WAS HE CHRISTIAN?
Steiner’s Gnostic Heresies
When, on rare occasions, supporters of Waldorf education openly acknowledge the schools’ religious nature, they attempt to portray Rudolf Steiner’s belief system as essentially Christian. But the "Christian" impulse underlying Waldorf schools is deeply unorthodox. Consider the following statement by Steiner:
“Had Christ not appeared on the earth, had He remained the Sun-God only, humanity on the earth would have fallen into decay.” 
Steiner affirms the great significance of Christ, yet he depicts Christ as a pagan god, the god of the Sun. [See "Sun God".] Steiner's gnostic vision, incorporating such doctrines as reincarnation and karma, strays far from the Bible and mainstream Christian teachings. The creed promulgated by Steiner incorporates large swaths of pagan belief as well as teachings adapted from Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and other religions. As a result, Steiner's message is incompatible with the doctrines of all large, established Christian denominations. 
Let’s consider how closely Steiner’s teachings conform to those of Jesus Christ. Here is a passage from the New Testament:
"And behold, a man came up to him, saying, 'Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?' And he said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.' He said to him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” 
Compare that with Steiner’s “Christian” attitude:
“Quite a number of people have been born since the nineties [i.e., the 1890s] without an I [i.e., spiritual selfhood], that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon ... They are human beings only in regard to their form ... Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts ... [They] are demons in human form.” 
Imagine, indeed. Steiner's statement is virtually the antithesis of Jesus's directive to love your neighbor as yourself. This difference is even more marked when we infer that Jesus essentially meant we should love all humans — everyone is our "neighbor," we should love everyone as we love ourselves. While Steiner professed Christian virtues, he was also prepared to brand large numbers of people as subhuman — a proposition standing in utter opposition to the call for universal equality, acceptance, and love. Subumans, Steiner said, are supernumerary — they form an unneeded, excess population.
“[I]n our time certain supernumerary people are appearing who have no 'I' [i.e., no true human spirituality] and are therefore not human beings in the full sense of the word." 
We may charitably seek to redeem subhumans, Steiner said; we may show them mercy. But we cannot love them as ourselves — they are fundamentally different from ourselves.
A useful guide in considering the true import of Christ’s ministry is BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS: CHRIST’S TEACHINGS ABOUT LOVE, COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS, gathered and introduced by Wendell Berry.  In his introduction, Berry writes:
“Christ told us how to survive when He answered the question, Who is my neighbor? In the tenth chapter of Luke He tells the story of a Samaritan who cared for a Jew who had been badly wounded by thieves. As we know from the preceding chapter, in which the Disciples suggest in effect the firebombing of a Samaritan village, the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies. To modernize the story, then, and so to understand Christ’s answer, we may substitute any other pair of enemies: fundamentalist Christian and fundamentalist Muslim, Palestinian and Israeli, captor and prisoner. The answer: Your neighbor is any sufferer who needs your help.” 
Christ’s message was one of radical love: love extended to everyone. He saw the humanity in everyone. He never conceived of “people who are not human beings,” people who stand outside the circle of humanity. Steiner often asserted the importance of love, yet his preachments take us away from, not toward, the core of Christ’s message. 
Steiner sometimes differentiated his body of teachings, Anthroposophy, from Christianity. On other occasions, he suggested that his teachings represent "true" Christianity. Thus, for instance, he produced a new, "corrected" holy text, a series of lectures published by his followers as the FIFTH GOSPEL. In these lectures, Steiner gave a revised account of Jesus's life and teachings; in essence, he claimed to correct the four gospels of the New Testament.  He learned the hidden truths about Christ, he claimed, through the use of clairvoyance: He consulted the Akashic Record, a celestial storehouse of knowledge written on ether or starlight. [See "Akasha".]
Steiner's claims and the resulting tenets of Anthroposophy are largely irreconcilable with Christian religious doctrine and practice. We have already spoken of the Anthroposophical belief in subhumans. Consider a related belief: the existence of inferior races. Steiner taught that the peoples of the Earth span a spectrum of evolutionary levels. The most highly evolved are white Europeans; the least evolved are the subhumans. Between these extremes are races of varying levels. [See "Steiner's Racism".] Fortunately, he said, the lower races tend to die out — as humanity evolves, more and more souls become qualified for incarnation in higher racial forms, while fewer and fewer souls populate the inferior races.
