Dornach, 20 September 1924
Rudolf Steiner: You have asked for something to be discussed before the lecture.
(Johannes Werner Klein spoke.) [Not recorded]
Rudolf Steiner: Well you see, I wanted to formulate my answer to your question to fit in with the way the question was asked, and there was certainly an intimate connection with what you wrote about the deterioration of physical and soul forces which you seemed to be tying in with whether you should do more on the outreach work or work more extensively with the inner aspect. It would have been difficult for me to reach a conclusion other than that your awareness of the deterioration of forces was leading—in the way you put the question—to the suggestion that you might work less with outreach this winter and instead withdraw into more inward work. I had understood the question to be suggesting the choice between whether the outreach work should continue as inaugurated or whether, in consideration of the physical and soul forces, the work should continue for a while amongst the priests themselves. Perhaps I misunderstood the question?
(Johannes Werner Klein spoke about this.) [Not recorded]
Rudolf Steiner: Well, you will have gathered from my reply that the outreach work is necessary for the present. But this does not mean that, if things are as you say, we cannot also speak about the deterioration of soul forces. The deterioration of physical forces is a medical matter, but the deterioration of soul forces is of course something that should be discussed in the way in which it is understood. Before we continue, would anyone else like to speak about it?
(Emil Bock asked about karmic connections. Then Friedrich Doldinger spoke.1) [Neither contribution was recorded]
Rudolf Steiner: The only problem for me personally is that you are speaking at all about difficulties at the soul level. One does not speak about difficulties at the soul level if one is convinced that they do not exist. There is one thing that we must include in our considerations, and that is this: The way in which the movement for religious renewal has been developing since the first Act of Consecration of Man two years ago should surely fill everyone with satisfaction—taking into account all the factors that have a bearing on this development. Naturally there are always failures or else inhibitions coming from outside, or perhaps arising from the fact that not everyone is immediately equal to his task in an absolutely ideal way. But if we leave these details out of account—most of which can anyway be overcome if the development of the work continues, and which the main direction in the development of the movement for religious renewal certainly promises will he overcome—and consider the broader picture, then we have to say: The inhibitions at the soul level, if they are regarded as inhibitions of the movement itself, are something of an illusion, for within the movement these inhibitions do not manifest as such. The movement is developing quite well, to put it plainly. So the existing inhibitions are, in fact, more or less the private concern of individuals. At least this is how they appear. It is not as though anything in the movement itself might be influenced by them. However, there are some points within the movement itself which might perhaps still be regarded as inhibiting factors, and these should probably he discussed. The question is how to shape this discussion. Perhaps it will be possible for me to speak about some points, one in particular, with the Lenkers first before embarking on a general discussion. Or perhaps it is not feasible to extend the discussion beyond the Lenkers’ circle; in that case it would be up to them ... to decide how to share it with the circle of priests. These are questions that simply lie along the way of development. But if there are psychological inhibitions that are taken to be inhibitions of the movement itself, there is really no need to regard them as such if you look at the whole way in which The Christian Community has been developing. Or, put differently, there is no need to regard them as a reality, for a certain amount of illusion is playing a part in the matter.
I must say that the point in your question about working inwardly or with outreach is not important just now. In many ways, what your question contains simply does not exist, especially if you look at the facts, for what is essential for the movement is the intensity in its substance, indeed the very fact that the movement exists. I must say that with regard to the intensity in its substance I consider the movement to be essentially oriented in the right direction and I also think that at present it has the characteristic of going with the spiritual. I could give you various external examples for this that I found when looking through the recent issue of your journal, where you discussed certain points in the Book of Revelation showing how it can be applied to today.2 It is not a matter of whether this is correct or not, but the very fact that the question is brought up and dealt with in the way it is—basing what is written on substance that can be linked to the spiritual—shows that the movement really is moving in the right direction.
