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The Imitation of Christ

The Imitation of Christ

Written by Thomas A Kempis

Narrated by Sean Runnette


The Imitation of Christ

Written by Thomas A Kempis

Narrated by Sean Runnette

ratings:
4.5/5 (30 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 31, 2011
ISBN:
9781452671734
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

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Also available as bookBook

Description

First published anonymously in 1418, Thomas à Kempis's The Imitation of Christ is a classic Christian devotional work that has been read through the ages by such notable figures as Sir Thomas More, John Wesley, and Pope John Paul I. A meditation on spiritual life, it offers instructions for renouncing worldly vanity and discovering eternal truths with the goal of living out the teachings of Jesus by taking inspiration from his life. More widely read and more influential than any spiritual work except the Bible, The Imitation of Christ has offered guidance and solace to people of all faiths since its publication and retains its power today. This edition is the translation by the Reverend William Benham.
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 31, 2011
ISBN:
9781452671734
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Thomas A Kempis (1379/80-1471) was a member of the Brethren, priest, Augustinian monk, author of a dozen books, and copyist extraordinaire. He lived at and was a member of the Windesheim congregation at Agneitenberg monastery in the Netherlands for more than seventy years. He is most famous his The Practice of the Imitation of Christ.

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4.3
30 ratings / 22 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    A justly famous devotional work of the 15th century in an accessible translation.Creasy's translation allows the modern reader to really get into and understand the premises of The Imitation of Christ. It is highly recommended.The work itself is a masterpiece of devotional literature: even though Thomas a Kempis may have lived almost six hundred years ago, many of his comments makes it seem that he understands you today. It truly speaks to the unchanging condition of mankind. The author's goal is to increase devotion to Christ and writes compellingly to that end. He uncovers a lot of the difficulties and challenges under which we live and directs us in every respect to Christ. It is a work worth going over time and again.The author lived in medieval Catholicism and the work reflects this at times, but the language and concepts are easily accommodated.Highly recommended.**--galley received as part of early review program
  • (2/5)
    Geschreven voor monniken en dat is er duidelijk aan te merken: erg contemplatief. Niet erg genietbaar meer voor wie in het actieve leven staat. Historische verdienste: de bijna exclusieve accentuering van de persoonlijke relatie tot God.
  • (2/5)
    Geschreven voor monniken en dat is er duidelijk aan te merken: erg contemplatief. Niet erg genietbaar meer voor wie in het actieve leven staat. Historische verdienste: de bijna exclusieve accentuering van de persoonlijke relatie tot God.
  • (5/5)
    There is always something fresh and inspiring to contemplate, no matter where I open this book to! I didn't read this cover to cover, but picked it up now and then.
  • (4/5)
    Read this for a class and was pleasantly surprised. It's both an unmistakable product of its time (denouncing the secular entanglements of the medieval Church--I can't help but feel the Avignon Exile was at the back of his mind) and a surprisingly relevant devotional. A Kempis explores the ideas of Augustine and Plato and produces a simple exegesis that emphasizes faith and grace.
  • (5/5)
    I just finished reading the William C. Creasy translation of this Christian classic by the monk, Thomas 'a Kempis. I've read this book several times and enjoyed it each time. This version is easy to read. I'd recommend reading this book to anyone interested in being exposed to a timeless work of literature that has survived for centuries.
  • (3/5)
    “"HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord. By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.” Thus begins The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A Kempis. On this foundation he builds a series of short chapters divided into “books,” each of which offers practical advice on living the Christian life by imitating Christ. In the first book, Kempis takes as his topic, Thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul, which deals in large degree with the attitude of humility before God in this life. Here the reader will find much to build a character of deference before God, as the author turns virtually every subject from one of pride into a word of warning. For instance, of knowledge and learning Kempis says on page 3, “Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance.” This is a message the modern church could well do to internalize, as it would go far in destroying our penchant for the cult of personality which so pervades our church.The second book is focused on the inner life; while filled with a large dose of mysticism, this section nonetheless contains some gems which the Christian can take to heart. For instance, on page 61, Kempis states, “When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor?” This is a good reminder to the modern Christian, whose life is likely to be built around social networks and their quick pulse of “like” and “dislike,” that these things are not nearly as important as they might seem. The third and fourth book fill continue the thesis of practical application, discussing Internal Consolation, and finally An Invitation to the Holy Communion. The third book is the longest in the work, covering a diverse set of topics. But what does Kempis mean when he says we must study the life of Christ? To what end, and