As part of the centenary of Lev Tolstoy’s death, I was been asked to reflect on Tolstoy and the Mennonites. Levi Miller wrote a fine article on the Tolstoy-Mennonite connection twelve years ago, reviewing those Mennonite leaders in Russia and America who interacted with Tolstoy’s work. My article will rather compare and contrast the roots and reasons of Mennonite and Tolstoyan communalism and nonviolence.
Mennonite and Tolstoyan Communalism
1. New Testament foundations: We necessarily begin by considering the New Testament teachings that inspired both movements. Both the early Anabaptists and the Tolstoyans looked to the New Testament for their communalism and nonviolence, but as we shall see, for quite different reasons.