Is Christ our Savior? Yes, Steiner said — although he redefined the concept, relying heavily on gnostic teachings that mainstream churches discarded long ago. Christ, the Sun God, incarnated in the body of one of two Jesuses, who thereby became our Prototype: the sort of man we should all try to be, for He leads the way upward in our evolution. He gives us the “Christ impulse” — the strength and direction to develop our “I”.
You may detect some deviations from what is usually taught in Sunday school.
Here are some of Steiner’s statements about Christ the Savior/Prototype. Hang on. Our journey will take us back to ancient Egypt and all the way up to Mars. Along the way we will meet such unbiblical characters as Isis and Buddha.
You may detect some deviations from what is usually taught in Sunday school.
“The story in the Bible where Christ swings a scourge to chase the money changers out of the temple has a deep meaning. Back when things were darkest on earth, Christ appeared as the savior of mankind. Oriphiel's reign ended 109 years after Christ's appearance, and he was replaced by Anael. Then came Zachariel, then Raphael; Samael ruled during the Renaissance and Gabriel from the 16th century until 1879. Then Michael began to rule, and circa 2300 Oriphiel, the terrible archangel of wrath, will be ruling things. And as once before, spiritual light will shine into darkness brightly ad radiantly. Christ will appear again on earth, although in a different form than before. We're called upon to receive him and to serve him.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF THE ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.
“Christianity stands as the external mystical fact for the birth of the light. Christ brought to the earth what had existed from the beginning, although it was hidden from mankind throughout the ages we have been speaking of. Now, however, a new climax was reached. Even as the light is born anew at the winter solstice, so in the fourth post-Atlantean period the Savior of Mankind, the Christ, was born. He is the new Sun Hero who was not only initiated in the depths of the Mystery temples, but who also appeared before all the world so that it could be said, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). When it was recognized that the Divine could descend into a personality, the festival celebrating the birth of the Sun Hero, the Christ, came to replace the festival celebrating the birth of the light.” — Rudolf Steiner, SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL (Anthroposophic Press, 1967), lecture 1, GA 90f.
“We hear that Buddha had an important pupil, Cassapa. He was the one whose task it was to spread the teaching of Buddha. We are told in a legend that Cassapa did not die but disappeared into a cave. There his physical body is being preserved until the day when the Maitreya Buddha appears. Then the mortal remains of Cassapa will be touched by the fire of heaven and dissolved.
“Let us think our way into this teaching. How will there be people in the future who can understand the teaching of the Maitreya Buddha? Through the fact that the redeemer himself carried his own mortal remains to heaven after three and a half days. That means that those human beings who unite themselves with the impulse of Christ will take what they have achieved as the fruit of their lives with them and carry it into the spiritual world. We will see how, by means of the connection with the principle of Christ, all the fruits of earthly existence can be carried into the spiritual world. The teachings of the Orient have always proclaimed the future coming of the Christ, even in their legends. Because we are to learn in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch how the earthly-physical element directly goes over into the spiritual world, this is presented to us with the phrase “he has eyes like a flame of fire” (Rev. 1:14) and we are told: “His feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace.— (Rev. 1:15) Later we read, “And all the communities shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart ...” (Rev. 2:23) Here we are told that Christ is the one who brings the “I am.” This inconspicuous little word must merely be read. The meaning is that the principle behind the “I am” will become the savior who leads us out of the material world. Word for word, line for line the text can be explained in this way.” — Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), Lecture 4, GA 104a.
“[B]efore the Mystery of Golgotha the Father Principle held sway. Yet it was felt how man had. departed ever more and more from the Father, to whom as we look up we say. Ex Deo nascimur. Mankind stood in need of healing, and the seers and initiates lived in expectation of the Healer, the Hælend, the healing Saviour. To us the conception of Christ as the Healer is no longer living. But we must find our way to it again, for only when we can feel His presence once more as the Cosmic Physician, shall we also realise His true place in the Universe.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Mystery of Golgotha” (ANTHROPOSOPHIC QUARTERLY, Vol. 1, 1926), a lecture, GA 214.
