“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” AW Tozer said this, and he lived it. A voracious reader, a powerful preacher, and a man who truly knew God, AW Tozer had an incredible impact on the United States and the world. This biography by Lyle Dorsett was fair to Tozer by providing an accurate picture of a godly man with human imperfections.
I enjoyed learning about this saint who I really did not know much about before. There are two major observations, however, from the book, one positive and one negative.
- AW Tozer was defined by God centeredness. His sermons, his ministry, his life, all of it was focused on God. As a result, Tozer despised pragmatism. Business schemes and seeker sensitivity marked the churches during Tozer’s life. These churches operated as though God’s glory and His Gospel were not powerful, interesting, or attractive enough to make a difference in the world. In response, Tozer viewed himself as a prophet declaring the bankruptcy of human schemes and the worthiness of the almighty God. For Tozer, the aim of life was to know God and to make Him known.
Tozer’s view of ministry resonates with me, and I don’t think the error of pragmatism has receded since the days of Tozer. If anything, pragmatism has only become more prevalent and more acceptable. Tozer’s message about the centrality of God and His glory resonated with me.
- Tozer was not a perfect man, and that became painfully apparent during the course of the book. Tozer was married for over forty years and had children, but shortly before he died, he told one of his closest friends that he had lived a lonely life. Sadly, he brought this lonely life on himself. His wife was loyal and dedicated to Him, but he starved her of any meaningful relationship. In fact, when Tozer died his wife quickly remarried a man named Odam and in a letter told a friend, “Aiden [Tozer] loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me.” To be sure, Tozer didn’t neglect his wife because he was wasting his time and focused on himself. Rather, he spent literally all of his time in prayer, preparing sermons, and reading books.
To the biographer, it appeared as though Tozer simply overlooked his responsibility to engage his wife emotionally. Tozer’s family life is a sad contradiction. He was a man fully devoted to God, but completely absent from his family. Unfortunately Tozer never realized that one of the most pious things he could have done would have been to love his wife. He was so lost in the mystical and spiritual that he was never able to embrace the greatest gift God had given him, his wife.
Overall, this was an engaging read and I would recommend it. You can find it on Amazon.