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The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life Paperback – October 6, 2009
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"A popular book on the attributes of God, and one that is readable!" -- Eternity
"Recovers lost aspects of the biblical faith for contemporary Christianity." -- Book News Letter
From the Inside Flap
This classic of Christian testimony and devotion explores the attributes of God in words that fly straight to the heart. A superb aid to strengthening and deepening the spiritual life, each chapter begins with a prayer, lucidly discusses a divine aspect--from God's infinity to God's love--and relates that aspect to today's world, while pointing always to God's wonder and inscrutability.
Tozer asserts that the cause of many of our modern spiritual woes is the loss in today's church of a lofty concept of God. He argues persuasively that the cure lies in our rediscovery of God's majesty. "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us," he writes. "The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God." The Knowledge of the Holy bears eloquent witness to the concept of God's majesty, encourages reverent meditation on the being of God, and offers a way to bring back spiritual power to our lives.
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Despite this and a few other minor quibbles, I was greatly edified by the above-titled book, and do recommend it. In his book, Tozer states from the outset that, since not everyone is able, due to education, time, etc., to read and understand the deeper studies in theology and Scriptural exegesis, he is going to pare down the concepts into a short, and easy to understand, volume.
The format he uses is to begin each chapter by describing an attribute of God. He then uses that chapter to do two things. First off, he deals with explaining said attribute, and second, Tozer ties the concepts and chapters together by making clear that each of these attributes are constantly present in the Godhead. God is perfectly every single one of His attributes for eternity.
Another theme of Tozer's is that not only does God deserve our praise, it is to our own good to praise Him. He doesn't need us or our praise. At least, He doesn't need us or our praise in the sense of the word need we normally understand. He only "needs" us because He chose to do so for our own good, so we could have the joy of serving and praising Him. In reality, He doesn't need us, and His infinite love would be perfectly satisfied without us, if He chose. His love directed towards us (and any need that goes with us) is his choice and His gift to us. If you think of this, you can see the, as CS Lewis puts it in one of his works, "intolerable compliment" of His choosing to love and desire our best.
Yet we repay the God of the Universe Who does this for us in what way? With disdain, a careless disregard, so forth. We do not give him the great glory He calls us to give Him, that He DESERVES, and that would be our greatest joy to give Him. We must remedy this, both to avoid sin and to experience the joy of God and growing in the knowledge of Him and His holiness.
On a few issues Tozer is wrong, in my opinion. I think that he views the past too rosily, in terms of devotion to God. I think that this problem with seeing God in the wondrous, awed way we ought so to do is a long-standing one. That is why, just my opinion here, the Scriptures so frequently speak of the necessity of doing so. I also think that some of his criticisms of every day life are due to the concern over greater technology and the fear of "losing ourselves" to it, just as such concerns exist today. They were much greater back then, and other writers of the time dealt with these concerns. Tozer's personal pet peeves leaked into this topic, methinks.
As well, Tozer seemed to view the idea of understanding God in language as somehow wrong. I can see his point that no words can adequately describe His Majesty, but to use the words is not wrong. God Himself told us to use certain language and terms to describe Him in His Word. He would not have done so had He considered such descriptions so beneath Him as to be a bad or potentially sinful thing.
In a similar vein, Tozer had a strange habit of viewing arguments for God's existence as so beneath Him that they were almost sinful against God. Then he turned around himself and used logic to argue for God's attributes. How does that work?
Lest these few criticisms make one think that I got nothing from the work, or thought it a bad effort, I reiterate my earlier praise for this brief book, and how much it has edified me. While I would disagree with Tozer on a few things, and think that this issue is a perennial problem with Christians instead of a recent one, I agree with his overall thesis. The Church (and thus individual Christians) are in a dark place of not trusting and loving God as we should. We must take God and the things of God more seriously, experience an increased awe of God, and begin to truly worship and praise Him. The only way for the Church to do this is to have the individual Christians that comprise the Church make a conscious choice to do this. Let us take up this necessary, worthy, right, and joyful challenge.
Obviously, I am a Christ follower, and I can tell you this work leads you to know in a deeper sense what "Be still, and know that I AM God, means. Whether you have traveled long or for a short time on this earth, you will awaken to new understandings, and treasures for your soul. This work will help you find peace, joy, and love like you never knew before, because Tozer introduces us into the deep of our Lord. The invisible world becomes more visible, with still mysteries we can't know yet in this realm of limitations while living on earth. He leads you to your own intimate relationship with our Father-God, the 3 in oneness. Read it, and begin to know our Creator-God on this part of your journey with Him.