Read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis Online


"This is not everyone's favorite, but its on everyone's list. This is the most widely published and read book on spirituality in our tradition. It is amazing how well its medieval monkishness carries over into the modern world. When Dag Hammarskjold was killed in an airplane crash in Africa, the books found in his briefcase were the Bible and The Imitation."--Eugene Peters"This is not everyone's favorite, but its on everyone's list. This is the most widely published and read book on spirituality in our tradition. It is amazing how well its medieval monkishness carries over into the modern world. When Dag Hammarskjold was killed in an airplane crash in Africa, the books found in his briefcase were the Bible and The Imitation."--Eugene Peterson, from his book Take and ReadNext to the Bible itself, The Imitation of Christ is the most-published--and most deeply cherished--book in any language. For nearly 600 years, these thoughtful meditations on Jesus' life and teachings offer practical guidance on the central task of the Christian life: learning day by day to live like Jesus. This modern translation is direct and concise, yet retains a deep devotional flavor.Every Christian library needs the classics--the timeless books that have spoken powerfully to generations of believers. Now Hendrickson Christian Classics allows readers to build an essential classics library in affordable modern editions. Each volume is freshly retypeset for reading comfort, while thoughtful new introductions place each in historical and spiritual context. Attractive, classically bound covers look great together on the shelf. Best of all, value pricing makes this series easy to own. Planned to span the spectrum of Christian wisdom through the ages, Hendrickson Christian Classics sets a new standard for quality and value....

Title : The Imitation of Christ
Author :
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ISBN : 9781565634367
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 180 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Imitation of Christ Reviews

  • David
    2019-03-24 09:58

    ‘You can get used to anything,’ chuckled a retired SS captain in a documentary recently about his posting to Auschwitz, after he’d described how the bodies in the gas chambers always formed a perfect pyramid, with its apex at the grille in the roof. We might take issue with this particular instance of ‘anything’, but the fact remains that human beings are amazingly adaptable when it comes to pushing the psychological boundaries. The initial shock of a new and unpleasant experience fairly quickly levels out to a plateau that becomes the new norm. What we today accept as normal, everyday life would have seemed a vision of hell to a man of the Middle Ages: technology run riot; workers enslaved to capitalism; sex, money and power the presiding deities; religion apparently the preserve of the ignorant, the superficial and the deceived.The airwaves are creaking like an over-laden galleon under the weight of advice on everything from cosmetic surgery and nutrition to beauty therapies and relationships.I watched a woman on TV last night having liposuction and extensive, invasive surgery to make her feel happier with her body. The lump of flesh on the operating table, drenched in blood and with two huge wings of fat and skin laid out on either side, made her look like the aftermath of a Viking Blood Eagle execution, or the subject of a tortured painting by Francis Bacon.It seemed a perfect symbol for the way in which we have lost our way in the materialistic jungle, and certainly if I were Satan I’d be celebrating down the pub – mankind has been successfully hoodwinked, flooded and distracted with gadgets, obsessed with youth, beauty, money and sex, all thoughts of salvation gone out the window.The purity of the original message from any of the great religions seems to get contaminated as soon as it enters the corrupt medium of the world, so that what we end up with is an idea of the ‘Will of God’ - if it exists at all – as one that is wholly bent on evil, as Umberto Eco suggests in ‘The Name of the Rose’.There is a need for a return, for a restoration of the spiritual balance without which life is a burden and a struggle, a minimalist drama by Beckett rather than a glorious opera by Mozart. Society will go marching on its self-destructive way, but as individuals we can look out for ourselves and try to rectify the psychic disorders by purifying ourselves of the rubbish that is constantly seeking to make inroads. Thomas à Kempis’s wonderful book is more relevant today than when it was written. You don’t have to be a Christian or even particularly religious to derive nourishment from it. It hasn’t been out of print for six hundred years, and is worth more than a library of modern ‘self-help’ books.The Imitation consists of four books on general spiritual topics, each divided into subsections dealing with more focused aspects: ‘On trust in God in all trouble’, ‘On knowing ourselves’, etc. After the Bible itself, no other work can compare with its profound wisdom, clarity of thought, and converting power. Christians of such widely differing period and outlook as Thomas More and General Gordon, Ignatius Loyola and John Wesley, Francis Xavier and Dr Johnson are but a few of the thousands who have acknowledged their debt to this work. Although à Kempis spent most of his life in the cloister, his burning faith and love of God speak to us on the level of shared humanity. As F.R.Cruise says in his authoritative work on a Kempis, ‘Beyond doubt, the Imitation most perfectly reflects the light which Jesus Christ brought down from heaven to earth, and truthfully portrays the highest Christian philosophy.’

