Author's Preface to the Second Edition
CHRISTIANITY AS MYSTICAL FACT was the title given to this book by its
author when eight years ago he included in it the contents of lectures
held in the year 1902. This title was intended to indicate the
particular character of the book. It represents an attempt to describe
not merely the mystical content of Christianity in its historical
form, but how Christianity arose out of mystical conception.
Underlying this was the idea that involved in this process was a
spiritual reality which can be seen only through such conception. Only
the content of the book can prove that the author has not used the
word mystical to denote a conception which relies more on indefinite
knowledge gained through feelings, than on strictly scientific
exposition. In many circles today the word mysticism carries such a
connotation, hence the tendency is to explain this as a region of the
life of the human soul which can have nothing to do with real
science. In this book the word mysticism is used for the exposition
of a spiritual fact whose nature can be recognized only when the
powers of cognition are taken from the source of spiritual life
itself. Whoever declines a method of cognition founded on such a
source will be unable to take any position with regard to this book.
Only one who admits that in mysticism the same clarity can exist as
in the truthful exposition of natural phenomena will accept this
method of describing the mystical content of Christianity. For even
more important than the content of the text is the means of cognition
which has led to its existence.
In our present day many people violently abhor such a means of
cognition. They see it as contradictory to true scientific method.
This is the case not only among those who will not allow the validity
of any interpretation of the world which is not founded upon genuine
natural scientific fact, but also among those who wish to consider
Christianity in the capacity of believers. The author of this text
takes as his basis an interpretation which acknowledges that the
natural scientific achievements of our day demand elevation to true
mysticism. This interpretation can show that any other attitude toward
cognition absolutely contradicts everything offered by natural
scientific achievements. The means of cognition which so many people
who assume that they stand on firm natural scientific ground, would
like to use, simply do not embrace the facts of this natural science.
Only that reader will accept this book who is able to admit that full
understanding of our present marvelous knowledge of nature can be
combined with genuine mysticism.
By means of what is here called mystical cognition this book sets
out to show how the source of Christianity created its preliminary
conditions in the ancient Mysteries. In this pre-Christian mysticism
is demonstrated the soil in which Christianity germinates as an
independent seed. This point of view enables one to understand
Christianity in its independent essence, although at the same time one
can follow its development out of pre-Christian mysticism. If one
ignores this point of view it is only too easy to miss recognition of
its independence through the belief that Christianity is merely a
further development of what existed in pre-Christian mysticism. Many
opinions of today lapse into this error, comparing Christianity with
pre-Christian viewpoints, believing that the Christian viewpoint is
merely a further development of the pre-Christian. This book sets out
to show that Christianity presupposes the previous mysticism as the
plant seed does its soil. It seeks to emphasize the unique essence of
Christianity through cognition of its origin, not to extinguish it.
It gives the author profound satisfaction to mention that this
exposition of the essence of Christianity has met with the assent of
a personality whose notable writings on the spiritual life of mankind
have enriched the thoughts of our time in the deepest sense. Édouard
Schuré, author of Les Grands Initiés,
The Great Initiates
thoroughly with the standpoint of this book that he himself undertook
its translation into French under the title: Le mystère chrétien et
les mystères antiques. The fact that the first edition was translated
into French and other European languages is mentioned here as a
symptom of the great longing of the present day to understand the
essence of Christianity in the sense of this book.
The author has not found occasion to make any essential changes in
this second edition. There are, however, extensions of the exposition
made eight years ago. The effort has also been made to state many
things more fully and accurately than was possible then.
Unfortunately, through volume of work the author has been forced to
allow a long interval to elapse between the time when the first
edition went out of print and the appearance of the second.
The Great Initiates, A Study of the Secret History of Religions, by
Édouard Schuré, published Fall 1961 by St. George Books,
65 South Greenbush Road, West Nyack, New York. In a new one-volume
translation by Gloria Rasberry, the book contains an introduction on
Édouard Schuré and Rudolf Steiner by Paul Allen.