18 September 1917, Berlin
As a continuation of the last lecture I should like to draw your attention to certain matters which will throw light on Luther's place in history. From the outset I must make it clear that today's considerations of Luther will be from the point of view of spiritual science rather than that of religion.
What strikes one immediately when considering Luther in the light of spiritual science is the enormous importance the epoch itself had for his prominence and whole activity. The significance of the epoch is much greater in Luther's case than in the case of most other personalities in history. When we study Luther it is very important to be conscious of the epoch in which he appeared; i.e., the 16th century; which according to the spiritual-scientific view of history is very early in the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch. This epoch, as we know, began in the 15th century and the preceding Graeco-Latin epoch began some eight centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha. Thus Luther appeared in history soon after the thoughts and feelings, characteristic of the Graeco-Latin epoch, were fading in civilized humanity. To the unprejudiced observer Luther appears at first sight to have a dual personality, but one comes — as we shall see — to recognize that the two aspects meet in a higher unity. It must be realized that there is much more to the history between the 14th and 16th centuries than modern historians are inclined to admit. Great transformation took place, particularly in the human soul; this is something taken far too little into account. The people of the 13th and 14th centuries still had a direct relationship with the spiritual world through the very constitution and disposition of their soul. This is now forgotten but cannot be emphasized enough. When, at that time, man turned his gaze to external nature, to the sky, to cloud formations and so on, he would generally speaking still perceive elemental spirituality. It was also possible for him to commune with the dead with whom he had karmic links to a far greater extent than is believed today. In this period there was still, inherited from an earlier different consciousness, an immediate recognition that the world seen through the senses is not the only world. The transition in consciousness to later times was far more abrupt than imagined. Natural science, in itself fully justified, was then in its dawn, it drew a veil as it were over the spiritual world behind the physical world. I can well imagine that a modern student of history, who is in the habit of accepting what is taught as absolute truth, will not believe such abrupt transition possible. He would find it neither historical nor substantiated by records. However, spiritual science reveals that at this time the human soul came completely within the confines of the physical world by virtue of changes in man's inner being.
We saw last time that woven into Luther's soul was the after-effect of what he had absorbed, in a former incarnation, in the pre-Christian Mysteries that prepared the way for Christianity. Nevertheless he was in the fullest sense a true man of his time inasmuch as in this, the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch, man's former connection with the spiritual world has grown dim. This is so even when the experiences had been as vivid as those of former initiates in the Mysteries. It must not be supposed however, that what has become dim, and therefore fails to become conscious knowledge, is not present and active. It has its effect when, as in Luther's case, the person concerned through his inner karma is sensitive and receptive to what wells up from the depths of his being without reaching full consciousness.
It is not difficult to recognize in Luther the effects of what I have indicated. They reveal themselves in the agonizing torments he went through. These inner torments, while being expressions of his own soul, assumed in his words and ideas the character of his time. They were in fact caused essentially by a kind of realization that man in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, the epoch of materialism, would be deprived of contact with the spiritual world. All the deprivation a materialistic age would inflict upon the deeper strata of the human soul weighed heavily upon Luther. Today one has to use different words from those he employed to describe what he felt so strongly. It is therefore not Luther's own words that I use in characterizing his inner experiences. But what he felt may be expressed in these words: What is to become of man when his vision is cut off from the spiritual world, as he is bound to forget what he formerly received from that world? If you imagine this feeling intensified to its limit you have the keynote of Luther's inner suffering. But why was it Luther who in particular felt this so intensely?
The reason is to be found in what I mentioned as the duality of his nature. Luther was on the one hand very much a man of the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch. But because he was also inwardly very much a man of the fourth post-Atlantean cultural epoch he felt with great intensity the deprivation which the people of the fifth epoch were already experiencing in his time, albeit not consciously. The duality in his nature was caused by the fact that — while being in complete accord with his own time, the fifth epoch — the teachings in the pre-Christian Mysteries had taken such deep roots in his soul that he inwardly felt as a man of the fourth epoch. He felt as related to the fourth epoch as an ancient Greek or Roman had felt. Odd as it may seem this had the effect that he could not understand the Copernican system of astronomy; i.e., a system based purely on physical calculations. This system, however, is in complete harmony with the outlook of the fifth cultural epoch but would have seemed meaningless in the fourth. This fact will seem strange to modern man whose view is that the apex of knowledge has been reached and that the Copernican system cannot be superseded. This is a shortsighted view as I have often pointed out. Just as today the Ptolemaic system is put to scorn, so will the Copernican be looked down upon in the future when it is replaced by another. However, in the fifth cultural epoch the very soul constitution of man enables him to have ready understanding for a system of movement of the heavenly bodies based entirely upon physical calculations.