  • Chris
    2019-02-23 13:17

    A classic. Not everyone's cup of tea. Demanding and ascetic, the upward road to salvation. No platitudes here and calming words, just the raw grain of uneasy truth. Handle with caution.

  • Rebekah Disch
    2019-03-18 08:06

    This is my go-to daily read I've carried around for the last few years, and it never gets old. When I need a good kick in the butt, I read Kempis. His excerpts are short but pack so much truth, and I can't tell you how many times I've just cried over his words as God has used this book to convict me of my self-exaltation and pride, and how the mercy of God meets us in our repentant and contrite hearts.

  • booklady
    2019-03-07 09:11

    The Imitation of Christ consists of four ‘books’. One each on: 1.) Good advice on the life of Christian faith; 2.) The interior life of the follower of Christ; 3.) Spiritual comfort; and 4.) Reflections on the Eucharist. Each of these is further subdivided into anywhere from twelve to fifty-six mini-reflections on related topics. The third and longest book—the one on ‘spiritual comfort’—is my personal favorite. Even though it’s been over forty years since the first time I read Imitation I vividly recall my reaction to ‘hearing’ the ‘voice of Christ’ in these pages. Tears. This book introduced me to the concept of a relationship with Jesus. For a long time after I kept a copy of Imitation close at hand and read (the parts I liked) constantly.I still cry when I read – or listen to an audio version of – Jesus ‘speaking in the quiet of my heart’ as à Kempis puts it. Since that first time, I’ve read or listened to this spiritual classic more times than can be remembered. Even when I was turning my back on all things related to God, I went in search of a copy of this book. I was led to a modern translation of it in a little bookstore in Germany, where we were living at the time. That was my favorite translation ever but along the way someone else needed it more, so it’s gone. I’ve bought this book as gifts for Confirmation and graduation and I’ve tried out several different translations. The older – and yes more literal – ones tend to be a bit off-putting. Thomas à Kempis–the most probable author—was a 14th century monk. It was a different era. They took their spirituality seriously back then. Well some did anyway. If they were genuine and the author of Imitation seems to be the real deal.So how much of it is applicable to modern people living in the world? I guess it depends on you. You can always get yourself a copy and just read what appeals to you. A place to begin might be where Jesus tells how much He loves you, how good God is and how to look for lasting peace and consolation in Him. Once you fully saturate yourself in the mercy and love of God, then maybe you’ll be ready to move on to some of the more challenging lessons. Nothing says the book has to be read in order. For some years now I listen to this audio version while driving or crocheting. It’s an excellent modern translation. I can also recommend The Heart and Soul of Imitating Christ: A Fresh Look at the Thomas a Kempis Classic. I keep that with my Bible.The Imitation of Christ is the most popular devotional after Holy Scripture.Most highly recommended.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-02-28 09:09

    This book is said to be written by a monk for monks. So, it talks about things that a normal human being like me, or probably like most of us who read for pleasure, hard to implement. Common, who among us can abandon our comfortable lives, pack another pair of clothes and join a religious organization just like what St. Francis of Assisi, Beatified Mother Teresa or the disciples of Jesus? For me they are the super-humans who are different from all of us.I will never claim that I am religious and that I always doubt that if I die now, I will go straight to heaven. Why? Because one thing that I find hard to do or will never ever do is to abandon what comforts I am enjoying now like living away from my wife and daughter and join the monks to pray and serve my fellowmen. I mean, what will happen to my wife and daughter? Especially my daughter who is still studying? She still needs my support and I have a responsibility to her as her father. Jesus said in Mark 20:25 that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God. And since it was Jesus who said that that basically is what the first part of The Imitation of Christ, "Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life" is all about. Well, aside from the importance of solitude and silence that I always find to have especially during the early mornings when I wake up to urinate and I could not sleep, I grab the rosary in my side of the bed and pray. The second book "Directives for Inner Life" tells us that we are all passers-by in this world and that being passers-by, we should attribute everything to God. We should take up our cross just like the way Jesus did. If it is work that we consider us our cross, we should work hard and dedicate everything we do in the office to Him rather than to our boss. Everything is fleeting and ephemeral. Everything will pass. Your boss, who does not see your hard work and who is focused on himself or his own agenda will also pass. The job that you think you need will also pass and you will move on. Everything happens for a reason and the important thing is that you live your life based on what God has designed for you. We should open our hearts and accept him. However, again, that is easier said than done. Again, read Mark 20:25.The third book is my favorite mot only because it is in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and one of his disciples but it can be summarized by one of my favorite biblical passages, John 14:16 that says "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Nothing else is important. If you boss scolds you, refuse to talk back and think of Jesus being the more important person than them (if they are wrong). What Jesus thinks of you is more important than what your boss thinks about you even if he thinks that you suck and you are deserved to be sacked. Don't worry, Jesus who sees the real you will show you the way.The fourth and final book "On Blessed Sacrament" is also in the form of dialogue just like the third book but it is focused more on the sacraments as the practices that should remind us of Jesus Christ when he was still on earth like the holy mass and the sacred communion. It is through the sacraments that we can form union with Jesus and it is through following Him, through imitating Him that we can have share an eternal life with Him.

