortation to care in our instructions to brothers and sisters. When I then continued with Block’s comparative chart, and his reverse attempt to demote this truly inspirational instruction, I saw a clear purpose to deny the Papers as a divine Revelation. But equally degrading was a denial of my ability to respond to its holy guidance. No true child of God would see the form of the Instructions as anything but a pithy, concise, and inspirational exhortation to just and righteous conduct. It is authoritative in format and tone; a rational human being would not have pretended to such celestial confidence.

Block’s Denigration of Sadler

Given the testimony that has been given about Sadler and his personal integrity by those who directly knew him, Block’s assignments cannot be accepted as rationally possible. Sadler would have been aghast at such accusation. Block himself has become irrational with his great analytical talent. If he had not fallen off the fence he would now stand in peril of serious mind disruption and consequent psychosis. One can follow this dangerous process in Block’s mind.

Consider other remarks on his view of the origin of this material:

Jesus’ instruction for teachers and believers is prefaced by the words: "Summarized and restated in modern phraseology, Jesus taught: . . ." After reviewing the parallels, we see that an equally apt, if more cumbersome, introduction would be: "Summarized (with slight revisions and supplementation), and already stated in modern phraseology, Weatherhead taught: . . ."

Here Block exerts further effort to reduce the source to mere human origin. He obviously feels far more comfortable with his version than he does with the original. The last puts it squarely into human context; the first shows celestial authority. Time and again he shows the process of logical disruption in his mind.

He goes on to say that the phrase Summarized and restated in modern phraseology, gives away the fact that this preface "can thus be read, in most instances, as a message signifying that the passages to follow are mainly derived from a recently published book." He further states that this "Instruction" is "composed primarily of material drawn from ten of Weatherhead’s eighteen chapters," and that the course of instruction parallels the sequence of those chapters. He says that "paragraphs 2 through 5 of the Section of the Papers ‘flow easily’ and that there is a natural connection between the sentences in each paragraph and between the paragraphs themselves." He then remarks that from Paragraph 6 to the end of the Section the presentation is disjointed and more randomly presented, as though to imply that the "author" tired of his work, and proceeded to skip through it.

Paragraph 9, for instance, embraces material from three different chapters, and the transition between sentences is not always smooth. Such rough transitions characterize other sections in The Urantia Book which condense and combine material from diverse chapters, e.g. several sections in Papers 99 to 103.

But Paragraph Nine is as much a pithy composition as the rest of the Section.

P.1766 - §5 In preaching the gospel of the kingdom, you are simply teaching friendship with God. And this fellowship will appeal alike to men and women in that both will find that which most truly satisfies their characteristic longings and ideals. Tell my children that I am not only tender of their feelings and patient with their frailties, but that I am also ruthless with sin and intolerant of iniquity. I am indeed meek and humble in the presence of my Father, but I am equally and relentlessly inexorable where there is deliberate evildoing and sinful rebellion against the will of my Father in heaven.

How Block could view this as comprising a "rough transition" is beyond me. I see it as telling us that friendship with God entails our understanding of him both in his tenderness of our humanity but also as ruthless and relentlessly inexorable with sin, iniquity, deliberate evildoing and rebellion. In other words he is a truly compassionate but firm Judge.

How many Urantians accept the idea of God as a ruthless and relentless Judge? Did Sadler?

Does Block really want us to believe this was a Sadler composition? Would Sadler have put words into the mouth of Jesus, "my children," and "I am?" Can anyone believe Sadler was imbued with such wild megalomania? Block says so.

We all are about to find out.

Block then describes the "voice" of Jesus.

Weatherhead’s exuberant testimonies about Jesus are transformed into instructions given by Jesus.

One can easily recognize what this implies for authorship, even though the caveat of "restated in modern phraseology" is offered. Divine instruction is reduced to pretense. Sadler is once again portrayed as a false plagiarizer who had the insane desire to pretend to celestial authority.

