Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The kingdom of God is within...
 Christianity and patriotism
 Reason and religion
 Patriotism or peace
 Letter to Ernest Howard Crosby
 Introductions to books
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy
Title: The complete works of Count Tolstoy
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094187/00018
 Material Information
Title: The complete works of Count Tolstoy
Uniform Title: Works ( 1904 )
Physical Description: 24 v. : fronts., plates, ports., facsims. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Tolstoy, Leo, 1828-1910
Wiener, Leo, 1862-1939 ( ed. and tr )
Publisher: D. Estes & Co.
Place of Publication: Boston
Publication Date: 1904-05
Edition: Limited ed. Translated from the original Russian and edited by Leo Wiener.
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
festschrift   ( marcgt )
Additional Physical Form: Also issued online.
General Note: Half-title.
General Note: "Édition de luxe, limited to one thousand copies." This set not numbered.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094187
Volume ID: VID00018
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 02116920
lccn - 04024594


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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
        Front Matter 3
        Front Matter 4
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents 1
        Table of Contents 2
    List of Illustrations
        List of Illustrations 1
        List of Illustrations 2
    The kingdom of God is within you
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
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    Christianity and patriotism
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    Reason and religion
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    Patriotism or peace
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    Letter to Ernest Howard Crosby
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    Introductions to books
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Full Text

Chinsegut Hill


LUnmLerrtv of Florida-

-> --





Limited to One Thousand Copies,

of which this is

N o. .....

Copyright, po05

Entered at Stationers' Hall

Colonial Press Electrortpcd and Printed by
C. II. Simonds & Co., Boston, Mass., U. S. A.





THE YELLOW PERIL (p. 477) Frontispiece

Or, Christianity Not as a Mystical Teaching but
as a New Concept of Life



Or, Christianity Not as a Mystical Teaching but
as a New Concept of Life

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make
you free (John viii. 23).
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able
to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to
destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. x. 28).
Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of
men (1. Cor. vii. 23).

IN the year 1884 I wrote a book under the title, My
Religion. In this book I really expounded what my
religion is.
In expounding my belief in Christ's teaching, I could
not help but express the reason why I do not believe in
the ecclesiastic faith, which is generally called Christianity,
and why I consider it to be a delusion.
Among the many deviations of this teaching of Christ,
I pointed out the chief deviation, namely, the failure to
acknowledge the commandment of non-resistance to evil,
which more obviously than any other shows the distortion
of Christ's teaching in the church doctrine.
I knew very little, like the rest of us, as to what had


been done and preached and written in former days on
this subject of non-resistance to evil. I knew what had
been said on this subject by the fathers of the church,
Origen, Tertullian, and others, and I knew also that there
have existed certain so-called sects of the Mennonites,
Herrnhuters, Quakers, who do not admit for a Christian
the use of weapons and who do not enter military service,
but what had been done by these so-called sects for the
solution of this question was quite unknown to me.
My book, as I expected, was held back by the Russian
censor, but, partly in consequence of my reputation as a
writer, partly because it interested people, this book was
disseminated in manuscripts and lithographic reprints in
Russia and in translations abroad, and called forth, on
the one hand, on the part of men who shared my views,
a series of references to works written on the subject,
and, on the other, a series of criticisms on the thoughts
expressed in that book itself.
Both, together with the historical phenomena of recent
times, have made many things clear to me and have
brought me to new deductions and conclusions, which I
wish to express.
First I shall tell of the information which I received
concerning the history of the question of non-resistance
to evil, then of the opinions on this subject which were
expressed by ecclesiastic critics, that is, such as profess
the Christian religion, and also by laymen, that is, such
as do not profess the Christian religion; and finally, those
deductions to which I was brought by both and by the
historical events of recent times.

AMONG the first answers to my book there came some
letters from the American Quakers. In these letters,
which express their sympathy with my views concerning
the unlawfulness for Christianity of all violence and war,
the Quakers informed me of the details of their so-called
sect, which for more than two hundred years has in fact
professed Christ's teaching about non-resistance to evil,
and which has used no arms in order to defend itself.
With their letters, the Quakers sent me their pamphlets,
periodicals, and books. From these periodicals, pamphlets,
and books which they sent me I learned to what extent
they had many years ago incontestably proved the obliga-
tion for a Christian to fulfil the commandment about non-
resistance to evil and had laid bare the incorrectness of
the church teaching, which admitted executions and wars.
Having proved, by a whole series of considerations and
texts, that war, that is, the maiming and killing of men,
is incompatible with a religion which is based on love of
peace and good-will to men, the Quakers affirm and prove
that nothing has so much contributed to the obscuration
of Christ's truth in the eyes of the pagans and impeded
the dissemination of Christianity in the world as the non-
acknowledgment of this commandment by men who
called themselves Christians, as the permission granted
to a Christian to wage war and use violence.
Christ's teaching, which entered into the consciousness
of men, not by means of the sword and of violence," they
say, but by means of non-resistance to evil, can be dis-
seminated in the world only through humility, meekness,
peace, concord, and love among its followers.


"A Christian, according to the teaching of God Him-
self, can be guided in his relations to men by peace only,
and so there cannot be such an authority as would compel
a Christian to act contrary to God's teaching and contrary
to the chief property of a Christian in relation to those
who are near to him.
The rule of state necessity," they say, may compel
those to become untrue to God's law, who for the sake of
worldly advantages try to harmonize what cannot be har-
monized, but for a Christian, who sincerely believes in
this, that the adherence to Christ's teaching gives him
salvation, this rule can have no meaning."
My acquaintance with the activity of the Quakers and
with their writings, with Fox, Paine, and especially with
Dymond's book (1827), -showed me that not only had
the impossibility of uniting Christianity with violence and
war been recognized long ago, but that this incompati-
bility had long ago been proved so clearly and so incon-
testably that one has only to marvel how this impossible
connection of the Christian teaching with violence, which
has been preached all this time by the churches, could
have been continued.
Besides the information received by me from the
Quakers, I, at about the same time, received, again from
America, information in regard to the same subject from
an entirely different source, which had been quite un-
known to me before.
The son of William Lloyd Garrison, the famous cham-
pion for the liberation of the negroes, wrote to me that,
when he read my book, in which he found ideas resem-
bling those expressed by his father in 1838, he, assuming
that it might be interesting for me to know this, sent me
the Declaration of Non-resistance," which his father had
made about fifty years ago.
This declaration had its origin under the following con-
ditions: William Lloyd Garrison, in speaking before a

William Lloyd Gairrison


society for the establishment of peace among men, which
existed in America in 1838, about the measures for abol-
ishing war, came to the conclusion that the establishment
of universal peace could be based only on the obvious rec-
ognition of the commandment of non-resistance to evil
(Matt. v. 39) in all its significance, as this was under-
stood by the Quakers, with whom Garrison stood in
friendly relations. When he came to this conclusion, he
formulated and proposed to the society the following
declaration, which was then, in 1838, signed by many


"We, the undersigned, regard it as due to ourselves, to
the cause which we love, to the country in which we live,
and to the world, to publish a Declaration, expressive of
the principles we cherish, the purposes we aim to accom-
plish, and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward
the work of peaceful and universal reformation.
"We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human
government. We recognize but one King and Law-
giver, one Judge and Ruler of mankind.
"Our country is the world, our countrymen are all
mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we
love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties
of American citizens are no more dear to us than are
those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no
appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or
We conceive, that if a nation has no right to defend
itself against foreign enemies, or to punish its invaders,
no individual possesses that right in his own case. The
unit cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate.
S. But if a rapacious and bloodthirsty soldiery, throng-


ing these shores from abroad, with intent to commit
rapine and destroy life, may not be resisted by the people
or magistracy, then ought no resistance to be offered to
domestic troublers of the public peace, or of private
The dogma, that all the governments of the world are
approvingly ordained of God, and that the powers that be in
the United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance
with His will, is not less absurd than impious. It makes
the impartial Author of human freedom and equality
unequal aud tyrannical. It cannot be affirmed that the
powers that be, in any nation, are actuated by the spirit,
or guided by the example of Christ, in the treatment of
enemies: therefore, they cannot be agreeable to the will
of God: and, therefore, their overthrow, by a spiritual
regeneration of their subjects, is inevitable.
"We register our testimony, not only against all wars,
whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for
war; against every naval ship, every arsenal, every forti-
fication; against the militia system and a standing army;
against all military chieftains and soldiers; against all
monuments commemorative of victory over a foreign foe,
all trophies won in battle, all celebrations in honour of
military or naval exploits against all appropriations for the
defence of a nation by force and arms on the part of any
legislative body; against every edict of government,
requiring of its subjects military service. Hence, we
deem it unlawful to bear arms, or to hold a military office.
"As every human government is upheld by physical
strength, and its laws are enforced virtually at the point
of the bayonet, we cannot hold any office which imposes
upon its incumbent the obligation to do right, on pain of
imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude
ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and
repudiate all human politics, worldly honours, and stations
of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legisla-


ture, or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act
as our substitutes in any such capacity.
It follows that we cannot sue any man at law, to
compel him by force to restore anything which he may
have wrongfully taken from us or others ; but, if he has
seized our coat, we shall surrender up our cloak, rather
than subject him to punishment.
We believe that the penal code of the old covenant,
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, has been
abrogated by Jesus Christ; and that, under the new cov-
enant, the forgiveness, instead of the punishment of
enemies, has been enjoined upon all His disciples, in all
cases whatsoever. To extort money from enemies, or set
them upon a pillory, or cast them into prison, or hang
them upon a gallows, is obviously not to forgive, but to
take retribution.
The history of mankind is crowded with evidences,
proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral
regeneration; that the sinful disposition of man can be
subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated
from the earth only by goodness; that it is not safe to
rely upon an arm of flesh. to preserve us from
harm; that there is great security in being gentle, harm-
less, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy ; that it is only
the meek who shall inherit the earth, for the violent, who
resort to the sword, shall perish with the sword. Hence,
as a measure of sound policy, of safety to property, life,
and liberty, of public quietude, and private enjoyment, as
well as on the ground of allegiance to Him who is King
of kings, and Lord of lords, we cordially adopt the non-
resistance principle; being confident that it provides for
all possible consequences, will ensure all things needful
to us, is armed with omnipotent power, and must ulti-
mately triumph over every assailing foe.
"We advocate no jacobinical doctrines. The spirit of
jacobinism is the spirit of retaliation, violence, and mur-


der. It neither fears God, nor regards man. We would
be filled with the spirit of Christ. If we abide by
our principles, it is impossible for us to be disorderly,
or plot treason, or participate in any evil work: we shall
submit to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake;
obey all the requirements of government, except such as
we deem contrary to the commands of the gospel; and
in no wise resist the operation of law, except by meekly
submitting to the penalty of disobedience.
"But, while we shall adhere to the doctrines of non-
resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose,
in a moral and spiritual sense, to speak and act boldly in
the cause of God; to assail iniquity in high places and
in low places; to apply our principles to all existing
civil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions; and
to hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world
shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He shall reign for ever.
It appears to us as a self-evident truth, that, what-
ever the gospel is designed to destroy, any period of the
world, being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned.
If, then, the time is predicted, when swords shall be
beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks,
and men shall not learn the art of war any more, it
follows that all who manufacture, sell, or wield these
deadly weapons do thus array themselves against the
peaceful dominion of the Son of God on earth.
Having thus briefly, but frankly, stated our principles
and purposes, we proceed to specify the measures we
propose to adopt, in carrying our object into effect.
"We expect to prevail through the foolishness of preach-
ing striving to commend ourselves unto every man's
conscience, in the sight of God. From the press, we shall
promulgate our sentiments as widely as practicable. We
shall endeavour to secure the cooperation of all persons,
of whatever name or sect. .. Hence we shall employ


lectures, circulate tracts and publications, form societies,
and petition our State and national governments in rela-
tion to the subject of universal peace. It will be our
leading object to devise ways and means for effecting a
radical change in the views, feelings, and practices of
society respecting the sinfulness of war, and the treat-
ment of enemies.
In entering upon the great work before us, we are not
unmindful that, in its prosecution, we may be called to
test our sincerity, even as in a fiery ordeal. It may sub-
ject us to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death
itself. We anticipate no small amount of misconception,
misrepresentation, calumny. Tumults may arise against
us. The ungodly and the violent, the proud and pharisa-
ical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and
powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, may
combine to crush us. So they treated the Messiah,
whose example we are humbly striving to imitate.
We shall not be afraid of their terror, neither be
troubled. Our confidence is in the Lord Almighty, not
in man. Having withdrawn from human protection,
what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the
world ? We shall not think it strange concerning the
fiery ordeal which is to try us, as though some strange
thing had happened unto us; but rejoice, inasmuch as we
are partakers of Christ's sufferings. Wherefore, we com-
mit the keeping of our souls to God, in well-doing, as
unto a faithful Creator. 'For every one that forsakes
houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife,
or children, or lands, for Christ's sake, shall receive an
hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.'
Firmly relying upon the certain and universal triumph
of the sentiments contained in this Declaration, however
formidable may be the opposition arrayed against them, in
solemn testimony of our faith in their divine origin, we
hereby affix our signatures to it; commending it to the


reason and conscience of mankind, giving ourselves no anx-
iety as to what may befall us, and resolving, in the strength
of the Lord God, calmly and meekly to abide the issue."