  • Ellie Sorota
    2019-03-24 04:59

    Truly, this is a 1.5 star book in my record, but I didn't have the option. Although one of the most popular books in Christian literary history, I found this text difficult to connect with because of the jabbing absolutes and insistence on isolation. Kempis' Christianity resounds with joylessness; and as one member of our book group commented, he comes across as the kind likely to be disappointed by heaven. The overwhelming theme of the text is suffering, that is, imitating Christ through suffering. Many times in the text, this point crescendos to suffering for the sake of suffering, rather than for any particular religious goal. Perhaps that impression stems from his lack of balance in describing Christian humility and our post-salvation predicament. Kempis endorses a life void of rejoicing in one's salvation, and suggests that to do so would imply haughtiness of spirit and a lack of contempt for sin. He also emphasizes disdain for the world, that the more mature one becomes in their faith, the more one should enjoy suffering and despise both self and world. While I agree that humility is a difficult virtue to exist alongside human intellect, as humanity is always inventing ways to be impressed with itself, I cannot endorse Kempis' view that the world and self should be completely despised. Scripture tells us that the Kingdom of God is NOW, not just in the future, but occurring since Jesus began his ministry and finding its fulfillment in heaven. Why Kempis avoids this discussion, I do not know. However, if God is able to reside in my own heart, then there is that part of me which should never be despised.Kempis also insist on solitude in the Christian life, and while it is true that we all eventually fail one another due to our own sinful imperfections, nowhere in scripture do I find solitude and isolation endorsed. Kempis says that one should seek God not above others, but instead of others. Again, this avoids a scriptural discussion on the body of Christ and our needs and obligations to others. Again and again, scripture resounds with the reminder that we cannot exist outside of community. Which, I suppose, is why even the monks retired from the world in the company of others. The emphasis on suffering was a good reminder that adversity is, indeed, a guarantee of the Christian life (of any life, for that matter); and Kempis' insistence on faithfulness in the experience of suffering is a needed reminder for today's feel-good age. Also enjoyable, and boosting my review from 1 to 1.5 stars, is the end portion on communion. Reading Kempis' guide to communion preparation reminds the spirit of what a contrite posture feels like, and helps one bend into that impossible pose. Overall, this is not a book I enjoyed reading, but my own disagreements with the text were quite stimulating. Perhaps that is the aim of Thomas a Kempis' impossible absolutes.

  • Karen L.
    2019-03-20 11:05

    This book is going to forever be in either of two places in my home; my coffee table or my bedside. Reading this book this morning was like drinking deep of Christ's love. Thomas a Kempis wrote this devotion in such a way to fan the flame in our soul with beautiful gentle words. It is a book that calls one deeper and farther in to the heart of God.Psalm 42:7 sums it up: "Deep calls unto deep at the sound of thy waterfalls; All thy breakers and thy waves have rolled over me.

  • Kristen
    2019-03-23 07:59

    Currently reading and re-reading (for the rest of my life). Anyone who embraces the wisdom in this book and lives by its precepts, will be a happy and content person. Imitation of Christ was written by a Benedictine monk around 1429. The truth he writes of transcends centuries and applies as much to today's modern man/woman as it did back then because it addresses the issues and attitudes that lie in the human heart. Our world will never change until we, collectively, change our heart attitudes.

