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What is anthroposophy?

anthroposophy
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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. This approach is variously referred to as either a philosophy or a religion, though adherents often consider it a form of holistic science-spirituality. The term anthroposophy itself is meant to emphasize human freedom and development.

Anthroposophy was developed by Rudolf Steiner as he gradually broke away from theosophy. Much like theosophy, anthroposophy teaches that mystical-intellectual experiences allow people to access wisdom from a higher reality. It differs from theosophy in giving greater approval to Christian religious ideas and the concepts of mainstream science. Like theosophy, anthroposophy is heavily influenced by the ideas of Gnosticism.

Adherents routinely claim anthroposophy is compatible with Christianity. However, the quasi-religion of anthroposophy involves beliefs entirely contradictory to those presented in the Bible. These include a version of reincarnation. Anthroposophy roughly explains the history of different religions as part of human evolution, believing that mankind progresses with the guidance of a messiah-like figure through each of those steps. As such, anthroposophy suggests all religions are “true” in their unique cultures and eras. In this system, a barely recognizable version of Christianity is viewed as the ultimate point toward which all evolving religions converge.

Through the Anthroposophical Society and other groups, Steiner’s philosophy is promoted through seminars and outreach programs. Anthroposophy is the guiding worldview of Waldorf Schools, or Steiner Schools, though officially such schools are forbidden from expressly teaching anthroposophy. The unique view of this religious philosophy places a heavy emphasis on personal freedom and does not necessarily believe in proselytizing. Education researchers differ on the extent to which the Waldorf method benefits students.

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This page last updated: April 26, 2021