Immediately after this declaration Garrison founded
a society of non-resistance, and a periodical, called The
Non-Resistant, in which was preached the doctrine of
non-resistance in all its significance and with all its con-
sequences, as it had been expressed in the Declaration."
The information as to the later fate of the society and the
periodical of non-resistance I received from the beautiful
biography of William Lloyd Garrison, written by his sons.
The society and the periodical did not exist long: the
majority of Garrison's collaborators in matters of freeing
the slaves, fearing lest the too radical demands, as ex-
pressed in The Non-Resistant, might repel people from
the practical work of the liberation of the negroes, re-
fused to profess the principle of non-resistance, as it had
been expressed in the Declaration," and the society and
the periodical ceased to exist.
This Declaration" by Garrison, which so powerfully
and so beautifully expressed such an important profession
of faith, ought, it seems, to have startled men and to have
become universally known and a subject of wide discus-
sion. But nothing of the kind happened. It is not only
unknown in Europe, but even among the Americans, who
so highly esteem Garrison's memory, this declaration is
almost unknown.
The same ingloriousness has fallen to the share of an-
other champion of non-resistance to evil, the American
Adin Ballou, who lately died, and who preached this doc-
trine for fifty years. How little is known of what refers
to the question of non-resistance may be seen from the
fact that Garrison's son, who has written an excellent
biography of his father in four volumes, this son of Gar-
rison, in reply to my question whether the society of non-


resistance was still in existence, and whether there were
any followers of it, answered me that so far as he knew
the society had fallen to pieces, and there existed no fol-
lowers of this doctrine, whereas at the time of his writing,
there lived in Hopedale, Massachusetts, Adin Ballou, who
had taken part in Garrison's labours and had devoted fifty
years of his life to the oral and printed propaganda of the
doctrine of non-resistance. Later on I received a letter
from Wilson, a disciple and assistant of Ballou, and en-
tered into direct communication with Ballou himself. I
wrote to Ballou, and he answered me and sent me his
writings. Here are a few extracts from them:
Jesus Christ is my Lord and Master," says Ballou in
one of the articles,' in which he arraigns the inconsistency
of the Christians who recognize the right of defence and
war. "I have covenanted to forsake all and follow Him,
through good and evil report, until death. But I am
nevertheless a Democratic-Republican citizen of the
United States, implicitly sworn to bear true allegiance to
my country, and to support its Constitution, if need be,
with my life. Jesus Christ requires me to do unto others
as I would that others should do unto me. The Consti-
tution of the United States requires me to do unto
twenty-seven hundred slaves" (there were slaves then,
now we may put the working people in their place) the
very contrary of what I would have them do unto me,
viz., assist to keep them in a grievous bondage. But
I am quite easy. I vote on. I help govern on. I am
willing to hold any office I may be elected to under the
Constitution. And I am still a Christian. I profess on.
I find no difficulty in keeping covenant both with Christ
and the Constitution..
"Jesus Christ forbids me to resist evil-doers by taking
Seye for eye, tooth for tooth, blood for blood, and life for
'In The Non-Resistant, Vol. i., No. 4, Hopedale, Milford, Mass.,
Feb. 16, 1845.


life.' My government requires the very reverse, and de-
pends, for its own self-preservation, on the halter, the
musket, and the sword, seasonably employed against its
domestic and foreign enemies. Accordingly, the land is
well furnished with gibbets, prisons, arsenals, train-bands,
soldiers, and ships-of-war. In the maintenance and use
of this expensive life-destroying apparatus, we can exem-
plify the virtues of forgiving our injurers, loving our ene-
mies, blessing them that curse us, and doing good to those
that hate us. For this reason, we have regular Christian
chaplains to pray for us, and call down the sins of God
on our holy murderers.
I see it all; and yet I insist that I am as good a
Christian as ever. I fellowship all; I vote on; I help
govern on; I profess on; and I glory in being at once
a devoted Christian, and a no less devoted adherent to the
existing government. I will not give in to those miser-
able non-resistant notions. I will not throw away my
political influence, and leave unprincipled men to carry
on government alone.
The Constitution says, Congress shall have power to
declare war.' I agree to this. I endorse it. I swear
to help carry it through. What then, am I less a
Christian ? Is not war a Christian service? Is it not
perfectly Christian to murder hundreds of thousands of
fellow human beings; to ravish defenceless females, sack
and burn cities, and exact all the other cruelties of war?
Out upon these new-fangled scruples! This is the very
way to forgive injuries, and love our enemies! If we
only do it all in true love, nothing can be more Christian
than wholesale murder !"
In another pamphlet, under the title, How Many Does
It Take 71 he says, "How many does it take to meta-
morphose wickedness into righteousness ? One man must
SNot a pamphlet, but an article in The Non-Resistant, Vol.
No. 4, and very imperfectly quoted by Tolstdy.


not kill. If he does, it is murder. Two, ten, one hun-
dred men, acting on their own responsibility, must not
kill. If they do, it is still murder. But a state or nation
may kill as many as they please, and it is no murder. It
is just, necessary, commendable, and right. Only get
people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads
of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many
men does it take? This is the question. Just so with
theft, robbery, burglary, and all other crimes. But a
whole nation can commit it. But how many does it
take ?" 1
Here is Ballou's catechism, composed for his flock (The
Catechism of Non-Resistance 2):
Q. Whence originated the term non-resistance ?"
A. From the injunction, "Resist not evil," Matt. v.
Q. What does the term signify ?
A. It expresses a high Christian virtue, prescribed by
Q. Is the word resistance to be taken in its widest
meaning, that is, as showing that no resistance whatever
is to be shown to evil ?
A. No, it is to be taken in the strict sense of the
Saviour's injunction; that is, we are not to retaliate evil
with evil. Evil is to be resisted by all just means, but
never with evil.
Q. From what can we see that Christ in such cases
prescribed non-resistance ?
A. From the words which He then used. He said,
1 To this Tolst6y adds, on his own responsibility : "Why must
one, ten, one hundred men not violate God's law, while very many
may ? "
2Translated freely, with some omissions. -Author's Note. I
fail to find this Catechism in any of Ballou's writings accessible in
and about Boston. The nearest approach to these questions and
answers is found scattered throughout his Christian Non-Pesistance,
in Its Important Bearings, Illustrated and Defended, Philadelphia,


" Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an
eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you that
ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy
right check, turn to him the other also. And if any man
will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him
have thy cloak also."
Q. To whom does Jesus refer in the words, It has been
said ?"
A. To the patriarchs and prophets, to what they said,-
to what is contained in the writings of the Old Testa-
ment, which the Jews generally call the Law and the
Q. What injunctions did Christ mean by It hath been
said ?"
A. Those injunctions by which Noah, Moses, and
other prophets authorize men to inflict personal injury
on injurers, in order to punish and destroy evil.
Q. Quote these precepts.
A. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his
blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man
(Gen. ix. 6). He that smiteth a man, so that he die,
shall be surely put to death, and if any mischief follow,
then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for
tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning,
wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Ex. xxi. 12, 23-25).
And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to
death. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour;
as he hath done, so shall it be done to him: breach for
breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a
blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again (Lev.
xxiv. 17, 19, 20).
And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and,
behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testi-
fied falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto
him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother:
and thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life,


eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot
(Deut. xix. 18, 19, 21). These are the precepts of which
Jesus is speaking.
Noah, Moses, and the prophets taught that he who kills,
maims, and tortures his neighbours does evil. To resist
such evil and destroy it, the doer of evil is to be punished
by death or maiming or some personal injury. Insult is to
be opposed to insult, murder to murder, torture to torture,
evil to evil. Thus taught Noah, Moses, and the proph-
ets. But Christ denies it all. "But I say unto you,"
it says in the Gospel, that ye resist not evil, resist not an
insult with an insult, but rather bear the repeated insult
from the doer of evil." What was authorized is pro-
hibited. If we understand what kind of resistance they
taught, we clearly see what we are taught by Christ's non-
Q. Did the ancients authorize the resistance of insult
with insult?
A. Yes; but Jesus prohibited this. A Christian has
under no condition the right to deprive of life or to sub-
ject to insult him who does evil to his neighbour.
Q. May a man kill or maim another in self-defence?
A. No.
Q. May he enter a court with a complaint, to have his
insulter punished ?
A. No; for what he is doing through others, he is in
reality doing in his own person.
Q. May he fight with an army against enemies, or
against domestic rebels ?
A. Of course not. He cannot take any part in war or
warlike preparations. He cannot use death-dealing arms.
He cannot resist injury with injury, no matter whether
he be alone or with others, through himself or through
Q. May he choose or fit out military men for the
government ?


A. HIe can do nothing of the kind, if he wishes to be
true to Christ's law.
Q. May he voluntarily give money, to aid the govern-
ment, which is supported by military forces, capital pun-
ishment, and violence in general ?
A. No, if the money is not intended for some special
object, just in itself, where the aim and means are
Q. May he pay taxes to such a government ?
A. No; he must not voluntarily pay the taxes, but he
must also not resist their collection. The taxes imposed
by the government are collected independently of the will
of the subjects. It is impossible to resist the collection,
without having recourse to violence; but a Christian must
not use violence, and so he must give up his property to
the violence which is exerted by the powers.
Q. May a Christian vote at elections and take part in a
court or in the government ?
A. No; the participation in elections, in the court, or
in the government, is a participation in governmental vio-
Q. In what does the chief significance of the doctrine
of non-resistance consist ?
A. In that it alone makes it possible to tear the evil
out by the root, both out of one's own heart and out of
the neighbour's heart. This doctrine forbids doing that
by which evil is perpetuated and multiplied. He who
attacks another and insults him, engenders in another the
sentiment of hatred, the root of all evil. To offend another,
because he offended us, for the specious reason of removing
an evil, means to repeat an evil deed, both against him
and against ourselves, to beget, or at least to free, to
encourage, the very demon whom we claim we wish
to expel. Satan cannot be driven out by Satan, untruth
cannot be cleansed by untruth, and evil cannot be van-
quished by evil.


True non-resistance is the one true resistance to evil.
It kills and finally destroys the evil sentiment.
Q. But, if the idea of the doctrine is right, is it practi-
cable ?
A. It is as practicable as any good prescribed by the
Law of God. The good cannot under all circumstances
be executed without self-renunciation, privation, suffering,
and, in extreme cases, without the loss of life itself. But
he who values life more than the fulfilment of God's will
is already dead to the one true life. Such a man, in trying
to save his life, shall lose it. Besides, in general, where
non-resistance costs the sacrifice of one life, or the sacrifice
of some essential good of life, resistance costs thousands of
such sacrifices.
Non-resistance preserves, resistance destroys.
It is incomparably safer to act justly than unjustly; to
bear an insult than to resist it with violence, it is safer
even in relation to the present life. If all men did not
resist evil with evil, the world would be blessed.
Q. But if only a few shall act thus, what will become
of them ?
A. If only one man acted thus, and all the others agreed
to crucify him, would it not be more glorious for him to
die in the triumph of non-resisting love, praying for his
enemies, than to live wearing the crown of Ctesar, be-
spattered with the blood of the slain? But one or thou-
sands who have firmly determined not to resist evil with
evil, whether among the enlightened or among savage
neighbours, are much safer from violence than those who
rely on violence. A robber, murderer, deceiver, will more
quickly leave them alone than those who resist with
weapons. They who take the sword perish with the
sword, and those who seek peace, who act in a friendly
manner, inoffensively, who forget and forgive offences, for
the most part enjoy peace or, if they die, die blessed.
Thus, if all kept the commandment of non-resistance, it


is evident that there would be no offences, no evil deeds.
If these formed a majority, they would establish the reign
of love and good-will, even toward the ill-disposed, by never
resisting evil with evil, never using violence. If there were
a considerable minority of these, they would have such a
corrective, moral effect upon society that every cruel pun-
ishment would be abolished, and violence and enmity would
be changed to peace and love. If there were but a small
minority of them, they would rarely experience anything
worse than the contempt of the world, and the world would
in the meantime, without noticing it, and without feeling
itself under obligation, become wiser and better from this
secret influence. And if, in the very worst case, a few
members of the minority should be persecuted to death,
these men, dying for the truth, would leave behind them
their teaching, which is already sanctified by their martyr's
Peace be with all who seek peace, and all-conquering
love be the imperishable inheritance of every soul, which
voluntarily submits to the Law of Christ: Resist not
evil." In the course of fifty years, Ballou wrote and
edited books dealing mainly with the question of non-
resistance to evil. In these works, which are beautiful
in their lucidity of thought and elegance of expression,
the question is discussed from every possible side. He
establishes the obligatoriness of this commandment for
every Christian who professes the Bible as a divine reve-
lation. He adduces all the customary retorts to the com-
mandment of non-resistance, both from the Old Testament
and from the New, as, for example, the expulsion from the
temple, and so forth, and all these are overthrown; he
shows, independently of Scripture, the practical wisdom
of this rule, and adduces all the objections which are
usually made to it, and meets all these objections. Thus
one chapter of a work of his treats of non-resistance to
evil in exclusive cases, and here he acknowledges that,


if there were cases when the application of non-resistance
to evil were impossible, this would prove that the rule is
altogether untenable. In adducing these special cases, he
proves that it is precisely in them that the application of
this rule is necessary and rational. There is not a single
side of the question, either for his followers or for his
adversaries, which is not investigated in these works. I
say all this, in order to show the unquestionable interest
which such works ought to have for men who profess
Christianity, and that, therefore, one would think Ballou's
activity ought to have been known, and the thoughts ex-
pressed by him .ought to have been accepted or refuted;
but there has beeu nothing of the kind.
The activity of Garrison the father, with his foundation
of a society of non-resistants and his declaration, convinced
me even more than my relations with the Quakers, that
the departure of state Christianity from Christ's law about
non-resistance to evil is something that has been observed
and pointed out long ago, and that men have without cessa-
tion worked to arraign it. Ballou's activity still more con-
firmed this fact to me. But the fate of Garrison and
especially of Ballou, who is not known to any one, in
spite of his fifty years of stubborn and constant work
in one and the same direction, has also confirmed to me
the other fact, that there exists some kind of unexpressed
but firm understanding as to passing all such attempts in
Ballou died in August, 1890, and his obituary was
given in an American periodical with a Christian tendency
(Religio-Philosophical Journal, August 23d).
In this eulogistic obituary it says that Ballou was a
spiritual guide of a community, that he delivered between
eight and nine thousand sermons, married one thousand
pairs, and wrote about five hundred articles, but not a
word is said about the aim to which he devoted all his
life, the word non-resistance" is not even used.


Like all that which the Quakers have been preaching
for two hundred years, like the activity of Garrison the
father, the foundation of his society and periodical, and
his declaration, so Ballou's whole activity does not seem
to have existed at all.
A striking example of such an ingloriousness of writings
intended to elucidate non-resistance to evil, and to arraign
those who do not recognize this commandment, is found
in the fate of the book by the Bohemian Chelcicky, which
has but lately become known and has so far not yet been
Soon after the publication of my book in German, I
received a letter from a professor of the Prague University,
which informed me of the existence of a still unpublished
work by the Bohemian Chelcicky, of the fifteenth century,
by the name of The Drawnet of Faith. In this work, as
the professor wrote me, Chelcicky about four centuries
ago expressed the same view in regard to the true and
the false Christianity, which I had expressed in my work,
MAy Religion. The professor wrote to me that Chelcickf's
work was for the first time to be published in Bohemian
in the periodical of the St. Petersburg Academy of
Sciences. As I was unable to procure the work itself,
I tried to become acquainted with what was known of
Chelcicky, and such information I got from a German
book sent me by the same Prague professor, and from
PIpin's History of Bohemian Literature." This is what
Pypin says:
The Drawnet of Faith is that teaching of Christ which
is to draw man out from the dark depths of the sea of
life and its untruths. True faith consists in believing
in God's words; but now there has come a time when
men consider the true faith to be heresy, and so reason
must show wherein the true faith consists, if one does
not know it. Darkness has concealed it from men, and
they do not know Christ's true law.