“[T]he lower races had fewer and fewer descendants, while the higher races had more and more.” 
"Lower races," "higher races." This is not the language of Christian love.
Many of Steiner's teachings must repel people of good will, whatever their religious views. But for Christians in particular, these teachings should be especially problematic. Indeed, from an orthodox Christian perspective, much of what Steiner taught must be deemed heretical. In discussing mankind's ultimate evolution, for instance, Steiner asserted
“[W]e shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity ‘the Father.’” 
The notion that we might, in any sense, become God the Father must strike most Christians as sacrilege. But Steiner was quite prepared to go his own way, insisting on the primacy of his personal revelation. Note how, in this instance, he implicitly differentiated his teachings from those of Christianity as it is usually comprehended (“what is called in Christianity...”). Only his own teachings, Steiner claimed, represent the truth about Christ.
Perhaps the most extraordinary of Steiner's heresies concerns the identities of Christ and the other members of the triune God worshipped in Christianity. As we have already seen, Steiner said that Christ is the Sun God. Anthroposophy is a polytheistic faith; the universe, as described by Steiner, is vibrant with a multitude of gods. [See "Polytheism".] In a somewhat nebulous sense, Steiner taught, the Godhead presides above the universe. But the Godhead is not the monotheistic God worshipped by Christians. [See "God".] According to Steiner, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost may be understood to be three aspects of a single divine essence; but they are also three separate gods presiding over three separate celestial spheres or periods.
“The highest Ruler of Saturn...appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth [i.e., Old Moon: a previous stage of evolution] appears to us as the Holy Spirit....” 
Thus, Steiner rejects Christian monotheism (he tells us that the cosmos is populated by many gods) and he specifically rejects the Christian conception of God (he tells us that the triune God is actually a council of three separate gods). Such heretical concepts are woven throughout Steiner's teachings and practices. Thus, for instance, Steiner used various alternative versions of the Lord's Prayer, the model prayer Jesus taught to his followers. Matthew 6:9-13 gives the version usually recited in churches; Luke 11:2-4 gives the same prayer in somewhat shorter form. The versions Steiner used have little or no basis in Biblical texts. The most extreme version used by Steiner is this:
The evils hold sway.
Witness of egoity freeing itself.
Selfhood guilt through others incurred,
experienced in the daily bread,
wherein the will of the heavens does not rule,
because man separated himself from your realm,
and forgot your names,
you Fathers in the heavens." 
This, Steiner said, is the prayer that underlies the Lord's Prayer (or the "Our Father") as found in the Bible; this is the "cosmic Our Father" that Jesus learned from pagans to whom he turned for spiritual instruction.
"What he heard was a kind of cosmic Our Father which says what the inner destiny [i.e., karma] of man must be ... It was later reversed to become the earthly Our Father." 
Actually, of course, the reversal runs in the other direction: This "cosmic Our Father" is a reverse image of the prayer quoted in the Bible. The cosmic Our Father runs backward (beginning with "Amen") and it addresses multiple gods ("you Fathers in the heavens"), not the One God of Christianity ("Our Father, which art in Heaven"). Steiner gave this account of the cosmic prayer:
"Those were approximately the words Jesus of Nazareth heard in pagan lands — the secret of the earthly human being as it was presented in ancient sacred teachings. They hold deep secrets of human evolution." 
Multiple deviations from the Bible are folded into Steiner's account. Not only does his account alter the text of the Lord's Prayer as quoted in the Bible, but Steiner offers a tale of Jesus's travels having no basis in the Bible (Jesus traveled into pagan lands in search of "ancient sacred teachings," Steiner says ), and Steiner introduces concepts alien to the Bible (including destiny or karma, and evolution).  Most crucially, the cosmic prayer is polytheistic. The "Fathers in the heavens" can be conceived either as the entire company of gods postulated in Steiner's Anthroposophy, or they may be seen as the three gods Steiner identified as the "highest Ruler of Saturn," "the Sun-God", and "the Ruler of the Moon stage." In either case, the cosmic prayer is not addressed to the monotheistic God of Christian belief.
