Why Tolstoy Rejected The Church

Everyone knows there are innumerable sects of Christianity. Yet nearly all denominations have some sort of church. Have you ever wondered, “Why do we need a church at all?”

Leo Tolstoy was not only the most famous and revered of Russian authors, but also one of the most devout Christians of his day and one of the fiercest opponents of his church. How could a man at once honor his faith yet hate his church?

I now present to you one of the more interesting arguments you will ever read.

In this [living as a Christian] consists the difference between the teaching of Christ and all other religious teachings, — a difference consisting not in the difference of demands, but in the difference of the way of guiding men. Christ gave no definitions of life. He never established any institutions, he never established marriage. But people who do not understand the peculiarities of Christ’s teaching, who are accustomed to external tenets, and who wish to feel themselves in the right, as does the Pharisee, contrary to the whole spirit of Christ’s teaching, — have out of the letter made an external teaching of rules, and have substituted this teaching for Christ’s true teaching of the ideal.

The bolded above is indisputable. Both marriage and places of worship existed long before Christ, and many of Christ’s disciples were asked to leave their families to instead seek God.

But even if Christ never advocated a church, it doesn’t mean he was opposed to one either. How can Tolstoy make the leap from Christ’s agnosticism of the Church to full blown heresy?

The church teachings, which call themselves Christian, have in all manifestations of life substituted for Christ’s teaching and ideal the external injunctions and rules which are contrary to the spirit of the teaching.

Thus Tolstoy claims that the Church offers rules when instead true Christians must only concern themselves with ideals, as rules are contrary to Christ’s teachings. From earlier in the essay, Tolstoy writes,

An ideal is only then an ideal when its realization is possible in the idea only, in thought, when it presents itself as attainable only at infinity, and when, therefore, the approach to it is infinite. If an ideal were not only attainable, but we could imagine its realization, it would cease to be an ideal. Such is Christ’s ideal, the establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth…

Because ideals can never be realized, any attempts to make “rules” about how to achieve an ideal will automatically fail. Therefore Christian Churches which give rules to its members are misleading them from Christ’s true teachings. Tolstoy continues,

The church teachings, which call themselves Christian, have in all manifestations of life substituted for Christ’s teaching and ideal the external injunctions and rules which are contrary to the spirit of the teaching. This has been done in reference to government, courts, armies, churches, divine service; this has also been done in reference to marriage. Disregarding the fact that Christ nowhere established marriage, — on the contrary, whenever he mentioned an external rule it was to oppose it (“Forsake thy wife and follow me”), — the church teachings, which call themselves Christian, have established marriage as a Christian institution, that is, they have established external observances which make sexual love sinless and entirely lawful for a Christian.


Only because over a small part of the persons united the clergy performs a certain ceremony, called church marriage, people of our world naively or hypocritically imagine that they are living in matrimony.

There cannot be and never has been such a thing as Christian marriage, just as there has not been and cannot be a Christian divine service (Matt. vi. 5-12; John iv. 21), nor any Christian teachers and fathers (Matt. xxiii. 8-10), nor Christian property, nor army, nor courts, nor state.

Thus the early Christians always understood it.

The Christian’s ideal is love of God and his neighbour, self- renunciation in order to serve God and his neighbour; carnal love, marriage, means serving oneself, and therefore is, in any case, a hindrance in the service of God and men, and, consequently, from the Christian point of view, a fall, a sin.

And so Tolstoy justified his departure from the Church, for not being Christian. Amidst the discussion on the necessity of the Church, Tolstoy touches upon many other subjects relevant to Christians, including why Christianity is superior to other religions, why chastity is such a high virtue, and the moral failings of Russia (which oddly enough sound just like criticisms many would make of American culture).

I recommend this essay because it shows a powerful way of thinking while giving the reader an insight into one of the most brilliant minds who ever lived. You can read the essay in it’s entirety here.

Read Next: Eating From The Tree Of Wisdom

65 thoughts on “Why Tolstoy Rejected The Church”

  1. well im into budism right now and is working for me because there is no superior being to pray or worship, i dont feel like its a religion at all.