"To explain this law, Chelcicky points out the original
structure of Christian society, which, he says, is now
regarded as rank heresy by the Roman Church.
This primitive church was his own ideal of a social
structure, based on equality, freedom, and brotherhood.
Christianity, according to Chelcicky, still treasures these
principles, and all that is necessary is, that society should
return to its pure teaching, and then any other order, in
which kings and popes are needed, would seem super-
fluous: in everything the law of love alone is sufficient.
Historically Chelcicky refers the fall of Christianity
to the times of Constantine the Great, whom Pope Sylvester
introduced into Christianity with all the pagan customs
and life. Constantine, in his turn, invested the Pope with
worldly wealth and power. Since then both powers have
been aiding one another and have striven after external
glory. Doctors and masters and the clergy have begun
to care only for the subjugation of the whole world to
their dominion, have armed men against one another for
the purpose of murdering- and plundering, and have com-
pletely destroyed Christianity in faith and in life. Chel-
cicky absolutely denies the right to wage war and admin-
ister capital punishment; every warrior and even knight'
is only an oppressor, malefactor, and murderer."
The same, except for some biographical details and
excerpts from Chelcicky's correspondence, is said in the
German book.
Having thus learned the essence of Chelcicky's teaching,
I with much greater impatience waited for the appearance
of The Drawnet of Faith in the journal of the Academy.
But a year, two, three years passed, and the book did
not appear. Only in 1888 I learned that the printing
of the book, which had been begun, had come to a stop.
I got the proof-sheets of as much as had been printed, and
I read the book. The book is in every respect remarkable.
The contents are quite correctly rendered by Pypin.


Chelcickf's fundamental idea is this, that Christianity,
having united with the power in the time of Constantine
and having continued to develop under these conditions,
has become absolutely corrupt and has ceased to be Chris-
tianity. The title The Drawnet of Faith," was given by
Chelcicky to his work, because, taking for his motto the
verse of the Gospel about calling the disciples to become
fishers of men, Chelcicky, continuing this comparison,
says, "Christ by means of His disciples caught in His
drawnet of faith the whole world, but the larger fish,
tearing the net, jumped out of it, and through the holes,
which these larger fish had made, all the others went
away, and the net was left almost empty."
The large fish that broke through the net are the rulers,
emperors, popes, kings, who, in not renouncing their power,
did not accept Christianity, but its semblance only.
Chelcicky taught what has been taught until the present
by the Mennonites and Quakers, and what in former
years was taught by the Bogomils, Paulicians, and many
others. He teaches that Christianity, which demands
from its followers meekness, humility, kindness, forgive-
ness of sins, the offering of the other cheek when one
cheek has been smitten, love of enemies, is incompatible
with violence, which forms an indispensable condition of
A Christian, according to Chelcicky's interpretation,
can not only not be a chief or a soldier, but cannot even
take part in the government, be a merchant or even a
landowner; he can be only an artisan or an agriculturist.
This book is one of the extremely few that have sur-
vived the auto-da-fes of books in which the official Chris-
tianity is arraigned. All such books, which are called
heretical, have been burned together with the authors, so
that there are very few ancient works which arraign the
departure of official Christianity, and so this book is
especially interesting.


But besides being interesting, no matter how we look
upon it, this book is one of the most remarkable produc-
tions of thoughts, as judged by the depth of its contents,
and the wonderful force and beauty of the popular lan-
guage, and its antiquity. And yet this book has for more
than four centuries remained unprinted, and continues to
be unknown, except to learned specialists.
One would think that all these kinds of works, by the
Quakers, and Garrison, and Ballou, and Chelcicky, which
assert and prove, on the basis of the Gospel, that our
world comprehends Christ's teaching falsely, ought to
rouse interest, agitation, discussions, in the midst of the
pastors and of the flock.
Works of this kind, which touch on the essence of the
Christian teaching, ought, it seems, to be analyzed and
recognized as true, or to be rejected and overthrown.
But nothing of the kind has happened. One and the
same thing is repeated with all these works. People of
the most different views, both those who believe and,
what is most surprising, those who are unbelieving
liberals, seem to have an agreement to pass them stub-
bornly in silence, and all that has been done by men to
elucidate the true meaning of Christ's teaching remains
unknown or forgotten.
But still more startling is the ingloriousness of two
works, of which I learned also in connection with the
appearance of my book. These are Dymond's book On
War, published for the first time in London, in 1824,
and Daniel Musser's book On Non-Resistance, written in
1864. The ignorance about these two books is particu-
larly remarkable, because, to say nothing of their worth,
both books treat not so much of the theory as of the
practical application of the theory to life, of the relation
of Christianity to military service, which is particularly
important and interesting now, in connection with the
universal liability to do military service.


People will, perhaps, ask: What are the duties of a
subject, who believes that war is incompatible with his
religion, but of whom the government demands a partici-
pation in military service ?"
It seems that this is a very living question, one, the
answer to which is particularly important in connection
with the military service of the present time. All, or
a vast majority of men, Christians,- all males, are
called on to perform military service. What must a
man, as a Christian, answer in reply to this demand?
Dymond's answer is as follows:
It is his duty, mildly and temperately, yet firmly, to
refuse to serve.
There are some persons, who, without any determin-
ate process of reasoning, appear to conclude that responsi-
bility for national measures attaches solely to those who
direct them; that it is the business of governments to
consider what is good for the community, and that, in
these cases, the duty of the subject is merged in the will
of the sovereign. Considerations like these are, I believe,
often voluntarily permitted to become opiates of the con-
science. 'I have no part,' it is said, in the councils of
the government, and am not therefore responsible for its
crimes.' We are, indeed, not responsible for the crimes
of our rulers, buit we are responsible for our own; and the
crimes of ;our rulers are our own, if, whilst we believe
them to be crimes, we promote them by our coopera-
But those who suppose that obedience in all things is
required, or that responsibility in political affairs is trans-
ferred from the subject to the sovereign, reduce themselves
to a great dilemma.
"It is to say that we must resign our conduct and our
consciences to the will of others, and act wickedly or well,
as their good or evil may preponderate, without merit for
virtue, or responsibility for crime."


What is remarkable is this, that precisely the same is
expressed in the instruction to the soldiers, which they
are made to learn by rote: it says there that only the
general is responsible for the consequences of his com-
mand. But this is not true. A man cannot shift the
responsibility for his acts. And this may be seen from
what follows:
If the government direct you to fire your neighbour's
property, or to throw him over a precipice, will you
obey ? If you will not, there is an end of the argument,
for if you may reject its authority in one instance, where
is the limit to rejection ? There is no rational limit but
that which is assigned by Christianity, and that is both
rational and practicable.
"We think, then, that it is the business of every man,
who believes that war is inconsistent with our religion,
respectfully, but steadfastly, to refuse to engage in it.
Let such as these remember that an honourable and an
awful duty is laid upon them. It is upon their fidelity,
so far as human agency is concerned, that the cause of
peace is suspended. Let them be willing to avow their
opinions and to defend them. Neither let them be con-
tented with words, if more than words, if suffering also,
is required. If you believe that Jesus Christ has pro-
hibited slaughter, let not the opinion or the commands of
a world induce you to join in it. By this 'steady and
determinate pursuit of virtue,' the benediction which
attaches to those who hear the sayings of God and do
them, will rest upon you, and the time will come when
even the world will honour you, as contributors to the
work of human reformation."
Musser's book is called Non-Resistance Asserted; or,

1 Tolst6y's translation from the English, which is generally loose,
here departs entirely from the text. Tolst6y writes If a chief
direct you to kill your neighbour's child, or your father, or your
mother, will you obey ?"


Kingdom of Christ and Kingdom of This World Sepa-
rated, 1864.1
The book is devoted to the same question, which it
analyzes in relation with the demand made by the gov-
ernment of the United States on its citizens as regards
military service during that Civil War, and it has the
same contemporary importance, in that it analyzes the
question as to how and under what conditions men must
and can refuse to do military service. In the introduc-
tion the author says:
It is well known that in the United States there are
many people who consciously deny war. They are called
'non-resistant' or defencelesss' Christians. These Chris-
tians refuse to defend their country or to bear arms, or to
engage, at the request of the government, in war against
its enemies. Until now this religious cause has been
respected by the government, and those who professed it
were excused from service. But with the beginning of
our civil war public opinion has been wrought up by this
state of affairs. Naturally, people who consider it their
duty to bear all the burdens and perils of a military life
for the defence of their country feel harsh toward those
who for a long time have with them enjoyed the protec-
tion and the advantages of the government, but in time
of necessity and danger do not wish to share in bearing
the labours and dangers in its defence. It is also natural
for the condition of such men to be considered irrational,
monstrous, and suspicious.
Many orators and writers," says the author, have
raised their voice against this state and have tried to
prove the injustice of non-resistance from common sense
and from Scripture; and this is quite natural, and in

SA thorough search through bibliographies, catalogues, and libra-
ries has failed to reveal such a book or such an author, and as Tol-
st6y speaks above of the book as being written, it may be that Tolst6y
had a manuscript before him.


many cases these authors are right,- they are right in
relation to those persons who, declining the labours con-
nected with military service, do not decline the advan-
tages which they receive from the governments, but
they are not right in relation to the principle of non-
resistance itself."
First of all the author proves the obligatoriness of the
rule of non-resistance for every Christian in that it is
clear and that it is given to a Christian beyond any possi-
bility of misinterpretation. "Judge yourselves whether
it is right to obey man more than God," said Peter and
John. Similarly every man who wants to be a Christian
must act in relation to the demand that he should go to
war, since Christ has told him, "Resist not evil with
With this the author considers the question as to prin-
ciple itself completely solved. The author analyzes in
detail the other question as to whether persons, who do
not decline the advantages which are obtained through
the violence of government, have a right to refuse to do
military service, and comes to the conclusion that a
Christian, who follows Christ's law and refuses to go to
war, can just as little take part in any governmental
affairs, either in courts or in elections, nor can he
in private matters have recourse to power, police or court.
Then the book proceeds to analyze the relation of the
Old Testament to the New, the significance of gov-
ernment for non-Christians; there are offered objections
to the doctrine of non-resistance, and these are refuted.
The author concludes his book with the following:
Christ chose His disciples in the world," he says.
"They do not expect any worldly goods or worldly hap-
piness, but, on the contrary, everlasting life. The spirit
in which they live makes them satisfied and happy in
every situation. If the world tolerates them, they are
always satisfied. But if the world will not leave them


in peace, they will go elsewhere, since they are wan-
derers on the earth and have no definite place of abode.
They consider that the dead can bury the dead, -they
need but one thing, and that is to follow their teacher."
Without touching the question whether the duty of
a Christian in relation to war, as established in these two
books, is correct or not, it is impossible not to see the
practical importance and urgency of the solution of this
There are some people, -hundreds of thousands of
Quakers,- and all our Spirit Wrestlers and Milkers, and
people belonging to no definite sects, who assert that vio-
lence and so military service is not compatible with
Christianity, and therefore every year several recruits in
Russia refuse to do military service on the basis of their
religious convictions. What does the government do?
Does it excuse them ? No. Does it compel them to
serve, and, in case of a refusal, punish them? No. In
1818 the government acted as follows. Here is an ex-
cerpt, which is almost unknown in Russia, from a diary
by N. N. Muravdv-Kdrski, which was not sanctioned by
the censor.
"TIFLIS, October 2, 1818.
"In the morning the commandant told me that lately
five manorial peasants from the Government of Tambov
had been sent to Georgia. These men had been sent to
the army, but they refused to serve; they have been
flogged several times and have been sent between the
rows, but they gladly undergo the most cruel torments
and are prepared for death, if only they can avoid serving.
' Send us away,' they say,' and do not touch us; we shall
not touch any one. All men are equal and the Tsar is
just such a man as we are. Why should we pay him
tribute ? Why should I subject my life to danger in order
to kill in war a man who has done me no wrong? You
may cut us into small pieces, but we will not change our


ideas, we will not put on the military cloak, and will not
eat rations. He who will pity us will give us an alms,
but we have nothing belonging to the Crown and we
want nothing.' Such are the words of these peasants,
who assert that there is a large number like them in
Russia. They have four times been taken before the
Committee of Ministers, and it was finally decided to
refer the matter to the Tsar, who commanded that they
be sent to Georgia to mend their ways, and ordered the
commander-in-chief to report to him every month con-
cerning the gradual success in turning these peasants to
the proper ideas."

It is not known how this improvement ended, just as
nothing is known of the whole episode, which was kept a
profound secret.
Thus the government acted seventy-five years ago, -
thus it has acted in the vast majority of cases, which are
always cautiously concealed from the people. Thus it
acts even at present, except in relation to the German
Mennonites, who live in the Government of Khers6n, for
their refusal to do military service is heeded and they
are made to serve their time in connection with forestry
In the late cases of refusal to do military service in
consequence of religious convictions, other than those of
the Mennonites, the authorities have acted as follows:
At first they use all means of violence employed in our
time for the purpose of mending" them and bringing
them back to the proper ideas," and the whole matter
is kept a profound secret. I know that in the case of
one man in Moscow, who in 1884 refused to serve, they
wrote up voluminous documents two months after his
refusal, and these were kept in the ministry as the great-
est secret.
They generally begin by sending the one who refuses


to the priests, who, to their shame be it said, always
admonish the person refusing. But since the admoni-
tion, in the name of Christ, to renounce Christ is gener-
ally fruitless, the refusing person is after the admonition
by the clergy sent to the gendarmes. The gendarmes,
finding nothing of a political nature in the case, generally
return him, and then the refusing person is sent to the
learned, to the physicians, and into the insane asylum.
In all these recommitments the refuser, who is deprived
of his liberty, undergoes all kinds of humiliations and
sufferings, like a condemned criminal. (This was re-
peated in four cases.) The physicians dismiss the refuser
from the insane asylum, and then begin all kinds of
secret, cunning measures, in order not to dismiss the
refuser and thus encourage others to refuse like him, and
at the same time not to leave him amidst the soldiers,
lest the soldiers might find out from him that the levy
for military service does not at all take place in accord-
ance with God's law, as they are assured, but contrary
to it.
The most convenient thing for the government to do
would be to have the refuser executed, beaten to death
with sticks, as they used to do of old, or executed in
some other manner. But it is impossible openly to exe-
cute a man for being true to a teaching which we all
profess, and it is equally impossible to let a man alone,
who refuses to serve. And so the government tries either
through suffering to compel the man to renounce Christ,
or in some way imperceptibly to get rid of the man, with-
out having him publicly executed,- in some way to
conceal this man's act and the man himself from other
people. And so there begin all kinds of devices and cun-
ning and tortures of this man. Either he is sent to some
outlying region, or he is provoked to commit some act of
insubordination, and then he is tried for breach of dis-
cipline and is locked up in prison, in a disciplinary battal-


ion, where he is freely tortured in secret, or he is declared
insane and is locked up in an insane asylum. Thus one
man was sent to Tashkent, that is, as though he were
transferred to the Tashkent army, another to Omsk, a
third was tried for insubordination and sent to prison,
and a fourth was put into a lunatic asylum.
Everywhere the same is repeated. Not only the gov-
ernment, but also the majority of liberals, of freethinkers,
as though by agreement, carefully turn away from every-
thing which has been said, written, and done by men to
show the incompatibility of violence in its most terrible,
rude, and lurid form, in the form of militarism, that is,
the readiness to kill anybody, with the teaching, not only
of Christianity, but even of humanitarianism, which
society pretends to be professing.
Thus the information which I received concerning the
extent to which the true significance of Christ's teaching
has been elucidated and is being elucidated more and
more, and concerning the attitude which the highest
ruling classes, not only in Russia, but also in Europe and
in America, take toward this elucidation and execution of
the teaching, convinced me that in these ruling classes
there existed a consciously hostile relation toward true
Christianity, which found its expression mainly in the
silence observed concerning all its manifestations.