  • Elise
    2019-03-02 05:05

    It would be difficult to overstate the impact this book has had on me. Yes, it's really, really Catholic. Yes, it's ascetic. No, it's most definitely not pro-woman. Even so, I think Jesus meant it when he said to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily but mention that to a modern evangelical and watch them recoil in horror. This little book calls the reader to a life of intensity and discipline in following Christ. It's not comforting or particularly warm and it makes no accommodations. You need to do that yourself. it took me 4 years to finish this book because every passage is so incredibly rich that I couldn't take in too much at any one time. Honestly I can't even recommend it to very many people because it's so hard core. If you're a nominal Christian who likes feel-good sermons and that book about the little boy who goes to Heaven, bless you but skip this one. Try Dennis Okholm's "Monk Habits for Everyday People" if you want to get all monastic but think denying yourself means not sleeping in on Sunday. I'm serious, it's a good book. I think I gave it 4 stars. But if you're 100% serious about following Jesus, if knowing God is the highest priority in your life, if you get the concept of willingly plucking out your eye to keep yourself out of Hell, then get this book and read it slowly and carefully. There's a lot of chaff, let that go but hold on tightly to the wheat. It will nourish you.

  • Sheldon
    2019-03-24 05:06

    If anyone can claim the credentials to be a "card carrying evangelical", it's me. Born and raised Church of the Nazarene. Saved at grandma's Methodist church camp. Baptized, second-act-of-grace santicfication, Youth for Christ trained, Billy Graham crusade foot soldier. It is a membership that lasted well over forty years. But by the end of the 2004 presidential campaign, if there had been somewhere I could go and turn in my card, I would have gladly done so. By that time the word "evangelical" had pretty much lost any sense of religious identification for me. It had been almost completely co-opted by Republican political operatives and Christian Fundamentalists with whom I had little or no sense of theological community.In retrospect, my departure from mainstream evangelicalism had starting years earlier, when I discovered the Social Justice wing of the church, which, in my own view, remained Protestant and Wesleyan. But as I grew old and crusty, my faith journey started to take some strange twists and turns. In retropsect, the mile stones in this journey became marked by a reading list that grew ever wider from the boundaries of my Protestant upbringing and education. This book shelf, "Evangelical Escape Pod" is actually a literary history of books that have brought me to a place that would probably send my Nazarene Sunday School teachers into a frenzy of Wednesday night Prayer Meeting intersession (or possibly intervention). It began with this book, "The Imitation of Christ", which I first read probably sometime in the late 80s. It was the first sharp departure from my Prtotestant Reformation comfort zone, and began a long, slow and still evolving transformation

  • Tara
    2019-03-09 11:07

    When I do not remember who to be, or how to live, or what to think, then it is best for me to recall this book. But perhaps all the times I have not done so have made the moments where the mists clear and I do find it all the better. I do not think it is possible to create a piece of art that could help people as much as this book. That is no loss, though. The same thing does not need to be said a thousand times - it only needs to be really heard, and then lived. This is, for me, the summation of human talent and wisdom. What is philosophy, or science, or politics, or art, or culture for, if not to live well? Almost every discussion I've seen of living well has lacked so terribly much. Thomas à Kempis illustrated it perfectly. It is difficult. It is, perhaps, impossible. But the path he points to seems, to me, to be the most true. And perhaps that is why it so hard, because we do not want to hear the truth. Still we can know it, for its frailest fruits are more valuable, peaceful, brave, and beautiful than the greatest cities of luxuries.

  • Erin
    2019-03-14 10:18

    This is one of the heaviest books I've ever read in the realm of christian thought. Each 1-4 page chapter has to be digested individually (thus the snail's pace taken to get through it) and meditated upon afterwards in order to get the full effect. It's definitely a book to own, as I could easily see how you could read it once a year for the rest of your life and still get something meaningful and enlightening out of it each time.It just occurred to me to revisit the preface and sure enough I discovered my justification in slow reading pace and heaviness of text:"We offer a final word about the act of reading these spiritual classics. From the very earliest accounts of monastic practice it is evident that a form of reading called lectio divina was essential to any deliberate spiritual life. This kind of reading is quite different from that of scanning a text for useful facts and bits of information, or advancing along an exciting plot line to a climax in the action. It is, rather, a meditative approach, by which the reader seeks to taste and savor the beauty and truth of every phrase and passage."

