The Kingdom of God Is Within You, Leo Tolstoy
The Kingdom of God Is Within You
Leo Tolstoy
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The Kingdom of God Is Within You (pre-reform Russian: Царство Божіе внутри васъ) is a non-fiction book written by Leo Tolstoy. A Christian anarchist philosophical treatise, the book was first published in Germany in 1894 after being banned in his home country of Russia.It was translated from Russian by Constance Garnett - New York, 1894. The Kingdom of God Is Within You is a key text for Tolstoyan proponents of nonviolence, of nonviolent resistance, and of the Christian anarchist movement.

“The Kingdom of God Is within You”

Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life

Leo Tolstoy

Translated from Russian
by Constance Garnett

Translator’s Preface

The book I have had the privilege of translating is, undoubtedly,one of the most remarkable studies of the social and psychologicalcondition of the modern world which has appeared in Europe formany years, and its influence is sure to be lasting and farreaching. Tolstoy’s genius is beyond dispute. The verdict of thecivilized world has pronounced him as perhaps the greatestnovelist of our generation. But the philosophical and religiousworks of his later years have met with a somewhat indifferentreception. They have been much talked about, simply because theywere his work, but, as Tolstoy himself complains, they have neverbeen seriously discussed. I hardly think that he will have torepeat the complaint in regard to the present volume. One maydisagree with his views, but no one can seriously deny theoriginality, boldness, and depth of the social conception which hedevelops with such powerful logic. The novelist has shown in thisbook the religious fervor and spiritual insight of the prophet;yet one is pleased to recognize that the artist is not wholly lostin the thinker. The subtle intuitive perception of thepsychological basis of the social position, the analysis of theframe of mind of oppressors and oppressed, and of the intoxicationof Authority and Servility, as well as the purely descriptivepassages in the last chapter — these could only have come from theauthor of “War and Peace.”

The book will surely give all classes of readers much to think of,and must call forth much criticism. It must be refuted by thosewho disapprove of its teaching, if they do not want it to havegreat influence.

One cannot of course anticipate that English people, slow as theyare to be influenced by ideas, and instinctively distrustful ofall that is logical, will take a leap in the dark and attempt toput Tolstoy’s theory of life into practice. But one may at leastbe sure that his destructive criticism of the present social andpolitical régime will become a powerful force in the work ofdisintegration and social reconstruction which is going on aroundus. Many earnest thinkers who, like Tolstoy, are struggling tofind their way out of the contradictions of our social order willhail him as their spiritual guide. The individuality of theauthor is felt in every line of his work, and even the mostprejudiced cannot resist the fascination of his genuineness,sincerity, and profound earnestness. Whatever comes from a heartsuch as his, swelling with anger and pity at the sufferings ofhumanity, cannot fail to reach the hearts of others. No readercan put down the book without feeling himself better and moretruth-loving for having read it.

Many readers may be disappointed with the opening chapters of thebook. Tolstoy disdains all attempt to captivate the reader. Hebegins by laying what he considers to be the logical foundation ofhis doctrines, stringing together quotations from little-knowntheological writers, and he keeps his own incisive logic for thelater part of the book.

One word as to the translation. Tolstoy’s style in his religiousand philosophical works differs considerably from that of hisnovels. He no longer cares about the form of his work, and hisstyle is often slipshod, involved, and diffuse. It has been myaim to give a faithful reproduction of the original.

January, 1894


In the year 1884 I wrote a book under the title “What I Believe,”in which I did in fact make a sincere statement of my beliefs.

In affirming my belief in Christ’s teaching, I could not helpexplaining why I do not believe, and consider as mistaken, theChurch’s doctrine, which is usually called Christianity.

Among the many points in which this doctrine falls short of thedoctrine of Christ I pointed out as the principal one the absenceof any commandment of non-resistance to evil by force. Theperversion of Christ’s teaching by the teaching of the Church ismore clearly apparent in this than in any other point ofdifference.

I know — as we all do — very little of the practice and the spoken andwritten doctrine of former times on the subject of non-resistance toevil. I knew what had been said on the subject by the fathers of theChurch — Origen, Tertullian, and others — I knew too of the existence ofsome so-called sects of Mennonites, Herrnhuters, and Quakers, who do notallow a Christian the use of weapons, and do not enter military service;but I knew little of what had been done by these so-called sects towardexpounding the question.

My book was, as I had anticipated, suppressed by the Russiancensorship; but partly owing to my literary reputation, partlybecause the book had excited people’s curiosity, it circulated inmanuscript and in lithographed copies in Russia and throughtranslations abroad, and it evolved, on one side, from those whoshared my convictions, a series of essays with a great deal ofinformation on the subject, on the other side a series ofcriticisms on the principles laid down in my book.

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