Steiner's cosmology is, from a mainstream Western perspective, startling.  The universe Steiner described bears little relationship to either the universe of science or the universe of the Bible. The consequences for the Anthroposophical conception of Christ are profound.
Steiner taught that the Sun is (or was) the physical representation of Christ’s physical presence:
“It is...important that the deeds of Christ Jesus are always seen in relation to the physical sun, which is the external expression of the spiritual world that is received at the point where Christ’s physical body is walking around. When Christ Jesus heals, for instance, it is the sun force that heals. However, the sun must be in the right place in the heavens: ‘That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.’ It is important to indicate that this healing power can flow down only when the external sun has set but still works spiritually.” 
The Moon, according to Steiner, is the residence of Jehovah (otherwise known as Jahveh or Yahweh):
“You know that the Old Testament peoples honored Yahweh. This devotion was aimed at a real being. And this being has a connection with what reveals itself in the physical world as the Moon. Of course it is only an imagistic way of talking, but it does have a reality too, if we say that Yahweh resides on the Moon. Everything connected with Yahweh is connected to the Moon.” 
To make sense of this, you need to understand that Steiner taught that Jehovah is the god of the Jews but not the one true God of all creation. According to Steiner, the monotheism exemplified by Judaism is false.
“Monotheism...can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world.” 
Thus, the god of the Jews is just one of many gods; in particular, he is a rather lowly god who reigned over his people from the Moon:
“From the Moon, Jahveh reigned over the heart and soul of the Jewish people ... [O]nly when man views the universe in this way can he have any true conception of the function of the Moon.” 
Another significant fact about the solar system, in Steiner's account, is that humans moved to various planets long ago:
“[D]uring the Lemurian epoch of earth-evolution [i.e., long ago] only very few human beings [remained] on the earth itself ... [T]he majority of souls withdrew from the earth to other planets, continuing their life on Mars, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and so forth.” 
“Human” is a tricky term, as used by Steiner. As we have seen, Steiner taught that some people are not really human; some beings who seem to be human are actually demons in disguise.
“[A] number of people are going around who...have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.” 
On the other hand, some beings who were once human have moved on:
“[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the 'cities' in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many....” 
To be "human," in Steiner's teachings, means standing at a certain evolutionary level. Anyone below this level is subhuman; anyone above it is superhuman. [See "Supermen".]
One highly advanced individual who moved from the Earth to another planet is Buddha:
“Buddha, the Prince of Peace, went to Mars — the planet of war and conflict — to execute his mission there. The souls on Mars were warlike, torn with strife. Thus Buddha performed a deed of sacrifice similar to the deed performed in the Mystery of Golgotha by the Bearer of the Essence of Divine Love. To dwell on Mars as Buddha was a deed of sacrifice offered to the Cosmos. He was as it were the lamb offered up in sacrifice on Mars and to accept this environment of strife was for him a kind of crucifixion.” 
“The Buddha wandered away from earthly affairs to the realm of Mars. Until then Mars had been the chosen center of forces designated by the Greeks as fearfully warlike ... The Buddha Mystery [i.e., the hidden meaning of Buddha's ministry] on Mars did not take the same course as the Christ Mystery on earth, but Buddha, the Prince of Peace, who, during his last earthly life had spread peace and love wherever he went, was transferred to the belligerent realm of Mars. The fact that a being who is fully permeated by forces of peace and love was transferred to a realm of strife and disharmony may in a sense be regarded as a crucifixion.” 
This passage leads us to the core of Steiner’s heresies. He considered the “Christ-event” — that is, Christ's incarnation in the body of Jesus — a hugely important occurrence in universal history.  Steiner taught that the Christ-event introduced the “Christ impulse” into human affairs. Through this impulse, we can emulate Christ and evolve toward spiritual perfection. Christ was preceded by other spiritual mentors, such as Buddha, and their work can be compared to His. But they represented prior evolutionary stages — He represents the ultimate stage, a stage that is still very far from completion. We will fulfill the Christ impulse only in the extremely distant future, when we ourselves become gods. 