  • Peter B.
    2019-03-15 05:05

    This book had some real good gems but the book as a whole was not as impressive. It is pretty good considering the time it was written (15th century), and makes some valuable points, but still has too much of an abandon-the-world mentality. Some memorable quotes:"It is vanity to wish for long life, if you care little for a good life.""A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover, as the love of the giver."

  • Brian
    2019-03-09 08:15

    I read this back in 2006. Although I don't agree with much of the theology presented by a Kempis, I found the book beautiful and moving. The man loved God and he pours out his heart on the pages. He also writes what he believes Jesus tells him in response. The book brought tears to my eyes a few times.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-03-08 10:26

    One of my parents' closest friends, who has remained one of my close friends even after watching me grow up (she's a saint), has recently started posting memes on facebook of the "religion is what you have when you fear the world; spirituality is what you have when you love life" variety. Now, there is something to be said for skepticism about organized religion. But this book accidentally makes an argument for skepticism about disorganized religion. The Imitatio has been very influential, so I thought I'd give it a read, more or less for its historical interest. I have no idea how this might work as actual spiritual food, but I do know what it looks like intellectually: massive, disturbing, self-righteous selfishness. The focus of the books' authors (there are four books in here, and I'm pretty sure they're by different people, just due to the shifts in tone and form) is on *you*, dear reader, and how *you* can get through the veil of tears and enter the kingdom of heaven. A large part of doing so, it turns out, is ignoring everyone else and looking into yourself. There is literally *nothing* in here about helping others. No doubt the authors didn't intend to make such a statement--my second suspicion is that the book really was meant to be more like 'tips for how to get along in a religious community' than 'groundwork for spiritual practices.' But whether they intended it or not, the Imitatio mainly counsels a rejection of all other human beings, since they are just stumbling blocks in your way to paradise. This edition is very well done; it reads clearly, the notes are exhaustive and even if you know literally nothing about the middle ages, bible or Christianity you will rarely be lost. But I think I'd rather read an Imitation of St. Martin.

  • Tim
    2019-03-09 10:24

    Somehow I am cheered that this is one of the best-selling Christian devotional books in history, though I imagine it has fallen down the list in recent years. Not that market penetration has anything to do with the reality of devotional life, but this is a serious work that calls the believer to a life of intense and disciplined following after Jesus. Taken from the Catholic monastic-like setting of the Brethren of the Common Life in the early 15th century it does feel medieval and Catholic at times (in its deference to authority, its value of community, its welcoming of suffering, its adoration of the Eucharist), but also overflows with a personal and experiential faith that also feels modern (heart religion, individualistic, dualistic in its divisions of the physical and spiritual world). The book works against pride, seeks the benefit of the brother, and always wants Christ first. Its goals are lofty, but its understanding of human nature is deep. One chapter titled "We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ Through Bearing the Cross" is followed by "A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects." As an aside to Protestants, its call to hard work and effort to merit more grace is balanced by an entire surrender and acknowledgment that only God's grace allows us frail humans to act. All of the four books into which this book is divided are useful, but I found the first book hit particularly close to my condition and will be dipping into it again and again (which is the way it should be read anyway - bit by bit with room for reflection). If you know me some of the chapter titles of Book 1 ("Having a Humble Opinion of Self," "Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection," and "Avoiding Rash Judgment" among others) will probably raise an amen.

  • Ellen
    2019-03-16 08:21

    For someone who goes so far wrong sometimes (and he really does), when a Kempis gets things right, he hits the nail dead on the head. There were definitely things that I didn't agree with in this book, but the main, overarching themes -- the supreme importance of God, dying to self, not attaching oneself to earthly things, not pursuing knowledge for knowledge's sake -- are absolute, incontrovertible truth. These ideas can certainly be wrongly applied, and he did definitely stray too far in the direction of asceticism and dualism, but he's still absolutely right when he says, "Help me to know continually that there can be no true happiness, no fulfilling of thy purpose for me, apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love." All in all, this was an incredibly helpful and timely book to me, in reminding me where my priorities and affections need to be, and on Whom my security/stability needs to be founded. In spite of its flaws (I won't even get into his ideas about the Eucharist), it spoke to me where I was at, and the Lord used it to solidify some very important lessons in my mind. You just have to chew the meat and spit out the bones -- and after all, that's going to be true of even the best books by the most orthodox authors."Oh, if men bestowed as much labor in the rooting out of vices and planting of virtues as they do in proposing questions, there would neither be such great evils and slanders in the world, nor so much looseness among us. Truly, when the day of judgment comes, we shall not be examined as to what we have read, but what we have done (Matt. 25); not how well we have spoken, but how we have lived."

