Mormon Channel Blog

Leo Tolstoy's Thoughts on Mormonism

February 26, 2015

Leo Tolstoy was a famous Russian author who wrote a favorite children’s story and was complimentary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its teachings.

“The Old Shoemaker” is one of Leo Tolstoy’s stories and is included in the Mormon Channel Kids app, which you can download today. The app features several interactive stories written for children.

“The Old Shoemaker” tells the story of Martin, an experienced cobbler, who is told in a dream that the Savior would appear on the street outside his shop. As Martin waits throughout the day, he notices several individuals in need of service. Martin helps each person in need, and it is later revealed to him that the events of the day have been a lesson straight from Matthew 25:

"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. … Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Watch the video below:

The account in the video above is an adaptation from a short story written by Leo Tolstoy in 1885. Tolstoy was a famous Russian author who wrote several notable novels, including Anna Karenina, which is is regarded by some as one of the greatest novels ever written.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be interested to know that Tolstoy was aware of the Church and its teachings. In 1980 Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following story during the April 1980 general conference:

Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and statesman, in conversation with Andrew D. White, United States foreign minister to Russia, in 1892 said, “I wish you would tell me about your American religion.”

“We have no state church in America,” replied Dr. White.

“I know that, but what about your American religion?”

Dr. White explained to Tolstoy that in America each person is free to belong to the particular church in which he is interested.

Tolstoy impatiently replied: “I know all of this, but I want to know about the American religion. … The church to which I refer originated in America and is commonly known as the Mormon Church. What can you tell me of the teachings of the Mormons?”

Dr. White said, “I know very little concerning them.”

Then Count Leo Tolstoy rebuked the ambassador. “Dr. White, I am greatly surprised and disappointed that a man of your great learning and position should be so ignorant on this important subject. Their principles teach the people not only of heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this church, nothing can stop their progress—it will be limitless.”

Tolstoy continued, “There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.”

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