Luther had no such understanding; to him the Copernican view seemed so much folly. He was little interested in the materialistic, purely spatial conceptions of the phenomena of the universe which occupied the human mind at the dawn of the fifth cultural epoch. Whereas the way man felt and experienced his place within that universe interested him greatly. However the relation to the world, which man perforce had to have, in the fifth cultural epoch was experienced by Luther with all the inner soul impulses of a man of the fourth-, the Graeco-Latin epoch.
Thus we see Luther on the one hand looking back at the way man was related to the spirituality of the Cosmos in the fourth cultural epoch. And on the other we see him looking ahead, being aware of the kind of experiences, feelings and conceptions to which man would be exposed by virtue of a relation to the cosmos which separates him from its spiritual reality. Thus Luther felt and experienced the fifth cultural epoch as a soul belonging to the fourth cultural epoch. The experiences man had to undergo in the fifth cultural epoch weighed heavily on his soul.
In order to have a clearer picture let us for a moment compare a modern man of average education with a man of the comparatively ancient time of the fourth epoch. The former's thoughts and feelings, his whole relation to the world is determined by the natural-scientific view of the world, whereas the latter's thoughts and feelings were determined by the fact that he was still aware of his connection with spiritual reality. What we designate as Imagination and Inspiration were particularly vivid for man at that time. It was a common experience that colors are not seen only through eyes, or sound heard only through ears. Man was aware that by inner effort he received pictorial and audible revelations from the spiritual world. Everyone was aware that a divine spiritual-world lived in his soul. Man felt inwardly connected with his God.
In the fifth post-Atlantean epoch man is subjected to a test and his communion with the spiritual world has to cease. In this epoch he has developed, through special methods and a special kind of knowledge, the possibility to observe the external phenomena of nature and their relation to his own being with great exactitude. But he no longer has vision of the spiritual world; no longer is there a path leading from the soul to the spiritual world.
Let us visualize these two types of human beings side by side. As we saw in the last lecture, Luther's knowledge and religious feelings concerning the spiritual world were not abstract; the spiritual world was not closed to him. He had a living communion with the spiritual world, more especially with evil spirits of that world. But that in itself is not an evil trait. Thus he knew of the spiritual world through direct experience, but he also knew that for mankind of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch this experience of the spiritual world was fading away and would gradually disappear altogether. It became a great riddle for Luther how the human beings of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch would cope with the deprivation of not beholding the spiritual world. As he contemplated the man of the fifth epoch his heart was overflowing with impulses brought over from his incarnation in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. These living forces constituted a powerful link with the spiritual world which caused Luther to sense its reality with great intensity. It made him feel that it was essential to awaken in man a consciousness of that reality. At the same time he was under no illusion that human beings incarnating during the coming epoch would lose all consciousness of the spiritual world. They would have nothing but their physical senses to rely on, whereas in earlier times knowledge of the divine-spiritual-world had been attained through direct vision and experience. All Luther could do was to tell mankind: If in the future you look towards the spiritual world you will find nothing, for the ability to behold it will have vanished. If you nonetheless wish to retain awareness of its existence then you must turn to the Bible, the most reliable record in existence, a record that still contains direct knowledge of the spiritual world which you can otherwise no longer reach. In earlier times one would have said: besides the Gospel there is also the possibility to look directly into the spiritual world. This possibility has vanished for mankind of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch; only the Gospel remains.
So you see that Luther spoke from the heart and in the spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, but as someone who also belonged to the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. By means, still remaining from the fourth epoch, he wanted to draw attention to that which, because of his evolution, man in the fifth epoch could no longer reach. Luther may not have been conscious of these things exactly the way I describe them. However as things stood it is understandable that he, at the start of an epoch in which direct insight into the spiritual world would cease, pointed to the Gospel as the sole authority concerning the spiritual world. He wanted to emphasize that the Gospel was a special source of strength for mankind in the coming epoch.
