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A.W. Tozer: A Spiritual Classic Written in One Setting

Aiden Wilson (A.W.) Tozer (1897-1963) belonged to a small denomination few have heard of: Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). Yet while this denomination is small (app. 340,000 members in 2004), it produced a man the Dictionary of Christianity in America calls "one of the most influential American evangelicals of the mid-Twentieth Century."

Tozer became a Christian at age eighteen and was ordained at age twenty-three. He pastored the Southside Alliance Church of Chicago from 1928-1959. Among the more than thirty books he wrote is one known as a spiritual classic, The Pursuit of God. But this spiritual classic is different than most others in that it was written in one setting. Tozer traveled from Chicago to Texas via train in the late 1940s (probably 1948); on that ride he wrote the rough draft for the entire book during the night. He later expanded the volume and it was published for the first time in 1949. After his death on May 12, 1963, Tozer was buried in Akron, Ohio. On his gravestone is the simple phrase: "A Man of God." What follows are excerpts from The Pursuit of God; the entire volume can be found at

"If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then to proceed in the way of simplicity. Now, as always, God discovers Himself to "babes" and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few)."

"The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. These are the ‘poor in spirit.’"

"We must, in our hearts, live through . . . harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them. The ancient curse of [self-centeredness] will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die in obedience to our command. . . . He must be expelled from our soul . . . as Christ expelled the money changers from the Temple."

"Spinoza wrote of the intellectual love of God, and he had a measure of truth there. But the highest love of God is not intellectual, it is spiritual. God is Spirit and only the spirit of a man can know Him really. In the deep spirit of a man the fire must glow or his love is not the true love of God. The great of the kingdom have been those who loved God more than others did."

"If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world? The patriarch Jacob . . . gave the answer to that question. He saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder, "Surely the LORD is in the place; and I knew it not. (Gen 28:16)"

"Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus."

©2004 Mark Nickens

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