      1. Many atheists practice Buddhism precisely for the reason he describes; no gods to worship.
        Yet, in the fictional account of Buddha, a demonic being challenged him, and the gods just let him go. His purpose had nothing to do with them. At the temple that supposedly has his tooth, there is a temple to these gods. I found that strange when I saw it.
        Here are all these people going to see what is carrying an object that most likely did not belong to Buddha himself, who also chose not to worship any gods or god, and then they go pay tribute to these same gods their “god” rejected? Confused me.

        1. is about being self dependent , i mean pray to god to get a job is not going to help cuz life is : cause and effect

  2. It seems Tolstoy essentially fell for the ideas of Protestantism, which is unsurprising given the large influence European thinking had in Russia at the time. “The bolded above” is, in fact, quite disputable: Christ did speak of building a church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Marriage may not have started 2000 years ago, but Christ certainly had important things to say about it in the sermon on the mount. This attitude Tolstoy rejects is based on years of tradition going back to the time of the Apostles, when Christians did indeed have a lot to say about the sexual culture of the Roman Empire, and grew so fast in part because of their dedication to marriage and childbearing. Tolstoy seemed to accept the same prideful idea that overtook the Roman church when it split from the East, and Martin Luther and King Henry IIX when they split from Rome: That he understood the Gospel better than his forefathers, and thus that tradition means nothing.
    As an Orthodox Christian myself, (which is the faith of the Russian Empire that Tolstoy rejected) I can’t help but see a fairly banal, commonplace Protestant argument in Tolstoy’s thought here.

  3. I don’t get it – what kind of Bible did Tolstoy read?
    Jesus approved Old Testament marriage in Matthew 19:3-11 (and contested Moses’ law only regarding divorce). “Forsake thy wife and follow me” is nowhere to find in my Bible and neither of both references he lists as prove there shouldn’t be divine services doesn’t relate to service at all…

  4. Aside from being a literary genius; his view on Christianity is very juvenile. Understandable, but juvenile.
    Christ did hold high ideals, and even said that “not one jot of the Law will have passed away.” What He meant was he did not come to do away with the old law (including marriage) but to bring the Message of God to man. In order that man might follow it, and live life to the fullest. Marriage and the Church were apart of that.
    The problem for all of us, including geniuses like Tolstoy is that all of us have to learn how to handle being offended. His anger was understandable, as even the Orthodox Church cares more about its precious physical structures than it does about its own people. Even the ancient Israelite did the same thing. Left the Love of God, and his fellow man, and started to idolize a building.
    Think about it, this site deals largely with handling women’s nonsense, in other words their offense/rejection of us. Also, how to overcome it. Also, a coal does not stay hot unless it is burning amongst the other coals. So men come here to “stay hot” on being able to bed women. Churches are not buildings, they are the “Body of Christ.” In other words, the people who go to the building in Church parlance. Think of this site as your congregation, and the message what you preach, and Roosh like a priest, and you get the idea. Tolstoy’s problem with us, if we were the church, is if we started valuing this site more than one another, and stopped the message.
    I believe I just committed an error to explain the correlation? Oh well, no apostate am I.
    Christ had a mission, to bring everyone unto himself. The people of the Church are called “The Body of Christ.” And like a marriage they are to be “One Flesh.” Or in modern language, married.
    Tolstoy obviously struggled with what we all do, the offensive nature of man (each other) and how to deal with it. We are rebellious by nature, and do not like having to answer to anyone higher than us, especially if they are much Higher. This can be understandable as not every “Church” actually follows what its “Maker” wants.

    1. poignant! I have 12 years of catholic school education (and a year of catholic social teaching ala law school) and none of this has ever been broken down for me. but maybe that was intended.

  5. “He never established any institutions, he never established marriage.”
    He established a church through the apostles…he established sacraments…his first miracle occurred at a wedding (water into wine).
    Seems like Tolstoy liked how Christianity felt…but not so much of what was established.

  6. Ok, this is the kind of stuff I like to talk about: organizations and their sources of political and economic power.
    See, the problem is this, the church is organized in a way that allows it leaders, who were appointed by the top dog (God) or its maximum representatives, define and redefine hierarchies based on power relationships.
    The moment you are able to convince people that you know what the top dog wants and that in some way you are able to exchange e-mails with him, is the moment you deserve to be listed in the stock market.

