Look for a moment at this stove! And now imagine that someone were to stand before this stove and say to it: “You stove, you are created to spread warmth! Think of your mission and warm this room!” Would it do so? Would these words have any effect? No, the stove would not stir. But if instead of speaking, we get wood and coal and light the fire, then it will fulfill its mission.
So it is with the communications of spiritual-scientific truths. They are fuel for the human soul. For thousands of years morality has been preached and people have been told, “Be good and love one another”. But do they really then do so? Do not matters look rather sad in spite of all Christian doctrines? In a town in southern Germany, a preacher once said to me: “I can make no objection whatever to all that you say of the Gospels, but what is the use of founding little conventicles for spiritual science here and there, when the church carries on practical education on alarge scale?” Yes, if this preacher were right, then it would indeed be of no use. But he is not right, for if the church really performed its task in full measure, from whence do so many evil deeds still continually arise? And does everyone really go to church? In truth the church does not teach practical morality, but “stove morality”. In our days there are no longer many people who grow better simply upon urgent request. […] And were this to go on, the adherents of the church would become scarcer and scarcer, and materialism would become greater and greater, until one day not very much would be left of the church. And this is just the reason why spiritual science has come; it has become necessary, in order to supply the “fuel”! It is itself fuel in this sense, for the simple communication of truths from out the spiritual world animates and furthers the spiritual development of the individual, helping it forward not only in the sphere of morals, but also in spiritual vision.
Even among students of spiritual science there are those who are of the opinion that we need only be good and noble and strive to attain perfection, and then in the end our spiritual eyes will open of their own accord. At the same time they think that the communication of higher truths is of no great significance, and that we should only wait till we can see for ourselves, till the veil is of itself withdrawn from before oureyes. Those who think in this way are mistaken. They fail to recognise the character of these communications which act as fuel.The essential point is to stimulate active inner motion within the soul which would not come about in any other way, nor develop of its own accord.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 109 – The Dedication of an Anthroposophical Group – Breslau, June 15, 1909
German source: GA 109-II-THEOSOPHIE UND OKKULTISMUS DES ROSENKREUZERS – Breslau, June 15, 1909 (page 279-280)