Block bemoans the fact that this "lifting" of phrases violates the "nuance and context" of the Weatherhead material. Again he would feel far more comfortable with the human version than the divine distillment. However he admits that the "author," Sadler, "distills Weatherhead’s discourses into a series of pithy injunctions and assertions expressed with masterful authority."

Do you see Block’s mental conflict?

Block also admits to a shifting of time sense where "Weatherhead looks back to the ancient past, while Jesus projects into the future." "Sometime the children of the kingdom will realise . . ., Future generations will know . . ."

If Block only knew how this world will return to old-fashioned truth and righteousness.

Again Block shows his logical conflict when he admits to the masterful construction of the passage:

At first glance, the 17-page parallel chart appears to be nothing more than an exhibit of plagiarism. But a closer analysis of the parallels reveals that the author of 159:3, far from being either a lazy plagiarist or a mere workmanlike paraphraser, practiced a rare editorial art that required high intelligence, creative imagination, discrimination, and discipline.

One can see how Block struggles to come to grips with his internal conflict. One the one hand he must make the passage human in origin; on the other he must admit to its clear religious superiority. He states that the "author" ignored standard citation procedures, as though a celestial being was to be bound by human social customs, but then admits that:

. . . the author does appear to have conscientiously followed a self-prescribed set of rules of restatement. These rules seem to have entailed the scrupulous adherence to the trend and substance of the source text while, at the same time, revising, supplementing and otherwise adjusting the culled material when deemed necessary.

Block goes on to illustrate the manner in which this "adherence" and "adjustment" is executed. He admits there is not a single word-for-word lifting of an entire sentence. He quotes phrase that show the inspirational power of the verbal choices, yet he does not admit them to uplifting potency.

Block again illustrates his need to reduce the inspirational power:

An instance of brilliant punning occurs in paragraph 8 as well, where Weatherhead’s image of thousands of churchgoers wistfully "walk[ing] up the aisle to the Communion table" is changed to "hungry souls who famish in the very presence of the bread of life."

Well, that is a lot more than brilliant punning. That is a transformation into powerful religious inspiration.

Because Block is a shy arm-chair analyst he does not incorporate the difficulties of real-world interactions into his mental review. Sadler did not have the cosmic mind to create whole masses of material within the Papers. I personally was convinced of the source of the Papers from the cosmic presentations on the Paradise Sons of God, and the Paradise Creator Sons. Sadler was not. Sadler was not cosmic minded. He not only looked upon the current social vehicles for rescue of our social order, he could not rise above his SDA frame of mind, an influence that conditioned him from his childhood. By his own admission he was not convinced of the origin of the Papers until after Part IV arrived in 1935, and then sometime thereafter, and his reading of the presentations on the Personal Apostles. I recall the Forum rebellion that took place when they had reached a consensus that the Papers were of divine origin. This group included his wife Lena who also made this recognition early in the 1930's. When they en masse pleaded with him to come to grips with the true origin he resisted their supplications. He lectured them on accepting material he could only perceve as an unusual psychic phenomenon.

For details refer to my book, The Birth of a Divine Revelation.

But Block cannot condition his judgments and his mental framework from such testimony because he is isolated from those realities.

We should not forget how the Devil got his hand into 533. Refer to my book. Under that influence Sadler made changes to the Revelation after it was "complete and certified" in 1935. Block probably was led along lines from that influence that more directly appealed to his intellectual bent. The scientific work on Stetson’s atmospheric paper is thus far easier to fault on intellectual grounds than the spiritual inspiration of the Papers, a fact that Block himself admits. Since Block does not believe in spirit realities, whether loyal midwayers, or rebel spirits, he cannot incorporate such possibility into his assessment.

Thus we can see why Block has reached the view that the "sources" of a Divine Revelation are mere human intellectual creation.

He has developed a personal dichotomy in intellectual digestion that cannot, and will not, come to grips with divine origins.