Thursday, October 14, 2010
We have Christ to thank for our freedom
Rudolf Steiner, in a lecture given October 14, 1911 [99 years ago today]:
If we wish to make a graphic picture of what happened in ancient Lemuria for the earth-evolution of man, we can say: That was the time when man descended from Divine Heights: it was ordained for him that he should develop further in a certain way, but through the Luciferic influence he was cast down more deeply into matter than he would have been without that influence. Thereby his path in evolution became different.
When man had gone downwards to the lowest stage, a powerful impetus in the upward direction was required. This impetus could come about only because in the higher worlds the Being whom we designate as the Christ-Being had formed a resolution which He would not have needed to take for His own evolution. For the Christ-Being would also have attained His evolution if He had taken a path far, far above the path that men were pursuing. He could have passed by, so to speak, far above the evolution of humanity. But if the upward impulse had not been given, human evolution would have been compelled to continue on its downward path. The Christ would have had an ascent, but humanity a downfall. Only because the Christ-Being had taken the resolution to unite Himself at the time of the Events of Palestine with a man, to embody Himself in a man and to make the upward path possible for humanity — only this could bring about the Redemption of humanity, as we may now call it: redemption from the impulse brought by the Luciferic forces and designated symbolically in the Bible as ‘original sin’, the Temptation by the Serpent and the original sin that was its consequence. Christ accomplished something that was not necessary for Himself.
What kind of Act was this?
It was an act of Divine Love. We must be quite clear that no human feeling is capable of realising the intensity of love that was needed for a God to make a decision — a decision He had no need to make — to work upon earth in a human body. Thereby, through an act of love, the most important event in human evolution was brought about. And when men grasp this act of love by a God, when they try to grasp it as a great ideal in contrast with which every human act of love can be but small, then, through this feeling of utter disproportion between human love and the Divine Love needed for the Mystery of Golgotha, they will draw near to the building up, to the giving birth within them, of those Imaginations which place before our spiritual gaze the momentous Event of Golgotha. Yes, verily, it is possible to attain to the Imagination of the mount on which the Cross was raised, that Cross on which hung a God in human body, a God who out of his own free will, out of Love, accomplished the act whereby the earth and humanity could reach their goal.
If the God who is designated by the name of the Father had not at one time permitted the Luciferic influences to come to man, man would not have developed the free Ego. With the Luciferic influence, the conditions for the free Ego were established. That had to be permitted by the Father-God. But just as the Ego, for the sake of freedom, had to become entangled in matter, so then, in order that the Ego might be freed from this entanglement, the entire love of the Son had to lead to the Act of Golgotha. Through this alone the freedom of man, the complete dignity of man, first became possible. For the fact that we can be free beings, we have to thank a Divine Act of Love. As men we may feel free beings, but we may never forget that for this freedom we have to thank this Act of Love. Then, in the midst of our feeling, the thought will arise: ‘You can attain to the value, the dignity, of a man; but one thing you may not forget, that for being what you are you have to thank Him who has brought back to you your human prototype through the Redemption on Golgotha.’ Men should not be able to lay hold of the thought of freedom without the thought of Redemption through Christ: only then is the thought of freedom justified. If we will to be free, we must bring the offering of thanks to Christ for our freedom. Then only can we really perceive it. And those who consider that their dignity as men is restricted when they thank Christ for it, should recognise that human opinions have no significance in face of cosmic facts, and that one day they will very willingly acknowledge that their freedom was won by Christ.