My husband John and I were students at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the mid-1970's. It was during our student days at Moody that we were introduced to A.W. Tozer. My impression of Tozer at that time was that he was a somewhat controversial Chicago pastor of recent years who had a unique gift for being very sound biblically but at the same time shaking up the conservative evangelical "troops." I bought a set of his volumes entitled, The Tozer Pulpit and enjoyed his fiery words. He said such things as...
One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. . . .
We might be wise to follow the insight of the enraptured heart rather than the more cautious reasoning of the theological mind. The Knowledge of the Holy
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Pursuit of God
Current evangelicalism has...laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the "piercing sweetness" of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts. Pursuit of God
Tozer has fed my soul for years with his classics Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy. When I was trying to get free of, what I call, to do list Christianity, I rediscovered the Pursuit of God. That precious little volume, hastily written by Tozer on a train ride, became my regular reading year after year for many years.
When asked why I kept reading the same book over and over again, I replied, "because I want to brainwash myself with spiritual truth. I've already been brainwashed with the lie of the Christian to-do list. Now I want God's way to do life."
And so now when I come back to those treasured words in that well-worn volume, it's as if coming back to a beloved friend. I'm forever grateful!
So let me tell you a bit about A.W. Tozer...
Aiden Wilson Tozer was an American evangelical pastor, speaker, writer, and editor. After coming to Christ at the age of seventeen, Tozer found his way into the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination where he served for over forty years. In 1950, he was appointed by the denomination's General Council to be the editor of "The Alliance Witness" (now "Alliance Life").
Born into poverty in western Pennsylvania in 1897, Tozer died in May 1963 a self-educated man who had taught himself what he missed in high school and college due to his home situation. Though he wrote many books, two of them, "The Pursuit of God" and "The Knowledge of the Holy" are widely considered to be classics.
A.W. Tozer and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, had seven children, six boys and one girl.
You can read Pursuit of God in its entirety right here. Each chapter has been a favorite for me at one time or another. So you too can take your pick. My guess is that every time you read, it will be a different one for whatever God is saying to you at that given time.
Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from Pursuit of God, just to wet your appetite:
About Life and Faith:
Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.
Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.
Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all...
When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.
About the Voice of God and the Scriptures:
One of the great realities with which we have to deal is the Voice of God in His world. The briefest and only satisfying cosmogony is this: "He spake and it was done." The why of natural law is the living Voice of God immanent in His creation. And this word of God which brought all worlds into being cannot be understood to mean the Bible, for it is not a written or printed word at all, but the expression of the will of God spoken into the structure of all things. This word of God is the breath of God filling the world with living potentiality. The Voice of God is the most powerful force in nature, indeed the only force in nature, for all energy is here only because the power-filled Word is being spoken.
The Bible is the written word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The Voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The life is in the speaking words. God's word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God's word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written Word all-powerful. Otherwise it would lie locked in slumber within the covers of a book.
The Bible will never be a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe. To jump from a dead, impersonal world to a dogmatic Bible is too much for most people. They may admit that they should accept the Bible as the Word of God, and they may try to think of it as such, but they find it impossible to believe that the words there on the page are actually for them. A man may say, "These words are addressed to me," and yet in his heart not feel and know that they are. He is the victim of a divided psychology. He tries to think of God as mute everywhere else and vocal only in a book.