    1. You have succesfully seized power and know you own thei deepest fears and wants. Your bullshit is the product and they are willing to consume it at almost any price. In order to achieve you must create artificial hierarchies. Artificial hierachies that nobody is allowed to question.
      Artificial hierarchies are a source of violence, which can be manipulated in order to justify the existance of these same artificial hierarchies that are the original source of the problem.
      Fuck the Church and all those artificial hierarchies. Let us pray for revolution.

      1. Destroy the idea of God in your head and free yourself.
        Power cannot be transferred. It must be destroyed.

        1. No dude. I am afraid your dad is not here. He left home in order to pursue his dream of becoming a drag queen in Rio de Janeiro’s carnival.
          Haha. This is fun but a waste of time. Good job
          As long as other men or women are able to impose their ideas on you through the threat

        2. of violence or imaginary punishment and reward, you are fucked. Really fucked. Now other people owe you like a frightened slave in a foreign land.
          I am not sorry for you, but I wish your dad had explained you how valuable freedom is before moving to Rio. He understood it better than you.

        1. Am I messing with our individual right to say whatever the fuck we want?
          It is a revolution for your mom. So that she can have smarter children next time.
          “Oh, the machines have caught me off guard inside the matrix. What do I do now?
          Ha ha

        2. Indeed, maybe a revolution so morons like your father and mother don’t breed idiots like you ….hahahaha

  7. I don’t know where Tolstoy got his idea of who Jesus was, if not the Gospel. But the Gospels have things like Jesus saying “Upon this rock I will build my church”. And he gave commands like the Sermon on the Mount.
    Thomas Jefferson once excised the miracles from the Gospels, Tolstoy doesn’t even have the decency to explain his exegesis. He sounds like Origen or the Gnostics more than anything Christian.
    He rejects carnal love and marriage. Is that what the Manosphere is about?
    If there are no Christian divine services, what of the breaking of bread and gatherings Paul talks of? Why are they described in the second and third generations after the Apostles without controversy?
    Tolstoy didn’t depart from the church, he simply became his own pope and declared his own opinions as infallible teaching – not even making a good argument.
    It is a powerful way of NOT thinking. Abandoning reason. Not looking for answers – some red pills are placebos, but you can claim you know the real world.

    1. First,
      The Greek word for “Peter” is the same as the word for “rock,” thus there may be serious wordplay from Chirst using Peter as both a literal and figurative authority for Christ’s teachings. Thus Tolstoy can still be correct in saying Christ never established any institutions.
      Second, Peter was all about avoiding women.
      Third, Christ’s sermon on the mount can be interpreted as giving principles to live by but not hard and fast rules. Do you really think you should cut your eyes out because you lusted after a woman?
      Fourth, People shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Tolstoy, he’s much smarter than he appears. Read him carefully and see if you can justify his position before declaring him null and void because he doesn’t mesh with the catechism.
      Fith, the manosphere is all about improving yourself as a man, in any shape or form possible, and the intellect is no exception… by challenging yourself on difficult topics you become a better man.

      1. If the foundation of the Church and the utilization of Peter was not literal as the passage suggests, Simon’s name wouldn’t have been changed into Peter, a fact easily verifiable in the Bible as well as in the Christian tradition as well as the established leadership of Peter over the rest of the apostles. Leon Tolstoy was an intelligent man, but in this case is wrong. By the way, don’t relate with the Churchians and the bane of Protestantism, a disease in part responsible for the rise of feminism.

      2. Peter was married. His mother-in-law is mentioned once, and Paul mentions his marriage as well.
        His wife simply wasn’t regarded as particularly important to the story.

    2. Fucking Christians… Dionysus. Look him up. The Jesus “story” was lifted directly from him… and he was a myth of a man with a goat’s head… who was lifted from Osiris, an Egyptian God. Your beliefs are useless and ignorant and I’m sick of hearing from you imbeciles who refuse to do even one background check on your beloved story book; which is full of inconsistencies e.g. the 10 Commandments in the first testament aren’t the exact same that are in the second testament. Or how about Jesus’ last words (before he resurrected)… 3 different accounts. You’d think they’d bother to at least get their story straight on that.

