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The Kingdom of God Is within You
     

The Kingdom of God Is within You

3.7 46
by Leo Tolstoy, Constance Garnett
 

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ISBN-10: 1557429286

ISBN-13: 9781557429285

Pub. Date: 06/15/2006

Publisher: Wildside Press

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

Overview

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557429285
Publisher:
Wildside Press
Publication date:
06/15/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)

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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) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We only need a relationship with Jesus and we will not need anything else for the rest of our lives.
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