Imitation of Christ – Book 1, Ch.5-9, pt.2

Please remember that this evening we will be reading through chapters 5-9 of the Imitation of Christ. One of the great themes in The Imitation is that of simplicity.  Within Chapter 5, á Kempis writes of needing to have simplicity in interpreting Scripture – “for we should look for profit in the writings rather than subtle expressions.”  About 450 years after á Kempis wrote this chapter and after having read the same, the great Danish Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard takes this injunction a step further in his Provocations. In Chapter 22, “Alone with God’s Word”, Kierkegaard admonishes us to read the Bible simply as one would a love letter, and hold fast to those parts that we understand and omit those parts which we do not.  In chapter 56, “Kill the Commentators”, Kierkegaard raises the issue that the greatest threat to our obedience to the Scriptures is scholarship, commentaries, dictionaries, and preachers. He writes that “Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.” (p.201). If you have a few extra minutes today, please read through the attached excerpts from Provocations for a fuller exploration of what it means to read the Scriptures with simplicity and see if you think that á Kempis is saying something similar. (You don’t have to agree with either man.)   

As an aside, David Brooks wrote an excellent opinion piece for the New York Times on Sunday exploring people who “radiate an inner light.” Although Brooks is Jewish and nominally religious, what he describes as the “inner light” bears a striking resemblance to what imitating Christ in the modern world should look like. If you have time, please take a look.

Dinner is 6. The menu is Spanish kale and sausage stew.  Discussion about 6:45. Please bring a friend (the book is easy to jump into). Hope to see you here.

Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good, you accept another’s opinion for love of God, you will gain much more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while one’s own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.

Book 1, Chapter 9

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