THE same impression of a desire to conceal, to pass in
silence, what I attempted so carefully to express in my
book, has been produced on me by the criticisms upon it.
When my book appeared, it was, as I had expected,
prohibited, and according to the law it ought to have been
burned. But, instead of being burned, it was distributed
among the officials, and it was disseminated in a large
number of written copies and lithographic reprints, and
in translations printed abroad. Very soon there appeared
criticisms upon the book, not only by the clergy, but also
by the laity, which the government not only sanctioned,
but even encouraged, so that the refutation of the book,
which was assumed to be unknown to any one, was made
a theme for theological essays in the academics.
The critics upon my books, both the Russian and the
foreign critics, can be divided into two classes: into the
religious critics, people who consider themselves to be
believers, -and lay critics, who are freethinkers.
I shall begin with the first:
In my book I accuse the church teachers of teaching
contrary to Christ's commandments, which are clearly
and definitely expressed in the Sermon on the Mount,
and especially contrary to the commandment about non-
resistance to evil, thus depriving Christ's teaching of all
significance. The church teachers recognize the Sermon
on the Mount with the commandment about non-resist-
ance to evil as a divine revelation, and so, if they have
found it necessary to write about my book at all, they
ought, it would seem, first of all to answer this chief


point of accusation and say outright whether they con-
sider the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and of
the commandment about non-resistance to evil obligatory
for a Christian, or not,- and they must not answer it
as this is generally done, that is, by saying that, although
on the one hand it cannot properly be denied, on the
other it cannot be affirmed, the more so that, and so forth,
- but must answer it just as the question is put by me in
my book: did Christ actually demand from His disciples
the fulfilment of what He taught in the Sermon on the
Mount ? and so, can a Christian, remaining a Christian,
go to court, taking part in it and condemning people, or
seeking in it defence by means of violence, or can he not ?
Can a Christian, still remaining a Christian, take part in
the government, using violence against his neighbours, or
not ? And the chief question, which now, with the uni-
versal military service, stands before all men,- can a
Christian, remaining a Christian, contrary to Christ's in-
junction, make any promises as to future acts, which are
directly contrary to the teaching, and, taking part in mili-
tary service, prepare himself for the murder of men and
commit it?
The questions are put clearly and frankly, and, it would
seem, they ought to be answered clearly and frankly.
But nothing of the kind has been done in all the crit-
icisms upon my book, just as nothing of the kind has
been done in the case of all those arraignments of the
church teachers for departing from Christ's law, with
which history is filled since the time of Constantine.
Very much has been said in reference to my book
about how incorrectly I interpret this or that passage in
the Gospel, how I err in not acknowledging the Trinity,
the redemption, and the immortality of the soul; very
much has been said, but this one thing, which for every
Christian forms the chief, essential question of life: how
to harmonize what was clearly expressed in the teacher's


words and is clearly expressed in the heart of every one
of us, the teaching about forgiveness, humility, renunci-
ation, and love of all men, of our neighbours and of
our enemies, with the demand of military violence
exerted against the men of one's own nation or another
Everything which may be called semblances of answers
to this question may be reduced to the five following
divisions. I have tried in this respect to collect every-
thing I could, not only in reference to the criticisms upon
my book, but also in reference to what has been writ-
ten upon the subject in former times.
The first, the rudest way of answering, consists in the
bold assertion that violence does not contradict Christ's
teaching, and that it is permitted and even prescribed by
the Old and the New Testament.
Assertions of this kind issue for the most part from
people high up in thq governmental or ecclesiastic hier-
archy, who are, therefore, quite convinced that no one will
dare to contradict their assertions, and that if one actually
dared to do so, they would not hear these objections.
These men have, in consequence of their intoxication with
their power, for the most part to such an extent lost the
concept of what that Christianity is, in the name of which
they occupy their places, that everything of a Christian
nature in Christianity presents itself to them as sectarian;
but everything which in the writings of the Old and the
New Testament may be interpreted in an anti-Christian
and pagan sense, they consider to be the foundation of
Christianity. In favour of their assertion that Christi-
anity does not contradict violence, these men with the
greatest boldness generally bring forward the most offen-
sive passages from the Old and the New Testament, and
interpret them in the most non-Christian manner: the
execution of Ananias and Sapphira, the execution of
Simon Magus, and so forth. They adduce all those


words of Christ which may be interpreted as a justifica-
tion of cruelty, such as the expulsion from the temple,
" It shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom, than
for that city," and so forth.
According to the concepts of these men, the Christian
government is not in the least obliged to be guided by the
spirit of humility, forgiveness of offences, and love of our
It is useless to refute such an assertion, because the
men who assert this refute themselves, or rather, turn
away from Christ, inventing their own Christ and their
own Christianity in place of Him in whose name the
church exists and also the position which they occupy in
it. If all men knew that the church preaches Christ
punishing, and not forgiving, and warring, no one would
be believing in this church, and there would be no one to
prove what it is proving.
The second method is a little less rude. It consists in
asserting that, although Christ really taught to offer one's
cheek and give up a shirt, and this is a very high moral
demand, there are malefactors in the world, and if these
are not curbed by the exercise of force, the whole world
and all good men will perish. This proof I found for the
first time in John Chrysostom and I pointed out its in-
correctness in my book, My Religion.
This argument is ungrounded, because, in the first
place, if we allow ourselves to recognize any men as
special malefactors (Eaca), we thus destroy the whole
meaning of the Christian teaching, according to which we
are all equal and brothers, as the sons of one heavenly
Father; in the second place, because, even if God per-
mitted the exertion of violence against malefactors, it is
absolutely impossible to find that safe and indubitable
sign by which a malefactor may be unerringly told from
one who is not, and so every man, or society of men,
would recognize another as a malefactor, which is the case


now; in the third place, because even if it were possible
unerringly to tell malefactors from those who are not
malefactors, it would still not be possible in a Christian
society to execute, or maim, or lock up these malefactors,
because in Christian society there would be no one to do
this, because every Christian, as a Christian, is enjoined
not to use violence against a malefactor.
The third method of answering is still shrewder than
the previous one. It consists in asserting that, although
the commandment of non-resistance to evil is obligatory
for a Christian when the evil is directed against him per-
sonally, it ceases to be obligatory when the evil is directed
against his neighbours, and that then a Christian is not
only not obliged to fulfil the commandments, but is also
obliged in the defence of his neighbours, contrary to the
commandment, to use violence against the violators.
This assertion is quite arbitrary, and in the whole of
Christ's teaching no confirmation of such an interpretation
can be found. Such an interpretation is not only a limi-
tation of the commandment, but a direct negation and
annihilation of it. If any man has a right to use vio-
lence when another is threatened by danger, then the
question as to the use of violence reduces itself to the
question of defining what constitutes a danger for another
person. But if my private judgment decides the question
of danger for another, then there does not exist such a
case of violence that it could not be explained on the
basis of a danger with which another is threatened.
Wizards were executed and burned, aristocrats and Giron-
dists were executed, and so were their enemies, because
those who were in power considered them to be danger-
ous for others.
If this important limitation, which radically undermines
the meaning of the commandment, entered Christ's mind,
there ought somewhere to be mention made of it. But
in all the preaching and the life of the teacher there is


not only no such limitation, but, on the contrary, there is
expressed a particular caution against such a false and
offensive limitation, which destroys the commandment.
The mistake and the blunder of such a limitation is with
particular clearness shown in the Gospel in connection
with the judgment of Caiaphas, who made this very limi-
tation. He recognized that it was not good to execute
innocent Jesus, but he saw in Him danger, not for himself,
but for the whole nation, and so he said: It is expedient
for us that one man should die for the people, and that
the whole nation perish not." And more clearly still was
the negation of such a limitation expressed in the words
said to Peter when he attempted with violence to resist
the evil which was directed against Jesus (Matt. xxvi.
52). Peter was not defending himself, but his beloved
and divine teacher. And Christ directly forbade him to
do so, saying that he who takes the sword shall perish
with the sword.
Besides, the justification of violence used against a
neighbour for the sake of defending another man against
worse violence is always incorrect, because in using vio-
lence against an evil which is not yet accomplished, it is
impossible to know which evil will be greater, whether
the evil of my violence or of that against which I wish
to defend my neighbour. We execute a criminal, thus
freeing society from him, and we are positively unable
to tell whether the criminal would not have changed on
the morrow and whether our execution is not a useless
cruelty. We lock up a man whom we suppose to be a
dangerous member of society, but beginning with to-mor-
row this man may cease to be dangerous, and his incar-
ceration is futile. I see that a man whom I know to be
a robber is pursuing a girl, and I have a gun in my hand,
- I kill the robber and save the girl; the robber has cer-
tainly been killed or wounded, but it is unknown to me
what would happen if that were not the case. What an


enormous amount of evil must take place, as it actually
does, as the result of arrogating to ourselves the right to
prevent an evil that may occur! Ninety-nine hundredths
of the evil of the world, from the Inquisition to dynamite
bombs and the executions and sufferings of tens of thou-
sands of so-called political criminals, are based on this
The fourth, still more refined answer to the question as
to how a Christian should act toward Christ's command-
ment of non-resistance to evil consists in asserting that
the commandment of non-resistance to evil is not denied
by them, but is accepted like any other; but that they do
not ascribe to this commandment any special exclusive
significance, as the sectarians do. To ascribe to this com-
mandment an invariable condition of Christian life, as do
Garrison, Ballou, Dymond, the Quakers, the Mennonites,
the Shakers, and as did the Moravian brothers, the Wal-
denses, Albigenses, Bogomils, Paulicians, is one-sided sec-
tarianism. This commandment has neither more nor
less significance than all the others, and a man who in
his weakness transgresses any one of the commandments
about non-resistance does not cease to be a Christian,
provided he believes correctly. This subterfuge is very
clever, and men who wish to be deceived are easily de-
ceived by it. The subterfuge consists in reducing the
direct conscious negation of the commandment to an
accidental violation of the same. But we need only
compare the relation of the church teachers to this com-
mandment and to others, which they actually recognize,
in order that we may convince ourselves that the relation
of the church teachers to the commandments which they
recognize is quite different from their relation to this one.
They actually recognize the commandment against for-
nication, and so never, under any condition, admit that
fornication is not an evil. The preachers of the church
never point out any cases when the commandment against


fornication ought to be broken, and they always teach
that we must avoid the offences which lead to the temp-
tation of fornication. But this is not the case with the
commandment about non-resistance. All the church
preachers know cases when this commandment may be
broken. And thus they teach men. And they not only
do not teach how to avoid these offences, of which the
chief one is the oath, but themselves commit them. The
church preachers never and under no condition preach
the violation of any other commandment; but in relation
to the commandment of non-resistance they teach outright
that this prohibition must not be understood in too direct
a sense, and not only that this commandment must not
be carried out at all times, but that there are conditions,
situations, when directly the opposite should be done,
that is, that we should judge, wage war, execute. Thus,
in reference to the commandment about non-resistance to
evil, they in the majority of cases preach how not to ful-
fil it. The fulfilment of this commandment, they say, is
very difficult and is characteristic only of perfection. But
how can it help but be difficult, when its breach is not
only not prohibited, but is also directly encouraged, when
they directly bless the courts, prisons, guns, cannon, ar-
mies, battles ? Consequently it is not true that this com-
mandment is recognized by the church preachers as of
equal significance with the other commandments. The
church preachers simply do not recognize it, and only be-
cause they do not dare to confess it, try to conceal their
failure to recognize it.
Such is the fourth method of answers.
The fifth method, the -most refined, most popular, and
most powerful one, consists in begging the question, in
making it appear as though the question had long ago
been decided by some one in an absolutely clear and sat-
isfactory manner, and as though it were not worth while
to speak of it. This method is employed by more or less


cultivated ecclesiastic writers, that is, such as feel the
laws of logic to be obligatory for them. Knowing that
the contradiction which exists between Christ's teaching,
which we profess in words, and the whole structure of
our life cannot be solved with words, and that, by touch-
ing it, we can only make it more obvious, they with
greater or lesser agility get around it, making it appear
that the question about the connection of Christianity
with violence has been decided or does not exist at all.1
The majority of the ecclesiastic critics of my book
employ this method. I could adduce dozens of such
criticisms, in which without exception one and the same
thing is repeated: they speak of everything but the chief
subject of the book. As a characteristic example of such
criticisms, I shall quote an article by the famous, refined
English writer and preacher, Farrar, a great master, like
many learned theologians, of evasions and reticence. This
article was printed in the American periodical, Forum, in
October, 1888.
Having conscientiously given a short review of my
book, Farrar says:
Tolst6y came to the conclusion that a coarse deceit
was palmed upon the world when these words were held
by civil society to be compatible with war, courts of
11 know but one piece of writing, not a criticism in the strict sense
of the word, but an article which treats the same subject, and which
has my book in view, that departs from this common definition. It
is Tr6itski's pamphlet (Kazan) The Sermon on the Mount. The
author obviously recognizes Christ's teaching in its real significance.
He says that the commandment about non-resistance to evil means
what it does, and the same is true of the commandment about swear-
ing ; he does not deny, as others do, the significance of Christ's teach-
ing, but unfortunately he does not make from this recognition those
inevitable deductions, which in our life beg for recognition in connec-
tion with such a comprehension of Christ's teaching. If it is not
right to resist evil and to swear, every man will naturally ask: How
about military service ?" And to this question the author gives no
answer, though an answer is demanded. And if it cannot be an-
swered, it is best not to speak at all, because silence produces error.
-Author's Note.


