“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”
-Leo M. Tolstoy (The Kingdom of God is Within You)
I can remember the first time I read through Tolstoy’s manifesto.
It was the first time a book really scared me.
Like, deep down inside.
Because Tolstoy’s vision of following Christ was more radical, more unflinching, more ego-destroying, than anything I had ever encountered up to that point in my life.
I mean, other than the red letters of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, that is. Those words burned holes in my soul and ignited a flame in my heart that has never been extinguished.
Not that the Evangelical Christianity of my youth didn’t do all it could to distract me from those red letters and water down those words from Jesus with elaborate doctrines and absolute theology and an overdose of the Apostle Paul’s letters.
Tolstoy re-awakened that fire with me. His book shook me to my core. Here was a man who saw the power and the life-changing genius of Christ from the Sermon on the Mount and who dared to take it seriously.
I was enthralled.
His book made me believe that following the Way of Jesus was not only possible, it was essential to my survival and to the future of humanity on this earth.
Tolstoy pulled no punches. He boldly confronted the demonic influence of Empire, the insanity of war, the necessity of love, and the inevitability of God’s Kingdom reign on this very planet we inhabit.
I could hardly believe that his words had been penned so long ago. They felt as real and as vibrant and vital as anything I had read by Yoder, or Claiborne, or Sider, or Douglas. Even more so, his words vibrated with the frequency of liberation, of love, and of a radical inner transformation of the human soul from mere selfish animal to a divine, self-giving Christlikeness.
His book made me wonder, “Is it possible?” and it made me ask, “Could we really change the world?” and by the end of the book I was more than certain that it was indeed possible and that our world was already in the process of being changed by the wisdom and life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Later, I learned that people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were influenced by this book. I met others whose lives had been tuned to the same frequency as Tolstoy’s by interaction with these ideas.
Future titles in this new Quoir Classics series will include The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky [with a new Foreword by Brian Zahnd], The Call of the Wild by Jack London [with a new Foreword by Sandhya Jha], and The Prophet by Khalil Gibran [with a new Foreword by Wm. Paul Young].
Why are we doing this? Why publish new editions of classic titles with new Forewords from more established and well-known authors?
Because many in the Christian world are calling for books to be banned in schools and pulled from library shelves.
We hope to encourage readers to seek out great works by exceptional authors who challenge our status quo and inspire us to think differently.
That’s what Quoir Classics is all about. We’re dedicated to the rejuvenation of great works from exceptional authors of literature, poetry, philosophy and mysticism that still resonate with modern readers today.
Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” His latest book, SOLA MYSTERIUM: Celebrating the Beautiful Uncertainty of Everything is available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.