      1. Well said. Christianity and other angry sky god religions have made worthwhile contributions to society, but these are far outweighed by the damage they have done. See, for example, the acceptance of pedophiles in Catholicism’s positions of power, the strapping of bombs to children by certain Muslim sects, and the displacement of the Palestinians from their homes by Orthodox Judaism because “God gave it to us once upon a time” (a group sense of entitlement is probably the greatest harm these cults have caused). I am a very spiritual man with a very real love for God, but God and religion are two different things. One is God, and one is unscrupulous powers-that-be defining God for simpletons. Real men don’t live by religion’s laws. They live by their own.

      2. The dionysus I know and love was all about that wine and looked rather human. I don’t think the new testament gives 10 commandments, but if you knew what you were talking about you’d know about the horn veil and how new testament trumps old and all that. I get the fedora rage thing, some shitty stuff is done (wrongly) in the name of the church. You’re projecting your anger at middle aged busy body women onto Christianity though. That’s not too cool brah’

        1. If new testament trumps all them why include is testament at all? Why make us read any of that old shit if it was null and void? Sooner u people wake up and face the fact that there is no gawd the better off our species will be.

      3. Word im so sick if this shit the first ufo I see im hopping on that bitch and getting tge fuck off this planet.

  8. Wow man, cool. I didn’t know. I know that Gandhi has some quote about liking Christianity but not Christians because they don’t act very Christ-like. I think this Tolstoy fella would agree.

  9. I’m glad we’re getting articles like this.
    Tolstoy was a mystic and an idealist. I agree with much of what he says. The problem is that he underestimates the need for structure and organization in religion. At some point, religion has always needed to institutionalize if it wants to codify its beliefs and reach down into the hearts of the common man.
    The average person, harassed on all sides by the pressures of life, needs the comfort of a soothing religious ritual. He needs the certainty of doctrine to give his life meaning. He needs to know that there are comforting rituals out there that can provide a focus for his belief. Organized religion serves this purpose. This is why it has lasted so long, and the reason why simple people will not long listen to atheists. Because they have no answers to life’s questions other than nihilism and despair. The mythology and absurdities of theology are all designed to provide assurance and comfort to the simple people.
    Not everyone can achieve the heights of mystical belief as Tolstoy could.

    1. Yeah you’re right. After I read The Kingdom of God is Within You I’d say I was something of a “christian anarchist” for a few years, but truth is that it is too idealistic and against human nature for it to ever succeed beyond a small commune.

    2. Bravo. This was one of the best comments I’ve read on religion..
      probably because it so precisely distills my own thoughts on the
      subject. I’m an agnostic/atheist but unlike the idiot evangelical
      atheists like Dawkins and his merry band of followers, I am not
      convinced at all that humanity and the world would be better off without
      religion. Nor am I convinced that reason is enough to sustain a moral
      code.. as you said, it requires a transcendental “hook”.. or a belief in
      a God.. to compel human beings to live morally. Most people are not
      good nor bad.. they’re just ok.. certainly most people aren’t sociopaths
      but a civilization requires a moral foundation and a religion to keep
      the worst impulses of humanity at bay and to bring out the best in
      people.. to make them sacrifice or do more good than their ordinary
      human nature might otherwise be satisfied with. And of course, when you
      get to the dregs of humanity… the poor, the weak, the sick, the
      unattractive, the lonely… the wretched mass of humanity.. the
      “losers”… they need God and religion to give their suffering and their
      lives some lives and purpose. Human beings need forgiveness and
      redemption and hope.. and only religion and a belief in the
      transcendent.. in God.. can provide that.

