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The Imitation of Christ

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  11,119 ratings  ·  421 reviews
Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ. This meditation on the spiritual life has inspired readers from Thomas More and St. Ignatius Loyola to Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul I. Written by the Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis between 1420 and 1427, it contains clear instructions for renouncing word ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 24th 1998 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1418)
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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.
‘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 ...more
Webster Bull
It took me 33 years to read The Imitation of Christ. I know the exact date when I first heard of this devotional manual by 15th-century monk Thomas à Kempis, said to be the second-most-read religious book in history, after the Bible. It was September 29, 1978, the day Pope John Paul I (the Italian Albino Luciani) was found dead in his bed, before dawn. Sensation-mongers cried murder, but what I heard was The Imitation of Christ—the book the Pope was reading when he died. I drove to Borders and b ...more
Jun 18, 2015 booklady rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone!
Recommended to booklady by: high school teacher
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 vividl
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 16, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: Jose Rizal
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
Karen L.
Jul 24, 2008 Karen L. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those concerned with the inner life
Recommended to Karen L. by: my beloved husband
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.
Ellie Sorota
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 suffe
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.
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. Yo ...more
Rebekah Disch
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.
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" ...more
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 di
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 o
Justin Evans
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
Peter B.
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."
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 t ...more
Malcolm Mark
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 manuscr ...more
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 bett
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 th
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 d ...more
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 ...more
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!
This classic Christian book was written in the 15th century and contains lyrical prose on becoming like Jesus and learning how to love God more fully. To quote Tim's review, "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 ...more
There is a whole lotta wisdom contained in this book, though it's the rigid sort of wisdom that makes most people (including me) very uncomfortable. If you are a Christian, this book will probably make you examine just how shallow, selfish, and hypocritical you are in your faith. That's all well and good, but, on the other hand, I find a lot of the author's advice on how to live to be not very practical unless you are willing to live like a monk. The book is divided into three parts. The first p ...more
Nathan Eilers
Jun 07, 2009 Nathan Eilers rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, anyone else who's interested
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
Donald Linnemeyer
I read only the first two books, which are his ethical exhortations, which were great; very challenging and relevant, that same tone all good meditative authors seem to have. Some highlights:

It is a great thing to live in obedience, to be under a superior, and not to be our own judges.
It is much safer to obey than to govern.
Many live under obedience out of necessity rather than out of love. Those who do are discontented and easily distressed. They will never obtain peace of mind until they willi
L. R. Bouligny Bouligny
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 ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Aydin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: religous intrested
ارزیابی نفوذ پردامنه و ژرف این کتاب کوچک در بیش از پانصد سال از سراسر قلمرو مسیحیت، نامیسر است. پس از خود کتاب مقدس، هیچ اثر دیگری نمی تواند با بصیرت عمیق، وضوح اندیشه و قدرت آن بر هدایتگری، برابری کند. مسیحیانی متعلق به زمان ها و دیدگاه هایی بس گونه گون، همچون توماس مور، ژنرال گوردن، قدیس ایگناتیوس لویولایی، جان وزلی، قدیس فرانسیس خاویر، و دکتر جانسون تنها معدودی از هزاران اند که دِین خود را به این کتاب گرانقدر معترف شده اند.
مرحوم دکتر اف.آر. کرویز، در اثر معتبر خود راجع به توماس آکمپیس چنین می
David Sarkies
Feb 22, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to David by: My church history lecturer
Shelves: christian
No wonder people get the wrong view of Christianity
10 April 2010

I read this book for church history and I really did not like it. In a nutshell, it says that to get to heaven you have to be like Christ. That is not entirely correct. Okay, call me one-eyed, but as for my reading of the scriptures, it is not being good that get's one to heaven, because if it came down to being good, then we all loose out. Rather, it is through God's grace that he allows us into his presence, and this is something
Listened to the Audible version which was converted by Dr Bill Creasy into contemporary English and read by Don Ranson. If you have never been able to get thru this Christian classic because of the archaic language, listening to this version is the solution. It's like listening to a very close long time friend who is mature in his Christian walk encourage you in your own walk. This is also available on iTunes so you don't have to be an Audible subscriber to get it. $5 what a deal. Listening is a ...more
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  • Introduction to the Devout Life
  • Interior Castle
  • True Devotion to Mary
  • The Rule of Saint Benedict
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • The Spiritual Exercises
  • Dark Night of the Soul
  • A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
  • Revelations of Divine Love
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The Philokalia, Volume 1: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain & St. Markarios of Corinth
  • Abandonment to Divine Providence
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • The Way
  • Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
  • Crossing the Threshold of Hope
  • Life of Christ
Thomas Hammerken (or Hammerlein -- both mean "little hammer") / Thomas de Kempis / Thomas Hamerken von Kempen was born at Kempen (hence the "A Kempis") in the duchy of Cleves in Germany around 1380. He was educated by a religious order called the Brethren of the Common Life, and in due course joined the order, was ordained a priest, became sub-prior of his house (in the low Countries), and died 25 ...more
More about Thomas à Kempis...
The Inner Life The Imitation of Mary On the Passion of Christ: According to the Four Evangelists Counsels on the Spiritual Life Consolation for My Soul: Thomas à Kempis

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“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” 216 likes
“If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.” 135 likes
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