justice, capital punishment, divorce, oaths, national preju-
dice, and indeed with most of the institutions of civil
and social life. He now believes that the kingdom of
God would come if all men kept these five command-
ments, (1) Live in peace with all men; (2) be pure;
(3) take no oaths; (4) never resist evil; (5) renounce
national distinctions.
Tolst6y," he says, "rejects the divine inspiration of
the Old Testament and of the epistles; he rejects all the
dogmas of the church, that of the atonement by blood,
that of the Trinity, that of the descent of the Holy Ghost
upon the apostles and recognizes only the words
and commandments of Christ.
Is this interpretation of Christ a true one ?" he asks.
"Are all men bound, or is any man bound, to act as
Tolst6y has taught, that is, to fulfil the five command-
ments of Christ?"
One just hopes that in reply to this essential question,
which alone could have urged the man to write an article
on the book, he will say that this interpretation of Christ's
teaching is correct, or that it is not correct, and so will
prove why, and will give another, a correct interpretation
to the words which I interpret incorrectly. But nothing
of the kind is done. Farrar only expresses his conviction
that, though actuated by the noblest sincerity, Tolst6y
has been misled by partial and one-sided interpretations
of the meaning of the Gospel and the mind and will of
No explanation is given as to what this error consists
in, but all there is said, is:
To enter into the proof of this is impossible in this
article, for I have already exceeded the space at my
And he concludes with an easy mind:
Meanwhile the reader who feels troubled lest it should
be his duty also to forsake all conditions of his life, and


to take up the position and work of a common labourer,
may rest for the present on the principle, Securus judicat
orbis terrarum. With few and rare exceptions," he con-
tinues, the whole of Christendom, from the days of the
apostles down to our own, has come to the firm conclu-
sion that it was the object of Christ to lay down great
eternal principles, but not disturb the bases and revolu-
tionize the institutions of all human society, which them-
selves rest on divine sanction as well as on inevitable
conditions. Were it my object to prove how untenable
is the doctrine of communism, based by Tolst6y upon the
divine paradoxes (sic !), which can be interpreted on only
historical principles in accordance with the whole method
of the teaching of Jesus, it would require an ampler
canvas than I have here at my disposal."
What a misfortune, he has not any space! And,
strange to say, space has been lacking for fifteen centuries,
to prove that Christ, whom we profess, said something
different from what He said. They could prove it, if they
only wanted to. However, it does not pay to prove what
everybody knows. It is enough to say: Securus judicat
orbis terrarum."
And such are, without exception, all the criticisms of
the cultivated believers, who, therefore, do not understand
the perilousness of their position. The only way out
for them is the hope that, by using the authority of the
church, of antiquity, of holiness, they may be able to
confuse the reader and draw him away from the thought
of reading the Gospel for himself and of considering the
question with his own mind. And in this they are suc-
cessful. To whom, indeed, will it occur that all that
which with such assurance and solemnity is repeated from
century to century by all these archdeacons, bishops,
archbishops, most holy synods, and Popes, is a base lie
and calumny, which they foist on Christ in order to
secure the money which they need for the purpose of lead-


ing a life of pleasure, while sitting on the backs of others,
- a lie and a calumny, which is so obvious, especially
now that the only possibility of continuing this lie con-
sists in frightening men into belief by their assurance,
their unscrupulousness ? It is precisely the same that of
late years has taken place in the Recruiting Sessions:
at the head of the table, with the Mirror of Laws upon it,
and beneath the full-sized portrait of the emperor, sit
dignified old officials in their regalia, conversing freely
and unreservedly, noting down, commanding, calling out.
Here also, with the cross over his breast and in silk vest-
ments, with his gray hair falling down straight over his
scapulary, stands an imposing old man, the priest, in front
of the pulpit, on which lies a gold cross and a gold-
trimmed Gospel.
Ivin Petr6v is called out. A young man steps out.
He is poorly and dirtily dressed and looks frightened, and
the muscles of his face tremble, and his fugitive eyes
sparkle, and in a faltering voice, almost in a whisper, he
says: "I according to the law I, a Christian I can-
not "
"What is he muttering there?" impatiently asks the
presiding officer, half-closing his eyes and listening, as
he raises his head from the book.
"Speak louder!" shouts to him the colonel with the
shining shoulder-straps.
"I I I as a Christian "
It finally turns out that the young man refuses to do
military service, because he is a Christian.
"Talk no nonsense! Get your measure I Doctor, be
so kind as to take his measure. Is he fit for the
army ?"
"He is."
"Reverend father, have him sworn in."
No one is confused; no one even pays any attention to
what this frightened, pitiable young man is muttering.


They all mutter something, but we have no time: we
have to receive so many recruits."
The recruit wants to say something again.
"This is against Christ's law."
"Go, go, we know without you what is according to
the law,-but you get out of here. Reverend father,
admonish him. Next: Vasili Nikitin."
And the trembling youth is taken away. And to whom
- whether the janitor, or Vasili Nikitin, who is being
brought in, or any one else who witnessed this scene from
the side will it occur that those indistinct, short words
of the youth, which were at once put out of court by
the authorities, contain the truth, while those loud, solemn
speeches of the self-possessed, calm officials and of the
priest are a lie, a deception ?
A similar impression is produced, not only by the arti-
cles of a Farrar but by all those solemn sermons, articles,
and books, which appear on all sides, the moment the
truth peeps out and arraigns the ruling lie. Immediately
there begin long, clever, elegant conversations or writings
about questions which touch closely upon the subject with
a shrewd reticence concerning the question itself.
In this consists the fifth and most effective means for
removing the contradiction in which the ecclesiastic
Christianity has placed itself by professing Christ in
words and denying His teaching in life, and teaching the
same to others.
Those who justify themselves by the first method,
asserting outright and rudely that Christ has permitted
violence, wars, murder, withdraw themselves from
Christ's teaching; those who defend themselves according
to the second, the third, and the fourth methods get
themselves entangled, and it is easy to point out their
untruth; but these last, who do not discuss, who do not
condescend to discuss, but hide themselves behind their
greatness and make it appear that all this has been decided


long ago by them, or by somebody else, and that it no
longer is subject to any doubt, seem invulnerable, and
they will be invulnerable so long as people will remain
under the influence of hypnotic suggestion, which is
induced in them by governments and churches, and will
not shake it off.
Such was the attitude which the ecclesiastics, that is,
those who profess Christ's faith, assumed toward me. Nor
could they have acted otherwise: they are bound by the
contradiction in which they live,- the faith in the divinity
of the teacher and the unbelief in His clearest words, -
from which they must in some way extricate themselves,
and so it was not possible to expect from them any free
opinion concerning the essence of the question, concerning
that change in the lives of men which results from the
application of Christ's teaching to the existing order.
Such opinions I expected from the freethinking lay
critics, who are in no way bound to Christ's teaching and
who can look upon it without restraint. I expected that
the freethinking writers would look upon Christ not only
as the establisher of a religion of worship and personal
salvation (as which the ecclesiastics understand him), but,
to express myself in their language, as a reformer, who
destroys the old, and gives the new foundations of life,
the reform of which is not yet accomplished, but continues
until the present.
Such a view of Christ and His teaching results from
my book, but, to my surprise, out of the large number of
criticisms upon my book, there was nwt one, either Rus-
sian or foreign, which treated the subject from the same
side from which it is expounded in my book, that is,
which looked upon Christ's teaching as a philosophical,
moral, and social doctrine (again to speak in the language
of the learned). This was not the case in a single
The Russian lay critics, who understood my book in


such a way that all its contents reduced themselves to non-
resistance to evil, and who understood the teaching about
non-resistance to evil itself (apparently for convenience
of refutal) as meaning that it prohibited any struggle
against evil, furiously attacked this teaching and very
successfully proved for the period of several years that
Christ's teaching was incorrect, since it taught us not
to resist evil. Their refutals of this supposed teaching of
Christ were the more successful, since they knew in
advance that their views could neither be overthrown nor
corrected, because the censorship, having failed to sanction
the book itself, did not sanction the articles in its defence
What is remarkable in connection with the matter is
this, that with us, where not a word may be said about
the Holy Scripture without a prohibition by the censor-
ship, the clearly and directly expressed commandment of
Matt. v. 39 has for several years been openly contorted,
criticized, condemned, and ridiculed in all the periodicals.
The Russian lay critics, who evidently did not know
all that had been done in the development of the question
as to non-resistance to evil, and who at times even seemed
to assume that I personally invented the rule of not
resisting evil with violence, attacked the idea itself, reject-
ing and contorting it, and with much fervour advancing
arguments which have long ago been analyzed from every
side and rejected, proved that a man is obliged (with
violence) to defend all the insulted and the oppressed,
and that, therefore, the doctrine about not resisting evil
with violence is immoral.
The whole significance of Christ's preaching presented
itself to the Russian critics as though maliciously interfer-
ing with a certain activity, which was directed against
what they at a given moment considered to be an evil,
so that it turned out that the principle of not resisting
evil with violence was attacked by two opposite camps, -


by the conservatives, because this principle interfered with
their activity of resisting the evil which was produced by
the revolutionists, and with their persecutions and execu-
tions; and by the revolutionists, because this principle
interfered with the resistance to the evil which was pro-
duced by the conservatives, and with the overthrow of
the conservatives. The conservatives were provoked,
because the doctrine of non-resistance to evil interfered
with the energetic suppression of the revolutionary
elements, who are likely to ruin the welfare of the na-
tion; while the revolutionists were provoked, because
the doctrine of non-resistance to evil interfered with the
overthrow of the conservatives, who were ruining the
well-being of the nation.
What is remarkable is, that the revolutionists attacked
the principle of non-resistance, although it is most terrible
and most dangerous for every despotism, because ever
since the beginning of the world the opposite principle of
the necessity of resisting evil with violence has been lying
at the basis of all violence, from the Inquisition to the
Schliisselburg Fortress.
Besides, the Russian critics pointed out that the applica-
tion to life of the commandment about non-resistance to
evil would turn humanity away from the path of civiliza-
tion, on which it was marching now; but the path of
civilization, on which the European civilization is march-
ing, is, in their opinion, the one on which all humanity
must always march.
Such was the chief character of the Russian criticisms.
The foreign critics proceeded from the same bases, but
their reviews of my book differed from those of the Rus-
sian critics not only in a lesser degree of irritability and
a greater degree of culture, but also in the essence of the
In discussing my book and the Gospel teaching in
general, as it is expressed in the Sermon on the Mount,


the foreign critics asserted that such a teaching is really
not Christian (Christian in their opinion is Catholicism
and Protestantism), and that the doctrine of the Sermon
on the Mount is only a series of very charming, impracti-
cable reveries du charmant docteur," as Renan used to
say, which were good enough for the naive and half-wild
inhabitants of Galilee, who lived eighteen hundred years
ago, and for the Russian peasants, SyutAev and Bondarev,
and the Russian mystic, Tolst6y, but can in no way be
applied to the high degree of European culture.
The foreign lay critics tried, in a refined manner, with-
out giving me any offence, to let me know that my opinion
that humanity can be guided by such a naive teaching as
the Sermon on the Mount .is due partly to my ignorance,
lack of acquaintance with history, lack of knowledge of
all those vain attempts to realize in life the principles
of the Sermon on the Mount, which have been made in
history, and have led to nothing, thanks to ignorance con-
cerning the whole significance of that high degree of
culture on which European civilization now stands, with
its Krupp guns, smokeless powder, the colonization of
Africa, the government of Ireland, parliaments, journal-
ism, strikes, constitutions, and Eiffel Tower.
Thus wrote Vogii4, and Leroy Beaulieu, and Matthew
Arnold, and the American writer Savage, and Ingersoll,
a popular American preacher of free thought, and many
Christ's teaching is no good, because it does not har-
monize with our industrial age," naively says Ingersoll,
thus expressing with absolute precision and naivete what
the refined and cultured men of our time think about
Christ's teaching. The teaching is no good for our indus-
trial age, as though the existence of the industrial age
is something sacred which must not and cannot be
changed. It is something like what drunkards would
do, if, in response to advice about how to get themselves


into a sober state, they should reply that the advice is out
of place in connection with their present alcoholic state.
The discussions of all the lay writers, both Russian and
foreign, no matter how different their tone and the man-
ner of their arguments may be, in reality reduce them-
selves to one and the same strange misunderstanding,
namely, that Christ's teaching, one of the consequences of
which is non-resistance to evil, is useless to us, because
it demands that our life be changed.
Christ's teaching is useless, because, if it were put into
practice, our life could not continue; in other words, -
if we began to live well, as Christ has taught us, we could
not continue to live badly, as we live and are accustomed
to live. The question of non-resistance to evil is not dis-
cussed, and the very mention of the fact that the demand
for non-resistance to evil enters into Christ's teaching is
considered a sufficient proof of the inapplicability of the
whole teaching.
And yet, it would seem, it is indispensable to point
out some kind of a solution to this question, because it
lies at the foundation of nearly all affairs which interest
The question consists in this: how are we to harmonize
the conflicts of men, when some consider an evil what
others consider to be good, and vice versa ? And so, to
consider that an evil which I consider an evil, although
my adversary may consider it good, is no answer. There
can be but two answers: either we have to find a true
and indisputable criterion of what an evil is, or we must
not resist evil with violence.
The first solution has been tried since the beginning of
historical times, and, as we all know, has so far led to no
satisfactory results.
The second answer, not to resist with violence what
we consider evil, so long as we have found no common
criterion, was proposed by Christ.