Let us now turn our attention to something different. At the moment I am occupied with certain aspects of Christian Rosenkreutz and the “Chymical Wedding” by Johann Valentin Andreae and this brings certain things connected with the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries vividly before my soul. When one looks at those who during those centuries were engaged in science, one comes to realize that at that time knowledge of nature was alchemy in the best sense of the word. The natural scientist of today would have been an alchemist then. But to understand the spiritual aspect of alchemy it must not be thought of as connected with superstition or fraud. What were the alchemists attempting? They were convinced that there are other forces at work in nature besides those which can be discovered by external observation and experiment. They wanted to prove that while nature is indeed "natural" supersensible forces are at work in her.
To the alchemist it was obvious that, however firmly welded together the composition of a metal appeared to be, that composition could still be transformed into another. However they saw the transition as the result of a spiritual process, an effect of the spirit in nature. This is something that will be known again in future epochs, but in our time it is a deeply hidden knowledge. The alchemists were able to bring about alchemical processes which, if they could be demonstrated today, would greatly amaze modern scientists. In that earlier age it was part of man's knowledge that spiritual forces are at work in nature. The alchemical processes were brought about by manipulating those forces.
This knowledge inevitably had to be lost in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. A reflection still exists in religious conceptions of the universe. In the earlier centuries, right up to the 13th and 14th, what was taught concerning the Sacraments was different from what could be taught in the following centuries, though for Luther it was still vivid inner experience even if not a fully conscious one. But the experience, that spiritual forces were directly active in consecrated substance, was lost to the faithful. Today the teaching of the Catholic sacrament is something quite different than it was, for example the doctrine concerning the sacrament at the altar, when bread and wine are to be transformed through a mysterious process into real flesh and blood. When one discusses this issue with Catholic theologians the usual answer to modern man's objection is: If you do not understand that you have no understanding whatever of Aristotle's teaching on substances. Be that as it may, one has to say that in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch no real meaning can be connected with an actual transubstantiation; i.e., with real alchemy. Today this process takes place above material existence. Today when man receives the bread and wine these are not transmuted. The divine-spiritual reality of the Christ Being passes into man as he receives the bread and the wine.
This metamorphosis of the concept of the sacrament is also connected with the transition in man's evolution from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Luther, because of his very nature, had to speak out of the spirit of both epochs. He wanted to convey to man's soul the strength it had formerly gained from religious teaching. As the dawning natural science would never be able to acknowledge anything spiritual in matter, Luther sought to keep religious teaching aloof from the weakening effect of science. From the outset he kept spiritual issues strictly apart from physical processes. He thought of the latter, if not exactly as symbols, then at least as being merely physical. — It is not so easy to understand these things today but spiritual science must draw attention to them just the same.
We must envisage Luther turning his gaze, even if not fully consciously, towards the coming epoch spanning more than two thousand years, during which man would be able to experience something of the spiritual world only in exceptional cases and through special training. Historical personalities such as Luther must be seen in a wider perspective; their thoughts and actions must be seen as expressing the epoch in which they live. Luther as it were represented the human beings of his time, human beings to whom something was lost. What they had lost was caused by the fact that in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch human knowledge had assumed a form that made it impossible to strengthen the human soul, by means of the power inherent in knowledge itself, so that it could look into the spiritual world and have its own spiritual cognition. It is not normal for people of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch to have spiritual cognition through their own initiative. In his ordinary life in the fifth epoch man cannot be conscious of freedom in the real sense, of real freedom of will which is the ability to act directly out of that deepest region of the human soul where it is united with the divine. Today both freedom and knowledge are theoretical. As the fifth post-Atlantean epoch progressed the theory that there are limits to human knowledge has frequently been proclaimed. To speak of limits of knowledge in the sense of Kant 32Immanuel Kant 1724–1804 German Philosopher or Dubois-Reymond 33Emil Du Bois-Reymond 1818–1896 German Physiologist would have seemed meaningless in ancient times, even by the sceptics.
