A.W. Tozer: Should Christians Read or Quote?

The purpose of this article is to inform and warn others of Tozer’s many errors doctrinally. I do not judge Tozer’s salvation, I do not know if he believed the gospel at one point. But the Bible warns us to ‘take heed to the doctrine’ (1 Tim 4:16). Paul warned even elders about this concerned they could be deceived (Acts 20:25-32). He was afraid they would put up will those who brought another Jesus or another gospel as the Mystics do (2 Cor 11:3-15). So we need to mark and avoid these types of teachings (Rom 16:17-19) and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered (Jude 3).

If I missed citing a source, please let me know, I will correct it immediately. I compiled this many years ago and added to it, so I’m sure I’m missing some things.

A.W. Tozer (Aiden Wilson)

Tozer is well-liked to this day by Calvinists and Arminians both. He was a purveyor of Lordship doctrine. He was one of the ones that coined the disgraceful epithet, ‘easy-believism’.

This quote from ‘The Best of A.W. Tozer’ clearly shows he did not understand the gospel; “In the Bible the offer of pardon on the part of God is conditioned upon intention to reform on the part of man. There can be no spiritual regeneration till there has been a moral reformation7

Is that so?

There has to be a moral regeneration before one can be born again? If that were true, you’d have to ask, “how long of a process is it to become saved?” And how does an ungodly sinner without strength muster up strength to do something godly like regenerate himself morally?

Must anyone be “intent to reform” in order to receive the free gift of eternal life? Doesn’t a desire to reform come with time cooperating with the Lord to continue in His Word and actually take heed to it? (Ps 119:9) 

I believe the sole condition of being saved is found in the book of John. The purpose of the entire book is found in John 20:31 – But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Charlie Bing included this regarding Tozer:

  1. W. Tozer, a Lordship Salvation proponent, charges that “a notable heresy has come into being throughout our evangelical Christian circles—the widely-accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Saviour and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to.” 9,10

My friend, (now with the Lord), Pastor Jack Weaver (expreacherman.com) said:

Tozer, Deeper Life teacher – mystic and Lordship “Salvationist” before it was called that.8

Tozer quoted the Gnostic Apocrypha 

Why does Tozer ‘draw on Apocryphal references’ in his book ‘Pursuit of God’. Tozer wrote many books,

The Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, The Purpose of Man, The Crucified Life, Prayer: Communing with God in Everything, and God’s Pursuit of Man are compelling titles of some of the books Tozer wrote.

Tozer and Roman Catholic Mysticism

Tozer was heavily influenced by the Catholic mystics in his books. What are we to do with leaven (Gal 5:7-10) ?  Introduce it to the church by quoting them favorably?

Once’, (Calvinist Martyn Lloyd-Jones recalled), ‘Dr. Tozer and I shared a conference years ago, and I appreciated his ministry and his fellowship very much. One day he said to me: ‘Lloyd-Jones, you and I hold just about the same position on spiritual matters, but we have come to this position by different routes.’ ‘How do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Well,’ Tozer replied, ‘you came by way of the Puritans and I came by way of the mystics.’ And, you know,’ said Lloyd-Jones, ‘he was right.’ 4

COMMENT: I am dismayed that neither of the two say that they came by the way of the Scriptures – 2 Tim 3:14-17. Why on earth would we need the mystics? It is divining, it is philosophy and vain deceit (Col 2:8), and should be avoided.

MYSTICS A.W. TOZER QUOTED

Some people don’t seem to have issues with this, but once again, we are introducing leaven (disobeying His Word). We are possibly making a young one stumble, and if they favor the Roman Catholic Mystics, and base some of their doctrine upon them, how much leaven is in their lump? Aren’t they then spoiled? Interesting that Tozer’s site quotes them as ‘Christian Mystics’ that he ‘drew heavily from’, along with ‘early church fathers’ and ‘revivalists’.6 Catholicism teaches a gospel of works, sacraments, and the Word shows us in Gal 1:6-9 that this is accursed.

Tozer quoted Nicholas of Cusa in ‘Pursuit of God’, I have/had this book sadly, one a pastor recommended to me I believe many years ago. Cusa’s book was ‘The Vision of God’. This Roman Catholic Mystic was ‘deeply influenced by Saint Augustine’. St. Augustine is another Bishop with mystical experiences including his conversion which had to do with hearing a child’s voice say ‘take up and read’ (and it wasn’t the gospel, so how did he get saved?)

