Leo Tolstoy is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. In his later works of both non-fiction and fiction, he expressed his thoughts on religion, God, and non- violence and these texts had an enormous impact on the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Kingdom of God Is within Youby Leo Tolstoy
In essence, the book is a defence by Tolstoy of the
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Published in 1884, ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ is perhaps Tolstoy’s most significant work of non-fiction. Due to the Russian censors, it was first published in Germany, but its dominant idea of non-violence echoed across the international stage throughout the 20th century.
In essence, the book is a defence by Tolstoy of the position on non-violence he adopted in ‘My Religion’; and therefore also an assault on the Orthodox Church. ‘Nowhere,’ says Tolstoy, ‘is there evidence that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.’ And in what it now proclaimed, Tolstoy believed the church was wasting its time: ‘The activity of the church consists in forcing, by every means in its power, upon millions Russian people, those antiquated, time-worn beliefs which have lost all significance.’
Freshly informed by Quaker ideals of non-violence; and full of both story telling and rhetoric, here is Tolstoy calling for a change in consciousness in society. He does not accept that ‘this social order, with its pauperism, famines, prisons, gallows, armies and wars, is necessary to society.’ That which is, is not that which must be.
Rooted in the Sermon on the Mount, Tolstoy’s Christianity is not primarily concerned with worship or salvation, but with a new way of behaving in society - behaviour informed by the pointlessness and sin of violence. Tolstoy tellingly reflects on the army at work - whether in internal repression or in national wars - and asks: ‘How can you kill people when it is written in God’s commandment ‘Thou shall not murder?’
Gandhi was ‘overwhelmed’ by the book, said ‘it left an abiding impression’, and in time, a correspondence started between the two men. The book convinced Gandhi that Hinduism and Christianity were one and the same at their core, and informed his passive resistance first in South Africa and then India; and later, of course, that of Martin Luther King in the USA.
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- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 341 KB
Meet the Author
- Date of Birth:
- September 9, 1828
- Date of Death:
- November 20, 1910
- Place of Birth:
- Tula Province, Russia
- Place of Death:
- Astapovo, Russia
- Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47
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I read this book about 3 years ago. It changed my life because I felt that Tolstoy saw the same thing I saw in Christianity which is the Sermon on the mount.I abandoned my catholic faith because of it. But now I believe in the Church again. What I can't understand about Tolstoy and other modernist heretics is that why do they concede only so much of their 'faith' to 'reason'? Like why believe in God and heaven and stop with the trinity and the incarnation? Why believe in Mt. 5-7 and stop with the rest of the gospel? Because of Reason? What to me doesn't make sense is believing in God, Heaven, sermon on the mount and then believe that for some stupid reason the early Christians made up the rest and even suffered persecution and death for their fables. This book is a good book about life in the late 19th century but it is a Heresy. Just because something is mysterious doesn't mean it is absurd. Life is mysterious but it can still made sense out of and doesn't have to be absurd just because some 19th/20th century philosopher said so. Poor Tolstoy for not being reasonable enough to see all of this.
This is one of the greatest works ever written. It outlines the corruption manifested in many organized religions and challenges the readers to search for their own Kingdom of God within themselves. It's no wonder that many of the churches and governments banned this work which was a challenge to their own belief system. The reader may be shocked that this does not read like a novel which Tolstoy is most known for. Of all the great works that Tolstoy has written, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Haji Murad, The Death of Ivan Illyich, this IS his best work. I would reccomend to the reader to buy 3 or 4 copies of this book and give it as a gift to friends or family.