Christianity as Mystical Fact
In this book Rudolf Steiner traces the path leading from the secret rituals of ancient Mystery sanctuaries to their ultimate fulfillment in the Mystery of Golgotha, accomplished by Christ “on the great stage of world history as an external fact.” Steiner shows how the currents of spiritual experience forming the science, art and religion of the ancient world, found their highest expression in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ — the Mystery of Golgotha. In the latter Steiner saw the central event in the evolution of cosmos, earth and man, the culminating point of the prehistorical and historical process, which began with the divine word, “Let there be light.” In Christ's Deed of Freedom he recognized the spiritual impulse in which alone can be found the significance and the destiny of all created things. Steiner considered “the Logos which became flesh” as the foundation for all contemporary religious striving, stating plainly, “Today it is no longer possible to find the spiritual unless we grasp the Mystery of Golgotha.” This book is a first step on the way to a truly modern comprehension of the Mystery of Golgotha — of the events leading up to it, and of the consequences of it in the early years of our era. It carries the reader from that time when men still recognized as concrete, living reality the birth of all things out of the divine Will, through the central moment of the Death on Golgotha, to the awakening of new possibilities for creation in the dawning light of the Spirit.
How Steiner came to this profound insight into the nature and significance of Christ, how he prepared for it by long and arduous schooling in natural science, philosophy, and — above all — in the development of his own inner life is shown in the introduction to this book. The Rev. Dr. Alfred Heidenreich met Rudolf Steiner personally and attended a number of his lecture courses. His impressions of this outstanding thinker of our time are a valuable contribution to this volume of the Centennial Edition of the Written Works of Rudolf Steiner.
The present translation of Christianity as Mystical Fact is the fruit of the joint effort of three students of Steiner's writings — one of them an active clergyman. The translation, together with their explanatory and reference notes, bear the marks of careful scholarship, and will be valued by the serious student.
In his use of the word “mystical” in the title of this volume, Steiner refers indirectly to a modern spiritual training, leading to what he termed “exact cognition of the spirit.” Although he cited numerous writers of the late classical and early Christian centuries, he depended first of all upon this “exact cognition” rather than traditional or historical sources From the vantage-point of his conscious perception of spiritual reality, he saw in Christianity a “Mystical Fact” of a scope and significance beyond the powers of ordinary human conception.
In addition to sharing with others the fruits of his own spiritual perception by means of books such as this, Steiner outlined a science of the spirit, involving a method of training suited to the capacities of men and women of today. He indicated how a person can awaken dormant faculties within himself, can learn to open his spiritual eyes, thus attaining a clear, conscious grasp of higher reality.
The first step on this path of spiritual training is to be found in the injunction of the ancient world: “Know thyself.” From early times, self-knowledge has been recognized as the indispensable first goal of spiritual achievement. In an early Christian century one of the Desert Fathers wrote: “Great is one who can raise the dead; great is one who can see angels with his physical eyes; but really great is one who is able to see himself. Such a one has his spiritual eyes open.” Rudolf Steiner sets self-knowledge as the sine qua non for those today who would begin the pilgrimage out of the darkness, who would strive toward an opening of their spiritual eyes to a conscious perception of The Light of the World.
Paul Marshall Allen
South Egremont, Massachusetts