Category Archives: A.W.Tozer

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

Tozer the Mystic, Part 2, What is wrong with Pursuing God?

God’s WORD
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”—John 14:6

What is wrong with Pursuing God?
God’s way, the Bible, says Jesus is the only way to God. Mankind prefers to get
to God through his works and/or through an experience. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God could be retitled Pursuing an Experience of God.

Pursuing in the Bible, usually has to do with going after one’s enemy. The Hebrew word was also translated follow after, as in follow after righteousness, or pursue peace, but the phrase pursue God is not in the Bible. God’s Word does tell us that no one seeks Him, but that Jesus came to seek us who were lost.

    “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There
    is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”—Romans 3:10, 11

    “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which
    was lost.”—Luke 19:10

    “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
    —1 John 4:10

While affirming and often referencing the Bible (though majorly torquing it to make his points), Tozer subtly attacks organizations and those that believe the Bible. Tozer seems to think that worship is a spiritual feeling or sensation. He therefore, accuses people of not being spiritual, because they aren’t pursuing God enough and not worshipping correctly. Tozer is enticing people with something more—something we (meaning Christians), apparently didn’t get when we had our sins forgiven. Second Peter says differently.

    “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge
    of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”—2 Peter 1:3

Instead of pointing people to what God’s Word says, Tozer sets up other people (mystics, but he doesn’t call them that), their philosophies, writings, and experiences as examples of the way you can pursue (get closer to) God, experience Him, get righteousness, or become more spiritual. How can
we get any closer to God if we abide in Him and His words abide in us?

    “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”—John 14:23

Because of the mystical people Tozer refers to as good examples, I am left with the thought that Tozer is really telling his readers, many of whom think Tozer is
a biblical preacher, that they can have unity with God—be one with the Divine.

Just like the Carmelites, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Brother Lawrence, Tozer advocates a mystical way to God, but not the God of the Bible, or the true Jesus. Tozer, under the guise of using scripture (albeit wresting it), deceives his readers through enticing words of men’s wisdom, not to the true Jesus, but to another Jesus, not to get closer to God, but in actuality, to become one with God.

It seems more like Tozer is offering water from “…broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” and advocating a return to the centuries old mysticism of Roman Catholicism, thus propagating Satan’s lie—”your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods…”

    “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”—Genesis 3:5

    “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”—Proverbs 16:15

    “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”—Jeremiah 2:13

    “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…”—John 4:14

The next four posts will include quotes and some background information on Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, Nicholas of Cusa, Frederick Faber, Thomas a Kempis, and The Cloud of Unknowing—all of whom Tozer quotes and references positively in The Pursuit of God.

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
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God and Augustine
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, von Hugel, Bernard of Clairvaux, and the
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

A. W. Tozer, the Mystic, Part 1

God’s WORD
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”—John 16:3

“For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.”—Isaiah 32:6

Tozer is called both a mystic, and a preacher who calls “for evangelicals to return to the authentic, biblical positions that characterized the church when it was most faithful to Christ and His Word.” Though Tozer is elusive regarding his bent towards mysticism, others praise him for it. [Was A. W. Tozer a Mystic?]

Rather than take the word of others, I decided to search Tozer’s writings to see if they contained any mysticism. I will mainly be referencing Tozer’s The Pursuit of God (1948), which I have read a number of times. I also reviewed Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy (1961), for mystical references.

In 1963, the year of his death, Tozer wrote, The Christian Book of Mystical Verse, a poetry collection from the saintly mystics (which I won’t be reviewing).

