An Encouragement to Read Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ – page 1


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From the Summer 2018 issue of Knowing & Doing:

An Encouragement to Read Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ

by Jim Phillips
City Director, C.S. Lewis Institute – Annapolis


he idea that thoughts, books, science of an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present just because it is “older” was dubbed “chronological snobbery” by C.S. Lewis and Owen Barfield. In fact, when it comes to books, Lewis said that a good rule of thumb was that for every new book we read, we should purposely engage in reading an old book.
  I want to encourage you to step back into the early 1400s and consider reading a Christian classic. Before there was Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) or other noted devotional writers, a disciple longing to follow Jesus would read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Thomas was a German-Dutch monk writing to other monks in pre-Reformation times. He wrote The Imitation of Christ between 1420 and 1427 with the first hand-written manuscripts appearing around 1427. By 1779 there were at least 1,800 editions and translations. John Wesley translated a version in the 1700s.
  If you like Oswald Chambers’s ability to capture profound truths in compact statements, consider these statements by Thomas:

We are all frail, but you should think of no one being frailer than yourself.1
If you desire to benefit from the Scriptures, read with humility, simplicity, and faithfulness – never desire to become known as a Bible scholar.2
True peace of heart, therefore, is gotten by resisting our passions, not by obeying them. There is no peace of heart of a carnal person, nor the person that is addicted to outward things, but there is peace in the heart of a spiritual and devout person.3
Yet we must be watchful, especially in the beginning of temptation, for the enemy is more easily overcome in the beginning if he is not allowed to enter the door or our hearts, but is resisted outside the gate, at his first knock. When he is not resisted, little by little, he gets complete entrance.4
The more time you spend in your secret place, the more you will like it, and the less time you spend there the more you will loath it.5

  And we are still in Book 1 of four!


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