As mentioned already one should take what is said by a historical personality such as Luther as expressing the spirit of his epoch, not as having validity for all time. What Luther recognized as the outstanding characteristic of mankind in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch he interpreted in the light of Christianity. He understood it in the Christian, or better said Biblical sense, as a direct effect of original sin. The fact that man, out of his own forces, cannot attain either freedom, or knowledge of the divine, in the fifth epoch Luther saw as a direct outcome of original sin. Thus when he said that man was so corrupted by original sin that by himself he could not overcome it, Luther spoke a truth that holds good for the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. The force in man most closely bound up with his nature is the force that expresses itself in his will, in his actions. What a man does springs from the very center of his being. What he knows or believes is much more dependent on his environment, the time in which he lives and so on. In the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, the epoch of natural science and materialism, man is not able to perform actions that spring directly from the spirit. That in fact is the essential characteristic of this epoch. In the sixth post-Atlantean epoch it will again be different. But that man in the fifth epoch, in his ordinary consciousness, had lost the link connecting him with the spiritual world was also Luther's conviction.
Yet Luther was also aware that it is essential for man not to be torn out of that connection altogether. He saw that as an inhabitant of the external physical world man, through what he wills and does, has no connection with the Divine. He can only attain it if he regards this connection as something separate and apart from his external physical existence. From this thought originated the doctrine of salvation purely through faith. A typical man of the fourth epoch would have regarded salvation through faith alone as nonsensical. An ancient Greek or Roman would have found it meaningless if told that what he does, what he accomplishes in the world is not what gives him value in the eyes of the Highest Powers, but solely his soul's acknowledgement of the spiritual world. However, it is not meaningless to the man of the fifth epoch, for if his worth were dependent solely on what he accomplished in the physical world he would be in fact just a creature of that world. He would be more and more convinced that he merely represented the highest peak of the animal kingdom. Man had therefore to forge a link with the spiritual world by means of something that in no way linked him with the physical world. That something is faith.
What Luther thus impressed on his own and the following time could naturally not remain the only cultural influence in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. One may ask who at the present time is a Lutheran? The answer is that, inasmuch as he is a man of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, everyone is a Lutheran. Those with a sense for the subtle conceptual differences in world views will notice the enormous discrepancy between the views of a Catholic theologian in the 13th or 14th Centuries and those of his counterparts today. The reason is that the Catholic theologian of today is in reality a Lutheran, his outlook and impulses are those of a Lutheran. These are matters that go unnoticed because there is so little feeling for the inner truth of things, the attention is focused only on the external label applied to a person. It is after all merely an external matter that someone, because of family or some other connection, is entered in the Church register as Catholic or Protestant. What characterizes him inwardly is something quite different. The man of today who is truly of his time, who is stirred and influenced by what takes place, is inwardly a Lutheran. Like Luther he articulates the essence of the fifth epoch. Luther was especially suited to do so because of the characteristic duality of his nature. This made him question the fate of future mankind, but it also stirred in him an overwhelming impulse to speak to the people of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch with all the vigorous forces that he wanted preserved as they were in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. That he was able to speak in this way was due to the higher unity of his dual nature. He spoke out of the very souls of the people exposed to the conditions of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. He formulated and voiced the very concepts and ideas that stirred in them. But he also spoke so that everything he said was permeated with his impulse to preserve what had existed in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. That was the higher unity. However, the sixth post-Atlantean epoch could not be prepared within the fifth had the latter not been influenced by other cultural streams.
Thus we see that Lutheranism, in the way indicated, is more particularly an impulse of the fifth epoch, but other cultural streams make themselves felt. The most important for us is the one that came to expression in the German classical period: from Lessing to Herder, Schiller, Goethe and others. A remarkable phenomenon is the fact that we have in the same period a thoroughly Lutheran philosopher in Kant, whose concepts represent the very essence of Lutheranism. Schiller had at one time an inclination to follow Kant but found that he could not; and indeed no philosophic work better illustrates the striving to get beyond mere Lutheranism than Schiller's Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. These letters — which are too little appreciated today — and also Goethe's Faust constitute as it were the apex of that other cultural stream. Both works stress that man must turn, not only to the Bible, but to the world and life itself in order to strengthen the human soul so that it can find, through its own forces, the path to the spiritual world. The concluding scenes of Faust represent the complete contrast to Lutheranism. Only a contrived interpretation could possibly bring Schiller's aesthetic letters, Goethe's Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily and the last scenes of Faust in line with Lutheranism. We see in these works the human soul attaining strength through an inner opposition to the natural-scientific interpretation of the world. And in this way it finds, through its own forces, the connection with the spiritual world.