The prefaces to both The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, indicate Tozer was offering what the mystics believe. Tozer is not hiding what he is offering—once you realize he is really speaking from the viewpoint that the mystics are right. Tozer is steeped in the literature of the mystics, but not the language of the Bible, even though he often quotes it or alludes to it.

from Preface to Tozer’s The Pursuit of God

    “…This book is a modest attempt to aid God’s hungry children so to find Him…it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done…”

    Tozer ends with an offer, “if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.”

from Preface to Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy

    “…Were Christians today reading such works as those of Augustine or Anselm a book like this would have no reason for being. But such illuminated masters are known to modern Christians only by name…

    “It is my hope that this small book may contribute somewhat to the promotion of personal heart religion among us; and should a few persons by reading it be encouraged to begin the practice of reverent meditation on the being of God, that will more than repay the labor…”

In The Pursuit of God, Tozer often quotes or positively references Roman Catholic mystics and their writings—Augustine, Nicholas of Cusa, Thomas a Kempis (and “the Voice” from his “Imitation of Christ”), Francis of Assisi, von Hugel, Bernard of Clairvaux, Cloud of Unknowing, Frederick Faber, the Catholic hymn writer, as well as the Chinese sage, Lao-tze.

Though the Carmelites, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Brother Lawrence, are not mentioned specifically, their mystic belief system is
referred to as a correct way to God—John’s ascent to God, Teresa’s
mystical ecstacy
(including terms such as piercing sweetness), both John
and Teresa’s use of being inflamed with love for God, in which they were
referring to a marriage or “union” with God, and Lawrence’s Practicing
the Presence of God
which referenced, “the All.”

Thirteen years later, in Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer again referenced Augustine, Nicholas of Cusa, Cloud of Unknowing, and Frederick Faber positively. Among the People Tozer added were Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, Bernard of Cluny, and Anslem, a mystic scholastic.

God’s WORD
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”—Matthew 15:9

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you
into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

“Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”—Galatians 1:6

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?
Tozer the Mystic, Part 2, What is wrong with Pursuing God?
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God and Augustine
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, von Hugel, Bernard of Clairvaux, and the
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

Conclusion of Carmelite Order Posts or Why I am writing about by A. W. Tozer

I had no idea that in February of 2008, when I wrote a series of posts on the Carmelite Order in my 2000 Years of Deception and Error series, that it would be almost a year before the series would come to a conclusion.

The initial series on the Carmelite Order (whose emphasis is contemplative prayer and a mystical union with God), included posts about John of the
Cross and Teresa of Avila
, Brother Lawrence, and Brother Lawrence’s book, Practicing the Presence of God.

In my research, I read that Brother Lawrence’s mystical, unbiblical book, Practicing the Presence of God, was a favorite of the preacher, A. W. Tozer,
who I had always thought of as a strong biblical preacher. As I read Tozer’s
The Pursuit of God, which I had randomly chosen, I looked for any mystical influence.

In the first chapter of The Pursuit of God, I found favorable references to the Roman Catholics, Augustine, and St. Bernard; the mystical book, Cloud of Unknowing; and von Hugel, a name I’d not heard of.

Quite surprised, I skimmed through the rest of The Pursuit of God. The people Tozer quoted and praised were often unknown or little known to me. The words, phrases, and concepts were often foreign to me—and not biblical.

To prepare my readers to understand the terms and phrases Tozer used and compare them with God’s Word, I started a God’s Word or Man’s Words and Experience post series, the first of which was titled, Of “Practice the Presence”, “God’s Heart”, “Pursue”, “Seek”, “Abide”, “God’s Face.”

In July 2008, I started the last of the God’s Word or Man’s Words and Experience posts, with what turned out to be another long series of posts defining the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and the influence it has had
and continues to have on American education, culture, and politics.

Behind the men, words, phrases, and ideas in Tozer’s The Pursuit of God,
is another major layer of men and philosophies that I am in the process of researching. It will take me some time to gather all the information.

Rather than wait what may be months for that research, I decided to post
some of the information I have gathered on Tozer, to alert people to be aware
of unbiblical thinking when reading books assumed to be biblical or Christian—no matter who wrote it, what the title or when it was written.

God’s WORD

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”—1 John 4:1

    “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send
    a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”—Amos 8:11

Other Posts related to Tozer and The Pursuit of God
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 and Augustine
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, von Hugel, Bernard of Clairvaux, and the
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