The Kingdom Of God… And Leo Tolstoy

I seem to be getting a bit of flack lately about my spiritual beliefs that run counter to most of the churches today. To help understand where I come from I am bringing back some quotes from Leo Tolstoy I used in 2012. They pretty much tell my story:

From: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy  1894 

2018-01-17_14-58-50.pngBut 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. Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith, he would certainly have described this institution clearly and definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its genuineness could ever have arisen. But nothing of the sort was done by him. And there have been and still are different institutions, each calling itself the true Church…..

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed–the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ’s teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ’s teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

Thomas Jefferson like Tolstoy created his own bible based almost totally on the words of Jesus. He also believed that Jesus came to earth with a clear message for us but after he left, men add a bunch of rules to make everything complicated. Both men attribute much of that to the Apostle Paul.  After diligently studying both men I have become aligned with them.  The Sermon on the Mount should be the primary thing that guides a Christian’s life, not a bunch of manmade rules.

Since God gave man free will, it is up to each of us to come to a personal understanding of him and for the things he wants us to accomplish while on this earth.

5 thoughts on “The Kingdom Of God… And Leo Tolstoy

  • I’m not disagreeing with you but I am not sure I see the Creed obviating the Sermon on the Mount. Why can’t the sermon on the mount work within the Creed. Is there a specific part of the creed or the entire concept of the Creed. Can you explain?

    Thanks,
    Bob

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    • Bob, I don’t really have the energy to go into a full discussion with you right now so I will give you a brief synopsis. Creeds are about what you are supposed to “believe”, not what you are supposed to “do”. For that reason, they tend to separate Jesus’ followers instead of uniting them into a common purpose. All denominations (yeah I know Catholics don’t think they are a denomination) use the Apostles Creed but they all tinker with it to tailor it to their own varying views. The creeds themselves were not formulated by Jesus but instead were invented by theologians from bits and scraps here and there in the ancient text. They were assembled 400 years after his time on earth.

      If you want to know more see my post from 2013 at RedLetterChristians.net here: https://redletterliving.net/2013/02/16/about-those-creeds-2/

      I personally am not as averse to creeds as Tolstoy or even Jefferson. I view them more as my Quaker friends. They do serve their purpose in keeping a particular flavor of Christianity in agreement with each other. The “Believe” vs “Do” is where my primary disagreement is. Keep the focus on following Jesus… not man-made rules…

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    • I have come to be a big believer in “Coexist” so I salute you Judy for coming to God on your own terms. No one has ever come back from the other side to tell us who is right so maybe no one is, or maybe everyone is… More power to you…

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