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The Imitation of Christ

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  13,746 Ratings  ·  525 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 1418)
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Oct 16, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
‘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
Jun 18, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 18, 2015 booklady rated it it was amazing  ·  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 really liked it
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
Ellie Sorota
Jul 28, 2010 Ellie Sorota rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-nonfiction
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
Karen L.
Jul 24, 2008 Karen L. rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Rebekah Disch
Sep 04, 2011 Rebekah Disch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: always-reading
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.
Feb 12, 2009 Kristen rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 26, 2012 Elise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, nonfiction
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
Oct 11, 2009 Sheldon rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 28, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
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
Dec 09, 2012 Tara rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 30, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
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.
Mar 29, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 13, 2012 Ellen rated it liked it
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
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."
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
Malcolm Mark
Apr 15, 2013 Malcolm Mark rated it really liked it
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
Aug 27, 2011 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
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-f ...more
Jan 10, 2010 Jaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Christian, particularly any Catholic
Shelves: chronic-read
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
Oct 18, 2013 Patrick Costello rated it it was amazing
Shelves: seven-stars
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!
Jorge Sáez Criado
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
I'm reading this one again for Lent.

A wealth of spiritual reading material that never gets old.

Nov 10, 2009 Jonathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
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
Nathan Eilers
Jun 07, 2009 Nathan Eilers rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 23, 2010 Karina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2013 Josiah rated it really liked it
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
Noel Barcelona
Feb 22, 2013 Noel Barcelona rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Imitation of Christ by St. Thomas a Kempis invites its audience to reflect and be of the shadow of the Master Lord Jesus Christ. It's a collection of reflections and prayers written by the revered monk. If read by spirit, it will take you to the heights of practical (Catholic) Christian spirituality and will able to fulfill what the Lord himself had said: "Otherwise believe for the very works' sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and ...more
Jan 14, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christians, but Catholics especially
Shelves: catholicism
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.
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
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  • Introduction to the Devout Life
  • The Spiritual Exercises
  • Interior Castle
  • A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • The Rule of Saint Benedict
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Fire Within: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and the Gospel - On Prayer
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy
  • Abandonment to Divine Providence
  • True Devotion to Mary
  • Dark Night of the Soul
  • Revelations of Divine Love
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul
  • The Way
  • The Philokalia, Volume 1: The Complete Text
  • The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
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
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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.” 263 likes
“If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.” 150 likes
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