  • Malcolm Mark
    2019-03-09 07:07

    This is very deep and high. Most of the theological and spiritual concepts are high theology and spirituality, however you can find practical concepts or thoughts that you can apply in your life. If you have good pastoral psychology background, hence, this will be a good book for you... This is also good material for reflection, meditation, or any religious exercise to deepen your spiritual experience. I have read the Spanish translation of this book which is closer to the original Latin manuscript written by Tomas e'Kempis. However, to be very careful in reading this book because this is basically personal reflection of Tomas e'Kempis. When you read this book you gotta have read the author's background (esp. personal and the time being written) and again you gotta have at least good pastoral psychological and spiritual experience. I highly recommend this to people who have good theological and psychological education, and mature spiritual experience. Yet, I highly discourage people to read this book, those who have high religiosity but poor spirituality. (i.e. people with prayer-life that are very dependent to institution, esp. they can't pray outside an institution like church, altar, any absence of a symbol or sign).

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-05 10:25

    Excellent spiritual classic. The call of this book is very high, urging a devotion to Christ that utterly smashes our love for ourselves and for this world. That might be a familiar message in churches today, but this volume illustrates it in concrete, palpable ways that grate against the listening soul. Grace is interspersed among the many repentant prayers found within the volume, but the exhortations to live a holy life felt a tiny bit more pronounced than the encouragement of a free, grace-filled life (or maybe that's just what hit me harder as I read).

  • Jaye
    2019-03-20 09:13

    This is one of those books that one can pick up and put down again and again.Written for monks, it is a challenge for the striving Christian who is very much 'in the world' in a way these monks were not.Still, there is valuable advice for those seeking to go deeper in the their Christian faith.

  • Patrick Costello
    2019-03-22 05:18

    The handbook of so many saints since its publication. After Holy Scripture, this book has probably profited more souls than any other throughout history. I recommend the version from the Confraternity of the Precious Blood. It has wonderful illustrations of the Christian life and of the Kingdom. A must read!

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-13 05:08

    This is a very difficult book. Not because it is a challenge to read, but because it is a challenge to understand. It is the sort of book that does not comfort, but forces you to question everything about your own life. And so it is a great book, and even a necessary one.

  • Jorge Criado
    2019-02-27 11:12

    No me extraña que san Ignacio de Loyola llevara siempre este librito con él. De hecho, según iba leyéndolo, había muchas ocasiones en las que me daba cuenta de hasta qué punto este libro había influido en los Ejercicios Espirituales de san Ignacio.

  • Rachel Noffke
    2019-03-11 06:04

    I'm reading this one again for Lent.A wealth of spiritual reading material that never gets old.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-06 12:19

    Weak sauce.It was okay, but his theology (his view of truth) is slightly askew in some important areas. He focuses mainly on the contemplative life, humility, and his worthlessness. He also focused on Jesus Christ as his only salvation and satisfaction; this was the best part of the book.However, his three other emphases (as listed above) are so reflected on that I think he redefines the terms or if he doesn't redefine the terms he places an inordinate emphasis upon them (rather it might be better to say that he places them in positions of highest authority, such that the glory of Jesus Christ seems to be diminished, logically, in his view).He focuses so entirely on the inward life that he forgets that Christians are to be amongst the people, pointing others to Jesus Christ, and encouraging fellow believers.He focuses so much on humility that it seems to become a source of pride for him, that humility is more to be sought than loving God and standing up for truth when it is needed.He focuses so much on his own worthlessness (which is true), nevertheless he seems to revel in his worthlessness, taking pride in his worthlessness, instead of rejoicing in the fact of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. Our worthlessness should never become a source of pride, that is sick.And finally, because of these misplaced emphases, Kempis seems to rest more in his own efforts to be humble and loving than in Christ's work, than in Jesus Christ. Kempis seems to steal the glory of salvation away from Christ. I say seems to, because he does acknowledge that only Christ can save, apart from Christ no one can be saved. But his words throughout this devotional seem to belie his own stated hope in Jesus Christ alone. He seems to contradict himself.This book was okay. It does not live up to its billing as the best devotional next to the Bible. Sorry Kempis, I love contemplating too and humility, but they are not gods to be worshiped and bowed down to.

