This is a great quote for those wanting to justify their heresy to themselves or others. Tolstoy’s writings have been inspirational to me for a long time and few others have the eloquence and passion. I like what he says about what he believes as well as what he says about the consequences of his beliefs and the basis of his convictions:
“I believe that the meaning of the life of every man, therefore, lies only in the increase of love in oneself; that this increase of love leads the individual man in this life towards greater and greater welfare; that after death it gives the greater welfare the more
love there be in man; and that, at the same time,that this increase of love leads man, even in this life, to ever greater and greater blessedness, and after death gives him the more blessedness the more love he has, and helps more than anything else towards the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth : that is, to the establishment of an order of life in which the discord, deception and violence that now rule will be replaced by free accord, by truth, and by the brotherly love of one for another. . . .
. . . . Whether or not these beliefs of mine offend, grieve, or prove a stumbling block to anyone, or hinder anything, or give displeasure to anybody, I can as little change them as I can change my body. I must live my own life, and I must myself alone meet death (and that very soon), and therefore I cannot believe otherwise than as I – preparing to go to that God from whom I came – do believe. I do not believe my faith to be the one indubitable truth for all time, but I see no other that is plainer, clearer, or answers better to all the demands of my reason and my heart; should I find such a one I shall at once accept it; for God requires nothing but the truth. But I can no more return to that from which with such suffering I have escaped, than a flying bird can re-enter the eggshell from which it has emerged.
“He or she who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his or her own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself or herself (his or her own peace)better than all,” said Coleridge.”
I traveled the contrary way. I began by loving my Orthodox faith more than my peace, then I loved Christianity more than my Church, and now I love truth more than anything in the world. And up to now, truth, for me, corresponds with Christianity as I understand it. And I hold to this Christianity ; and to the degree in which I hold to it I live peacefully and happily, and peacefully and happily approach death.