Top critical review
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Powerful insights into Christian spirituality
on January 17, 2014
While I disagree with a lot of his theology and some of his views on the relationship of the gospel to post-war U.S. culture, I think Tozer deserves to be better known among all Christians for his deep spirituality. That is, I think Tozer appreciated that the “having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” that marks the Christian is something truly deep and significant, and entails a deep and abiding at-oneness (my phraseology) with the Triune God. As Tozer notes, a human is not a bodily creature with a spirit, but a spirit with a body. (Kindle location 25)
There's too much here to cover everything, so here are few highlights of some of the important topics covered in these essays: discernment; why people find the Bible difficult; the centrality of faith to the Christian, and why its not an intellectual exercise; true religion is about our will, not our feelings; the importance of spiritual discipline in our daily lives; the reality and meaning of sin; the three degrees of religious knowledge; faith is active, not passive; having a fretful spirit; the fellowship of the saints, and unknown saints; God answering prayer; three wounds of Christian souls are contrition, compassion, and longing after God; the wrath of God; dogmatism; axiomatic truths; trying the spirits; the eternal church; do-it-yourself education is better than none; books and reading; hymns as theological education; apocalyptic expectation; how our choices reveal our character; and so much more. Tozer railed against “affluenza” long before someone coined that term! (1707-1722) There really is a lot more.
I could not tell from the introduction or in my limited research elsewhere, but I suspect that this book was not written as a unified book, but is actually a collection of Tozer's columns and/or short articles. This is not a criticism, but an observation.
Tozer was a proud and solid evangelical in the mold of Dwight L. Moody, but he embraced a much more catholic and even mystical spirituality that distinguished him from so many of his peers. What other evangelical of his day would you find quoting the likes of Francis of Assisi, Brother Lawrence, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bernard of Cluny, and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, Dame Julian of Norwich? I should note that almost fifty years after his death, many evangelicals are beginning to emulate him in this.
I only gave this Kindle edition three stars because of the several typographical errors in it. As someone who has done a bit of editing and proof-reading myself, I find one of those errors particularly egregious. Also, and this may reflect my academic background, in these Kindle editions I wish they would include the original publication information somewhere.
However much I disagree with some of his theology, I greatly respect A. W. Tozer as a guide to living the Gospel. I highly recommend this book.