Note how little of this resembles orthodox Christianity, which is based on belief in Christ as one of three Persons of God.  Implicitly, in the teachings we are considering here, Steiner rejected mainstream Christian belief — he sought hidden knowledge of the spiritual realm, secret knowledge, “mystery” knowledge. It is in precisely this way that his religious teachings are gnostic: They aim at the acquisition of occult spiritual knowledge.  According to Steiner, acquiring such knowledge enables us to achieve salvation through our own efforts — a basic misconception according to orthodox Christianity, which teaches that salvation is provided by the Savior, who did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. 
A set of doctrines that entails people who are not human, spiritual evolution, planetary migrations, reincarnation, a Buddha crucifixion on Mars, people becoming God the Father, and salvation through the acquisition of secret knowledge — this is not Christianity as most Christians, and most Christian churches, understand the term. It is a set of gnostic heresies.
Anyone who feels drawn to the spirituality so evident in Waldorf schools should clearly understand the focus of that spirituality. Christians in particular should realize what Rudolf Steiner's followers believe. They revere Christ, yes. But they think Christ’s real identity is something you won’t hear mentioned in many churches. Christ was the highest of the gods who live on the Sun.
“[A]t a certain point in the earth’s evolution, a sublime Sun being, the Christ, did not remain on the Sun but came down from the Sun to the Earth....” 
There are many, many gods in the Steiner religion. The Sun God is one; he is very important; but other gods (Zeus, Thor, Mars) also exist; they are real. According to Steiner, the difference between Christ and such gods as Zeus is that Christ, the Sun being, came down to the physical Earth, whereas they did not.
“Now what is the most essential characteristic quality of the Christ so far as our cycle of evolution is concerned? To consider all those divine spiritual beings to which men of ancient times looked up to as the upper gods behind the tapestry of the sense world, as the rulers and lords of the spheres and functions of the universe, is to realise that their characteristic quality is that they do not descend so far as the physical plane; they only become visible to the consciousness of the seer [i.e., the clairvoyant], which transcends the physical plane and is able to see on the etheric [i.e., spiritual] plane. There Zeus, Apollo, Mars, Wotan, Odin, Thor, who are all real beings, became visible. It was characteristic of those beings not to descend so far as the physical plane ... In the divine spiritual worlds this ability was possessed by the Christ alone.” 
Christ is no more real than Zeus or Thor, but he left the Sun to come to Earth.  This is the key "fact" around which the Steiner religion revolves.
According to Steiner, Christ will not save humanity in the way that Christians usually understand the concept of salvation. Christ is not the Redeemer, except in a special sense. Rather, he is our Prototype — he is the model we should follow so that we may evolve properly:
"Christ shows himself...as the great human Prototype and Example, united with the Earth's true evolution."  [See "Prototype".]
Perhaps even more shocking to most Christians is this: Steiner said that by following our Prototype, we humans will ourselves become gods. We will form the "tenth hierarchy," supplementing the nine ranks of gods that loom above us today. As one of Steiner's more prolific followers has explained,
"It is part of the divine plan that [man] shall work out his salvation, that he shall evolve through his own efforts. In the course of aeons man will become the Tenth Hierarchy in his own right, because he will have earned it.”  [See "The Tenth Hierarchy".]
Christ did not save us; we will save ourselves. We will earn our ascension to apotheosis.
Such teachings fundamentally diverge from the New Testament's account of Christ, his role as Redeemer, and the very process of redemption. Such theachings are, in fact, incompatible with the most crucial, mainstream Christian doctrines.
In addition to giving us a revised portrait of Christ (the Sun God who descended to Earth, incarnating in the body of a human being, Jesus), Steiner gave us a radically revised portrait of Jesus. He taught, indeed, that there were two Jesuses who combined in order to become the vessel for the Sun God's incarnation:
“[T]wo Jesus children were born. One was descended from the so-called Nathan line of the House of David, the other from the Solomon line. These two children grew up side by side. In the body of the Solomon child lived the soul of Zarathustra. In the twelfth year of the child's life this soul passed over into the other Jesus child and lived in that body until its thirtieth year ... And then, only from the thirtieth year onward, there lived in this body the Being Whom we call the Christ, Who remained on earth altogether for three years.” 