“[T]he Isis legend must show itself as being fulfilled in another way in our time. We cannot lose the Christ and what he, in a higher form than Osiris, gives us; but we can lose, and we have lost, what is portrayed for our Christian understanding standing at the side of Osiris — Isis — the mother of the saviour, the divine wisdom, Sophia. If the Isis legend is to be renewed, then it must not simply follow the old form — Osiris, killed by Typhon-Ahriman and carried away by the waters of the Nile, must be found again by Isis in order that his body, cut into pieces by Typhon-Ahriman, may be sunk into the earth. No, in a sense, we must find the Isis legend again, the content of the mystery of Isis, but we must create it out of imagination, suited to our own times. An understanding must arise again of the eternal cosmic truths, and it will when we learn to think and compose imaginatively, as the Egyptians did. But we must find the right Isis legend.
“... This is the mystery of modern humanity: Fundamentally speaking, Mary-Isis has been killed, and she must be sought, just as Osiris was sought by Isis in Asia. But she must be sought in the infinite spaces of the universe with the power that Christ can awaken in us, if we devote ourselves to him in the right way.
“Let us picture this rightly, let us immerse ourselves in this new Isis legend which must be experienced, and let us fill our souls with it. Then we will experience in a true sense what humankind in many of its representatives believes, that this new legend fills the holy eve of Christmas, in order to bring us into Christmas day, the day of Christ. ” — Rudolf Steiner, “Search for the New Isis, the Divine Sophia” (Anthroposophic Press, 1988), a lecture, GA 202.
“This is what is represented in Isis. She is fructified by the divine male element, so that the head is fructified; and it is not material substance that is offered the child, as in the case of the physical Isis, but the ‘crux ansata’ which is the sign of life. Whereas here from the physical Isis physical substance of life is offered, there is offered the spirit of life in its symbol. Behind the physical Mother of life there appears the spiritual Mother of life; behind her again the primal force of all life, represented with the life force, just as the will dwells behind everything in the still spiritual, far distant past. Here we have the three Mothers, and also the way in which out of the cosmos these three Mothers impart vitalizing force to the sun. Here we have what is not an artistic expression, nevertheless a symbolic expression of a profound cosmic truth. What lasted throughout the Egyptian evolution as the Isis symbol was received in more recent times and transformed in accordance with the progress made by humanity as a result of the appearance of Christ Jesus on earth; for in Christ Jesus we have the great prototype of everything that the human soul is destined to bring forth out of itself. The human soul in its fructification out of the spirit of the world is given tangible form in the Madonna. In the Madonna we meet, as it were, with Isis reborn and in an appropriate way enhanced, transfigured.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Isis and Madonna” (Mercury Press, 1987), a lecture, GA 57.
“Buddha became a Redeemer and Saviour for Mars as Christ Jesus had become for the Earth. The Buddha had been prepared for this by his teaching of Nirvana, lack of satisfaction with earthly existence, liberation from physical incarnation. This teaching had been prepared in a sphere outside the Earth but with the Earth's goal in view. If we can look into the soul of the Buddha and grasp the import of the Sermon at Benares we shall witness the preparation of activity that was not to be confined to the Earth. And then we shall realise how infinitely wise was the contract between Christian Rosenkreutz and the Buddha, as the result of which, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Buddha relinquished his activity on the Earth through which he would have been able, from the spiritual world, to influence human souls between birth and death, in order henceforward to work in the Mars sphere for souls between death and rebirth.” — Rudolf Steiner, BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1975), lecture 5, GA 141.
“Fire and air in the macrocosm are, in man the microcosm, blood and nerves. As you have lightning and thunder in the macrocosm, so you have thoughts arising within the human being. And the God seen and heard by Moses in the burning thorn-bush, Who spoke to him in the fiery lightning on Sinai, was present as the Christ in the blood of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, descending into a human form, was manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. In that He thought as a man in a human body. He became the great Prototype of the future evolution of humanity.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1956), lecture, 7, GA 109.
“Mystery of Golgotha. Slowly and gradually, during incarnation after incarnation, came egotism, error and lying, disease and the realisation of death. Man is being led back into the spiritual world, so to speak, with the qualities he has acquired “from below.” The re-ascent will be a quicker progress than the descent; but it cannot be expected that in one or two incarnations man will be enabled, through what he can take in of the Christ-Impulse, to overcome selfishness and to heal his etheric body to such an extent that all danger of lying and error is at an end, still less can he be expected to be able to work healingly on his physical body. All this must go on slowly and gradually; but it is going on. Just as man has been led down into all those qualities by the luciferic impulse, so will he be led up out of them by the Christ-Impulse. Selfishness will be transmuted into selflessness, lying into truthfulness, the danger of error into absolute certainty and true judgment. Illness will become the foundation for more complete health; the illness we have overcome will be the germs of greater good-health; and when we have gradually learnt to understand death in such a way that the Death at Golgotha works as a prototype of death in our own soul, death will then have lost its sting. Man will then know why from time to time he must lay aside his physical covering, in order to rise higher and higher in the course of his embodiments. In particular, the Christ-Impulse brought with it the impulse to make good something connected with man's knowledge and observation, with his knowledge of the world.
