Monday, September 4, 2023

Karma and Christ's remission of sins


Rudolf Steiner:

Now let us think of all that it signifies when the human soul is able to say to itself: “Yes, I have done this or that in the world. It does not impair my evolution, for I do not remain as imperfect as I was when I committed the deed; I am permitted to overcome that imperfection in the further course of my Karma by making compensation for the deed. But I cannot undo it for the Earth-evolution.” Man would have to bear unspeakable suffering if a Being had not united Himself with the Earth, a Being who undoes for the Earth that which we cannot change. This Being is the Christ. He takes away from us, not subjective Karma, but the objective spiritual effects of the acts, the guilt. That is what we must follow up in our hearts, and then for the first time we shall understand that Christ is in truth that Being who is bound up with the whole of Earth-humanity. For the Earth is there for the sake of mankind, and so Christ is connected also with the whole Earth. It is a weakness of man, as a consequence of the Luciferic temptation, that although he is indeed able to redeem himself subjectively through Karma, he cannot redeem the Earth at the same time. That is accomplished by the Cosmic Being, the Christ.
And now we understand why many anthroposophists cannot realize that Christianity is in full accord with the idea of Karma. They are people who bring into Anthroposophy the most intense egoism, a super-egoism; certainly they do not put it into words, but still they really think and feel: “If I can only redeem myself through my Karma, what does the world matter to me? Let it do what it will!” These anthroposophists are quite satisfied if they can speak of karmic adjustment. But there is a great deal more to be done. Man would be a purely Luciferic being if he were to think only of himself. Man is a member of the whole world, and he must think about it in the sense that he can indeed be egotistically redeemed through his Karma, but is not able to redeem the whole Earth-existence. Here the Christ enters. At the moment when we decide not to think only of our ego, we must think about something other than our ego. Of what must we think? Of the “Christ in me”, as Paul says; then indeed we are united with Him in the whole Earth-existence. We do not then think of our self-redemption, but we say: “Not I and my own redemption — not I, but the Christ in me and the redemption of the Earth.”
Many believe they may call themselves true Christians, and yet they speak of others — anthroposophical Christians, for instance — as heretics. There is very little true Christian feeling here. The question may perhaps be permitted: “Is it really Christian to think that I may do whatever I like and that Christ came into the world in order to take it all away from me and to forgive my sins, so that I need have nothing more to do with my Karma, with my sins?” I think there is another word more applicable to such a way of thinking than the word “Christian”; perhaps the word “convenient” would be better. “Convenient” it would certainly be if a man had only to repent, and then all the sins he had committed in the world were obliterated from the whole of his later Karma. The sin is not blotted out from Karma; but it can be blotted out from the Earth-evolution, and this it is that man cannot do because of the human weakness that results from the Luciferic temptation. Christ accomplishes this. With the remission of sins we are saved from the pain of having added an objective debt to the Earth-evolution for all eternity. Only, of course, we must have a serious interest in this. When we have this true understanding of Christ, a greater earnestness will manifest itself in many other ways as well. Many elements will fall away from those conceptions of Christ which may well seem full of triviality and cynicism to the man whose soul has absorbed the Christ-conception in all seriousness. For all that has been said today, and it can be proved point by point from the most significant passages of the New Testament, tells us that everything Christ is for us derives from the fact that He is not a Being like other men, but a Being who, from above — that is, from out of the Cosmos — entered into Earth-evolution at the baptism by John in Jordan. Everything speaks for the cosmic nature of Christ. And he who deeply grasps Christ's attitude towards sin and debt may speak thus: “Because man in the course of the Earth's existence could not blot out his guilt for the whole Earth, a Cosmic Being had to descend in order that the Earth's debt might be discharged.”
True Christianity must needs regard Christ as a Cosmic Being. It cannot do otherwise. Then, however, our soul will be deeply permeated by what is meant in the words, “Not I, but Christ in me.” For then from this knowledge there radiates into our soul something that I can express only in these words: “When I am able to say, ‘Not I, but Christ in me’, in that moment I acknowledge that I shall be raised from the Earth-sphere, that in me there lives something that has significance to the Cosmos, and that I am counted worthy, as man, to bear a super-earthly element in my soul ...

Source: July 15, 1914

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