Guardian, “Tolstoy’s Christian anarchism was a war on both church and state”

Tolstoy’s Christianity was unusual. He didn’t care for the creeds or doctrines of the church, nor for its supernaturalism, nor for what he saw as the hypocrisy of its self-satisfied practitioners. Nonetheless, as “a theory of life” he believed the Sermon on the Mount could not be bettered. Not only are Christians called to love their enemies, but even more challengingly, to “resist not the evil person”.

He believed non-violence the absolute core of the Gospel, directly influencing Gandhi (with whom he corresponded) and Martin Luther King. And because Tolstoy believed the state to be an intrinsically violent institution, he concluded that the Gospel implies anarchism. Thus it becomes our duty at all times to undermine the moral standing of the state.

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