  • Cliff Davis
    2019-03-17 12:17

    This is wisdom to be internalized over the course of a lifetime

  • Nathan Eilers
    2019-03-23 10:14

    I picked up The Imitation of Christ after seeing that Eugene Peterson recommended it (though I'm no fan of The Message). I had no idea it has had such an enormous impact on the Church for centuries. A Kempis wrote this in the early 1400s!I was in this book for 10 months--August 08-June 09--so I'm afraid I lost a lot of my sense of the totality of the book. I read The Imitation as my devotions until January; then, I picked up Oswald Chambers and this one took a back seat. All this to say, I don't remember all of the reasons why this book is so invaluable. I can say that God met me several times in its pages, and what is better than that?There is a special blessing that comes with reading the works of authors from centuries past. Their world was so different from yours, so they have thoughts and ways of putting things that you do not. Thomas a Kempis is supremely devout and humble in his approach to God, which I need a lot more of. I learned a lot from his example and passion for the faith.I recommend this to any and all Christians and anyone else who is interested. There is depth and beauty in a Kempis' faith that taught me much. I hope to return to this book someday.

  • Karina
    2019-02-24 08:11

    I saw this little book early in my spiritual life in my parish bookstore. I don't really know what drew me to it. It had a simple red cover with some symbol (looks like a mix between the cross and the sword) and the title "Sekošana Kristum" (Latvian for "Following Christ").* And I bought it. I read bits and parts of it as I needed. I can't really read it all from the beginning to the end, although I certainly tried. But I don't think it's really necessary. Sometimes it's okay to skip ahead to the important bits about the Eucharist and such... It's a fantastic book. However it's getting harder and harder to read with time, because I'm really rusty with Latvian. Not my native language, and I'm a long way from Latvia now, so I don't get to practice it... I was thinking of buying an English translation if I can find a good one. * In fact, it was a lot like this edition with some differences - but the symbol is the same. What is it?

  • Josiah
    2019-03-02 12:25

    Thomas A. Kempis speaks to us across the centuries with the timeless, hard truths about the Christian's quest to become as like our Lord and Savior as is possible in this life here below. The writing and ideals of this book savor strongly of the ascetic life of the monastery but do not succumb to a fully monastic frame of thought, and even though the author may speak too strongly at times in favor of abandoning the company of men to be alone with Christ, I fear many of us are so far the apposite direction that if we accept a tempered version we will be far closer to true communion with Christ than currently.I highly recommend it to your thoughtful perusal.

