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The Kingdom of God Is Within You
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on July 23, 2013
Tolstoy presents a thoroughly researched and unerringly logical argument in favor of nonviolence in this book. Both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to this book as one of the most influential to their development, and I can see why. The book is decidedly dry and can be laborious to work through, but it's well worth the effort. At least power through the first five chapters or so, which lay the foundation for a truly revolutionary way of approaching society and life based on Christ's Sermon on the Mount as told in the Gospel of Matthew.
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on February 1, 2016
Tolstoy's work in The Kingdom of God Is Within You is a must read for anyone who desires additional understanding into the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God. This work became the launching point for the philosophy and interpretation of Ghandi and Martin Luther King in their quest to change society by Tolstoy's views of "non-resistance to violence by force". This work has strongly influenced my re-reading of the scriptures in order to comprehend Jesus Christ's Gospel, the Kingdom of God. The Treasure Within the Kingdom of God: 366 Daily Readings According to the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Kingdom of God
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on May 30, 2016
Important discussion about the place of patriotism and support of government and war for the Christian. Raises critical issues that every Christian should consider. Some of the arguments are lengthy. Requires a reader who can plow through some dense material.
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on September 1, 2007
An excellent summary of this book's content is contained in the title itself: _The Kingdom of God Is Within You: Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life_. A more detailed summary, spanning several pages, is found in Chapter IV, "Christianity Misunderstood by Men of Science." In this chapter, Tolstoy tells us that "Life, according to the Christian religion, is a progress toward the divine perfection. ... The fulfillment of Christ's teaching consists in moving away from self toward God. ... The Christian precepts (the commandment of love is not a precept in the strict sense of the word, but the expression of the very essence of the religion) are the five commandments of the Sermon on the Mount - all negative in character." (These are found in Matthew 5:21-42.)

1. "The ideal is not to desire to do ill to anyone, not to provoke ill will, to love all men. The precept, showing the level below which we cannot fall in the attainment of this ideal, is the prohibition of evil speaking."

2. "The ideal is perfect chastity, even in thought. The precept, showing the level below which we cannot fall in the attainment of this ideal, is that of purity of married life, avoidance of debauchery."

3. "The ideal is to take no thought for the future, to live in the present moment. The precept, showing the level below which we cannot fall, is the prohibition of swearing, of promising anything in the future."

4. "The ideal is never for any purpose to use force. The precept, showing the level below which we cannot fall is that of returning good for evil, being patient under wrong, giving the cloak also."

5. "The ideal is to love the enemies who hate us. The precept, showing the level below which we cannot fall, is not to do evil to our enemies, to speak well of them, and to make no difference between them and our neighbors."

These ideals or requirements seem utopian, and many people who consider themselves to be Christians have looked for ways to accommodate them to temporal concerns like the amassing of treasure and the pursuit of personal advantage. Tolstoy professes himself to be shocked by these attempts: for him, these are straightforward, plainly worded rules of conduct that all Christians must follow. He is fully aware of their radical nature, and he embraces the revolutionary implications of Christ's message. He imagines an objection: "Civilization, art, science, culture will disappear!" but answers it by saying that "Only what is false in them will be destroyed: all the truth there was in them will only be stronger and more flourishing." Indeed, Tolstoy thirsts for the day - not far off, he thinks - when an inequitable social order, maintained by violence, will collapse and real Christians will form a more just and egalitarian society.

Tolstoy's interpretation of the "new law" from the Sermon on the Mount is compelling, but he sometimes runs into difficulties when he argues that these radical and otherworldly commandments should become the basis of public policy. For example, he advocates reform of criminals over punishment - a progressive and humane position - but in arguing this point he seems not to recognize that criminals have any motive other than need, or that criminals might be deterred by the threat of punishment. As another example, Tolstoy maintains that violence sanctioned by a state - as in war, or as punishment for a crime - is no different morally than the violence of one man against another. (As support, he cites a pamphlet by a contemporary that is cunningly titled "How Many Men Are Necessary To Change a Crime into a Virtue?) But are there not instances where state violence can acquire some degree of legitimacy from the consent of its citizens to a set of laws adhered to by all, or by what its citizens consider to be just? Are there not instances where state violence can prevent an even greater catastrophe from occurring? In other words, there are some fairly obvious objections to his line of argument that Tolstoy does not address. Still, a balanced assessment would conclude that Tolstoy's deep skepticism of states and state violence was mostly vindicated by subsequent events in Russia and the rest of the world throughout the twentieth century.

I think that readers will be impressed by the vigor and sincerity of Tolstoy's thought and by many other idiosyncratic pleasures contained in this work. (This review is based on the Project Guttenberg version of _The Kingdom of God Is Within You_.)
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on September 7, 2009
Very well written and informative, but very repetitive in some spots. I can see how this book would inspire someone like Ghandi to devote his life to fighting social injustice. It is also a good reminder that Jesus means what he says. Many people try to reinterpret or circumvent the Sermon on the Mount, saying things such as "It's holding up an impossible standard." All I can say to that is, "Duh." God has asked his people to do things that are impossible without Him.
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on October 30, 2014
Tolstoy unleashes a powerful volume in support of his pacifist views. The first chapter of the book is excellent and, as always, wonderfully written. Tolstoy's views had a tremendous impact upon believers in Europe and his arguments deserve to be taken seriously rather than dismissed out of hand for its supposed impracticability. There are a number of points where Marxist influences creep into his analysis, reflecting his background. In sum, however, the book is extremely rewarding to read and prompted me to think deeply about my Christian convictions and their outworking in life.
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on April 16, 2017
Downloaded to my phone on mp3 and listen to this powerful words of wisdom on my walks through local parks. Tolstoy is "Top Shelf"
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on August 28, 2015
Known for War&Peace, Tolstoy's abhorrence and repudiation of war shines through this beautiful teaching of non-violence as bedrock to true Christ following. Has spurred great thought to apprehend what it means to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give your coat, and love your enemies.
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on January 4, 2014
Anything biblical is mind blowing and I can not get enough. Take a little time and read for yourself, even if it is once a week.
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on September 20, 2016
This book has an old writing style but the insights are profound. He was living under a repressive Russian Orthodox Church but hive views are not orthodox or fundamental-ish. Also this is not intimidatingly long like War and Peace. He has doubts of hell and n odoubts about God's love.
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