Leo Tolstoy

The Kingdom of God Is Within You

Tolstoy describes true Christianity as a non-hierarchical, nonviolent, non-coercive pursuit, and criticizes institutional Christianity as a deceptive corruption.

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The Kingdom of God Is Within You is the most influential work of Christian anarchism. It might be considered the founding work of that tradition if it didn’t itself claim to merely be pointing out Christian anarchism as the plain meaning of the gospels.

Tolstoy argues that institutional Christianity with its doctrines, church hierarchies, and ritual practices, is anti-Christian. Christ, he says, explicitly told his followers to reject doctrines, church institutions and hierarchies, and ritual practices, and instead to love truth, to honor God, and to treat all people as your family and as you would want to be treated.

Tolstoy says that a Christian cannot participate in the political system, which is based on the use of violence to enforce the separation of people and the privileging of some people over others, and at the same time follow Jesus in his command to love your neighbor.