  • L. R. Bouligny Bouligny
    2019-03-13 11:23

    The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a’Kempis is a collection of proverbs and Scripture-based principles that have been greatly esteemed over the centuries as a helpful meditation on the Christian life. Written sometime between 1420-1427, this work includes various topics that all address the life of the disciple who chooses to forsake the world and follow Christ. Since the original was written anonymously, there has been uncertainty over the years as to who penned this work; however, most scholars today acknowledge a’Kempis as the author. The book does not begin with any background information or even an introduction. Instead, what we find is a collection of proverbs and pithy statements that are based on the wisdom of the Bible; mostly practical, and oftentimes rich with meditative treasure. The divisions in the book are usually short, not spending too much time on one subject or another. In examining this work, it is helpful to know that its author was a monk, and his intention was to encourage other monks to live lives devoted to Christ through submission and sacrifice. His devotion to seclusion and self denial are made evident on nearly every page. Because of this overemphasis on isolation, however, it does not take long to discover glaring errors in the theology of a’Kempis. His understanding of God is very consistent with the time in which he lived and the Catholic Church in which he served. His constant plea to the reader is one of works, sacrifice, and submission. No one would argue that all of these are vital to a Christian’s life, but the context in which a’Kempis writes often gives the impression that these things make one righteous before God. A’Kempis is puzzling to say the least. In one portion of his writings his focus is on the sovereignty of God over all things—including the human will—and in the next section he seems to convey the idea that it is ultimately man’s responsibility. For example, in Book III he says, “Are not all arduous labors to be endured to gain eternal life? Losing or gaining the kingdom of God is no small matter!” (47:4). Yet, just a few chapters later, he comments, “Father, all holy, this is the way You have designed it and desired it and since You have commanded it, it has come to pass.” (50:3 ). Contrasting statements like these beg the question whether it is God who saves the lost sinner, or if it is man’s persistence in the disciplines.The contention here may be over how the author applies the word ‘grace’. In the biblical view, grace means that salvation is free because of what Christ has done for those who believe—by faith alone, in Christ alone. What a’Kempis means by grace, it appears, it entirely different. The grace he speaks of is God responding to the efforts of human behavior, saving men because of their self denial rather than God initiating grace and transforming men unto good works. It is hard to codify his true thoughts because there is so much language throughout the book that makes one think that a’Kempis is on the biblical path—only to get a little farther to find him making contradictory claims. Because of the aforementioned issues, it is difficult to say whether or not the author is a genuine believer or one who is trusting in his works to be saved. In reading this, the Christian cannot help but be stirred with the love that a’Kempis seems to have for the Lord Jesus Christ. He speaks to Him from his inmost being, yearning to be with Him and to know Him. But since it is impossible to look into someone’s heart, all the pleas of self denial and sacrifice make his standing with God appear to be entirely works-based. It is not for certain that it is the biblical Jesus to whom a’Kempis is crying out. He often makes very spiritually nebulous comments that sound like they could be written on the walls of a Buddhist temple. For example, he states, “[I:]t is great and wonderful to be able to do without all consolation, both human and divine…and not seek one’s self nor think of ones deserts” (Book II, chp 9:1). Since Buddhist principles teach that the pinnacle of living is to escape all desires and feelings, it is not difficult to make the comparison. The book is replete with such statements that associate holiness with isolation and self denial. All throughout the work he is pitting himself against any type of comfort, drawing the reader to the conclusion that all forms of comfort are unspiritual or equivalent to loving the world. While it is true that any comfort here on earth is merely temporal and we are not to adore these things, a’Kempis implies that all earthly comfort is from the evil one and is used to pull believers away from Christ. Perhaps the most disheartening thing about The Imitation of Christ, is when a’Kempis transitions from a monologue to an alleged dialogue with Jesus himself. Each chapter is broken up into sections where Jesus speaks to the Disciple, and the Disciple responds to Jesus. The idea of transcribing what the Son of God is saying apart from Scripture is near to the sin of blasphemy. Since no one knows what Jesus says or thinks apart from what has already been revealed, having an imaginary conversation with Him is attributing things to Him from one’s own thoughts. Once the reader reaches part IV of the book, the author’s theological errors mixed into the words of Jesus create no small insult to the Christian who relates to the Jesus of Scripture and understands the plain meanings of his teachings. He portrays Jesus as repeatedly encouraging the partaking of the Eucharist, making it obvious that Jesus teaches its importance for sanctification. As it goes on, it is clear why men are not to put words into Jesus’ mouth—because man is sinful and fallen and cannot clearly grasp what Jesus might say. One example of this would be where a’Kempis has Jesus telling the Disciple not to listen to the devil’s temptations, but instead to rebuke him. He writes, “And when [the devil:] does suggest foul and wicked things to you, give it right back to him, saying: ‘Get out of here you foul mouthed spirit, you obscene tempter! You are nothing but filth to utter such gross things into my ears.” (Book II chp 26:4). This is contrary to Scripture, since it says in the book of Jude that not even the Archangel Michael rebuked the devil, but rather said “The Lord rebuke you!"While this review may seem harsh and critical, there were segments of this book that were glimmers of light and comfort to me. I could read portions of this devotionally, not concentrating on the errors of purgatory, the elevation of the mass, or even comments about praying for the dead, but just focusing on statements that are true and helpful for me in my Christian walk. Statements such as “If you have completely conquered yourself, you will easily conquer all other things.” (Book III chp. 53:2), or “He who only superficially trims his temptations and does not pull them out by their roots, advances little.” (Book I chp. 13:4). This type of insightful truth is helpful to the Christian, yet there is too much theological ignorance throughout this work to recommend it to a fellow believer. His dialogue with “Jesus”, false view of the sacraments, and misunderstanding of self denial are all too great of hurdles to leap in an attempt to find a nugget of truth.Whether a’Kempis was a Christian or not will be revealed on the last day, but as for now, we must strive to maintain his passion for servitude and submission, while watching our doctrine carefully, so as to not put unnecessary burdens on others.