“[N]ot one but two Jesus-children were born ... The important thing is to understand clearly what kind of beings these two children were. Occult investigation [i.e., use of clairvoyance] shows that the individuality [i.e., soul] who was in the Solomon Jesus-child was none other than Zarathustra ... Buddha forces permeated the astral body of the Nathan Jesus-child.” 
The accumulation of gnostic, occult, heretical teachings becomes overwhelming. In Steiner's hands, Christian theology is shattered, leaving few if any recognizable Christian teachings. Instead we have polytheism, the Sun God, karma, evolution, clairvoyance, two Jesuses, Zarathustra, Buddha, the Tenth Hierarchy, astral bodies, Zeus, Apollo, Mars, Wotan, Odin, Thor... You will search in vain for these in the Bible.
So, I’ll repeat my question. Was Steiner Christian?
The answer should be coming clear.
— Roger Rawlings
According to Steiner, this is the occult symbol for Christ.
“Christ was always the representative of the sun, namely, the intelligence of the Sun ... The sign of the intelligence of the Sun is the following ... This is, at the same time, the occult sign of the lamb. The lamb receives the book with the seven seals ... The seven corners of the sign are called 'horns.' But what do the 'eyes' mean?
“In occult schools the signs of the seven planets are written next to the seven eyes. The seven eyes signify nothing other than the seven planets, while the names of the planets designate the spirits incarnated in them as their intelligence. 'Saturn' is the name of the soul of Saturn. The names of the planets come from the spirits of the seven planets found around the earth. These have an influence on human life. The lamb, Christ, contains all seven. Christ is the alpha and the omega; the seven planets are related to him like members to an entire body. The entwining of the lines of the sign portray in a wonderful way the interaction between the seven planets. From Saturn one rises to the Sun, from there down to the Moon, then on to Mars, Mercury, and so forth. The same thing is expressed in the names of the seven days of the week: Saturday, Saturn; Sunday, the Sun; Monday, the Moon; Tuesday, Mardi, Mars; Wednesday, Mercredi, Mercury; Thursday, Jeudi, Jupiter; Friday, Vendredi, Venus. Christ is the regent of all these world spheres; their actions constitute only part of his being; he unites them all. In Rosicrucian schools a lamb is often drawn as a sign for the intelligence of the Sun.” — Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (SteinerBooks, 1993), pp. 19-21.
[R.R. sketch, 2010,
based on the one in the book.]
Athough he often said that Christ was unique
among the gods in coming to Earth and incarnating here,
Steiner sometimes said something rather different:
“[T]here are also other individualities — other beings — who have not gone through various incarnations as have the other human beings in the course of human evolution ... [I]t can happen that such a being appears; if we test it clairvoyantly in regard to the soul, we cannot say, as we can of other human beings, that we trace it back in time and discover it in a previously fleshly incarnation, then trace it farther back and find it again in another incarnation, and so on ... Such a spiritual being who descends in this way into a human body in order to intervene in evolution as a human being is called an ‘avatar’ in the East ... To repeat — an avatar being can enter a human body just once or several times in succession; but when it does, it is then something different from any other human individuality.
“The greatest avatar being who has lived on earth, as you can gather from the spirit of our lectures here, is the Christ — the Being whom we designated as the Christ, and who took possession of the body of Jesus of Nazareth when he was thirty years of age.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ECONOMY (Anthroposophic Press, 1986) lecture 2, GA 109.
"It should...be understood that anthroposophy is not a 'Christian' teaching in the sense that it favors Christianity above other competing religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, or Shintoism." — Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 175-176.
For more on Christ the Sun God,
see "Sun God".
To glimpse the Waldorf version of Christmas,
please see "Christmas".
For the Waldorf version of Easter,
For Steiner's depiction of Christ as our "Prototype,"
supplying the "Christ Impulse," see "Prototype".