through what means?Kempis often downplays the importance of knowing the Scriptures; for instance, within just a few paragraphs of beginning he states: ‘What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.” To know Christ, then, is not to have knowledge of Christ, but rather to experience Christ in some way in everyday life.But how is the Christian to experience God? The author appears to answer this question with two primary thrusts —by denying the self in small acts of morality, which will then lead to a direct personal experience of the holy. Kempis says Christians should focus on making themselves holy bit by bit, comparing the Christian life to the world of a soldier in battle. If only Christians will stand in the face of the battle, then God will help them stand stronger day by day. “If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become perfect.” This same form of pragmatism underlies much of modern American Christianity –but it’s doubtful this form of pragmatism has been a good influence on the course of Christianity in America. This form of pragmatism leads many to think they are saved in a practical way, leading them away from a focus on faith in the realities of God’s promises and character. Through this pragmatic stand against the evils we find in our hearts we should find ourselves experiencing God in a direct and personal way. “Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.”Was Kempis a Christian? While it’s impossible to judge a man based on any writing or external appearance (in fact, Christians are warned against spending time judging others in the writings of the Apostles), it’s interesting to consider what Kempis must have thought about Christ, and whether this implies he had a saving faith or not. He seems place his faith in faith itself, as if faith is its own object, its own end. This view of faith is also not found in the Scriptures —faith in God, God’s character, and God’s promises are the rule every time faith is discussed in the Scriptures, from the life of Abraham to the conversion of Paul.This “faith in faith” particularly comes through in the author’s discussion of the Lord’s Supper, where it produces a focus on the mystical ability of the Christian to “eat the body of Christ,” in a literal sense, as a means of obtaining and holding grace. This view of the Lord’s Supper is clearly outside the bounds of the Scriptures. But all of this doesn’t mean that Kempis isn’t a Christian, though he does appear to have a very low spiritual maturity level.Overall, The Imitation of Christ has a lot to teach the modern Christian, so long as it is taken within its original mystical/pietistic context, and treated as a source of enlightenment, rather than as the total rule of life it was originally written to be.
  • (4/5)
    A profound meditation on the interior life and sin.
  • (5/5)
    Counsels relentless self-deprecation on Earth for the sake of God in Heaven. Every sentence is pure gold. An unassuming, compact little black book that simultaneously devastates the mundane and pleases the spirit.I treated this binding with Obenauf's Heavy Duty Leather Preservative, let dry, and then polished thoroughly with a cloth. The leather now looks and feels very much like my 19th century calf bindings. The more you polish it, the better the light brings out the bubbly texture of the leather, which is beautiful.
  • (5/5)
    This late Medieval classic, once a Catholic adjunct to the Bible, has suffered much neglect and even derision in recent years. However its emphasis on personal sanctification, acquiring self-knowledge and love of God prepares men and women better for making a contribution to society than activism without a solid spiritual base.
  • (5/5)
    Although written in the 15th century to a mainly monastic audience, The Imitation of Christ has great relevance for anyone today seeking a deeper spiritual life. His counsels are not easy to read and apply to one's life for his basic premise is dying to self which he explains with great clarity lest anyone should be slow to understand. Thomas a Kempis speaks as one who has struggled mightily with his own passions and demons, "The war against our vices and passions is harder than any physical toil; and whoever fails to overcome his lesser faults will gradually fall into greater. Your evenings will always be tranquil if you have spent the day well. Watch yourself, bestir yourself, admonish yourself and whatever others may do, never neglect your own soul. The stricter you are with yourself, the greater is your spiritual progress." These are not the words that people in any age are interested in hearing and yet he continues to draw large audiences more than five centuries later. There is a power in his writing because he has put into practice the difficult words of Jesus and thereby achieved a position of authority to teach others.
  • (5/5)
    Thomas à Kempis' classic work needs no introduction. What makes this edition (Saint Joseph-GIANT TYPE Edition) better than the rest is that it is presented as the devotional that it is, and not as just another "classic writing." The print is giant type, which should make it easier to readfor those with vision problems, especially the elderly. There are also plenty of pictures (some in color, others in black in white) of biblical scenes. I bought this edition because the binding is the most sturdy, which, along with the large print, will enable me to enjoy this book for the rest of my life."The Imitation of Christ" is best read as a daily devotional. I recommend reading one chapter in the morning and one in the evening. It can be read over and over again, gaining continual spiritual benefit.
  • (4/5)
    Part 4 is an excellent help in preparing yourself for Holy Communion. A must read if you are Catholic!
  • (4/5)
