Confession: If the name “A.W. Tozer” appears on the cover of a book, it’s going to end up on my bookshelf. Does that mean this review is biased? You decide…
Aidan Wilson Tozer was one of the most influential preachers and writers of the 20th century, and has certainly had an influence on my life. The man was an intellectual giant. He is frequently quoted and paraphrased by contemporary authors (David Platt and Francis Chan come to mind), as his words live on in newer books.
Which begs the question: What writers influenced Tozer? After all, this is the man who said all he needed by way of education (he never completed high school or attended college or seminary) was God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and good books. His voracious appetite for books was well known, and the fruits of his self-teaching are evident in his writing. So which books had the greatest impact on his life? How did they affect his writing?
It was with these questions in mind that James Stuart Bell began this compilation of nearly 200 excerpts from books found in Tozer’s library. This is no mere random assortment, however. Bell has identified eight major themes in Tozer’s writing. The excerpts in this book are organized around those themes, which are:
- Worship: The Chief End of Man
- Prayer and Contemplation
- Exhortations and Prophetic Words
- Our Counselor: The Holy Spirit
- Jesus Christ: Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King
- Practicing the Presence of God
- On Christian Doctrine
- On Living the Christian Life
Those familiar with Tozer’s work will recognize these themes, and will begin to see where many of his ideas originated. Bell suggests reading one of Tozer’s classics, such as The Pursuit of God, along with this collection, to see these connections in real-time. I haven’t done that yet, but I think it would be a great approach, particularly for those who haven’t read Tozer.
This collection mirrors the wide range of Tozer’s reading, covering writers from the 4th through 20th centuries, representing many different theological persuasions. Tozer seems to have been particularly interested in many of the mystics from the Dark Ages. There are also many authors cited from the Reformation and Puritan eras, including perspective from those with Calvinist and Wesleyan leanings, as well as some Catholics.
This may not be a read-it-straight-through type of book, but it will be an invaluable resource for your personal library. I can see it functioning very well as a daily reader as well. I recommend it! Buy it here.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book for free from the publisher. I was under no obligation to give it a positive review, and will not be compensated for my review.