From AnthroWiki

Monotheism (from Greekμόνος mónos "alone" and θεός theós "God") is the religious worship of a single omnipresent God. In contrast, polytheism assumes a multiplicity of gods. Monotheistic religions include in particular Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also the Sikh and Bahai religions and Zoroastrianism. The monotheistic religions came more and more to the fore in the course of the Greco-Roman culture. However, early forms of monotheism are already attested in Ancient Egypt, namely as early as the 14th century BC under the reign of Pharaoh Echnaton (also Akhenaten, Akhenaton or Amenhotep IV, Hellenized as Amenophis IV), who declared Aton to be the sole god.

Rudolf Steiner has pointed out that monotheism came into being at a time when people could only rise in direct experience to the Angel that belonged to them, whereas at the time of polytheism one could still experience the multiplicity of Archangels.

„Then comes the age in which men descend still further, the age in which already little by little the I of the individual man is to be born. And we find that the most advanced nations go over to monotheism relatively early, others later - the Egyptians, for example, already in the second millennium, Near Eastern peoples later - that is, begin to worship no longer Archangels, Archangeloi, but Angeloi, each his Angelos. They descend from the higher polytheism to the lower monotheism. After what was explained yesterday, what I am about to say will no longer seem strange to you, and you will realise that men will have to cure themselves of the arrogance which saturates the whole science of religion: that what is usually called monotheism may look down on polytheism as the subordinate religion.“ (Lit.:GA 172, p. 202)

„We must bear this in mind. When we face the Archangels, we are dealing with beings who govern human relationships, and with the Spirits of Time with beings who govern human relationships over long periods of time, and that with the Angels we are dealing with beings who essentially govern the life of the individual man. If we keep this in mind, we will not fail to realise that it is a hidden egoism of men to want to elevate themselves directly to the God, for in truth - although they do not admit it - they only want to elevate themselves to their God, to their own Angel.

That has a great practical significance, because it bears a certain seed in it. It bears the seed that men speak of the one God, but that it is only a phantasm that they speak of the one God. For in truth, by indulging in this fantasy, each man speaks of his own God, namely of his Angel. And the consequence of this must be that in the course of time every man worships his own God, namely his own Angel. And we can already see how strong the urge is for each person to worship his own God. The coming together of men in those Gods which are common to all has become a very slight thing in modern times. The insistence of each on his own God has turned out to be something quite outstanding. The human race is being atomised. In a sense, only the word "God" remains, which is common to the people of a language, but under this one word everyone imagines something different, namely his own Angel. And it does not even reach up to the Archangel who leads human communities.

This is based on a certain hidden egoism that people do not want to admit. But something important is said when we bear this in mind, for man actually lives in an untruth when he does not confess to himself: I look up to my Angel - but when he says to himself: I look up to the only-begotten God. - He lives in a nebulous imagination, that is, in an inner delusion, in an inner Maya. And this has important consequences, for when man surrenders to this inner delusion, something quite definite occurs. For by indulging in fantastic imaginations, we do not change the spiritual realities which actually come about as a result of what we imagine correctly or incorrectly. When a man looks up to his Angel, but does not confess this to himself, but believes that he is looking up to God - whereas he does not even look up to an Archangel - he stupefies his soul in a certain sense by this untrue imagination. And this benumbing of the soul is generally present today. But if the soul is benumbed, it is extraordinarily disastrous for the development of humanity today. For through the benumbing of the soul, the I is pressed down, dimmed, and then the other powers, which are not supposed to work in the soul, creep into this soul. That is to say, the Luciferic Angelos creeps into the place of the Angel whom one initially wanted to worship, but whom one renames "God", and one gradually comes to worship not the Angel, but the Luciferic Angelos [...]