It may be found that Christ's answer is not correct:
it may be possible to put in its place another, better
answer, by finding a criterion which would indubitably
and simultaneously for all define the evil; we may simply
not recognize the essence of the question, as it is not
recognized by the savage nations, but it is impossible,
as the learned critics of the Christian teaching do, to make
it appear that such a question does not at all exist, or that
the relegation of the right to determine the evil and resist
it with violence to certain persons or assemblies of men
(much less, if we are these men), solves the question;
whereas we all know that such a relegation does not at
all solve the question, since there are some people who
do not recognize this right as belonging to certain people
or to assemblies of men.
But it is this recognition that what to us appears evil
is evil, or an absolute failure to comprehend the question,
which serves as a foundation for the judgment of the
lay critics concerning the Christian teaching, so that the
opinions concerning my book, both of the ecclesiastic and
the lay critics, showed me that the majority of men abso-
lutely fail to comprehend, not only Christ's very teaching,
but even those questions to which it serves as an answer.

THUS, both the information received by me after the
publication of my book, as to how the Christian teaching
in its direct and true sense has without interruption been
understood by the minority of men, and the criticisms
upon it, both the ecclesiastic and the lay criticisms, which
denied the possibility of understanding Christ's teaching
in the direct sense, convinced me that, while, on the one
hand, the true comprehension of this teaching never
ceased for the minority, and became clearer and clearer
to them, on the other hand, for the majority, its meaning
became more and more obscure, finally reaching such a
degree of obscuration that men no longer comprehend the
simplest propositions, which are expressed in the Gospel
in the simplest words.
The failure to comprehend Christ's teaching in its true,
simple, and direct sense in our time, when the light of
this teaching has penetrated all the darkest corners of
human consciousness; when, as Christ has said, that
which He has spoken in the ear, they now proclaim upon
the housetops; when this teaching permeates all the
sides of human life,--the domestic, the economic, the
civil, the political, and the international, this failure to
comprehend would be incomprehensible, if there were no
causes for it.
One of these causes is this, that both the believers and
the unbelievers are firmly convinced that Christ's teaching
has been comprehended by them long ago, and so com-
pletely, indubitably, and finally, that there can be no
other meaning in it than the one they ascribe to it. This


cause is due to the duration of the tradition of the false
comprehension, and so of the failure to understand the
true teaching.
The most powerful stream of water cannot add a drop
to a vessel that is full.
It is possible to explain the most intricate matters to a
man of very hard comprehension, so long as he has not
formed any idea about them; but it is impossible to ex-
plain the simplest thing to a very clever man, if he is
firmly convinced that he knows, and, besides, incontest-
ably knows, what has been transmitted to him.
The Christian teaching presents itself to the men of
our world precisely as such a teaching, which has for a
long time and in a most indubitable manner been known
in its minutest details, and which cannot be comprehended
in any other manner than it now is.
Christianity is now understood by those who profess
the church doctrines as a supernatural, miraculous revela-
tion concerning everything which is given in the symbol
of faith, and by those who do not believe, as an obsolete
manifestation of humanity's need of believing in some-
tlhing supernatural, as a historical phenomenon, which is
completely expressed in Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protes-
tantism, and which has no longer any vital meaning for
us. For the believers the meaning of the teaching is con-
cealed by the church, for unbelievers by science.
I shall begin with the first:
Eighteen hundred years ago there appeared in the
pagan Roman world a strange, new teaching, which re-
sembled nothing which preceded it, and which was ascribed
to the man Christ.
This new teaching was absolutely new, both in form
and in contents, for the European world, in the midst of
which it arose, and especially in the Roman world, where
it was preached and became diffused.
Amidst the elaborateness of the religious rules of Juda-


ism, where, according to Isaiah, there was rule upon rule,
and amidst the Roman legislation, which was worked out
to a great degree of perfection, there appeared a teaching
which not only denied all the divinities, -every fear of
them, every divination and faith in them,- but also all
human institutions and every necessity for them. In the
place of all the rules of former faiths, this teaching ad-
vanced only the model of an inner perfection of truth and
of love in the person of Christ, and the consequences of
this inner perfection, attainable by men, the external
perfection, as predicted by the prophets, -the kingdom
of God, in which all men will stop warring, and all will
be taught by God and united in love, and the lion will lie
with the lamb. In place of the threats of punishments
for the non-compliance with the rules, which were made
by the former laws, both religious and political, in place
of the enticement of rewards for fulfilling them, this
teaching called men to itself only by its being the truth.
John vii. 17 "If any man wants to know of this doc-
trine, whether it be of God, let him fulfil it." John viii.
46: "If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?"
Why do you seek to kill a man who has told you the
truth? The truth alone will free you. God must be
professed in truth only. The whole teaching will be re-
vealed and will be made clear by the spirit of truth. Do
what I say, and you will know whether what I say is
No proofs were given of the teaching, except the truth,
except the correspondence of the teaching with the truth.
The whole teaching consisted in the knowledge of the
truth and in following it, in a greater and ever greater
approximation to it, in matters of life. According to this
teaching, there are no acts which can justify a man, make
him righteous; there is only the model of truth which
attracts all hearts, for the inner perfection in the person
of Christ, and for the outer in the realization of the


kingdom of God. The fulfilment of the teaching is only
in the motion along a given path, in the approximation to
perfection,- the inner,- the imitation of Christ, and
the outer, -the establishment of the kingdom of God.
A man's greater or lesser good, according to this teaching,
depends, not on the degree of perfection which he attains,
but on the greater or lesser acceleration of motion.
The motion toward perfection of the publican, of
Zacchaeus, of the harlot, of the robber on the cross, is,
according to this teaching, a greater good than the im-
movable righteousness of the Pharisee. A sheep gone
astray is more precious than ninety-nine who have not.
The prodigal son, the lost coin which is found again, is
more precious, more loved by God than those who were
not lost.
Every condition is, according to this teaching, only a
certain step on the road toward the unattainable inner
and outer perfection, and so has no meaning. The good
is only in the motion toward perfection; but the stopping
at any stage whatsoever is only a cessation of the good.
Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand
doeth," and No man, having put his hand to the plough,
and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Re-
joice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather
rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."
Be ye perfect as your Father which is in Heaven is
perfect." "Seek the kingdom of God and His righteous-
The fulfilment of the teaching is only in unceasing
motion, -in the attainment of a higher and ever higher
truth, and in an ever greater realization of the same in
oneself by means of an ever increasing love, and outside
of oneself by an ever greater realization of the kingdom of
It is evident that, having appeared in the midst of the
Jewish and the pagan world, this teaching could not have


been accepted by the majority of men, who lived a life
entirely different from the one which this teaching de-
manded; and that it could not even be comprehended in
its full significance by those who accepted it, as it was
diametrically opposed to their former views.
Only by a series of misconceptions, blunders, one-sided
explanations, corrected and supplemented by generations
of men, was the meaning of the Christian teaching made
more and more clear to men. The Christian world-con-
ception affected the Jewish and the pagan conceptions,
and the Jewish and pagan conceptions affected the Chris-
tian world-conception. And the Christian, as being vital,
penetrated the reviving Jewish and pagan conceptions
more and more, and stood forth more and more clearly,
freeing itself from the false admixture, which was imposed
upon it. Men came to comprehend the meaning better
and better, and more and more realized it in life.
The longer humanity lived, the more and more was the
meaning of Christianity made clear to it, as indeed it could
not and cannot be otherwise with any teaching about life.
The subsequent generations corrected the mistakes of
their predecessors, and more and more approached the
comprehension of its true meaning. Thus it has been
since the earliest times of Christianity. And here, in the
earliest times, there appeared men, who began to assert
that the meaning which they ascribed to the teaching was
the only true one, and that as a proof of it served the
supernatural phenomena which confirmed the correctness
of their comprehension.
It was this that was the chief cause, at first, of the
failure to comprehend the teaching, and later, of its com-
plete corruption.
It was assumed that Christ's teaching was not trans-
mitted to men like any other truth, but in a special,
supernatural manner, so that the truth of the comprehen-
sion of the teaching was not proved by the correspondence


of what was transmitted with the demands of reason and
of the whole human nature, but by the miraculousness of
the transmission, which served as an incontrovertible proof
of the correctness of the comprehension. This proposition
arose from a lack of comprehension, and its consequence
was an impossibility of comprehending.
This began with the very first times, when the teaching
was still understood incompletely and often perversely, as
we may see from the gospels and from the Acts. The less
the teaching -was understood, the more obscurely did it
present itself, and the more necessary were the external
proofs of its veracity. The proposition about not doing unto
another what one does not wish to have done to oneself did
not need any proof by means of miracles, and there was no
need for demanding belief in this proposition, because it
is convincing in itself, in that it corresponds to both man's
reason and nature, but the proposition as to Christ being
God had to be proved by means of miracles, which are
absolutely incomprehensible.
The more obscure the comprehension of Christ's teaching
was, the more miraculous elements were mixed in with it;
and the more miraculous elements were mixed in, the
more did the teaching deviate from its meaning and be-
come obscure; and the more it deviated from its meaning
and became obscure, the more strongly it was necessary to
assert one's infallibility, and the less did the teaching
become comprehensible.
We can see from the gospels, the Acts, the epistles,
how from the earliest times the failure to comprehend the
teaching called forth the necessity of proving its truth by
means of the miraculous and the incomprehensible.
According to the Acts, this began with the meeting of
the disciples at Jerusalem, who assembled to settle the
question which had arisen as to baptizing or not baptizing
the uncircumcised who were still eating meats offered to


The very putting of the question showed that those
who were discussing it did not understand the teaching
of Christ, who rejected all external rites -ablutions,
purifications, fasts, Sabbaths. It says directly that not the
things which enter a man's mouth, but those which come
out of his heart, defile him, and so the question as to the
baptism of the uncircumcised could have arisen only
among men who loved their teacher, dimly felt His great-
ness, but still very obscurely comprehended the teaching
itself. And so it was.
In proportion as the members of the assembly did not
understand the teaching, they needed an external confirma-
tion of their incomplete understanding. And so, to solve
the question, the very putting of which shows the failure
to comprehend the teaching, the strange words, It has
seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us," which were in
an external manner to confirm the justice of certain estab-
lishments, and which have caused so much evil, were, as
described in the Book of Acts, for the first time pronounced
at this meeting, that is, it was asserted that the justice of
what they decreed was testified to by the miraculous par-
ticipation of the Holy Ghost, that is, of God, in this solu-
tion. But the assertion that the Holy Ghost, that is, God,
spoke through the apostles, had again to be proved. And for
this it was necessary to assert that on the day of Pentecost
the Holy Ghost came down in the shape of tongues of fire
on those who asserted this. (In the description the de-
scent of the Holy Ghost precedes the assembly, but the
Acts were written down much later than either.) But
the descent of the Holy Ghost had to be confirmed for
those who had not seen the tongues of fire (though it is
incomprehensible why a tongue of fire burning above a
man's head should prove that what a man says is an indis-
putable truth), and there were needed new miracles, cures,
resurrections, putting to death, and all those offensive
miracles, with which the Acts are filled, and which not


only can never convince a man of the truth of the Christian
teaching, but can only repel him from it. The consequence
of such a method of confirmation was this, that the more
these confirmations of the truth by means of stories of
miracles heaped up upon one another, the more did the
teaching itself depart from its original meaning, and
the less comprehensible did it become.
Thus it has been since the earliest times, and it has
been increasingly so all the time, until it logically reached
in our time the dogmas of the transubstantiation and of
the infallibility of the Pope, or of the bishops, or of the
writings, that is, something absolutely incomprehensible,
which has reached the point of absurdity and the demand
for a blind faith, not in God, not in Christ, not even in
the teaching, but in a person, as is the case in Catholi-
cism, or in several persons, as in Orthodoxy, or in a book,
as in Protestantism. The more Christianity became dif-
fused, and the greater was the crowd of unprepared
men which it embraced, the less it was understood, the
more definitely was the infallibility of the comprehen-
sion asserted, and the less did it become possible to
understand the true meaning of the teaching. As early
as the time of Constantine the whole comprehension of
the teaching was reduced to a rdsumd, confirmed by the
worldly power, a r4sum6 of disputes which took place
in a council,- to a symbol of faith, in which it says, I
believe in so and so, and so and so, and finally, in the one,
holy, catholic, and apostolic church, that is, in the infalli-
bility of those persons who call themselves the church,
so that everything was reduced to this, that a man no
longer believes in God, nor in Christ, as they have been
revealed to him, but in what the church commands him
to believe.
But the church is holy, -the church was founded by
Christ. God could not have left it to men to give an
arbitrary interpretation to His teaching, and so He


established the church. All these expositions are to such
an extent unjust and bold that one feels some compunc-
tion in overthrowing them.
There is nothing but the assertion of the churches to
show that God or Christ founded anything resembling
what the churchmen understand by church.
In the Gospel there is an indication against the church,
as an external authority, and this indication is most
obvious and clear in that place where it says that Christ's
disciples should not call any one teachers and fathers.
But nowhere is there anything said about the establish-
ment of what the churchmen call a church.
In the gospels the word "church" is used twice,-
once, in the sense of an assembly of men deciding a dis-
pute; the other time, in connection with the obscure
words about the rock, Peter, and the gates of hell. From
these two mentions of the word church," which has the
meaning of nothing but an assembly, they deduce what we
now understand by the word church."
But Christ could certainly not have founded a church,
that is, what we now understand by the word, because
neither in Christ's words, nor in the conceptions of the men
of that time, was there anything resembling the concept of
a church, as we know it now, with its sacraments, its
hierarchy, and, above all, its assertion of infallibility.
The fact that men named what was formed later by
the same word which Christ had used in respect to some-
thing else, does in no way give them the right to assert
that Christ established the one, true church.
Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institu-
tion as the church, on which the whole doctrine and the
whole faith are based, He would most likely have ex-
pressed this *establishment in such definite and clear
words, and would have given the one, true church, out-
side of the stories about the miracles, which are used in
connection with every superstition, such signs as to leave


no doubts concerning its authenticity; there is nothing
of the kind, but there are now, as there have been, all
kinds of institutions which, each of them, call themselves
the one, true church.
The Catholic catechism says: L'elise est la sociatd de
fiddles itablie par notre Seigneur Jdsus-Ctrist, rcpandue
sur toute la terre et soumise r l'autoritd des pasteurs Idgi-
times, principalement notre Saint IPere le Pape," mean-
ing by "pasteurs ldgitimes" a human institution, which
has the Pope at its head and which is composed of cer-
tain persons who are connected among themselves by a
certain organization.
The Orthodox catechism says: The church is a
society, established by Jesus Christ upon earth, united
among themselves into one whole by the one, divine
teaching and the sacraments, under the guidance and
management of the God-established hierarchy," meaning
by "God-established hierarchy" the Greek hierarchy,
which is composed of such and such persons, who are
to be found in such and such places.
The Lutheran catechism says: "The church is holy
Christianity, or an assembly of all believers, under Christ,
their chief, in which the Holy Ghost through the Gospel
and the sacraments offers, communicates, and secures
divine salvation," meaning, by this, that the Catholic
Church has gone astray and has fallen away, and that
the true tradition is preserved in Lutheranism.
For the Catholics the divine church coincides with the
Roman hierarchy and the Pope. For the Greek Ortho-
dox the divine church coincides with the establishment of
the Eastern and the Russian Church.' For the Lutherans
1Khomyak6v's definition of the church, which has some currency
among Russians, does not mend matters, if we recognize with Khom-
yak6v that the Orthodox is the one true church. Khomyakdv asserts
that the church is an assembly of men (of all, both the clergy and the
congregation) united in love, and that the truth is revealed only
to those who are united in love (Let us love one another, so that in


