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The Pursuit of God Paperback – September 3, 2009
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About the Author
Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, and spiritual mentor. For his work, he received two honorary doctorate degrees.
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“The Pursuit of God” is Tozer's short introduction to the higher Christian life of the spirit. The author is critical of the worldly and non-spiritual state of the churches, with their emphasis on doctrine over experience, preoccupation with administration and organization, commercial tendencies, and/or empty ritualism. Tozer doesn't reject the inspiration of the Bible or the necessity of sound doctrine (his denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, was theologically conservative), but he strongly emphasizes that the Bible, taken by itself, isn't “the” divine revelation, but rather one of its products, the revelation itself being God's living Voice or Word, which is forever active throughout creation. The most important tasks of Christian believers is to pursue this divine, living Voice.
Interestingly, Tozer quotes Catholic (pre-Reformation) mystics, such as Augustine, Nicholas of Cusa and the anonymous author of “The Cloud of Unknowing”. This strongly suggests that the author seeks a mystical experience of God's manifest presence. His mysticism is intensely “personal”, not impersonal, since God is a living, loving and willing person, with whom human persons can enter into intense communion. Apart from prayer and humbleness, Tozer says very little about how the beholding of God's presence should be accomplished, although he does emphasize that it can't come about without suffering, forsaking and “dying from the world”. The fall of man is a terrible reality which stands in the way of a right relation with God.
An interesting chapter discusses the meaning of faith. In Tozer's opinion, the Bible doesn't give us a fully-fledged philosophical answer to the question of what faith actually *is* in essence. Rather, it emphasizes how faith operates in the soul of the believer, and what its fruits are. Therefore, *these* are the important questions to tackle. Humans can only understand faith in experiential terms. Tozer's description of faith sounds very concrete – he seems to believe that it’s an actual spiritual force which enters the heart of man and makes it possible for him to constantly remember and adore God. “The gaze of the soul” is an important concept for Tozer. Less reverently, we could perhaps call this “seeing is believing”. The author emphasizes that God is real, speaking today, and that his creation is real, too (he attacks the babble of the subjective idealists at this point). Therefore, faith is also based on something real and tangible, the above-mentioned “gaze of the soul” upon God.
In several chapters, the author rebukes empty ritualism, both the Catholic variety and its intrusions into Protestantism. “Holy days” and holy places are absurd concepts, since everything is potentially holy. God can and should be worshipped even while the believer is working, eating or attending school. This comes from Luther or Calvin, of course. In Tozer's version, there seems to be connection between this and the previously mentioned notion that faith is an actual spiritual force implanted into men's hearts. It's presumably this faith which makes it possible for the Christian to constantly offer silent homage to God.
“The Pursuit of God” is probably not a text one can simply “read” or “study”. It's rather a signpost to a wholly different kind of living. Hence, a recovering materialist like me found it difficult relating to – this is actually the third time I try to read it, and the first time I finished it! That being said, I will give A W Tozer's spiritual classic four stars.
1. “The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.” Tozer explains the paradox of the importance of pursuing God. Even though as Christians we are going to heaven and we experience God’s unchanging love, there are still privileges of continuing to dive into God. God is looking for people He can lavish His blessings on, and those people are the ones who are diving into their relationship with Him.
2. “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us.” Jesus’ death on the cross removed the veil that was hinder us from coming to God. There is nothing on God’s end keeping us from experiencing the presence of God. And yet, most of us do not experience God personally or experientially in life. We keep ourselves from God.
3. “To most people God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate, but He remains personally unknown to the individual.” If God is real, then He must be relevant to our lives.
4. “It is the nature of God to speak, to communicate his thoughts to others.” God is not silent. God did not forget how to talk when the Bible was finished. He sees that plans He has for your life and wants to lead you into them.
5. “Jesus taught that His power lay in His continual look at God” (John 5:19-21). This is still a kind of radical thought for me, but Jesus did nothing on earth out of His Godhead. Everything He did is something we can do through the power of the Holy Spirit. The key is to continually gaze at Jesus.
6. “One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas – the sacred and the secular.” Whatever we do we should do it all for the Lord.
would highly recommend the Pursuit of God to anyone wanting to go deeper with God. I am sure if you read it you will get something different than what I laid out above, but I believe whatever you get would greatly help your relationship with Jesus.