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The Imitation of Christ

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  19,639 ratings  ·  879 reviews
This classic of Christian devotional literature has brought understanding and comfort to millions for centuries. Both Protestants and Catholics — as well as mystics and historians of religious thought — have studied these meditations on the life and teachings of Jesus, finding in them a path to prayer and spiritual guidance. Written in a candid and conversational style, Th ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 18th 2003 by Dover Publications (first published 1427)
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Mark Matzeder Brother Laurence's "Practice of the Presence of God" is similar, written by a 17th C. monk. It's quite short, though. …moreBrother Laurence's "Practice of the Presence of God" is similar, written by a 17th C. monk. It's quite short, though. (less)
Emma What is it you exactly want to know? Are you wondering whether or not the author bases his insights on bible texts (and which ones)?

Some of the verses…more
What is it you exactly want to know? Are you wondering whether or not the author bases his insights on bible texts (and which ones)?

Some of the verses book 1 chapter 1 refers to are: john 8:12, apoc 2:17, pr 1:2 and Pr 1:8

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Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘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 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. ...more
Rebekah Disch
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Nov 01, 2009 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 vivid
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Apr 17, 2008 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. ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
This book is the most influential Christian writing second only to the Bible. For nearly 600 years it has guided Christians on their spiritual journey of renouncing worldly vanities and embracing eternal truths reiterating the timeless Christian message of how to live a virtuous life in Christ.
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The solipsistic faith enjoined in this book doesn't resonate with me at all. The basic thrust is that a person's mortal life is nothing but garbage compared to the glories awaiting those who erase themselves and express enough love toward God. Whereas this book instructs the devout to eliminate all relationships and attachment to "the world," I believe in a Christianity that calls for deeper human connection to each other and to God's present creation. ...more
Mar 29, 2010 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
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
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2009 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
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Bringe
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."
Jan 10, 2010 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Rachel Noffke
I'm reading this one again for Lent.

A wealth of spiritual reading material that never gets old.

This guide is probably more immediately appealing to someone at a greater distance from spiritual awakening. It had a greater and almost an appalling effect on me on first reading but it’s justly a guide that attracts to a second and further readings. It may have a different effect on returns to it. Its contemplative character is more apparent and appreciated on further readings. It’s no surprise that it achieved great popularity in ages closer to medieval times. That world and thinking is gone ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may be an outlier when it comes to The Imitation of Christ. I don’t find it so engaging, either as a devotional or as a guide. This was my second read and it remains at three stars.

Yes, there are parts that very spiritual. That’s why it’s three stars and not one. But there are also parts that are dry, very dry, parts where the advice is extremely ascetic, parts where the recommendations require disengagement from the world, and parts I felt that were semi-gnostic. One has to balance the spiri
Cliff Davis
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is wisdom to be internalized over the course of a lifetime
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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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