During a recent airport layover, my wife and I met a follower of Anthroposophy. It was something I had never heard of before. But during the conversation, we found out that this belief system was much different than what the Bible teaches. With that in mind, I would like to present to you what it is and why it is wrong.
- What is Anthroposophy?
Wikipedia – “Anthroposophy is a spiritual movement which was founded in the early 20th century … that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to engage in spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience.”1
From this definition, it seems that its followers want to interact with the spiritual world with their minds.
Gotquestions – “Anthroposophy is rooted in the belief that there is a separate, objective ‘spiritual world’ beyond the physical and that human beings can access that world through the intellect. … Anthroposophy teaches that mystical-intellectual experiences allow people to access wisdom from a higher reality”2
This description shows that it seems to be people who are looking for and esoteric or higher wisdom through their minds.
Brittanica – “Anthroposophy, philosophy based on the premise that the human intellect has the ability to contact spiritual worlds. It … postulated the existence of a spiritual world comprehensible to pure thought but fully accessible only to the faculties of knowledge latent in all humans.”3
This description is similar in that they are trying to contact spiritual worlds with their minds and they believe this is part of human ability.
The word anthroposophy is made up of two words that come from the Greek words for man and wisdom. The basic idea is that people have the ability to interact with the spiritual world through their minds. The founder of anthroposophy was an Austrian man named Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925). He believed that “there are no limits to human knowledge”4 and considered the mind to be similar to one of the senses because you could only use it to sense the value of ideas. When he was young, Steiner claimed to have seen an aunt from a distant location speaking to him in his mind just before she died. This experience and other meetings with esoteric and clairvoyant people led him to develop his ideas and eventually found the Anthroposophical Society.
- What are some of its teachings?
It wrongly teaches that the Bible is not reliable.
“Is it not strange that Christianity has had such an impact on the world when it cannot even be proved in the accepted sense that Christ ever lived at all? The Gospels are records of a sort but they are not reliable historical documents. They are a mixture of apparent fact and symbolism and do not even agree in content. Christ himself left no record in writing.”5
Notice that they believe that there is no proof for Jesus ever having lived. They also believe that the Gospels are not reliable and disagree with each other. Is this what the Bible teaches?
It wrongly teaches that what Jesus taught is not important.
“A central thought to hold in mind is that Christ was a sublime cosmic Being who descended to the Earth and incarnated as man in order to bring new, revitalizing forces into the Earth’s spiritual atmosphere. Through this deed man is enabled to shake off the fetters of materialism into which he had been seduced at the Fall. It is not what Christ taught that is of paramount importance but what He was, and what He gave. Christ infused the Earth aura with His being and in so doing gave man the ability to acquire new forces. Thus Christianity is not a sectarian or national religion. Christ came for all men.”5
One of the things our airport friend told us was something about Christ impulses. He seemed to think that these impulses enabled him to interact with the spiritual world and fight for Christ. Is this what the Bible teaches?
It wrongly teaches that man became a physical person at the Fall.
“The so-called Fall took place in the Lemurian period. … At the beginning of the period the human spirit did not inhabit a physical body. … Lucifer tempted man. He told him that he could become like God, knowing good and evil. He instilled into man an enhanced sense of self, giving him thereby the prospect of freedom. But with freedom comes the possibility of choice, good or evil. The soul nature of man was contaminated and desire opened his eyes to the material world, i.e. he took on a physical form. His consciousness changed and he came to know sickness and death.”5
The idea seems to be that man was just a spiritual being before Lucifer tempted man to be like God. When man fell, they teach that he became a physical person and lost the spiritual perception he originally had. They are striving by using their mind to get back to being the spiritual person they were intended to be. Is this what the Bible teaches?
- What is the truth?
Whenever we are faced with conflicting or new ideas, it would be good to look at what the Bible says.
The Bible is reliable because it is inspired by God.
The person we met at the airport told us that the teachings of anthroposophy come from early Catholic and Judaist teaching. When I talked with him about basing our understanding of God just on the Bible, he told me that the Bible was not reliable because of all the translations over time. In effect, he was saying that the Bible has been corrupted over time and is not reliable. Compare that with what the Bible teaches.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 – “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Here, Paul tells us that the Scriptures (the Bible) give us the wisdom we need to be saved through faith in Jesus. The reason they are able to do that is that God inspired what is in the Bible. And because of that, the Bible is profitable for teaching, correcting, etc. And as a result, Christians can become complete and equipped for serving God.
The Bible teaches that who Jesus is and what He taught are both important.
The adherents of Anthroposophy will quote from the Bible when it fits their teachings. In one article, they quoted from John 1 about Jesus. They like the idea of Jesus being a spiritual being who became human. But they don’t accept who the Bible says Jesus is or what He taught. They use the Bible as proof when it fits their thinking but reject it when it does not. So what does the Bible say about who Jesus is and what He taught?
John 1:1-3,14– “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Here, John tells us that Jesus existed with God and was God. He also created everything. From this we learn that Jesus existed before He became a man and that He was and is God. John goes on to say that Jesus became a man and lived among men. John was one of those who interacted with Jesus. But this interaction included not just being with Jesus but also in his “grace and truth.” The rest of the Gospel of John records much of the truth that Jesus taught to the disciples and the crowds.
Can you divorce who Jesus is from what He taught? Not unless you want to dismiss all that Jesus taught. If we only believed in who He is and not what He taught, what would we have left? There would be no need to repent (Mark 1:15), to be born again (John 3), and no need for His atoning death (John 19:30). Without these truths, we would be lost and that is where anthroposophy leaves you.
While much more could be said about the beliefs and practices of anthroposophy, you can see that when compared to the Bible, it is wrong. While its adherents may refer to the Bible or use the word Christ in their teaching, they are not a Christian belief system. It seems to me that this whole idea is based on a person’s mind and what he can perceive about the universe but without listening to what God has revealed in the Bible. This is why the word anthroposophy is a good description of what they believe. It is man’s wisdom as opposed to God’s wisdom found in the Bible.
We live in a country that allows the freedom of religion. That is a good thing. But let us remember that the freedom to have ideas is not the same as having the right ideas. Whenever you are confronted with different ideas, take the time to compare them to what the Bible actually says and means. The Bible is our standard of truth because it is God’s inspired record of what He wants us to know and practice. Read it, meditate on it, and then live by it.
1 “Anthroposophy” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy on 1/28/2024.
2 “What is anthroposophy?” as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/anthroposophy.html on 1/28/2024.
3 “Anthroposophy” as viewed at https://www.britannica.com/topic/anthroposophy on 1/28/2024.
4 “Rudolf Steiner” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Steiner on 1/28/2024.
5 “The Mission of Christ” as viewed at https://anthroposophy.org.uk/the-mission-of-christ on 1/28/2024.