    I was forced for many years to attend hateful retrograde churches where the vitriolic rage spewed by parishioners against anyone slightly different from themselves was completely at odds with Christ's teachings. I could see this as a young kid of ten or eleven, and would often simply read the Bible in church, paying no mind to the damnation envisioned by some fulminating nincompoop behind the pulpit. As soon as my turn for Baptism arrived at age 12, I said 'no thanks' and took my gift Bible from the Church of the Brethren in Loganville PA and never looked back. I admire Kempis because he understands the New Testament the way I understand it: Jesus (and I don't think Jesus ever existed as anything other than a literary character) wants people to act like him, not worship him. It's difficult to bilk funds from people who give away all their shit and act like little children, however, so established churches have distorted his utterings down through the ages to justify doing so. Kempis cuts through all that bullshit, and provides a solid underpinning for a moral existence. Yeah, there's a bit too much of 'inviting Jesus into your heart,' etc., but whatever.
  • (5/5)
    This book, likely by an Augustinian monk in the early 1400's, is a book of reflections on living a spiritual life. There is a lot of good insight in this book. I've read a book with selections from this, and liked it, so I decided to read the whole thing. You can get an idea of how popular a book it is from the fact that more copies of this book have been printed than any other book in the world, ever, except the Bible itself. He had some things to say about the Lord's Supper that I disagreed with, but his writings on personal consecration are excellent.
  • (4/5)
    Title: The Imitation of Christ (Classic Devotions in Today’s Language)Author: Thomas A. Kempis; edited by James N. WatsonPages: 288Year: 2016Publisher: Worthy InspiredMy rating is 5 stars.Thomas A. Kempis wrote a very serious and compelling even convicting devotional to use in personal quiet time with the Lord. I looked up some information on Thomas A. Kempis who was a very intelligent and serious man who sought God. I also learned that this devotional has been the second highest seller of books right behind the Bible. Not only that, this writing has been around for centuries plus it is in several languages. When many other works have long since disappeared, why has The Imitation of Christ not only continued to be around but is still being demanded by readers all over the globe?While it is true that it isn’t inspired and without error like the Bible, I can say I now understand the draw to many people. Originally written in Latin this new edition is in today’s language, making the compelling words easier to understand and apply to our lives. In the edition put together by James N. Watson, the writings are compiled by topic making the devotions easier to find when searching by topic.A couple of the devotions I really marked up because they spoke to my heart by exhorting, pruning or sheering my spirit to imitate the Savior in my life. For example, here is part of a devotion I marked so I can return to it to contemplate it often: “In the cross is health, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross I heavenly delight, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of the spirit, in the cross is the height of good deeds, in the cross is holy living.” (pg. 19). What do you think of the quote or better yet what do you sense in your heart as the Spirit speaks to you?There are devotions that are underneath topic headings such as trust, loving, wisdom or obedience. While this is not the complete list at least I hope it gives you enough to really consider obtaining a copy. Then sit before the Lord with your Bible, journal or notebook, writing utensils and this devotional. I promise it won’t take long before you just sit there in awe of God along with coming away from quiet time with a challenge if you really think about the pearls of wisdom within the book. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  • (5/5)
    Thomas à Kempis' classic work needs no introduction. What makes this edition (Saint Joseph-GIANT TYPE Edition) better than the rest is that it is presented as the devotional that it is, and not as just another "classic writing." The print is giant type, which should make it easier to readfor those with vision problems, especially the elderly. There are also plenty of pictures (some in color, others in black in white) of biblical scenes. I bought this edition because the binding is the most sturdy, which, along with the large print, will enable me to enjoy this book for the rest of my life."The Imitation of Christ" is best read as a daily devotional. I recommend reading one chapter in the morning and one in the evening. It can be read over and over again, gaining continual spiritual benefit.
  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I tried reading this classic, but just couldn't bring myself to finish it. There were certainly a lot of great quotes in it. But, I found the content too dark, lacking joy, very gloomy, with a strong focus on mortification of the soul. This is clearly a Catholic book (duh), with a focus on external deeds and works. Kempis also emphasizes being a hermit, staying away from "worldly" people and not associating with the things of this world. Then, I must ask, how does one possibly communicate the Gospel to those who need Christ the most if we are to stay away from them and their environs? How is the Gospel lived out and modeled to those who are seeking and observing if we are to stay locked in our chambers all day? The Imitation of Christ is clearly a product of Middle Ages Europe, with an emphasis on self-sanctification, mortification of the soul, suffering, and Roman Catholic monasticism. Not that it's bad or wrong, but it just doesn't seem to jive with the Christ that I have come to know as a believer for 20+ years.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (1/5)