So we have to realise that in many respects the answer to the question "Who is to blame for the materialism of our time?" is: The religions are to blame, the religious confessions, in that they have dulled the consciousness of men and substituted for God an Angel, for whom the Luciferic Angel, who corresponds to him, then substitutes himself. And this Luciferic Angel will soon lead man into materialism. This is the mysterious connection between the haughty, egoistic religious confessions, which do not want to hear anything of what is above an Angel, but in immoderate arrogance say that they speak of "God", whereas they speak only of an Angel, and not even of him completely. It is this immoderate arrogance, which is still often spoken of as humility, that has ultimately had to give rise to materialism. If we consider this, then we see a significant connection: through the erroneous reinterpretation of an Angel as God, the inclination to materialism arises in the human soul. And there is an underlying unconscious egoism which expresses itself in the fact that man neglects to ascend to the knowledge of the spiritual world, which also expresses itself in the fact that man thinks he can only find the connection with his God directly out of himself, so to speak. You can see into much that is happening in the present if you consider what I have indicated to you here. There is only one remedy against the misinterpretation of God, and that is the recognition of the spiritual hierarchies. For then one also knows that the present religious confessions do not ascend higher than to the hierarchy of the Angeloi.“ (Lit.:GA 172, p. 180ff)

Furthermore, the justification of monotheism is related to the perception of the etheric world:

„Monotheism has sprung from the revelation of the etheric world to earthly men.“ (Lit.:GA 211, p. 207)

„On the other hand, we must also point out that just as the lower elements, earth, water, air, so also the higher elements, the etheric elements, light, the chemical ether, the life ether, are in a sense inhabited by elementary beeings. Only these elementary beings are very different from the elementary beings of the lower elements. The beings of light, but especially the beings of life, do not strive for multiplicity. The beings of the earth element strive most strongly for multiplicity. The beings of the etheric elements strive for unity. They cannot really be distinguished from one another. The individualities are not pronounced there. These entities strive to unite one into the other.

An older power of certain initiates, from whom the deeper teachings of the Old Testament originate, has turned knowledge preferably towards these etheric elements. And after this striving together of the etheric elements into one, the impression was formed which then lived itself out in monotheism, in the strict monotheism of Judaism.

This Yahweh-religion came into being primarily through the spiritual vision of the etheric regions. But in the etheric regions live spiritual beings which do not want to strive apart, to become many individualities, but which want to disappear into each other, to grow together, to form a unity.“ (Lit.:GA 212, p. 154)

Insofar as the etheric world represents the living flow of time, monotheism is also connected with the direct experience of the flow of time, just as the consciousness of the Trinity awoke through the living grasp of the threefold space.

„The unity of the Divine has a similar origin to the Trinity of the Divine. This is connected with the living experience of time. Time, too, was not felt by the ancients as the abstract we feel it to be today; only the concrete experience of time was lost even earlier than the concrete experience of space [...]

It was so completely alive in the second post-Atlantean period, in the Urpersian time, where it would naturally have caused a shivering among the disciples of Zarathustra if one had spoken to them of time being such a line that runs quite evenly from the past into the future.

Again, in gnosis there was a more shadowy feeling - but hardly that it is still recognisable - of the living of time, in that one did not speak of there being such a line running from the past into the future, but in that one spoke of aeons, of the creators who were there before and from whom the later ones emerged, where one aeon always passed on to the other the impulses of creation. In a sense, time was imagined in such a way that in the hierarchical sequence the preceding being always passed on the impulses to the next succeeding one, and the next succeeding one was in a sense always brought forth by the preceding one, the preceding one was all-encompassing the next succeeding one. One looked up to the preceding as to the more divine in relation to the succeeding. One experienced "later" as more ungodly, "earlier" as more divine. This looking at the turn that the development takes from the divine to the ungodly was contained in the living experience and experience of time. Everything would fall apart if the divine and the ungodly did not want to weave themselves into unity, which is identical with our present abstractions of the past and the future.

But in this image of time, looking back and encompassing ever more comprehensively, up to the "Ancient of Days", in this imagination one felt the image of the Unity God. Just as the three-part space, the triune space, was experienced as the image of the trinity of the God, so time was felt as the image of the unity of the God. The reason for monotheism lies in the old experience of time; the reason for feeling the Trinity lies in the old experience of space.“ (Lit.:GA 184, p. 153ff)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.