I picked up this book on Tozer thinking that it would be great to have a good biography on such a influential Christian figure of the 20th century. However, what I got was really just a survey on a man whose inner life was hard to probe into. I met Lyle Dorsett at Wheaton and even went to the church where he preached for a while, and while a look into Tozer’s life is laudable, this book just scratched the surface of the inner man.
The issue is plain that Tozer was not outgoing. He dedicated almost all his personal time to seeking out God and knowing Jesus better. The rest of his time was devoted to preaching and teaching others about the Lord he knew so well. This must be the trouble with trying to write about him – he was singularly focussed for the 45 years after his conversion. The book tries to illustrate how this caused issues with his wife and children. But instead of leading to a fuller picture of the man, it seems like the author is just trying to come up with something to say besides “he prayed – a LOT.” Everyone of his friends and family relate that it was hard to be close to him, but his personal sacrifice was worth it when compared against his ministry as a prophetic voice. God had given Tozer a mission to warn the church against worldliness and to call her back to knowledge of Him. There is no doubt that he faithfully fulfilled his calling until his dying day.
The parts of the biography that I enjoyed the most were the outlining of the development of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the denomination Tozer was affiliated with. The stories about A. B. Simpson and the fourfold doctrine of Christ (Christ as Savior, Christ as Sanctifier, Christ as Healer, and Christ as Coming King) were enlightening. Also to see how denominational lines were being drawn in the midwest in the early 1900’s gave the book the depth it couldn’t find in its main subject.
My guess is that while the subject is one worthy of all emulation, there are probably other books that handle his life better. But why read those when Tozer himself left such a formidable body of work? Pick up The Pursuit of God or The Knowledge of the Holy and let A. W. Tozer tell you in his own words where a Christian’s life should lead. It will be worth it.
4 stars out of 10.
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