    3. Man, a new religion is not the solution. We need to experiment with new models of social organization in which hierarchical violence is absent.
      “Anarchy is the only slight glimmer of hope”
      -Mick Jagger-
      “I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll but I like it”

      1. Well, I should like to see you construct a “social organization in which hierarchical violence is absent.” There has never been a society in history in which there wasn’t some form of hierarchical violence. The natural inequality of man means that there will always be leaders, and there will always be followers. Stratification is natural.
        Religion is an indispensable tool for the leader, in that it promotes social order. It is one of the glues that holds societies and civilizations together. Religions and civilizations tend to die together. Get rid of one, and you get rid of the other.
        Besides this, man has always had this attraction to the supernatural. Which is why you find even in the earliest cave-paintings an attempt to come to grips with the hidden forces of the universe.
        I am not saying we have to like religions; it’s not a matter of like or dislike. I am just saying that we have to acknowledge their importance in history. I am also saying that we, as individuals, should be wary of setting our own limited knowledge and experience against thousands of years of trial and error in human history. No one man can hope to comprehend the complexity of human institutions, in his own limited lifespan. It would be like a drop of ocean water trying to analyze the ocean. Can’t be done.
        And don’t overestimate the power of reason in human affairs. Reason can prove or disprove whatever our innermost desires and impulses want. Be wary of reason.

        1. Hey man, I like your style. Very different from mine but real. Give you a third thumbs up.

    4. Although I believe you are correct in Man’s need for religions, you forget that the Bible says, “The Truth Will Set You Free.” Perhaps the bible contains the seeds of it’s own destruction.

      1. True enough, Sam. I am not very knowledgeable of the Bible, never having really read it through. I should. It is an important part of Western civilization and any educated man should be at least familiar with the basics of it.
        And I am just smiling to myself here now…at the wonder of it all.
        Here. Us.
        If only the doubters and haters could see us now, here at ROK! Discussing religion, philosophy, and mysticism! Who would have thought!
        And they call us just lightweights!
        They are never going to see us coming….and we’re coming out, guns blazing.

        1. Truth and god are synonymous. If it’s true, then it is god. God = truth. It’s a tautology bro. That’s why the earliest scientists were all Christians, because they believed they were searching for God.

  10. so, he wholly rejected everything Paul said (you know, the guy who wrote half the new testament)
    you know who else rejects Paul?
    Feminists. Because they don’t like the stuff he says about women submitting (and women in general) so they discount him. So, he is right that Christ taught a certain vein of things, and not others… however Christ did address marriage and adultery, which would seem to be an acknowledgement or legitimization of marriage.
    Tolstoy has a point about “churches” and the way they become about money and appearance and are very pharisee-like. You could even make a case that there should be no actual church buldings, no pastor salaries, and any donations would be solely for the purpose of donated in full to whatever thing it is (a missionary, or a piece of money to help an ailing family)
    but to discard marriage wholesale as being outside God’s design, I think, is a flawed or unbalanced perspective. Maybe Tolstoy was a blue-piller who couldn’t handle Paul’s views on women either.

    1. I think focusing on those words completely misses the point of Tolstoy’s beliefs. He was much more concerned with following the Sermon on the Mount than undermining marriage; if he wanted to undermine marriage (I don’t think he did) it was probably just because he hated his shrew of a wife whom he spend several years estranged from.

  11. Current day Christians are in no way followers of Christ’s teachings. Christ was very compassionate and chose to break almost every rule of “the Church” in his day and age. He actually did not seem to be too fond of religion as an institution. Kind of ironic considering what Christianity has become.

    1. Because the Jews added unnecessary laws to what was in place.
      The Jews made it sound like doing anything more than existing on the Sabbath was forbidden. Jesus said you were allowed to do stuff.

    2. No, it’s actually quite the opposite — the pharisees broke every rule, while Christ, as He said, came not to destroy but to fulfill. Many passages of the gospels consist of Christ correcting people’s misconceptions about the Torah.

  12. Why is this becoming an anti-Christian blog? Christians are part of your viewership too.

    1. The article is not “anti-Christian”. It is not. Re-read it. It is describing the beliefs of the mystic Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy, like all mystics in every time and place, distrusted organized religion. Just like the Sufi mystics in Islam. Mysticism is an important part of the spiritual tradition in every civilization. Mystics believe that personal salvation comes more from a direct, personal experience with the Divine, than that offered by following ritual and organized clergy.

