Voices From the Sacred Roads: Thomas a Kempis
Personal discipleship was brought to the forefront of church history by Pietists and Puritans who sought to connect the mind of the reformed with the heart of a personal revivalist. Personal discipleship was fueled by the observation and practice of personal spiritual disciplines. But personal discipleship started much earlier. It can be traced back to the desert fathers, through the monastic traditions, to Renovare today. Thomas a Kempis wrote one of the seminal books on this topic.
Thomas a Kempis (1379-1471)
Thomas a Kempis is best known for his book Imitation of Christ, which has been embraced by both Catholics and Protestants. He was a medieval Christian mystic who lived in the Netherlands and joined the Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life. He copied the Bible in its entirety four times, not just as part of his monastic duties, but as an opportunity for growth and devotion. He invested much time in reading, writing, and prayer, and had little use for small talk. When conversation turned towards God or the care of the soul, however, he is reputed to find no problem in “pouring out a ready torrent of eloquence.” Imitation of Christ, which spurs readers to seek spiritual perfection by following the model established by Jesus, was first published anonymously in 1418.
To read more about personal discipleship, check out Sacred Roads: Exploring the Historic Paths of Discipleship.