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The Kingdom Of God Is Within You


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No one discussing good, old Leo Tolstoy's Kingdom of God? It's not really a full time book, more of an essay, but it was inspiration for Gandhi and Martin Luther King in their fight with... fighting :ph34r: More I read him, the more I think he would be a good company for progressive Christians today because of his critical views on the Bible, churches, organizations and whole Christianity as we see it today, but in the same time he kept unshaken faith that Jesus' teachings could change not only single person but whole world.




First of all, here's link to whole essay: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Kingdom_of_God_is_Within_You


And small part of it from 3rd chapter:



The more the understanding of Christ's teaching was obscured, the more the miraculous was introduced into it; and the more the miraculous was introduced into it, the more the doctrine was strained from its meaning and the more obscure it became; and the more it was strained from its meaning and the more obscure it became, the more strongly its infallibility had to be asserted, and the less comprehensible the doctrine became.

One can see by the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles how from the earliest times the non-comprehension of the doctrine called forth the need for proofs through the miraculous and incomprehensible.

The first example in the book of Acts is the assembly which gathered together in Jerusalem to decide the question which had arisen, whether to baptize or not the uncircumcised and those who had eaten of food sacrificed to idols.

The very fact of this question being raised showed that those who discussed it did not understand the teaching of Christ, who rejected all outward observances--ablutions, purifications, fasts, and sabbaths. It was plainly said, "Not that which goeth into a man's mouth, but that which cometh out of a man's mouth, defileth him," and therefore the question of baptizing the uncircumcised could only have arisen among men who, though they loved their Master and dimly felt the grandeur of his teaching, still did not understand the teaching itself very clearly. And this was the fact.

Just in proportion to the failure of the members of the assembly to understand the doctrine was their need of external confirmation of their incomplete interpretation of it. And then to settle this question, the very asking of which proved their misunderstanding of the doctrine, there was uttered in this assembly, as is described in the Acts, that strange phrase, which was for the first time found necessary to give external confirmation to certain assertions, and which has been productive of so much evil.

That is, it was asserted that the correctness of what they had decided was guaranteed by the miraculous participation of the Holy Ghost, that is, of God, in their decision. But the assertion that the Holy Ghost, that is, God, spoke through the Apostles, in its turn wanted proof. And thus it was necessary, to confirm this, that the Holy Ghost should descend at Pentecost in tongues of fire upon those who made this assertion. (In the account of it, the descent of the Holy Ghost precedes the assembly, but the book of Acts was written much later than both events.) But the descent of the Holy Ghost too had to be proved for those who had not seen the tongues of fire (though it is not easy to understand why a tongue of fire burning above a man's head should prove that what that man is going to say will be infallibly the truth). And so arose the necessity for still more miracles and changes, raisings of the dead to life, and strikings of the living dead, and all those marvels which have been a stumbling-block to men, of which the Acts is full, and which, far from ever convincing one of the truth of the Christian doctrine, can only repel men from it. The result of such a means of confirming the truth was that the more these confirmations of truth by tales of miracles were heaped up one after another, the more the doctrine was distorted from its original meaning, aid the more incomprehensible it became.

Thus it was from the earliest times, and so it went on, constantly increasing, till it reached in our day the logical climax of the dogmas of transubstantiation and the infallibility of the Pope, or of the bishops, or of Scripture, and of requiring a blind faith rendered incomprehensible and utterly meaningless, not in God, but in Christ, not in a doctrine, but in a person, as in Catholicism, or in persons, as in Greek Orthodoxy, or in a book, as in Protestantism. The more widely Christianity was diffused, and the greater the number of people unprepared for it who were brought under its sway, the less it was understood, the more absolutely was its infallibility insisted on, and the less possible it became to understand the true meaning of the doctrine. In the times of Constantine the whole interpretation of the doctrine had been already reduced to a RÉSUMÉ--supported by the temporal authority-- of the disputes that had taken place in the Council--to a creed which reckoned off--I believe in so and so, and so and so, and so and so to the end--to one holy, Apostolic Church, which means the infallibility of those persons who call themselves the Church. So that it all amounts to a man no longer believing in God nor Christ, as they are revealed to him, but believing in what the Church orders him to believe in.

But the Church is holy; the Church was founded by Christ. God could not leave men to interpret his teaching at random--therefore he founded the Church. All those statements are so utterly untrue and unfounded that one is ashamed to refute them. Nowhere nor in anything, except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that God or Christ founded anything like what Churchmen understand by the Church. In the Gospels there is a warning against the Church, as it is an external authority, a warning most clear and obvious in the passage where it is said that Christ's followers should "call no man master." But nowhere is anything said of the foundation of what Churchmen call the Church.

The word church is used twice in the Gospels--once in the sense of an assembly of men to decide a dispute, the other time in connection with the obscure utterance about a stone--Peter, and the gates of hell. From these two passages in which the word church is used, in the signification merely of an assembly, has been deduced all that we now understand by the Church.

But Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now understand by that word. For nothing like the idea of the Church as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ's words or in the ideas of the men of that time.

The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church.


It gets better later when he compare catechisms of different "original, only true" churches of Rome, Greece, Russia, and Protestants, every one of them happily condemning others, putting them in "grave errors" which results in "eternal damnation"...



As you may know, Leo was nobleman and Orthodox Christian, excommunicated because of his views on religion, just as those above (no wonder :lol: ). He also had some rough political ideas which I don't think would work (for now, I just can't see anarchy with today's people greedy minds).
ANYWAY, I really recommend his essays and books, he had amazing insight and actually lived by what he preached.
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Its interesting that this book was written before 1900 when it was quite unpopular to oppose or criticize the church system. Thomas Paine 100 years earlier than this similarly criticized the Bible as God's Word which reflected on the church system with his book "The Age of Reason" for which he was imprisoned a number of years. it is also interesting that still much of the church system takes exception to the title of Tolstoy's work because other than in the KJV the kingdom is said to be among or in the midst of rather than within each person. Here is the voice of Jesus.org compelling argument against using the word within which they think drastically changes the meaning but i personally do not buy into it.


I glanced through the essay and from reading think Leo Tolstoy was definitely a progressive of his time.



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Here is the voice of Jesus.org compelling argument against using the word within which they think drastically changes the meaning but i personally do not buy into it.


Dunno what version was Leo using, but in russian "within" is closest to "among you", same with polish translation, so he wasn't really talking about kingdom being IN someone. He wrote somewhere that by imitaning Jesus and incorporating his teachings you not only change yourself but bring kingdom of God to everybody near you, because well, what else can bring it if not imitaning someone who you think was God?

Edited by bearpawss
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