  13. The self that is given up in self-renunciation isn’t the bodily (carnal) self. There’s a split in Christianity on this issue. The majority of the doctrine, having adopted plato, teaches of a immortality after death, a new body after death, other (presumably) better worlds, and all around denial of the body. Jesus on the other hand espoused the reconciliation of life and death in this life. Those who have not died and been born again are “sinners living in hell” now (and won’t be born again to flourish in heaven or die in hell in some second life). And what keeps them in hell are the chains that tie them to their fellow man, their family, and their wives – in short, their possessions. The first death is the death of the ego as it exists separate from the body (the second death being the final death). The second birth (the true birth as all things that exist must come in twos) is the birth of a body that no longer sublimates, but exists only and completely within it self (the ressurected body where our senses (and life) become what they were always meant to be). Once this occurs, our possessions are no longer possessed by us because our spirit is confined to the life up the body (as it always was in actuality despite our neurotic phantasies of escaping the body through anality), thus we have ceased to sublimate and no longer finding ourselves in the world – in movies, in art, in men, in women, in external ideals, in groups, citizens of countries etc.

    1. Why so many people comment when they haven´t even read the Bible or basic tradition of the Early Christians. Another one that hasn’t read the Lazarus parable or the way Jesus stressed that we shouldn’t be afraid of those who can kill our body, but from He who can send our souls to hell after death.

  14. Tolstoy would’ve been a feminist mangina today. He knows nothing of scripture…

  15. This is a great post. I disagree with Tolstoy for many of the reasons other commenters have already mentioned, but I really like reading about the church and Christianity as it relates to Game – which is why I like Vox’s Alpha Game Plan blog. I am one of those Christians who have unplugged from church. I began to view it as a business and an enabler of feminism and poor behavior in general.

  16. This may only be one person’s opinion but it unifies a spectrum of related experiences / ideas. My beliefs followed a progression from young ecstatic member of the Universe (like every child when given the chance) to early Roman Catholic believer-in-Chris/Mother Mary/Holy Spirit/God the Father to questioning Catholic (hypocrisy everywhere) to skeptic to atheist. I’d never slept better the day I realized I no longer could believe in the externally imposed idea of God, anyone’s idea of it. That was preceded by weeks of guilt of lightning bolts, fire brimstone or an undefined stay in purgatory before possibly being let back into heaven if I recanted (‘The inquisition, what a show!’). I don’t single out Christianity as many religions have this issue.
    During the end of RC / beginning of atheist I met a Japanese woman who already knew Tolstoy. She was fascinated with him. I honestly don’t remember chapter and verse but this article drew more back to awareness. I’ll admit to not reading the whole thing and to me, it doesn’t matter.
    What can’t be given or taken away is one’s direct experience of being. There is no where else one can meet _____ (God / Jesus / Buddha / Krishna / Gaia …. ) than in this moment. What is real does not exist in thought, but thought is contained within it.
    Following atheism, Buddhism seemed the most logical non-religious path to discover, for myself, what was real and true. It led me to meditation, seemingly farther afield of any organized religion and then into the sphere of the teacher Adyashanti. I was drawn to the unexpected humanness, honesty, and humour. He was / is American. He had beaten himself up (almost literally) trying to find the Truth, meditating like Roosh banged women – relentlessly, constantly, to the exclusion of all else. It was in a moment of realizing the futility of all that drive that his first awakening happened.
    There were more moments of clarity and eventually his teacher asked him to share Truth with others. What I found interesting is how Adyashanti brought the teachings of Christ in with a perspective that never occurred to me. The Christ within, the Buddha within. That only when we externalize the possibility we ARE divinity itself do we need to create idols. That the sages who awaken to their not-a-thing ness KNOW there is no separation between them and you, me, anything, anyone else.
    Christ’s teachings were of Love, Compassion, Honesty, Integrity. These are naturally arising aspects of our real self. Nothing needs be manufactured, suppressed, etc. But because there was no formal structure Christ created, the Church after Christ’s death sought to establish an order. That mean censoring some practices (such as the Gnostic and earth-based traditions) in favor of the ‘higher order.’ We can see the result today.
    Some people have suggested that Jesus was actually a symbol for the magic mushroom, he was a placeholder for this sacrament that gave everyone who ‘drank the body and blood’ the direct experience of revelation. This fungus that occurs naturally on the planet, requires no fermentation, is now practically illegal everywhere yet is an agent for inner transformation when done in a sacred context (as was the case thousands of years ago). The irony isn’t lost on many of us.
    Only you can know God, however, whoever, wherever you conceive that to be or mean. It is up to you, an open-handed invitation. Hindus have the concept of Sanguna brahman and Nirguna Brahman; god with attribute and god beyond attribute. There is no right or wrong, simply aspects of the Infinite.

