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The Collected Works of Rudolf Steiner Series 342

First Steps in Christian Religious Renewal

Preparing the Ground for The Christian Community (CW 342)

Rudolf Steiner
Introduction by Christopher Bamford
Translated by Marsha Post
Paperback
November 2010
9780880106221
More details
  • Publisher
    SteinerBooks
  • Published
    20th November 2010
  • ISBN 9780880106221
  • Language English
  • Pages 328 pp.
$30.00

6 lectures and 2 discussions in Stuttgart, June 12–16, 1921 (CW 342)

The lectures and discussions presented in First Steps in Christian Religious Renewal make up the first of the five "Priest Courses." They record the first steps of the remarkable journey taken in 1921 by a small group of dedicated souls who, out of their own inner needs and guided by Rudolf Steiner, sought a path to Christian religious renewal.

Addressing the group with warm intimacy, Steiner frames their task not primarily in theological terms, but as a need for a renewing “the religious,” or “the working of the religious element as such.” For this, the sermon (or how we speak) is central, for today we must use language in new ways. We cannot reopen the spiritual worlds by starting from “old conditions.” Traditional religious life has become too corrupted, while modern culture has radically changed and become divorced from tradition. In earlier times, people could understand concepts such as “Christ,” “grace,” and “salvation,” but now we need a new starting point, one that begins with the reality that we cannot teach anything we do not believe and have not experienced. When we speak, images and symbols must be experienced as real; we can no longer hold the split view that accepts both modern science as it is and spiritual reality as it is.

Next, Steiner turns to the group’s stated concerns: ritual, the sermon, community building, and the relationship between these and individual efforts to awaken to the “I.” Here, a question arises about the extent to which such matters should become conscious. The question arises: How do we avoid conscious religious content from becoming abstract, intellectual, and cut off from feeling? All too often, intellect is confused with consciousness. Yet Goethe, for one, was certainly conscious and was able to think pictorially and live in images without falling into intellectuality. We, too, must learn to do so.

In a sense, however, even this is secondary. Community building, which requires finding “what lives and weaves between human beings,” is the key. To bring the community to birth, Steiner advises the group to abandon teaching or exercising power through words and concepts. Instead of focusing on “knowledge of God” (theology), they must find a way to communicate actual “life in God”—experience of the divine within the soul. This means that they must learn to live in a content that is greater and beyond what they can speak.

Thus, the importance of ritual, which must remain simple while expressing inner transformation of the human being, or the “en-Christing,” imbuing the human being with Christ. Steiner explains, “Human beings are not born imbued with Christ beforehand by way of inheritance; they must find the Christ in themselves.” Such transformation, “en-Christing,” can be expressed symbolically in many ways through simple, effective, ritual.

First Steps in Christian Religious Renewal is a translation from German of Vorträge und Kurse über christlich-religiöses Wirken, Bd.1, Anthroposophische Grundlagen für ein erneuertes christlich-religiöses Wirken (GA 342).

Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up. As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.