There are many successes that could be mentioned, and I mean genuine, intensely inward successes. Let me put it like this: Surely it can be counted as a success that you are indeed able to discuss these points—with the seriousness that obviously emanates from this community—especially when you know that your journal already has a circulation of 6,000. You must include positive things in your reckoning, and surely this is a very positive outcome. When I look at all the things that go in this direction I cannot help telling myself how remarkable it is that so much has become possible in religion in a way that is so different from what was there before. Where, until now, has it been possible to speak to 6,000 people about such things through a journal? And of course there are more readers than that. It was possible in sects, large or small ones, which no one actually takes seriously; and if the most modern theology did so, the subject was treated in a very unbelieving, rationalizing sense. The very tone in which the Book of Revelation is discussed in your journal is an achievement when you consider that it has a circulation of 6,000. These are things that must be included on the positive side of your reckoning. The value I accord them is entirely objective. In the light of these things you cannot talk of the movement having any inhibitions worthy of that name. You must also consider how immensely powerfully the cultus works whenever it takes place. If progress continues as hitherto, then in ten years’ time the movement will truly be what it is intended to be for humanity. So if you are asking whether the direction you have followed hitherto should be maintained—and I cannot interpret your question to mean anything else—then all I can say is: There is not the slightest reason to consider doing things in a different way. This is what I think as regards the movement for religious renewal.
It is true, though, that in some respects some individuals have not been functioning at the level of the movement as a whole. Please forgive me for putting this so bluntly. But this should be a reason for considerable satisfaction, not dissatisfaction, since it offers the guarantee that individuals will increasingly grow into the movement that is so filled with spiritual substance. These are things that strengthen souls. And there is another positive thing worth mentioning, which is the way various aspects of the Book of Revelation are now being unveiled together with you here. I am afraid there is a good deal of illusion involved in the way private inhibitions that exist are being transferred on to the movement. These things that are being transferred on to the movement are personal, and they will quite definitely be removed again by and by. This is how I see it, but I am not sure whether it fits the direction of your question.
You must also not recoil from asking yourselves how you can remove from your soul any remnants of Protestant theology that may still be lurking there. This must be rooted out, for it represents one extreme, just as Catholic practice is another extreme in the opposite direction. The Catholic church says: We need not concern ourselves with the individual priest; the individual priest is entirely insignificant, for what matters is the substance represented by the church. As soon as he wears the stole the individual priest is regarded as a representative of the church, and I have never known anyone in authority to be upset by depressions assailing individual priests, let alone by quite other things than depressions. They never mind these things because they count on the spiritual leadership which—although it is rather questionable these days—does after all point towards the spirit. Protestantism, on the other hand, having put the whole emphasis on the personality, has separated itself off from the spirit almost entirely. That was the opposite extreme, and this is what must be removed from your hearts and souls. You really must look towards the reality of spiritual life, for this reality exists. Whatever might be the matter with the individual, whatever might be churning about in his own soul, he must realize that spiritual life proceeds in objective reality. If you take into account that certain Protestant attitudes might well still remain in some souls in consequence of their university studies or their education and so on, then you will be able to heal yourselves of difficulties you may be having in connection with the movement. I am not referring to individual souls with their own private feelings, for this belongs elsewhere. This is the same in the Catholic church, for of course someone in trouble can always go to a colleague for advice and so on. But towards the lay congregation and believers the church presents a united front. The added factor with the Catholic church is that it has gradually succumbed to a spiritual leadership that is ahrimanic. It can be proved that this is so.
At the beginning of this century the Pope at the time published an Encyclical against modernism.3 You know that these things are always couched in phrases such as: We prohibit, or we forbid such and such. And then the positive assertions are made. This is the way the Syllabus of the 1860s is written, and so is the Bull on modernism.4 I have made some investigations about this and discovered that the papal Encyclical was in fact a spiritual revelation, only when the revelation was put into writing every positive assertion in the spiritual original was turned into a negative assertion, so that the Bull said the exact opposite of what had been spiritually revealed. This shows that the Catholic church receives its spiritual revelations falsified by Ahriman. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there is nothing spiritual about it. This spiritual element is present in The Christian Community in the most appropriate way for the stage of evolution humanity has reached today. The Christian Community is established on spiritual soil by spiritual beings in reality. When this is accepted in full seriousness it will heal every faintness of soul. We now have several other things to speak about.
The Book of Revelation Main Page