For Steiner's surprising revision
of the Sermon on the Mount,
Steiner taught tat there have been several
"Christ Events". To investigate, see "Events".
Links to other pertinent pages
appear further down on this page.
based on the one in the book.]
The doctrine of karma is really quite horrid, when taken literally. It tells us that the low, the afflicted, the ill, the impoverished — all these souls chose their fate, it is their karma, we really should not interfere. They have gotten what they deserve or asked for.
"[W]e see...groups of human souls in their descent from pre-earthly into earthly existence wander to regions situated, for example, in the vicinity of volcanoes, or to districts where earthquakes are liable to occur ... [S]uch places are deliberately chosen by the souls thus karmically connected, in order that they may experience this very destiny ... [They think] 'I choose a great disaster on earth in order to become more perfect....'" — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), pp. 226-227.
So the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance, chose to be victims; it is good for them. We should certainly not interfere in their karma.
This, of course, is utter, horrid, inhuman nonsense. And it is wholly incompatible with Christian charity.
Even Steiner, when he stopped to think things through, realized that his teachings about karma must not be taken to such extremes.
“[I]n educating handicapped children we are intervening in a process which in the normal course of development — were there no intervention, or were there misguided intervention — would find its fulfillment only when the child had passed through the gate of death and come to birth again in the next life. We are making, that is to say, a deep intervention in karma. Whenever we give treatment to a handicapped child, we are intervening in karma [sic]. And it goes without saying, we must intervene in karma this way.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 47.
Yes, we must help those who need our help. Kudos to Steiner for grasping this.
What he also should have grasped — or what we must grasp, anyway — is that the imperative to be humane, to help those who need our help, highlights the depravity of the doctrine of karma. Steiner should have renounced the doctrine. He didn't. But we must.
"At the end of his life, Rudolf Steiner took up the task that was his special destiny: to bring to the West a knowledge of reincarnation and karma. To do this, he gave over eighty lectures in 1924 in which he explicitly and concretely revealed the destinies of various individuals from one life to the next in order to show how the general laws of karma operate in individual cases. He also revealed many details of the karmic streams of the members of the Anthroposophical Society. These volumes constitute an immeasurable contribution to the understanding of reincarnation and karma, and the tasks of the Anthroposophical Society in connection with the Archangel Michael." — Publisher's description, the multi-volume series KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS (Rudolf Steiner Press).
According to Steiner, the Archangel Michael is the warrior god who fights on behalf of Christ. Steiner strove mightily to make belief in karma seem consistent with Christian beliefs. In the process, he offered his own reinterpretations of both karma and Christianity. But his attempted reconciliation of disparate teachings never became convincing.
What is Christ's central message to us? According to many theologians, it is this: We should love God above all else, and we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Most Christians, when considering their faith, will think of this injunction. For Rudolf Steiner’s followers, however, the central Christian teaching is quite different. For them, all the statements made by Christ have passed through the mind of Rudolf Steiner and emerged as something not found in the Bible. Here is the Anthroposophical version of Christ's injunction:
“The Gospel says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself, and God above all.’ Another way of putting it is, ‘If one looks upon the divine in the light of the present day aspect of the three ideals,* as a modern human being must, one learns to love the divine.’ For one feels that one's humanness depends on devoting oneself with all the love at one's command to the three ideals. But then one feels oneself united with every other individual who is able to do likewise and offer up the same love. One learns to love the divine above all else, and, in loving God, to love one's neighbor as oneself. That keeps any hard feelings from developing.” — Rudolf Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 83.
Actually, no. Steiner has not paraphrased Christ's words; he has said something very different ("one's humanness depends on devoting oneself...to the three ideals"). And this, gentle reader, is the point. If you are a spiritual person and you want to embrace the spirituality of Waldorf education, fine, do so. Enroll yourself and your children — enter the Waldorf universe. But, please, do so with your eyes open. Know what sort of universe you are entering. It is not the universe of Christianity. Nor that of Judaism. Nor Islam. Nor Buddhism, nor Hinduism, nor even Theosophy. It is the universe of Anthroposophy, which Rudolf Steiner invented. Steiner’s new religion incorporates bits and pieces of many other religions (which is why Waldorf students are required to study so many world religions), but it is identical to none of them. It is something different, something very strange. It is the gnostic, esoteric, occult concoction called Anthroposophy. If you want it, it is available to you. But walk through that door with your eyes open — and send your children through that door only if you are completely sure that you are making the right decision for them.