  17. I think Russian Orthodox Church will never forgive Tolstoy 🙂 In“ Resurrection”, the object of Tolstoy’s criticism is the Byzantine tradition, the elements of tradition which human psyche needs for creating comforting illusions of signs and transcendent symbols. I agree with him on some points and disagree on others. Without the standard of the
    asceticism they express, orthodox(byzantine) rituals and canons remains incomprehensible, or just superficial magic and witchery, as Tolstoi believed. He was excommunicated for that book.

  18. God is the best way to control people, that is all it is. “God told me you need to go and start a war with x…” who can argue, they are going against God…..
    God said women must get married. God said it’s a sin to have sex before marriage. Sure the principals might be there, but it’s nothing to do with God. It’s tribal reproductive sociology, not God that dictates breeding habits, but it’s so much easier to make people stick to the rules if God is watching.
    Sure there is some mystical force running the show, but it doesn’t care about human issues.

  19. ” How could a man at once honor his faith yet hate his church?”
    Tolstoy did not reject the Church ( the Ecclesia- a place of congregation and exchange) , he rejected the transformation of Orthodox Church into an institutional framework as it happened in Western Christianity with Roman Catholic Church, he rejected the Church seen as an institution for the service of pious dispositions and emotional needs (Protestant denominations) , he rejected the transformation of the faith into an ideology, he rejected the hypocrisy of the clerics (the orthodox Church bought Gypsy slaves) , so he rejected the Church slipped from its own ideals. Orthodoxy is the metaphysical search and transformation of existence through the Church and share the truth by building relationship based on love for God and one another, is mystical Christianity.

    1. Tolstoy was right when he suggested that Christ didn’t impose anything, he only enlighten the people. People imposed rules in order to achieve a better life.

  20. ” How could a man at once honor his faith yet hate his church?”
    Tolstoy did not reject the Church ( the Ecclesia- a place of congregation and exchange) , he rejected the transformation of Orthodox Church into an institutional framework as it happened in Western Christianity with Roman Catholic Church, he rejected the Church seen as an institution for the service of pious dispositions and emotional needs (Protestant denominations) , he rejected the transformation of the faith into an ideology, he rejected the hypocrisy of the clerics (the orthodox Church bought Gypsy slaves) , so he rejected the Church slipped from its own ideals. Orthodoxy is the metaphysical search and transformation of existence through the Church and share the truth by building relationship based on love for God and one another, is mystical Christianity.

  21. Tolstoy was called “the mirror of russian revolution” by Lenin. His writings have influenced bolsheviks/marxists – with their ideas to create a sort of materialist heaven on earth with many ideas borrowed from Christ’s teachings, based on human strength and by rejecting God and Lord Jesus Christ. He might have some points about corruption in the church, through power and money (which corrupts anyone from celebrities to politicians), and too much human traditions.
    But it’s a dangerous path of self-righteousness and pride, to consider yourself more true than others (which i did sin by too), and to selectively cut parts from the Bible and experiment it on live people. The results from the soviet state prove it. Past Russian (partially even soviet) culture might seem closer to God and Christ, than the extreme western capitalism with the cult of consumption, but each are only parts of the truth that can only be found in Lord Jesus Christ.
    I urge some of the people around here to read the New Testament, the Gospels, with the teachings of Son of God Jesus Christ; by them it’s easier to understand the results of worldwide decay both in men and women because of sin. Jesus taught good practical actions to undo/slow down this decay – it would better to repent and seek forgiveness from God for all our sins.
    This site’s articles are only the first step to understand something is not right in this world, and the second step is to proper direction (Christ) and actions (His teachings).
    May God lead all those who want to find the truth and the light towards it.

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