    Sherley-Price’s introduction sets the stage for a closed-minded and intolerant book, referring to combatting “godless Communism” and the “anti-Christ”, and including passages such as “For Thomas, as for all Christians, the sole road to God is through the power and teachings of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man; by the subordination of nature to divine grace; by self-discipline; and by devout use of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, in particular that of the Holy Eucharist.” Thomas A Kempis himself isn’t much better:“Everyone naturally desires knowledge, but of what use is knowledge itself without the fear of God?”“We are born with an inclination towards evil.” “all those others who strove to follow in the footsteps of Christ … all hated their lives in this world, that they might keep them to life eternal.”“And were you to ponder in your mind on the pains of Hell and Purgatory, you would readily endure toil and sorrow, and would shrink from no kind of hardship.”The messages of humility and simplicity in other parts of the text quickly get lost for me. Man is a worm. God is great. Don’t you dare think of pleasure, or you’ll burn in Hell forever. Ugh.Read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations instead. Somehow these two have been linked by many, and they shouldn’t be at all. Marcus the pagan was far, far more enlightened.
  • (5/5)
    I first read the Imitation when I was feeling especially spiritual in high school. I went to my local Christian book store with a few dollars to spend and found an abridged paperback version of it in the reduced bin. What a disaster! I don’t usually put books down once I’ve started them, but after reading the first few chapters carefully, I skimmed the rest. Now, a couple decades past high school, with a nice hardback Everyman’s Library edition in hand, I decided to give Thomas another try. Rather than reading it like a normal book, I read it one or two chapters per morning during my devotions.This book challenged me immensely. It has a poetic power that pierces the superficial skin of modern Christendom. I found myself praying Thomas’ prayers and confessing the things he was repenting. The most important message of the entire volume was the call to distrust your emotions. Divine consolations come and go. We often mature more when we don’t ‘feel’ God than when we do.I do have some difficulties with the work that I think are more than just time-period misunderstandings. For all his insight into the human condition, Thomas has missed a lot of what it means to imitate Christ. Read through the gospels at the same time as the Imitation and you’ll see what I mean. All the talk of mortification can wear you down. A more balanced imitation of Christ would not downplay self-denial, but would also stress the freedom of living eternal life without worry for tomorrow.The second issue is the individual nature of the work, which is a little odd, coming from the fifteenth century. Imitating Christ should drive us outward to love each other. This book, at times, makes it sound like the only thing that matters is the individual’s heart-condition.The last issue I have is a bit of a logical inconsistency. The first three quarters of the work go into detail about the need to distrust your feelings and trust God whether or not there are any heavenly consolations. In the last quarter, he practically begs for those worthy feelings that he believes he should have to celebrate the Eucharist aright.With all that said, this book is still one of the best books on spiritual formation I’ve ever encountered. It offers an almost offensive antidote for those people (like me) who are infected by the spirit of twenty-first century Western-style Christianity. Read it slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully at your own risk.
  • (5/5)
    Deserves to be seen as a classic by all Christians—even Lutheran or Calvinistic Evangelicals. His balance between God’s sovereign grace and personal piety is masterful, but the work’s most impressive feature is how well Thomas à Kempis knows the human heart: its trials and its wickedness. Amazing empathetic, even to modern readers living in a highly digital and consumer-driven world. Take, for example, this passage from iii.39: “A man often goes in eager pursuit of something he wants; when he has got it, he doesn’t feel the same about it. Man’s affections are unstable, and are apt to drive him from one desirable object to the next, so that even in trivial matters it is well worth renouncing oneself.” Is he not describing what we commonly call “buyer’s remorse” and the trials of a consumer-driven society? The work is filled with timeless insights such as this, where à Kempis proves that to someone who knows that the world around may change, but the human heart does not, speaking effectively across time is possible—in fact profitable. With his focus on human depravity and the sureness of God’s good grace, à Kempis shows how humility is the path we must be set upon to find any hope of rest or comfort. The dialog format in the second half of the book (between Christ and the learner) can be jarring at times as the voice continuously changes, but you get used to it. Great prayers are interspersed throughout the work, preventing the reader’s experience from becoming too intellectualized.Translations matter. I had tried another translation at first and struggled. The translation by Ronald Knox was immediately engrossing.
  • (5/5)
    One of the "must-read-in-one's-lifetime" books. One cannot consider themselves to be educated and literate if they have not read "The Imitation of Christ." A foundational book of Christian theology and Western thought and philosophy. Originally published in 1418, Protestants and Roman Catholics alike join in giving it praise. The Jesuits give it an official place among their "exercises". John Wesley and John Newton listed it among the works that influenced them at their conversion. General Gordon carried it with him to the battlefield. It is said Pope John Paul I was reading a copy when he died.