A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God and Augustine

God’s WORD

    “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”—Romans 10:17

    “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”—2 Timothy 1:13

    “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”—Colossians 2:8

Many religious institutions and leaders, Roman Catholic, Reformed, Protestant, and others, have based some of their belief system on the writings of Augustine of Hippo. Tozer, in his Pursuit of God seems to accept Augustine’s unbiblical phrases and philosophies—the interior life, gaze of the soul, summum bonum.

The Pursuit of God, Chapter 1: Following hard after God

    “The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to an Augustine…”

The Pursuit of God, Chapter 3: Removing the Veil

    “Among the famous sayings of the Church fathers none is better known than Augustine’s, `Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.’ The great saint states here in few words the origin and interior history of the human race…”

The Pursuit of God, Chapter 7: The Gaze of the Soul

    “…When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward becomes fixed within us we shall be ushered onto a new level of spiritual life more in keeping with the promises of God and the mood of the New Testament…

    “We will have found life’s summun bonum indeed. `There is the source of all delights that can be desired…For it is the absolute maximum of every rational desire, than which a greater cannot be.'”

God’s WORD
“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”—Jeremiah 10:23

“…for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…”
—Genesis 8:21

“For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness…”—Psalm 5:9

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 3:14

JTB comment:
In these three excerpts Tozer has referenced error. Don’t we base truth on what is written in God’s Word, not what a person, even a so-called church father says? What is experiential heart-theology? The following information explains what is meant by some of Augustine’s unbiblical terms and thinking.

Augustine: Inner man, Gaze of the Soul, and summun bonum

    The Soul of St Augustine by Nymph Kellerman
    “Augustinian thought is based on the soul as the innermost reality, which he calls the ‘inner man’…’To arrive at God, one begins with the reality of God’s creation, and especially with the inner nature of man.” He refers to the soul as the ‘interior of man’…”

God’s WORD
“And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”—Luke 11:39

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

“Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

“All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
—Mark 7:21–23

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory,
to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;”
—Ephesians 3:16

    Gaze of the soul/contemplation
    Contemplation, the object of contemplative life, is defined as the complacent, loving gaze of the soul on Divine truth already known and apprehended by the intellect, assisted and enlightened by Divine grace.
    —p. 329 The Catholic Encyclopedia by Charles George Herbermann, Knights of Columbus Catholic Truth Committee, 1908

    In his early work, Augustine adopted a Platonic confidence in reason. Defining reason as the gaze of the soul, he proposed that the soul’s eye could gain direct insight into truth and eventually achieve an intellectual vision of God.—Christianity, A Global History, by David Chidester

    13. When, then, you shall have sound eyes, what remains?
    From The Soliloquies of St. Augustine
    A. That the soul look.
    R. The gaze of the soul is Reason; but since it does not follow that every one who looks, sees, that right and perfect looking, which is followed by seeing, is called Virtue, for Virtue is rectified and perfected Reason. But that very act of looking, even though the eyes be sound, cannot turn them toward the Light unless three things persist:

    Faith—by which the soul believes that, that toward which the gaze has been directed, is such that to gaze upon it will cause blessedness:

    Hope—by which, the eyes being rightly fixed, the soul expects this vision to follow: and

    Love—which is the soul’s longing to see and to enjoy it. Such looking is followed by the vision of God Himself, who is the goal of the soul’s gaze, not because it could not continue to look, but because there is nothing beyond this on which it can fix its gaze.

    This is truly perfected Reason—Virtue—attaining its proper end, on which the happy life follows. And this intellectual vision is that which is in the soul a conjunction of the seer and the seen.” (translated into English by Rose Elizabeth Cleveland)

God’s WORD
“But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?”—Luke 5:22

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock,
and unto the Greeks foolishness;

“But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”—1 Corinthians 1:22–24

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”—1 Corinthians 2:13

    Summum bonum
    “Summum bonum (Latin for the highest good) is an expression used in philosophy, particularly in medieval philosophy, and in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, to describe the ultimate importance, the singular and most ultimate end which human beings ought to pursue.

    “…In the Western world, the concept was introduced by the neoplatonic philosophers, and described as a feature of the Christian God by Saint Augustine in De natura boni (On the Nature of Good, written circa 399).

    Augustine denies the positive existence of absolute evil, describing a world with God as the supreme good at the center, and defining different grades of evil as different stages of remoteness from that center…”

God’s WORD
“And from Jesus Christ…Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”—Revelation 1:5

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”—Revelation 20:10, 14, 15

“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

“And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”—Revelation 22:3–5

For more reading on Augustine:
wikipedia
Just the BOOK

Other Posts related to Tozer and The Pursuit of God
Conclusion of the Carmelite Order Posts or Why I am Writing about A W Tozer
Was A. W. Tozer a Mystic?
A. W. Tozer, the Mystic, Part 1
Tozer the Mystic, Part 2, What is wrong with Pursuing God?
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, von Hugel, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Cloud of Unknowing
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, the Chinese sage, Laotze, and Faber, the Catholic Hymnwriter
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Thomas a Kempis, and Nicholas of Cusa
Unbiblical and/or mystical phrases, in The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
What is so appealing about the The Pursuit of God by Tozer?
JTB series: Scripture compared with some phrases in The Pursuit of God

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