The Kingdom of God Is Within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

The Kingdom of God Is Within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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by Leo Tolstoy
     
 

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The Kingdom Of God Is Within You is one of the most provocative anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian pieces of literature ever written. In the context of a sincere and scathing account of what is living and dead in modern Christianity, Tolstoy presents a view of history and society that overcomes widely recognized theoretical contradictions implicit in…  See more details below

Overview


The Kingdom Of God Is Within You is one of the most provocative anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian pieces of literature ever written. In the context of a sincere and scathing account of what is living and dead in modern Christianity, Tolstoy presents a view of history and society that overcomes widely recognized theoretical contradictions implicit in his monumental early novel, War and Peace. At the focal point of The Kingdom Of God Is Within You is the doctrine of radical non-violence that Tolstoy understands Jesus to have articulated in the Sermon on the Mount's injunction against responding to evil with evil.

Though the treatise was banned upon completion in 1893, this quickly translated and widely disseminated work was destined to become the most powerful and influential of his major late period writings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781411429468
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
09/01/2009
Series:
Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
208,275
File size:
605 KB

Meet the Author


Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before traveling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879 82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home "leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude;" he died some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Books LTD.

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 9, 1828
Date of Death:
November 20, 1910
Place of Birth:
Tula Province, Russia
Place of Death:
Astapovo, Russia
Education:
Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47

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The Kingdom of God Is Within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, it became clear to me: Jesus doesn't want us killing one another, not for any reason, not for any purpose, not ever. I applied for discharge from the Army as a Conscientious Objector soon afterwards. Don't expect the book to be pure literary genius, but do expect to find your heart touched - or perhaps (as it was in my case), pierced.
BitsBacon More than 1 year ago
The overall theme of the book is that Christians should not resist evil by using evil (aka force). Thus, military service, judges, jails, taxes, etc. are all aspects of society that Christians should shun. This message contrasts with my going-in assumptions. I've assumed the New Testament's "turn the other cheek" message was intended for personal behavior and didn't interpret it as being totally applicable for society as a whole. Thus, I've always assumed that while I should be quick to forgive, that government has the responsibility for holding lawbreakers accountable. While I still think that way, the book did challenge me to think this over. Another interesting aspect to the book is that Tolstoy embraces the Sermon on the Mount as the crux of the New Testament. Though he embraces these particular teachings, he doesn't believe in heaven and hell; and that Christ's death on the cross was needed so that He could take our punishment in our stead. In short, he believed only parts of the Bible. One last item of interest... Tolstoy also made the case that Christianity is a natural evolution for humans. Humans started out only caring for themselves, their families, then their tribes and towns, and then their nation. Christianity is the natural next phase because it will help people to care for all mankind. The fact that Jesus may have actually walked the face of the earth, may have been the Son of God, and may have made eternity in heaven possible were, according to Tolstoy, not the real reasons for the advent of Christianity. I think Tolstoy missed the obvious. I'm glad I read this book. This book influenced Ghandi and I believe wise to study different view points. I believe those who read this book will find the experience a "rounding" one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book challenges the Christian to think about her/his participation in and support of a government whose policies are not always consistent with Christian values. I highly recommend the book.
WordsworthGreenwich More than 1 year ago
I have read two of Tolstoy's other masterpieces in "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina." For all the brilliant prose in these two works of penultimate genius, to really understand the heart of the novelist writing about his society, these essays lend powerful insight. The essays begin as Tolstoy rides a train with soldiers sent to beat Russian peasants who have lodged a complaint against a rich landowner bent upon cutting down a forest, with which serfs had always enjoyed common rights, for the profit in the timber. After a judge's unjust verdict in favor of the landowner, after the serfs send packing the men who appeared to cut their timber, the landowner requests government troops to enforce the unjust verdict by beating the serfs to death with rods packed onboard the train. Tolstoy examines this great chain of injustice from the rich landowner's arrogance and greed, to the government judge's feeble acquiesence to power, to the soldiers' blind obedience to administer the famished serfs' inhumane punishment and asks why any of this must play out as it does. How often has this great chain of injustice perpetuated itself upon humanity? Does this chain not define and insitutionalize the greatest instances of inhumanity in the course of history? Tolstoy asks earnestly why each of the players in the administration of this injustice just doesn't try to make a true "moral effort." Why doesn't the rich landowner recognize his own arrogance and greed and duty to the serfs? Why doesn't the government intercede and stand up to the landowner's will to power? Why don't the soldiers refuse to administer mindlessly this injustice? Why must famished, diseased and half-dead peasants be beaten to death as they simply try to survive? Who wins in this oft repeated scenario? Not a dead soul. Tolstoy's argument is that we have the ethical wherewithal at every level to stand-up to such injustice and he makes the argument as a wealthy Russian landowner, former soldier and provincial adminsitrator with great influence upon the tsar. In other words he is fully qualified by virtue of experience to argue this case and he makes it with a profundity and simplicity which is inspiring. "There is one thing, and only one thing, in which it is granted to you to be free in life, all else being beyond your power: that is to recognize and profess the truth." Tolstoy's thesis is that the Power to do this exists within every person and that it is the divine responsibility of each of us to exercise this power for the good and happiness of humanity. Tolstoy sees a threefold relationship of man to truth: "Some truths have been so assimilated by them that they become the unconscious basis of action, others are just only on the point of being revealed and a third class, though not yet assimilated by him, have been revealed to him with sufficient clearness to force him to decide either to recognize them or refuse to recognize them." Tolstoy urges mankind simply to make a moral effort and he advises that the happiness open to mankind is available only if and when we do so. Why don't we make more of a moral effort? There is great wisdom in this work which I urge you, despite the daunting title, to read as it is wisdom from a century and a half ago, that no generation of humanity may need more than our own right now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Discover a great artist's personal view of what Christianity should be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. A different look at Christanity.
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