Ideas concerned with the legend of “Dr. Faustus” emerged already in the 16th Century in opposition to Luther's strong proclamations, but these ideas could not yet gain ground… Luther's attention was focused on the man of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch who, though possessed by ahrimanic demons, yet refuses to acknowledge the, to Luther well known, devil. It is not really surprising that Ricarda Huch, after occupying herself so intensely with Luther, comes to place such great importance on his direct knowledge of the diabolical realm of the spiritual world. Bearing in mind the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, it is indeed interesting that in our time it is a woman who has this yearning that man should again recognize the devil who — especially when his view of life is purely naturalistic — has him by the collar. In her book about Luther this longing comes to expression: that if only man could experience the devil it would awaken him to a consciousness of God.
This cry for the devil, expressed by Ricarda Huch lives in man's subconscious. It is a cry she wants mankind to hear. To understand Ricarda Huch is easy for someone who knows that in every laboratory, in every machine, in short in all the most important spheres of modern civilization, the actual devil is present and active. I say this in plain words for it would be much better for people to be aware of the devil rather than, unknown to them, he should have them by the collar.
Luther's consciousness of the devil was for him a living reality mainly because he still experienced the spiritual world as would a man in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. His vivid experience came to expression in his words, for he strove to make the man of the fifth epoch conscious of the devil by whom he was possessed without knowing it. Luther could not do otherwise than call up in the man of his time an awareness of the devil which differed from the way Faust experienced the devil. Faust deliberately sold himself in order to gain knowledge and power through the devil. Such a relationship to the devil was at first rejected in the 16th century. At that time only a negative submission to the devil could be envisaged. Goethe, and in fact already Lessing protested vigorously against that idea. One must ask why they had a different view of man's relation to the devil. It must be said that neither Lessing nor Goethe had the nerve openly to state their view of Faust's relation to the devil. Today it is much easier to speak openly of these things than it was at the time of Lessing and Goethe. An initiate may have wanted to tell his fellow men something different but if he had they would have torn him to pieces.
Let us attempt to understand Goethe's inner attitude to Faust. Goethe too had insight into the nature of man of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. He knew of man's close relationship to the devil in this epoch. He knew that whenever man's consciousness is restricted to the material alone the devil; i.e., ahrimanic powers are always present. This state of consciousness constitutes for these powers a door through which they gain entry. Ahriman has easy access to man whenever his consciousness is limited to the purely material aspect of things or dimmed down below normal, as can happen through organic causes, agitation, rage or other uncontrolled behaviour. Goethe's insight made it impossible for him to adopt the materialistic view generally held. While he knew that ahrimanic powers are universally present he could not in all honesty represent them as something to be avoided or rejected. On the contrary what he wanted Faust to attain he had to achieve through direct contest with the devil. In other words the devil must be made to surrender his power, he must be conquered. That is the real meaning behind Faust's struggle with the devil, the evil Ahriman or Mephistopheles.
Now let us turn to Schiller who tries to adopt Kant's philosophy but comes to recognize the futility of doing so. In his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man he distinguishes between mere instinctive craving—which according to Luther arises from man's physical nature — and the spirit which reveals itself within his physical nature. A true Lutheran would say that man is addicted to his cravings and he cannot, through his own power, rise above them. Only faith can enable him to do so. He will then have been purified and redeemed through an externally existing Christ. Schiller said: No, something else is present in man: in the craving for freedom lives the power of the spirit which can ennoble the bodily cravings of man's physical nature. Schiller distinguishes physical nature, ennobled through the spirit, from the spirit becoming manifest through it. He shows that man is indeed separated from spiritual existence through matter, but that he nevertheless, out of himself, strives to reach the spirit by transforming matter; that is, physical existence, through inner alchemy.
One recognizes the spiritual greatness that could have enriched Western culture in works such as Schiller's aesthetic letters and also Goethe's Faust which presents in dramatic form the overcoming of ahrimanic powers in external life. What could have been achieved through the strong impulse towards the spirit contained in these works has not come about. And it fills one with pain and despair to see one's contemporaries turn instead, for their spiritual education, to such trash as the American “In Tune with the Infinite.”
