Saturday, February 19, 2011

Christianity as Mystical Fact by Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner
I am currently reading Christianity as Mystical Fact by Rudolf Steiner. I have a book copy but you can read an online version here. Like all of Steiner's transcribed lectures it can be heavy going due to the translation, but his inital argument stands good. This is that no amount of historical investigation into the biblical account can ever prove the spiritual claims of Christianity (even something as simple as "God is love" is not proveable by historical investigation or critical analysis of the biblical texts). He then looks at the scientific method and tries to apply it in terms of what he calls "spiritual science" before looking at the mystery religions and initiation. In other words he is establishing imparted "gnosis" (knowledge) as the way of knowing truth rather than "pistis" (faith in a creed or in the bible).

I don't think any of this is a surprise, but he does slightly downplay the scientific method of spiritual investigation which goes a little against the grain of some of his other writings. The main emphasis seems to be on initiation into secret teaching which is something hinted at in the gospels and more so in "secret Mark" and the Hebrew version of Mark (which includes the story of the raising of Lazarus normally only present in John and which has a chapter of its own later in the book).

Its an interesting discussion given that creationism's main aim is to prove the spiritual truth of the gospel by proving the bible's historic truth. Its a rather futile effort. On the other side, attempts to prove the resurrection by using its spiritual results as evidence (e.g. James Martin's article in this month's Life and Work magazine) seems equally unlikely. In both cases any truth in the message is subserviant to the evidencial basis of how it was first delivered. Until we can get beyond that we will not be able to get to grips with the teachings of Jesus.

I continue to read.