The Kingdom of God Is within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life

The Kingdom of God Is within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life

The Kingdom of God Is within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life

The Kingdom of God Is within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life

Synopsis

First published in Germany in 1894, after being banned in Russia, The Kingdom of God Is within You reveals Tolstoy's world outlook after his conversion to Christianity. He argues that the kingdom of God is within reach of all.

The core of the book deals with his nonresistance to evil, a principle Tolstoy passionately advocated. Gandhi was won over by the book. Tolstoy clearly describes the hazards that bullying governments and false beliefs produced. "The situation of the Christian part of humanity- with its prisons, forced labor, gallows, saloons, brothels, constantly increasing armaments, and millions of confused people ready like trained hounds to attack anyone against whom their masters set them- this situation would be terrible if it were the product of coercion, but it is above all the product of public opinion."

Abhorring the violence of revolution, Tolstoy calls on Christians to remember that the only guide for their actions is to be found in the divine principle dwelling within them, which in no sense can be checked or governed by anyone or anything else.

Excerpt

You have in your hands one of those rare books that carry a direct message from the writer to the reader. And the message carries a charge, emotional and moral, that can in some people ignite an explosion of the heart and mind. It did so in one very notable case when an English translation was sent to a Hindu barrister in Natal, South Africa, in 1894. (It is worth noting that, the year before, the book had been suppressed on publication in its native country as being dangerous to church and state but had been translated immediately into English, with two versions appearing in 1894.)

That barrister was, of course, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later the Mahatma of India, but at that moment only a timid young man, ill at ease in his profession and ineffective in the rest of his life. Reading The Kingdom of God Is within You "overwhelmed" him, he said in his autobiography. "Before the independent thinking, profound morality, and the truthfulness of this book, all the books given me by Mr Coates seemed to pale into insignificance." (Mr. Coates was a Quaker who lent him books in an effort to convert him to Christianity.) In Gandhi the book certainly ignited an explosion; and its impact on others around him spread like the bombardment of particles in an atomic pile, so that before the chain reaction was over, the British Empire was blown open and India was a free country, under the aegis of nonviolence.

However, for most readers of 1984, and for casual readers of any date, the experience is not likely to be so vivid. At least if you begin with page one and read conscientiously every word, you may soon be yawning and riffling the pages to come. This is a book that should be begun at the end. The Conclusion is the chapter to read first; there you will find Tolstoy's writing at its most brilliant, and there you will feel yourself caught up in his passion of indignation against the . . .

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