What I Believe
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What I Believe

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Originally published in 1885, What I Believe is part of series of books by novelist Leo Tolstoy that outline his personal interpretation of Christian theology. After a midlife crisis at age 50, he began to believe in the moral teachings of Christianity, while rejecting mysticism and organized religion. He believed that pacifism and poverty were the paths to enlightenment....more
Mass Market Paperback, 244 pages
Published 2000 by Adamant Media Corporation (first published 1885)
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Marcus Lira
Oct 02, 2012 Marcus Lira rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians and atheists alike.
Shelves: culture
It may seem odd for an atheist to actually like this book, but here's what I believe: It offers some great insight on what it is that makes former unbelievers convert to a religion. Besides, he's more interesting than your average church-going Christian for one simple reason - he's willing to go against the church, being something of a protestant orthodox.

He makes it clear that what drew him to Christianity is not a better explanation of how the world works (so there's no clash between science a...more
Brian Sullivan
Tolstoy narrates a discussion with a Rabbi where the basic teachings of jesus sermon on the mount were found to be in the Talmud. However, the Rabbi said that the Talmud did not offer anything similar to Jesus admonition to turn the other cheak or to not resist him that is wicked.
The Rabbi asked whether Chrisitians obeyed this law – and Tolstoy admits that in his time the Hebews were subject to the opposite.
Jesus words are usually said to be mystical, or impractical ideals, especially in a socie...more
Robert Fischer
This book straight up blew my mind. It's a major reworking of the message of Christianity, and although I find it generally dismissive of a lot of scripture, the challenging re-presentation of the doctrine of Christ is certainly an interesting and insightful reading of the gospels.
I'm very glad that I got the chance to read this book, because it showed me things I didn't even know of. Some may say that this is a bunch of lies, but I don't care, when I was reading it, my heart and my mind were accepting all the words.
a truly life changing book. I recommend everyone reading this book.
Nick Metel
This book is nothing but the Truth.
Kennedy Ifeh
This book by Count Leo Tolstoy is the sequel to his bestseller, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’. Co-incidentally, I read this book at the same time that I read Dostoyevsky’s ‘Brothers Karamazov’. Tolstoy’s What I Believe, as small as it is, answers all the questions as raised by Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov; strange to say, few people have made reference to this fact.
The book is based on the integral teachings of Christ; the Sermon on the Mount. Tolstoy drew five commandments out of Chris...more
Here we get the real germ of the Count's way of life- explanations. Dismissed by one of my twenties-era friends who didn't know any better than to say so as "some pacifist watching a battle someplace" (i.e; War and Peace, Tolstoy himself actually began as a military man, & received his title for his efforts on behalf of the czar. To say he was a pacifist before he actually became one is disingenuous. But anyway...
Like Leo, I believe swearing an oath on behalf of Any government is "taking the...more
Iantha Casen
I was intrigued by the author's examination of the teachings of Christ. I was inspired to read more from other authors who analyse the Christian doctrine. I am still in the process of reading, but this is a extremely interesting take on what Jesus the Christ spoke compared to what the church seems to be teaching.
Karen Chung
A different side of Tolstoy. He did deep research into the Bible and the basic tenets of Christianity to write this very thought-provoking book. He is convincing when you first read it, but the arguments tend to erode over time, especially considered in the light of Tolstoy's own life choices.
This is some difficult stuff that he requires of us - but when one really steps back and looks at it, it is honestly the doctrine of Jesus of Nazareth that has long been forgotten. This book is idealistic and impractical - but so was Jesus - it is scripture and should be treated as such.
Jason Zimdars
I've read several of Tolstoy's books on this topic. They all share similar ideas but this one seems the most clear and focused. There are strong interpretations of the Gospels here that will change the way you look at what Jesus said.
Missy Subt

I just started this book and it has me thinking very deeply about the verse in Mark, "do not resist evil". I had never looked at that verse like that before... Still only 3 chapters into it but loving the way it's so provocative.
Worldview altering book. He makes some glaring mistakes in his discourse about resurrection, but his larger points about, living rationally, the church, the world and its authorities, and the law of Christ are truly great insights.
Very good. Goes over same material as Bonheofer in his book, The cost of discipleship. Mainly the sermon on the mount. This book was abtain for fee from librivox.org. very well voiced.
Darren Corpe
Do not resist evil or the evil person; that is the gist of it, the gist, that is, of the entire book.
“it opened my eyes to things I've looked at for so long that I've ceased to see them”
A few theological disagreements; however vastly agreeable, challenging and good
Sep 01, 2010 Mugo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: xtians
so you think u r a xtian? mmmmmhhhh.......
Vikas Lather
I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Krishna chintalapati
the author did a nice work
john marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2014
Christine marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2014
Rand marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2014
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Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой; commonly Leo Tolstoy in Anglophone countries) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider To...more
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Anna Karenina War and Peace The Death of Ivan Ilych The Kreutzer Sonata Resurrection

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“The doctrine of Christ, which teaches love, humility, and self-denial, had always attracted me. But I
found a contrary law, both in the history of the past and in the present organization of our lives – a law
repugnant to my heart, my conscience, and my reason, but one that flattered my animal instincts. I knew
that if I accepted the doctrine of Christ, I should be forsaken, miserable, persecuted, and sorrowing, as
Christ tells us His followers will be. I knew that if I accepted that law of man, I should have the
approbation of my fellow-men; I should be at peace and in safety; all possible sophisms would be at
hand to quiet my conscience and I should ‘laugh and be merry,’ as Christ says. I felt this, and therefore I
avoided a closer examination of the law of Christ, and tried to comprehend it in a way that should not
prevent my still leading my animal life. But, finding that impossible, I desisted from all attempts at
“As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields” 0 likes
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