* Here is Steiner’s explanation of the three ideals. Note that it is polytheistic and thus incompatible with monotheistic Christianity.
“[M]en's beholding of the gods became the inner life of the religious ideal. Their symbolical-allegorical expression of divine forms through the various media was the life underlying the ideal of art. In their re-telling of what the gods had told them lived the ideal of science. These three ideals merged into one in ancient Oriental times, for they were at bottom one and the same.” — AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY, p. 74.
The Sun, of course, is supremely important for life on Earth.
Nothing could live here but for the Sun.
Waldorf students are often led to create paintings of the Sun.
Whether they are also led to associate the Sun with Christ,
the Sun God, probably varies from school to school.
Waldorf student artwork courtesy of
“Men spoke in those times of [the Sun God] Ra, whose representative on Earth was Osiris; Ra signified for them the Sun that moved round the Earth, giving light ... My dear friends, when the pupils of the old initiates looked out into the wide universe and spoke of what they saw living out there beyond the Earth in the workings of the Sun, yes, in the Sun itself, — when they spoke of the sublime Spirit-Being of the Sun as proclaimed by Zarathustra, they were speaking of the very same Being Whom, in these later times, we designate as Christ ... What took place at the Mystery of Golgotha was really nothing less than that the Being Who, previously, was not to be found on Earth, Whom one could find only outside the Earth when one had been initiated into the Mysteries of the heavens, — this Being incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, lived on Earth in Jesus of Nazareth, was crucified and laid in the Earth, and appeared to his initiated pupils as Resurrected — as One who has risen in the spiritual body. The great and sublime Sun Being descended from cosmic heights, descended to Earth — that is the event that came to pass in the Mystery of Golgotha. And when He had descended from spiritual worlds and passed through death, and His body had been laid in the Earth, then this same Christ — after His death, after His resurrection — had initiate pupils. And it is important that many should know today what Christ taught at that time to His initiate pupils; it is important that many should know of this teaching of the risen Christ, in order that they may be able to participate in the forces that are now at work for the further evolution of mankind." —Rudolf Steiner, MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Health Research, 1960), Lecture 1, GA 211.
“It does not take much research to discover that Rudolf Steiner, speaking at the assemblies of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, Germany, repeatedly invoked the name of Christ as the guiding spirit of the school and the 'teachers’ greatest Teacher.' How could a Waldorf school deny its Christian character when its founder explicitly invoked the Christ as its guardian?
“And yet the matter is not quite so simple or so stark. One needs, first, to inquire what Rudolf Steiner meant by 'the Christ' [i.e., the Sun God]. He spoke of 'the Christ Impulse' [I.e., the evolutionary impetus provided by Christ] or 'the Christ Event' [the incarnation of the Sun God on Earth] or 'the Christ-principle' [the essence of the Sun God’s mission]; these are not the terms of orthodox Christianity, nor were they intended to be. It should be noted, further, that Steiner insisted on unqualified freedom in matters of religious practice and felt 'that the only true Christianity is the Christianity which makes possible absolute freedom in the religious life.' In fact, he spoke of the mission of the Christ as concerning human development quite independent of any religious practice. Christ’s mission 'consisted in bringing to all mankind the full force of the ego, an inner independence in the soul.' Indeed, Steiner predicted there would come a time when Christianity as it is commonly practiced today would pass away....” — Douglas Gerwin, Introduction, AND WHO SHALL TEACH THE TEACHERS? (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America), report on a conference held in 2005.
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Steiner's views were complex and, at least potentially, confusing. Here is brief summary of Steiner's teachings on Christianity. I will use the plainest language I can, and I will reiterate key points. Bear with me, please. I will not clutter up the summary with quotations and endnotes; you will find lots of documentation elsewhere in "Was He Christian?" and in other essays on this website.