“...The Ten Commandments give instructions for the education of the ego. This was the preparation by means of which the ego was to learn in its most inward being how to give itself the impulse after having descended into Kali-Yuga, into the age of darkness. At first man was to be given the Law from above. The Law of one's own ego could however, only become what it was to be, when that ego takes into itself the great Prototype of Golgotha, saying: ‘If I take into my soul such thinking as was thought by the Being Who offered Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha, — if I take into myself such feelings as were felt by the Being Who offered Himself as sacrifice on Golgotha, — if I take into myself such willing as was willed by the Being Who offered Himself in sacrifice on Golgotha, then will my being come to a decision within itself to develop increasingly a likeness to God, it will then no longer have to follow the Outer Law, the Ten Commandments, but an inner impulse, its own Law.’
“Thus Moses first put before mankind the Law, but Christ gave them the Prototype and the strength which the soul ought to take in, whereby to develop itself. Hence all the spiritual impulses were to be taken into the innermost of the soul, even into the ego itself; they were all to be deepened into inwardness through Christ Jesus. That could only take place if men thought as follows, and Christ Jesus radiated it forth as an impulse: —
“Man has descended into the dark age, into Kali-Yuga. Before that dark age men saw into the spiritual world with a dim twilight consciousness. They were then able, not merely to make use of the instruments of the physical body, but when they observed the physical world through their eyes, ears and so on, they perceived the spiritual surrounding all things, flowers, plants, stones, etc. As regards this observation of the spiritual, men were rich in those days. In the older times the spirit was bestowed on them; whereas, in the dark age, as regards the spirit they were reduced to beggary; for the spirit was no longer bestowed upon them. They had become poor in spirit. Kali-Yuga came upon them more and more, that time when men had to say to themselves: In the old days things were different, the spirit was then bestowed on men; they were able to look up into a spiritual world, they were then rich in spirit; the kingdoms of heaven were then accessible to them. Now men are pressed down into the physical world. The gates of the spiritual world are closed to human senses, and no view of the kingdoms of heaven is open to the physical body. But Christ was able to say: ‘Lay hold of the ego, where it must now be apprehended! Then will the Kingdoms of Heaven draw near to you. They will arise within your own ego. Though the spiritual light may be concealed from your eyes behind the external light which is perceptible to the senses, though spiritual sound may be concealed from your ears behind physical sound; yet, when Christ Himself shall raise you, ye shall find the Kingdoms of Heaven within you! ‘Unhappy were those who had become poor in the dark age, who had become beggars as regard the spirit. They can now become blessed, the impulse having been given through which Christ is able, from the spiritual world, from the Kingdoms of Heaven, to penetrate into the very ego or ‘ I ’ of man. Therefore, with respect to man's poverty of spirit, the highest Christian proclamation is this: ‘From henceforward, blessed are they who are beggars in spirit, who no longer receive the spirit bestowed upon them according to the old conception. Henceforth, they can be blessed if they take in the Christ-Impulse; for, through the developing of their ego, the Kingdoms of Heaven will be within them.’” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHRIST IMPULSE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EGO-CONSCIOUSNESS (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1926), lecture 3, GA 116.
This monumental sculpture shows Christ
mediating between Lucifer and Ahriman.
(Somewhat confusingly, Lucifer and Ahriman
are both represented twice, and a "rock being"
perches atop the entire piece.)
Christ is the "Representative of Humanity" —
our prototype, whom we should emulate.
[The sculpture is by Edith Maryon and Rudolf Steiner.
The sketch is my own, drawn in 2009.]
— Compiled by Roger Rawlings
Anthroposophy is, from an orthodox Christian perspective, largely heretical. However, there are many strands in Christian tradition; accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and explanations of his teachings, vary. Several of the strands Steiner selected trace back to the mystical vision promulgated by St. Paul. The following summary of Paul's vision will seem familiar and true to some Christians (depending on the particular version of Christianity they embrace), but it will seem alien to others. Likewise, some Anthroposophists will be struck by the similarities to Steiner's teachings; others will spot many significant areas of divergence.
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
also see "Religion, Spirituality"