the divine church coincides with the assembly of men
who recognize the Bible and Luther's catechism.
Speaking of the origin of Christianity, men who belong
to one or the other of the existing churches generally use
the word church" in the singular, as though there has
been but one church. But this is quite untrue. The
church, as an institution which asserts of itself that it is
in possession of the unquestionable truth, appeared only
when it was not alone, but there were at least two of
So long as the believers agreed among themselves, and
the assembly was one, it had no need of asserting that it
was the church. Only when the believers divided into
opposite parties, which denied one another, did there
appear the necessity for each side to assert its authentic-
ity, ascribing infallibility to itself. The concept of the
one church arose only from this, that, when two sides dis-
agreed and quarrelled, each of them, calling the other a
heresy, recognized only its own as the infallible church.
If we know that there was a church, which in the
year 51 decided to receive the uncircumcised, this
church made its appearance only because there was an-
agreement of thought, and so forth), and that such a church is the
one which, in the first place, recognizes the Nicene symbol, and, in
the second, after the division of the churches, does not recognize the
Pope and the new dogmas. But with such a definition of the church
there appears a still greater difficulty in harmonizing, as Khomyak6v
wants to, the church which is united in love with the church which
recognizes the Nicene symbol and the justice of Photius. Thus
Khomyakdv's assertion that this church, which is united in love and
so is holy, is the church as professed by the Greek hierarchy, is still
more arbitrary than the assertions of the Catholics and of the ancient
Orthodox. If we admit the concept of the church in the sense
which Khomyakdv gives to it, that is, as an assembly of men united
in love and in truth, then everything a man can say in relation to
this assembly is, that it is very desirable to be a member of such an
assembly, if such exists, that is, to be in love and truth; but there
are no external signs by which it would be possible to count oneself or
another in with this holy assembly, or to exclude oneself from it, as no
external institution can correspond to this concept. Author's Note.


other church, that of the Judaizing, which had decided
not to receive the uncircumcised.
If there now is a Catholic Church, which asserts its
infallibility, it does this only because there are the Greco-
Russian, Orthodox, Lutheran Churches, each of which
asserts its own infallibility, and thus rejects all the
other churches. Thus the one church is only a fantastic
conception, which has not the slightest sign of reality.
As an actual, historical phenomenon there have existed
only many assemblies of men, each of which has asserted
that it is the one church, established by Christ, and that
all the others, which call themselves churches, are here-
sies and schisms.
The catechisms of the most widely diffused churches,
the Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Lutheran, say so out-
In the Catholic catechism it says: Quels sont ceux,
qui sont hors de l'glise ? Les infideles, les hrdtiques, les
schismatiques." As schismatics are regarded the so-called
Orthodox. The Lutherans are considered to be heretics;
thus, according to the Catholic catechism, the Catholics
alone are in the church.
In the so-called Orthodox catechism it says: By the
one church of Christ is meant nothing but the Orthodox,
which remains in complete agreement with the cecumeni-
cal church. But as to the Roman Church and the other
confessions (the church does not even mention the Lu-
therans and others), "they cannot be referred to the one,
true church, since they have themselves separated from
According to this definition the Catholics and Luther-
ans are outside the church, and in the church are only
the Orthodox.
But the Lutheran catechism runs as follows: "Die
wahre Kirche wird daran erkannt, dass in ihr das IVort
Gottes later und rein ohne Menschenzusatze gclehrt und


die Sacramente treu nach Christi Einsetzung gewahrt
According to this definition, all those who have added
anything to the teaching of Christ and the apostles, as the
Catholic and Greek Churches have done, are outside the
church. And in the church are only the Protestants.
The Catholics assert that the Holy Ghost has unin-
terruptedly operated in their hierarchy; the Orthodox
assert that the same Holy Ghost has operated in their
hierarchy; the Arians asserted that the Holy Ghost
operated in their hierarchy (this they asserted with as
much right as the now ruling churches assert it); the
Protestants of every description, Lutherans, Reformers,
Presbyterians, Methodists, Swedenborgians, Mormons, as-
sert that the Holy Ghost operates only in their assem-
If the Catholics assert that the Holy Ghost during the
division of the Arian and of the Greek Churches left
the apostatizing churches and remained only in the one,
true church, the Protestants of every denomination can
with the same right assert that during the separation of
their church from the Catholic the Holy Ghost left the
Catholic Church and passed over to the one which they
recognize. And so they do.
Every church deduces its profession through an uninter-
rupted tradition from Christ and the apostles. And,
indeed, every Christian confession, arising from Christ,
must have inevitably reached the present generation
through a certain tradition. But this does not prove that
any one of these traditions, excluding all the others, is
indubitably the correct one.
Every twig on the tree goes uninterruptedly back to
the root; but the fact that every twig comes from the
same root does in no way prove that there is but one
twig. The same is true of the churches. Every church
offers precisely the same proofs of its succession and even


of the miracles in favour of its own authenticity; thus
there is but one strict and precise definition of what the
church is (not as something fantastic, which we should
like it to be, but as something which in reality exists),
and this is: the church is an assembly of men, who
assert that they, and they only, are in the full posses-
sion of the truth.
It was these assemblies, which later on, with the aid of
the support of the temporal power, passed into mighty
institutions, that were the chief impediments in the
dissemination of the true comprehension of Christ's
Nor could it be otherwise: the chief peculiarity of
Christ's teaching, as distinguished from all the former
teachings, consisted in this, that the men who accepted it
tried more and more to understand and fulfil the teaching,
whereas the church doctrine asserted the full and final
comprehension and fulfilment of this teaching.
However strange it may seem to us people educated in
the false doctrine about the church as a Christian institu-
tion, and in the contempt for heresy, it was only in what
is called heresy that there was true motion, that is, true
Christianity, and it ceased to be such when it stopped its
motion in these heresies and became itself arrested in the
immovable forms of the church.
Indeed, what is a heresy ? Read all the theological
works which treat about heresies, a subject which is the
first to present itself for definition, since every theology
speaks of the true teaching amidst the surrounding false
teachings, that is, heresies, and you will nowhere find
anything resembling a definition of heresy.
As a specimen of that complete absence of any sem-
blance of a definition of what is understood by the word
"heresy" may serve the opinion on this subject ex-
pressed by the learned historian of Christianity, E. de
Pressens4, in his Histoirc du Dogmc, with the epigraph,


Ubi Christus, ibi Ecclesia" (Paris, 1869). This is what
he says in his introduction: Je sais que l'on nous con-
teste le droit de califier ainsi," that is, to call heresies les
tendances quifurent si vivement combattues par les premiers
Peres. La designation mbme d'herisie semble une atteinte
portie a la liberty de conscience ct de pensec. Nous ne
pouvons partager ces scrupules, car ils n'iraient & rien
moins qu'a enlever au christianisme tout caractere dis-
And after saying that after Constantine the church
actually misused its power in defining the dissenters as
heretics and persecuting them, he passes judgment on the
early times and says:
L'glise est une libre association ; il y a tout profit a
se siparer d'elle. La polEmique centre l'erreur n'a d'autres
resources que la pensee et le sentiment. Un type doctrinal
uniform n'a pas encore dtd dlabord; les divergences secon-
daires se produisent en Orient et en Occident avec une entire
liberty, la thiologie n'est point liWe & d'invariables formules.
Si au sein de cette diversity apparait un fond common de
croyances, n'est-on pas en droit d'y voir non pas un
system formula et compose par les representants d'une
autoriti d'dcole, mais la foi elle meme, dans son instinct le
plus sir et sa manifestation la plus spontange ? Si cette
inme unanimity qui se revele dans les croyances essen-
ticlles, se retrouve pour repousser telles ou telles tendances,
nc seront-nous pas en droit de conclude que ces tendances
dtaient en disaccord flagrant avec les principles fon-
damentaux du christianisme ? Cette prIsomption ne se
transformera-t-elle pas en certitude si nous reconnaissons
dans la doctrine universellement repoussee par l'dglise les
traits caractiristiques de l'une des religions du pass ?
Pour dire que le gnosticisme ou l'ebionitisme sont les
formes ldgitimes de la pens&e chritienne, il faut dire
hardiment qu'il n'y a pas de pensee chritienne, ni de carac-
tere specifique qui la fasse reconnaitre. Sous pritexte de


l'llargir on la dissent. Personne, au temps de Platon,
n'eut ose de couvrir de son nom une doctrine qui n'eut pas
fait place A la thiorie des idWes, et 'on cut exciti les justes
moqgeries de la Grece, en voulant fire d'Epicure ou de
Zc*wn un disciple de l'Acadimie. Rcconnaissons done que
s'il existe une religion et une doctrine qui s'appelle le
christianisme elle pent avoir ses hMrsics."
The whole discussion of the author reduces itself to
this, that every opinion which is not in agreement with a
code of dogmas professed by us at a given time is a heresy;
but at a given time and in a given place people profess
something, and this profession of something in some place
cannot be a criterion of the truth.
Everything reduces itself to this, that Ubi Christus,
ibi Ecclesia ;" but Christ is where we are. Every so-
called heresy, by recognizing as the truth what it pro-
fesses, can in a similar manner find in the history of the
churches a consistent explanation of what it professes,
using for itself all the arguments of De Pressens4 and
calling only its own confession truly Christian, precisely
what all the heresies have been doing.
The only definition of heresy (the word arpeao- means
part) is the name given by an assembly of men to every
judgment which rejects part of the teaching, as professed
by the assembly. A more particular meaning, which
more frequently than any other is ascribed to heresy, is
that of an opinion which rejects the church doctrine, as
established and supported by the worldly power.
There is a remarkable, little known, very large work
(Unpartheyisehe Kirchcn und Ketzcr-IIistoria, 1729), by
Gottfried Arnold, which treats directly on this subject
and which shows all the illegality, arbitrariness, senseless-
ness, and cruelty of using the word heresy in the sense of
rejection. This book is an attempt at describing the history
of Christianity in the form of a history of the heresies.
In the introduction the author puts a number of ques-


tions: (1) regarding those who make heretics (von den
Ketzermachern selbst); (2) concerning those who were
made heretics; (3) concerning the subjects of heresy;
(4) concerning the method of making heretics, and (5)
concerning the aims and consequences of making heretics.
In connection with each of these points he puts dozens
of questions, answers to which he later gives from the
works of well-known theologians, but he chiefly leaves it
to the reader himself to make the deduction from the ex-
position of the whole book. I shall quote the following
as samples of these questions, which partly contain the
answers. In reference to the fourth point, as to how
heretics are made, he says in one of his questions (the
seventh): "Does not all history show that the greatest
makers of heretics and the masters of this work were
those same wise men from whom the Father has hidden
His secrets, that is, the hypocrites, Pharisees, and lawyers,
or entirely godless and corrupt people?" Questions 20
and 21: "And did not, in the most corrupt times of
Christianity, the hypocrites and envious people reject
those very men who were particularly endowed by God
with great gifts, and who in the time of pure Christianity
would have been highly esteemed? And, on the con-
trary, would not these men, who during the decadence
of Christianity elevated themselves above everything and
recognized themselves to be the teachers of the purest
Christianity, have been recognized, in apostolic times, as
the basest heretics and antichristians ?"
Expressing in these questions this thought, among
others, that the verbal expression of the essence of faith,
which was demanded by the church, and a departure from
which was considered a heresy, could never completely
cover the world-conception of the believer, and 'that,
therefore, the demand for an expression of faith by means
of particular words was the cause of heresy, he says, in
Questions 21 and 33:


And if the divine acts and thoughts present them-
selves to a man as so great and profound that he does not
find corresponding words in which to express them, must
he be recognized as a heretic, if he is not able precisely to
express his ideas ? And is not this true, that in the early
times there was no heresy, because the Christians did not
judge one another according to verbal expressions, but
according to the heart and acts, in connection with a
complete liberty of expression, without fear of being rec-
ognized as a heretic ? Was it not a very common and
easy method with the church," he says in Question 21,
" when the clergy wanted to get rid of a person or ruin
him, to make him suspected as regards his doctrine and
to throw over him the cloak of heresy, and thus to con-
demn and remove him ?
Though it is true that amidst the so-called heretics
there were errors and sins, yet it is not less true and obvi-
ous from the numberless examples here adduced (that is,
in the history of the church and of heresy), he says far-
ther on, "that there has not been a single sincere and
conscientious man with some standing who has not been
ruined by the churchmen out of envy or for other causes."
Thus, nearly two hundred years ago, was the signifi-
cance of heresy understood, and yet this conception con-
tinues to exist until the present time. Nor can it fail to
exist, so long as there is a concept of the church. Heresy
is the reverse of the church. Where there is the church,
there is also heresy. The church is an assembly of men
asserting that they are in possession of the indisputable
truth. Heresy is the opinion of people who do not recog-
nize the indisputableness of the church truth.
Heresy is a manifestation of motion in the church, an
attempt at destroying the ossified assertion of the church,
an attempt at a living comprehension of the teaching.
Every step of moving forward, of comprehending and ful-
filling the teaching has been accomplished by the heretics:


such heretics were Tertullian, and Origen, and Augustine,
and Luther, and Huss, and Savonarola, and Chelcicky, and
others. Nor could it be otherwise.
A disciple of Christ, whose teaching consists in an
eternally greater and greater comprehension of the teach-
ing and in a greater and greater fulfilment of it, in a
motion toward perfection, cannot, for the very reason that
he is a disciple of Christ, assert concerning himself or
concerning any one else, that he fully understands Christ's
teaching and fulfils it; still less can he assert this con-
cerning any assembly.
No matter at what stage of comprehension and perfec-
tion a disciple of Christ may be, he always feels the
insufficiency of his comprehension and of his fulfilment,
and always strives after a greater comprehension and ful-
filment. And so the assertion about myself or about an
assembly, that I, or we, possess the complete comprehen-
sion of Christ's teaching, and completely fulfil it, is a
renunciation of the spirit of Christ's teaching.
No matter how strange this may seem, the churches, as
churches, have always been, and cannot help but be, insti-
tutions that are not only foreign, but even directly hostile,
to Christ's teaching. With good reason Voltaire called
the church l'infdme ;" with good reason all, or nearly
all, the Christian so-called sects have recognized the
church to be that whore of whom Revelation prophesies;
with good reason the history of the church is the history
of the greatest cruelties and horrors.
The churches, as churches, are not certain institutions
which have at their base the Christian principle, though
slightly deviated from the straight path, as some think;
the churches, as churches, as assemblies, which assert
their infallibility, are antichristian institutions. Between
the churches, as churches, and Christianity there is not
only nothing in common but the name, but they are two
absolutely divergent and mutually hostile principles. One


is pride, violence, self-assertion, immobility, and death;
the other is meekness, repentance, humility, motion, and
It is impossible at the same time to serve both masters,
- one or the other has to be chosen.
The servants of the churches of all denominations
have tried, especially of late, to appear as advocates of
motion in Christianity; they make concessions, wish to
mend the abuses which have stolen into the church, and
say that for the sake of the abuses we ought not to deny
the principle of the Christian church itself, which alone
can unite all men and be a mediator between men and
God. But all this is not true. The churches have not
only never united, but have always been one of the chief
causes of the disunion of men, of the hatred of one
another, of wars, slaughters, inquisitions, nights of St.
Bartholomew, and so forth, and the churches never serve
as mediators between men and God, which is, indeed,
unnecessary and is directly forbidden by Christ, who has
revealed the teaching directly to every man, and they put
up dead forms in the place of God, and not only fail to
reveal God to man, but even conceal Him from them.
Churches which have arisen from the failure to compre-
hend, and which maintain this lack of comprehension by
their immobility, cannot help persecuting and oppressing
every comprehension of the teaching. They try to con-
ceal this, but this is impossible, because every motion
forward along the path indicated by Christ destroys their
As one hears and reads the articles and sermons, in
which the church writers of modern times of all denomi-
nations speak of Christian truths and virtues, as one hears
and reads these clever discussions, admonitions, confes-
sions, which have been worked out by the ages, and which
sometimes look very much as though they were sincere,
one is prepared to doubt that the churches could be


hostile to Christianity: "It certainly cannot be that these
people, who have produced such men as Chrysostom,
F6nelon, Butler, and other preachers of Christianity,
should be hostile to it." One feels like saying: "The
churches may have deviated from Christianity, may be in
error, but cannot be hostile to it." But as one looks at
the fruits, in order to judge the tree, as Christ has
taught us to do, and sees that their fruits have been evil,
that the consequence of their activity has been the dis-
tortion of Christianity, one cannot help but feel that, no
matter how good the men have been, the cause of the
churches in which they have taken part has not been
Christian. The goodness and the deserts of all these
men, who served the churches, were the goodness and the
deserts of men, but not of the cause which they served.
All these good men -like Francis d'Assisi and Francis
de Lobes, our Tikhon Zad6nski, Thomas h Kempis, and
others were good men, in spite of their having served
a cause which is hostile to Christianity, and they would
have been better and more deserving still, if they had not
succumbed to the error which they served.
But why speak of the past, judge of the past, which
may have been falsely represented to us ? The churches
with their foundations and with their activity are not a
work of the past: the churches are now before us, and
we can judge of them directly, by their activity, their
influence upon men.
In what does the activity of the churches now consist?
How do they act upon men ? What do the churches do
in our country, among the Catholics, among the Protestants
of every denomination ? In what does their activity
consist, and what are the consequences of their activity ?
The activity of our Russian, so-called Orthodox, Church
is in full sight. It is a vast fact, which cannot be con-
cealed, and about which there can be no dispute.
In what consists the activity of this Russian Church,


this enormous, tensely active institution, which consists
of an army of half a million, costing the nation tens of
millions ?
The activity of this church consists in using every
possible means for the purpose of instilling in the one
hundred millions of the Russian population those obsolete,
backward faiths, which now have no justification whatso-
ever, and which sometime in the past were professed by
people that are alien to our nation, and in which hardly
any one now believes, frequently even not those whose
duty it is to disseminate these false doctrines.
The inculcation of these alien, obsolete formulas of the
Byzantine clergy, which no longer have any meaning for
the men of our time, about the Trinity, the Holy Virgin,
the sacraments, grace, and so forth, forms one part of the
activity of the Russian Church; another part of its activity
consists in the activity of maintaining idolatry in the direct
sense of the word, worshipping holy relics and images,
bringing sacrifices to them, and expecting from them the
fulfilment of their wishes. I shall not speak of what is
spoken and written by the clergy with a shade of learning
and liberalism in the clerical periodicals, but of what
actually is done by the clergy over the breadth of the
Russian land among a population of one hundred million
people. What do they carefully, persistently, tensely,
everywhere without exception, teach the people? What
is demanded of them on the strength of the so-called
Christian faith ?
I will begin with the beginning, with the birth of a
child: at the birth of a child, the clergy teaches that
a prayer has to be read over the mother and the child, in
order to purify them, since without this prayer the mother
who has given birth to a child is accursed. For this
purpose the priest takes the child in his hands in front
of the representations of the saints, which the masses
simply call gods, and pronounces exorcising words, and

Russrnn Pedsants at Mass
/'ho/r'giczvie e front by~/ Carl Bu~i~d(4us


thus purifies the mother. Then it is impressed on the
parents, and even demanded of them under threat of
punishment in case of non-fulfilment, that the child shall
be baptized, that is, dipped three times in water by the
priest, in connection with which incomprehensible words
are pronounced and even less comprehensible acts per-
formed, the smearing of various parts of the body with
oil, the shearing of the hair, and the blowing and spitting
of the sponsors on the imaginary devil. All this is
supposed to cleanse the child and make him a Christian.
Then the parents are impressed with the necessity of
giving the holy sacrament to the child, that is, of giving
him under the form of bread and wine a particle of Christ's
body to eat, in consequence of which the child will receive
the grace of Christ, and so forth. Then it is demanded
that this child, according to his age, shall learn to pray.
To pray means to stand straight in front of the boards
on which the faces of Christ, the Virgin, the saints, are
represented, and incline his head and his whole body,
and with his right hand, with fingers put together in a
certain form, to touch his brow, shoulders, and stomach,
and pronounce Church-Slavic words, of which all the
children are particularly enjoined to repeat, Mother
of God, Virgin, rejoice!" etc. Then the pupil is im-
pressed with the necessity of doing the same, that is,
crossing himself, in presence of any church or image;
then he is told that on holidays (holidays are days on
which Christ was born, though no one knows when that
was, and circumcised, on which the Mother of God died,
the cross was brought, the image was carried in, a
saintly fool saw a vision, etc.,) he must put on his "best
clothes and go to church, buy tapers there and place them
in front of images of saints, hand in little notes and
commemorations and loaves, that triangles may be cut in
them, and then pray many times for the health and
welfare of the Tsar and the bishops, and for himself


and his acts, and then kiss the cross and the priest's
Besides this prayer he is enjoined to prepare himself
at least once a year for the holy sacrament. To prepare
himself for the holy sacrament means to go to church
and tell the priest his sins, on the supposition that his
imparting his sins to a stranger will completely cleanse
him of his sins, and then to eat from a spoon a bit of
bread with wine, which purifies him even more. Then
it is impressed upon a man and a woman, who want their
carnal intercourse to be sacred, that they must come to
church, put on metallic crowns, drink potions, to the
sound of singing walk three times around a table, and
that then their carnal intercourse will become sacred
and quite distinct from any other carnal intercourse.
In life people are impressed with the necessity of ob-
serving the following rules: not to eat meat or milk food
on certain days, on other certain days to celebrate masses
for the dead, on holidays to receive the priest and give
him money, and several times a year to take the boards
with the representations out of the church and carry them
on sashes over fields and through houses. Before death
a man is enjoined to eat from a spoon bread with wine,
and still better, if he has time, to have himself smeared
with oil. This secures for him happiness in the next
world. After a man's death, his relatives are enjoined,
for the purpose of saving the soul of the defunct, to put
into his hands a printed sheet with a prayer; it is also
useful to have a certain book read over the dead body and
the name of the dead man pronounced several times in
All this is considered an obligatory faith for everybody.
But if one wants to care for his soul, he is taught, ac-
cording to this faith, that the greatest amount of blessed-
ness is secured for the soul in the world to come by
contributing money for churches and monasteries, by put-


ting holy men thus under obligation to pray for him.
Other soul-saving measures, according to this faith, are
the visiting of monasteries and the kissing of miracle-
working images and relics.
According to this faith, miracle-working images and
relics concentrate in themselves particular holiness,
strength, and grace, and nearness to these objects -
touching, kissing them, placing tapers before them, crawl-
ing up to them contributes very much to a man's sal-
vation, and so do masses, which are ordered before these
sacred objects.
It is this faith, and no other, which is called Orthodox,
that is, the right faith, and which has, under the guise of
Christianity, been impressed upon the people for many
centuries by the exercise of all kinds of force, and is now
being impressed with particular effort.
And let it not be said that the Orthodox teachers place
the essence of the teaching in something else, and that
these are only ancient forms which it is not considered
right to destroy. That is not true: throughout all of
Russia, nothing but this faith has of late been impressed
upon the people with particular effort. There is nothing
else. Of something else they talk and write in the capi-
tals, but only this is being impressed on one hundred
million of people, and nothing else. The churchmen talk
of other things, but they enjoin only this with every
means at their command.
All this, and the worship of persons and images, is in-
troduced into theologies, into catechisms; the masses are
carefully taught this theoretically, and, being hypnotized
practically, with every means of solemnity, splendour,
authority, and violence, are made to believe in this, and
are jealously guarded against every endeavour to be freed
from these savage superstitions.
In my very presence, as I said in reference to my book,
Christ's teaching and his own words concerning non-


resistance to evil were a subject of ridicule and circus
jokes, and the churchmen not only did not oppose this,
but even encouraged the blasphemy; but allow yourself
to say a disrespectful word concerning the monstrous idol,
which is blasphemously carried about in Moscow by
drunken persons under the name of the Iberian Virgin,
and a groan of indignation will be raised by these same
churchmen. All that is preached is the external cult of
idolatry. Let no one say that one thing does not interfere
with the other, that "these ought ye to have done, and
not to have left the other undone," that "all, therefore,
whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;
but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do
not (Matt. xxiii. 23, 3). This is said of the Pharisees,
who fulfilled all the external injunctions of the law, and
so the words, whatsoever they bid you observe, that ob-
serve," refer to works of charity and of goodness, and the
words, "but do ye not after their works, for they say, and
do not," refer to the execution of ceremonies and to the
omission of good works, and have precisely the opposite
meaning to what the churchmen want to ascribe to this
passage, when they interpret it as meaning that ceremo-
nies are to be observed. An external cult and serving
charity and truth are hard to harmonize; for the most
part one thing excludes the other. Thus it was with
the Pharisees, and thus it is now with the church Chris-
If a man can save himself through redemption, sacra-
ments, prayer, he no longer needs any good deeds.
The Sermon on the Mount, or the symbol of faith: it
is impossible to believe in both. And the churchmen
have chosen the latter : the symbol of faith is taught and
read as a prayer in the churches; and the Sermon on the
Mount is excluded even from the Gospel teachings in the
churches, so that in the churches the parishioners never
hear it, except on the days when the whole Gospel is


read. Nor can it be otherwise: men who believe in a
bad and senseless God, who has cursed the human race
and who has doomed His son to be a victim, and has
doomed a part of humanity to everlasting torment, can-
not believe in a God of love. A man who believes in
God-Christ, who will come again in glory to judge and
punish the living and the dead, cannot believe in Christ,
who commands a man to offer his cheek to the offender,
not to judge, but to forgive, and to love our enemies. A
man who believes in the divine inspiration of the Old
Testament and the holiness of David, who on his death-
bed orders the killing of an old man who has offended
himn and whom he could not kill himself, because he was
bound by an oath (Book of Kings, ii 3), and similar
abominations, of which the Old Testament is full, cannot
believe in Christ's moral law; a man who believes in the
doctrine and the preaching of the church about the com-
patibility of executions and wars with Christianity, cannot
believe in the brotherhood of men.
Above all else, a man who believes in the salvation of
men through faith, in redemption, or in the sacraments,
can no longer employ all his strength in the fulfilment in
life of the moral teaching of Christ.
A man who is taught by the church the blasphemous
doctrine about his not being able to be saved by his own
efforts, but that there is another means, will inevitably
have recourse to this means, and not to his efforts, on
which he is assured it is a sin to depend. The church
doctrine, any church doctrine, with its redemption and its
sacraments, excludes Christ's teaching, and the Orthodox
doctrine, with its idolatry, does so especially.
But the masses have always believed so themselves,
and believe so now," people will say to this. The whole
history of the Russian masses proves this. It is not right
to deprive the masses of their tradition." In this does
the deception consist. The masses at one time, indeed,


professed something like what the church professes now,
though it was far from being the same (among the masses,
there has existed, not only this superstition of the
images, house spirits, relics, and the seventh Thursday
after Easter, with its wreaths and birches, but also a deep
moral, vital comprehension of Christianity, which has
never existed in the whole church, and was met with
only in its best representatives); but the masses, in spite
of all the obstacles, which the government and the church
have opposed to them, have long ago in their best repre-
sentatives outlived this coarse stage of comprehension,
which is proved by the spontaneous birth of rationalistic
sects, with which one meets everywhere, with which
Russia swarms at the present time, and with which the
churchmen struggle in vain. The masses move on in
the consciousness of the moral, vital side of Christianity.
And it is here that the church appears with its failure
to support, and with its intensified inculcation of an obso-
lete paganism in its ossified form, with its tendency to
push the masses back into that darkness, from which
they are struggling with so much effort to get out.
"We do not teach the masses anything new, but only
what they believe in, and that in a more perfect form,"
say the churchmen.
This is the same as tying up a growing chick and push-
ing it back into the shell from which it has come.
I have often been struck by this observation, which
would be comical, if its consequences were not so terrible,
that men, taking hold of each other in a circle, deceive
one another, without being able to get out of the en-
chanted circle.
The first question, the first doubt of a Russian who is
beginning to think, is the question about the miracle-
working images and, above all, the relics: Is it true that
they are imperishable, and that they work miracles ?"
Hundreds and thousands of men put these questions to

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