Steiner claimed that he had found the true meaning of Christianity. This meaning is revealed in his worldview, Anthroposophy. Christianity is a religion, but Steiner said that Anthroposophy is a science, not a religion. By claiming that his “science” reveals the deeper truths of “Christianity,” Steiner appropriated the term “Christianity,” applying it in a novel way. Does this make him a Christian? Does calling yourself a Christian make you one? What if I truly think I am a Christian but my beliefs are actually incompatible with the tenets of Christianity as found in the Bible and all major Christian denominations? What, for instance, if my “Christianity” involves belief in many different gods, and reincarnation, and karma, and astrology, and Atlantis, and Zarathustra, and Buddha, and so forth and so on? This is exactly the case for Anthroposophists; the beliefs I have listed are all part of “Christian” Anthroposophy. Steiner’s followers may think their beliefs qualify as “Christian,” but they do not.
Claiming to be a Christian is very different from actually being one. Likewise, placing emphasis on Christ does not necessarily make you a Christian. Muslims, for instance, believe in Christ. They assign great importance to Christ. But they are not Christians, obviously — their religion is Islam, not Christianity. The same holds for Anthroposophists. They consider Christ extremely important, but they are not really Christians.
Like most words, “Christian” may mean many things. The normal definition contains these elements: Christianity is the religion centered on the divinity of Christ; a Christian accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior; a Christian worships Christ as God (or a Member of the Triune God); a Christian accepts the teachings of Christ as found in the Bible; a Christian is a member of a Christian church.
There can be variations and disputes over all elements of this definition. But, by virtually all of the standards of the above definition, Anthroposophy is not Christian. It is (theoretically) a “science,” not a religion; it speaks of evolution, not salvation per se; by their own account, Anthroposophists do not worship Christ, since Anthroposophy is not a religion; Anthroposophy rejects the literal meaning of much if not all of the Bible (Steiner revealed the hidden “Mystery” meaning of Bible passages); Anthroposophy has no churches, per se (unless we count the Goetheanum and other prayer-centered structures such as Waldorf schools).
Nutshell: Anthroposophists claim a) Anthroposophy is a science, and b) it is a science in which Christ looms large. The truth is that a) Anthroposophy is a religion, but b) it is not Christian. 
Here are central Anthroposophical concepts. Note that each one of them violates orthodox Christian faith.
•There are many, many gods
•After death, we do not go to our
eternal judgment, but we reincarnate
•Our earthly lives are largely controlled by karma,
which we create for ourselves
•We are evolving — specifically, we are evolving
toward becoming the highest gods
•The stars have powerful effects on us
(astrology and horoscopes)
•There are two devils (who aren’t all bad):
Lucifer and Ahriman
Christ is the Sun God
•Buddha performed as the Christ of Mars
•There were two Jesuses, one of whom
was Zarathustra in a previous life;
the other bore the spirit of Buddha
•We recently lived on Atlantis
and someday we will proceed to Vulcan
•Ultimately we will become God the Father
Calling these tenets “Christian” does not make them so. Virtually no Christian theologian or clergyman would accept them as Christian (except self-proclaimed Anthroposophical “Christians”). The Bible offers little or no evidence that Christ himself would have accepted them.
So Anthroposophy is not Christian. But it is a religion. Here are some central indicators:
•It involves prayers, meditations,
•It "explains" spiritual matters
•It describes the will and purpose
of the gods
•It tells us how to live in accordance
with the gods' divine plan
•It depends on clairvoyance
(which does not exist);
•hence, there is no “scientific”
basis for any of its tenets;
•hence, it can be accepted only
by an act of faith, belief
•Steiner stressed the need for belief
•He stressed the need for gurus
•People who do not live properly,
according to the tenets of
Anthroposophy, will be consigned
to a form of perdition
•People who do live properly,
according to the tenets of
Anthroposophy, will be saved
(i.e., they will evolve toward apotheosis)
None of this is characteristic of a science; but all of it is characteristic or indicative of religion.
The religion followed by Anthroposophists is Anthroposophy.
— Roger Rawlings
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