A.W. Tozer

Recommendation:  3/5

Description of author:  A.W. Tozer was a pastor / writer from the 20th century (d. 1963).  He was pastor of the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago for 31 years.

Comments:  In the forward, Tozer poignantly states not only the theme of this book, but I dare say the theme of his entire writing ministry:  God and men and their relation to each other – this I believe to be all that really matters in this world, and that is what I have written about here (p. 5).  He describes, with typical Tozer clarity, what a spiritual man looks like (and what he does not look like).  Though written a half a century ago, the reader is left with the impression it could have been written yesterday – it speaks so directly to the failure of the leaders of the church today.   The first few chapters are a call for the true prophet-type preachers of old:  They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.  Much that the church – even the evangelical church – is doing these days she is doing because she is afraid not to.  Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reason than that they are being scared into it.  Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe the world expects them to do they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness.  The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah (p. 14-15; see also p. 23-24, 28-29).  A sampling of chapter titles gives a good sense of all that Tozer covers in the book:  Beware the File-card Mentality (p. 70); The Evils of a Bad Disposition (p. 74); The Use and Abuse of Humor (p. 79); On Backing Into Our Convictions (p. 94); Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude (p. 103).  The arrangement, overall, of the short chapters (44 chapters in 133 pages) seems kind of random, though they all fit into the general category designated by the book’s title.  My only concern with the book, as in most of Tozer’s books, is his tendency towards mysticism.  On page 106 he makes these statements:  Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you . . . Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it . . . practice spiritual concentration.   I agree with Tozer that we need to develop a quiet spirit, learn how to pray earnestly and continually, simplify our lives, etc., but I fear that he is here stepping into mystical waters that can easily sweep the believer away from the firm, objective ground of Scripture.