Thursdays with Theologians – Thomas à Kempis

Published November 30, 2017 by

Every Thursday, I’ll be highlighting an influential Christian from Church history – theologians, missionaries, pastors, and musicians.

This week we take a look at Thomas à Kempis (~1380-1471), a mystic, monk, and author of one of the most influential Christian devotional books of all time, The Imitation of Christ.

Not much is known of his life, and for a long time it was debated whether he was a real person, or the name was a pseudonym, with the writing compiled from several authors.

Born in Kempen, Germany, to poor parents, à Kempis was sent to be educated at a school established by the Brethren of the Common Life, a community of devoted Christian laypeople focused on education and the social implications of Christianity, called “Modern Devotion.”

Following his education, à Kempis joined a monastery of Augustinian monks, where he lived out his life preaching, teaching, and writing. It was here he wrote his most famous work, which has been translated into over 50 languages, in editions too numerous for scholars to keep track of (by 1779 there were already 1,800 editions), remaining on bookstore shelves to this very day.

I myself have used The Imitation of Christ devotionally a few times throughout the years, and highly recommend it. To read it or download it for free, click here. To buy a copy, visit McNally Robinson or click here.

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