The Imitation of Christ: Thomas a Kempis – A Mystic?

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The Imitation of Christ is a popular book in Christendom that most likely sits on the book shelves of many Christian homes and churches. In a google search, the title shows up over 145,000 times.

Who was Thomas a Kempis, and was he a mystic? In Henri Nouwen’s book, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic a Hindu monk (and a friend of Merton’s) named Dr. Bramachari once told Merton that he should study the writings of Christian mystics (as opposed to Hindu or Buddhist mystics). Bramachari named a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ and St. Augustine’s Confessions as the two he should read.

A Kempis was a Catholic monk, born in 1380 (died 1471). According to some, he was influenced by mystics such as Jan van Ruusbroec. Cassandrah Batya, practiced contemplative prayer and explains a Kempis’ role in her contemplative journey:

If I didn’t have feelings of weightlessness, lightheadedness, floating, and being enraptured while contemplating, I felt dead and empty inside. All the contemplative literature I read encouraged being lost in inner spirituality and to ignore the dead feeling. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis became a second bible to me. From my research what I was experiencing was common among “Christians” who practiced contemplative prayer. There are priests, nuns, monks, saints, ministers, religious leaders, historical figures, celebrities, and people from all walks of life and faiths who practice this form of inner/esoteric spirituality. Read more of Cassandrah’s testimony.

According to one New Age website, of a Kempis it is said:

What posterity regards as Thomas a Kempis “work” is heavily imbued with a sincere mysticism where the individual human spirit is encouraged to seek to make progress towards the Divine.

Some of Thomas a Kempis other works achieve similar heights of sincere and palpable mysticism to the Die Imitatione Christi itself.

Die Imitatione Christi which has become established as the second most widely read Christian text after the Bible holds the distinction of enjoying a high degree of respect across many strands of Christendom.

For research purposes only. (Use Caution): Free e- book – Imitation of Christ

Encountering God Where We Find Him : On a Kempis’ influence on Thomas Merton

A Kempis: Pre-Reformation Mystic