I cannot refrain from repeating what happened to Deinhardt 34Heinrich Mariannus Deinhardt 1821–1879 of Vienna who wrote a very beautiful essay on Schiller's aesthetic letters in which he discusses the marvelous perspective their content opens up. I do not think anyone knows about Deinhardt today. He had the misfortune to fall and break his leg; when the doctor came he was told that he could not be healed because he was too undernourished. And so he died. But this small book by Deinhardt of Vienna is concerned with one of the deepest spiritual impulses that have sprung from Western culture. If only people would recognize and investigate what has actually germinated in Western culture we would cease to hear the empty phrase, “the best man in the best place,” and then people proceed, through lack of judgement, to select a nephew or a cousin as the best man in the best place. Continuously one hears it said that the right person for this or that position simply does not exist. That is not the case; what is lacking is rather people with judgement who know where to look. But that ability can only be attained through inner strength, developed by absorbing the spiritual impulses flowing through spiritual life. There is nothing abstract about what can be gained from great literary works. Rather they fill the human soul with spiritual impulses which further its development along the path that Goethe strode with such vigour, and whose goal he depicted with dramatic artistry in the last scene of his Faust. It has no meaning in our time to preserve the old just because it is old; but we must find those treasures of the past which contain seeds for the future. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the classic works of Goethe, Schiller and Lessing.
I wanted to show where Lessing, Goethe and Schiller belong in recent cultural development because it enables us to understand better their predecessor Luther. To understand a personality such as Luther it is necessary to understand what stirred in the depth of his soul and caused him to speak the way he did. I believe that if in the light of these thoughts you approach what, especially in our time, comes to meet us with such force in Luther, you will discover many things about him which I cannot go into now. I am convinced that it has a special significance to immerse oneself in Luther in the present difficult time. There is perhaps no one better suited to convey the many aspects of the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch than Luther. He spoke so completely out of the spirit of the fifth epoch even though his words had their origin in the fourth epoch.
When faced with the way events are depicted in history we should sense how necessary it is to rethink them. We ought to sense that the present difficult time which has brought such misery upon humanity is the karmic effect of distorted, superficial thinking. We should sense that the painful experiences we go through are in many respects the karma of materialism. We must have the will to rethink history. I have often pointed out that history as taught today in elementary and secondary schools as well as in universities, perhaps particularly in the latter, is a mere fable, and is all the more pernicious for being unaware that it is but a fable that aims to present only external physical events. Should the events of the 19th century be presented just once as they truly were—merely those of the 19th century! — it would be an immense blessing for mankind. Referring to history Herman Grimm once said that he foresaw a time when those, now regarded as great figures of the 19th century, would no longer appear all that great, whereas quite other figures would emerge as the great ones from the grey mist of that century.
Because of the way history has come to be presented in the course of time the human soul must undergo a fundamental change in order to understand it properly. I have often said this but it cannot be stressed enough. Man's concepts nowadays lack the vigour and power required to cope with social needs, because they are based on such superficial views. This war is in reality waged because of shortsighted, obtuse and foggy ideas, and the men fighting it are in many respects mere puppets of those ideas. Today there is an incessant clamour for people's freedom, for international courts of arbitration and the like, all of which remains so many empty words because it makes no difference what is established as long as there is no deeper understanding of the real issues. Yet all these things could be achieved if, as is so greatly to be desired, spiritual science were able to rouse people to recognize the deeper impulses beneath the surface of ordinary life. But these things people today do not want to see. It is quite immaterial what is arranged whether in relation to war or to peace or whatever. What is needed is that our ideas, our understanding of the issues, cease to remain on the surface. One could wish that, just at this time, what Luther so forcefully proclaimed would be heard and understood. People would then come to recognize that in Luther spoke more than the man. In him the character of the epoch which began in the 8th century B.C. and ended in the 15th century A.D. united with the character of the epoch that followed; i.e., our own, which will endure for 2100 years.
In the true sense a historic personality is someone in whom there speaks a being from the Hierarchy of the Archai, a Time Spirit. Through such a personality the voice of the Spirit of the Time is heard. This must be recognized if one is to approach Luther with understanding.