Learning From Those Wiser Than Us

This is a new thing at RJsCorner which is primarily about quotes from people usually smarter than us, that are meant to teach us a little about life outside our boxes.

Most quotes are taken from a larger document and are drawn out by wordsmiths like me who see them as the perfect words to relay a much more profound message. In other wordsvthey draw you in to a longer discussion. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone on to read more about the topic because of a quote. One example of this for me was Leo Tolstoy.

I really don’t remember the exact quote that drew me in, but this might have been one of them. What I found by investigating the quote changed a significant part of my life. Here is more of Tolstoy’s words to start this discussion.

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

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. 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.

After four years reading these, and many other words on the topic, I decided to no longer call myself a Christian. Instead, I simply say:

I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus.

If you want to read a post I put out after the Tolstoy story, click HERE.

Tolstoy, like Thomas Jefferson before him, went on to make his version of the Christian Bible, which was focused on the words of Jesus and particularly the Sermon on the mount.

But in the end, that first quote drew me in to a topic that dramatically changed my views of religion.

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