Blessings: A Devotional Inspired by the Imitation of Christ

Alan Carruth

Publisher: WestBow Press Pages: 218 Price: (paperback) $17.99 ISBN: 9781664277755 Reviewed: May, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Alan Carruth transforms Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ into a modern-day devotional for the self-reflective Christian.

The Imitation of Christ, written in the 1400s by the Catholic monk, is considered one of the most widely read Christian handbooks. When retired anesthesiologist Carruth began studying the ancient book, he journaled his impressions and felt led “to convert the text into more modern and perhaps a little more Protestant language.” He spent three years rewriting the religious classic as Blessings, an easy-to-understand devotional for modern-day believers.

Aimed at helping others grow in their understanding of God’s wisdom, Carruth covers topics such as judgement, death, self-love, obedience, suffering, pride, and more. Each of the 99 topics include a scripture passage, a brief expository, and a “Dear disciple” closing encouraging readers to take action in their spiritual lives.

It’s difficult to discern how much of Carruth’s contribution is his own and how much is strictly updating Kempis’s writings. It would have been helpful to have quotes from Kempis’s original book opening each chapter, rather than the scripture passages. Theologically minded readers may find a more robust experience studying the two side-by-side.

On its own, Carruth’s Blessings is insightful but carries heavy overtones of preachiness. For example, he writes, “without God, our lives are doomed to misery” and admonishes readers to daily pray “to stay on [God’s] path of perfection… [since] even with our best intentions, we experience frequent failures.”

Much of the book addresses these negative “failures” at length, which could create a sense of despair for some. Still, he can be encouraging: “Let us not despair…but experience the loving, forgiving touch of our God through true repentance.”

Overall, Carruth’s motive seems pure, as he aims to help Christians follow Jesus’ standard for “loving our God and our neighbor in order to build His kingdom.” Protestants and Catholics alike will find wisdom for spiritual growth explained in clear terms in this updated interpretation of The Imitation of Christ.

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