Faith (from Latin: Fides "faithfulness, trust, promise", also: Credo "I believe"; Greek: Πίστις Pistis) denotes in the religious context a basic mental attitude of trust, faithfulness and obedience to the divine powers and is one of the three Christian virtues mentioned by Paul (1 Cor 13:13). Genuine faith results from a sure, unshakeable sense of truth, proven in concrete life, even if it cannot yet fully grasp it in clear terms. In this sense it is not the opposite, but the necessary preliminary stage and the lasting basis of knowledge of the spiritual worlds. A merely intellectual knowledge, based only on logical reasoning, which lacks the foundation of faith, is worthless and unfruitful for life from a spiritual point of view. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of the "unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God ... so that we may no longer be immature, moved by every wind of doctrine, and be carried about by the deceitful casting of men's lot, by which they deceitfully deceive us." (Eph 4:13–14).
Colloquially, however, faith today is only understood as a subjective emotional belief, in the epistemological sense a more or less well-founded arbitrary assumption which can be either true or false, a hypothesis, a mere knowledge of probability without sufficient proof.
„Some people today, who have become arrogant and haughty through what is called the scientific world-view, say: The times of mankind's faith are long gone, faith corresponds to the childhood stage of mankind, today mankind has moved up to knowledge, today one must know everything, must no longer merely believe.
Now, all this may sound tolerable, but there is no understanding in it at its foundation, for in such matters one must also raise many other questions than just whether in the course of development knowledge has come to mankind today through external science. Another question must be raised: Does the fact of faith as such mean anything to humanity? Is it not part of human nature to believe? Of course, it could well be that through this or that people want to discard faith. But just as men are sometimes permitted to rage at their outer health for a short time without the damage immediately becoming apparent, so it may very well be, and it is so: Men may put faith among the cast-off goods of their fathers, but that is just as if men raged for a while on their health and used up the old strength. If man today places faith among the outlived goods of his fathers, he is nevertheless, in regard to his vital powers of the soul, drawing upon the old goods of faith which he has inherited with the traditions and traditions. It does not depend at all on man to discard faith or not, for faith represents in the human soul a number of forces, a sum of forces, which belong to the life forces of the soul. It is not at all a question of whether we want to believe or not, but of the fact that we must have the forces which the word 'faith' expresses as the life forces of the soul, that the soul withers, becomes desolate and lonely if it cannot believe anything.
Incidentally, there were also people who, without knowledge of natural science, were much cleverer than those who represent the scientific worldview today. They did not say, as one believes has been said: I believe what I do not know - but: I believe what I know all the more. - Knowledge is only the basis of faith. We are to know so that we can rise more and more to the powers which are the powers of faith of the human soul. We must have in our soul what can look to a supersensible world, what is the direction of all our thoughts and ideas to a supersensible world. If we do not have these powers, which the word "faith" expresses, then something in us becomes desolate, we become dry, dry up like the leaves in autumn. It can work for humanity for a while, but then it doesn't work any more. And if humanity were really to lose its faith, it would see in the next few decades what that would mean for its development. Then, as a result of the lost powers of faith, people would have to go about in such a way that no one would know what to do with himself in order to find his way in life, that no one would actually be able to exist in the world because he would be afraid, worried and anxious about this and that. In short, that life which is to spring up freshly in our soul can only be given to us through the powers of faith.
This is so because in the hidden depths of our being, at first imperceptible to the outer consciousness, there rests something in which is embedded our real self and that in which our self rests, which asserts itself immediately if we do not enliven it. That is what we can call the human shell in which the forces of faith are alive, what we can call the soul of faith or, for my sake, the body of faith. And this is the same thing that we have so far called, more abstractly, the astral body. The forces of faith are the most important forces of the astral body, and just as the expression 'astral body' is correct, so is the expression 'body of faith'.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 172ff)
- Rudolf Steiner: Das esoterische Christentum und die geistige Führung der Menschheit, GA 130 (1995), ISBN 3-7274-1300-X English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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