Rebelling against Orthodoxy and Breaking through the Barriers: Leo Tolstoy’s Reasonable Faith and Its Contemporary Interpretation


Author: JIN Meiling, Lecturer, School of Foreign Languages, Renmin University of China.  


Leo Tolstoy’s religious exploration represents a historical and cultural phenomenon infused with his distinctive personality. Tolstoy firmly believed in the doctrine of Christ, yet remained committed to subjecting traditional Christianity to the scrutiny of reason, aiming to demystify religion and establish a common rational foundation for the Kingdom of God on Earth. This notion ran contrary to traditional Christian theology, resulting in the renowned writer’s eventual excommunication from the official church.

While delving into Tolstoy’s rational faith, this article also spotlights the latest research on this topic within contemporary Russian academic circles. Contemporary Russian scholars have adopted a more open-minded approach when interpreting Tolstoy’s rational faith. They argue that Tolstoy regarded faith as the bedrock of human existence, seeing it as a harmonious fusion of knowledge and practice that does not conflict with reason — a faith centered on nonviolent ethics. Tolstoy’s theories on nonviolence, while often impractical within external institutional society, hold an irreplaceable significance in the spiritual journey of individuals with rational consciousness.


Leo Tolstoy, reasonable faith, Christ, nonviolent ethics

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