Nicholas mixes the metaphysical with the personal…. Nicholas was a German cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. NICHOLAS OF CUSA (1401-1464) was a philosopher, jurist, mathematician, and astronomer. Also referred to as Nicolaus Cusanus and Nicholas of Kues, he is considered one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century.2

Tozer quoted many mystics favorably. What is REALLY important to note, is these men are NOT to be followed at all, so why quote a portion of leaven… this is disobedience to God’s Word in several places. He is not to have them into his home (same thing as including them favorably in his book), or wish them godspeed, he is sharing in their evil deeds.

  • In chapter 3 of The Pursuit of God , ‘Removing the Veil,’ Tozer quotes Chinese sage, Lao-tze: “That is the first step, and as…Lao-tze has said, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.'”3
  • Roman Catholics Augustine 3
  • Highly contemplative – Thomas á Kempis 3
  • Francis of Assisi 3
  • von Hugel 3
  • Bernard of Clairvaux 3
  • Bernard of Cluny
  • The poet William Blake 3
  • Hymn writer Frederick Faber, (a convert to Catholicism). 3
  • Brother Lawrence, “Practicing the Presence” (One of his favorite reads he said)
  • Teresa of Avila
  • St. John of the Cross
  • Dame Julian of Norwich
  • Anselm
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Ruysbroeck
  • Rolle
  • Tauler
  • Hilton
  • Evelyn Underhill – both mystic and ecumenical, Tozer when quoting him said it was the “insights” of that “master of the inner life” (his words)
  • Meister Eckhert –the author of the Cloud of unknowing. “The Cloud of Unknowing” pg. 19, “For it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself….lapped and foldenin one word, for that thou shouldest have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word of one syllable: for so it is better than of two, for even the shorter it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit. And such a word is this word GOD or this word LOVE”
    • In alignment with his love of “Practicing the Presence” by Monk Brother Lawrence, Tozer suggests the same — repeating a word such as “love” or “God”, one syllable, one word. Contemplatives do the same; repeating the words, until they “enter into the Presence”.
  • “The Cloud of Unknowing” writer’s mystical bent seems clear. Contemplative prayer is to empty your mind, instead of having our minds renewed daily.
  • Daniel Snyder’s book “In Pursuit of God” lists all the mystics he quoted — however, he is a fan of Tozer.
  • In Tozer’s book, “Knowledge of the Holy”, he uses almost 20 favorable quotes of Roman Catholic mystics.

More Quotes by Tozer

“In many churches Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone!” — I Talk Back to the Devil — A.W. Tozer.

MY COMMENT: I rather think the Word of God has been watered down and lacking in churches along with false gospels of works like Tozers. Or people don’t want to take any instruction from God’s Word, they cast it behind their backs (in favor of some of these types). Ps 50:16-17

“What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” — The Knowledge of the Holy — A.W. Tozer

MY COMMENT: What comes to mind could be truth or error, and if truth, is not the most important thing about us, but Him.

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” — Glorify his name! Root of the Righteous” — A. W. Tozer; Chapter 39.

MY COMMENT: I could be tempted to have quite a long answer here, especially with his ‘it is doubtful whether God can’… But he should have just started with Matthew 5 and reframed his words.

“Some of my friends good-humoredly – and some a little bit severely – have called me a ‘mystic.’ Well I’d like to say this about any mysticism I may suppose to have. If an arch-angel from heaven were to come, and were to start giving me, telling me, teaching me, and giving me instruction, I’d ask him for the text. I’d say, ‘Where’s it say that in the Bible? I want to know.’ And I would insist that it was according to the scriptures, because I do not believe in any extra-scriptural teachings, nor any anti-scriptural teachings, or any sub-scriptural teachings. I think we ought to put the emphasis where God puts it, and continue to put it there, and to expound the scriptures, and stay by the scriptures. I wouldn’t – no matter if I saw a light above the light of the sun, I’d keep my mouth shut about it ’til I’d checked with Daniel and Revelation and the rest of the scriptures to see if it had any basis in truth. And if it didn’t, I’d think I’d just eaten something I shouldn’t, and I wouldn’t say anything about it. Because I don’t believe in anything that is unscriptural or that is anti-scripture.” — What Difference Does the Holy Spirit Make? — A. W. Tozer

MY COMMENT: Sadly, He didn’t keep his mouth shut and he did spout stuff that the Word did not say. He also said stuff the Bible did say, but he had a tendency to lean to other men’s words.

DISCLAIMER: From another’s site in blue, not a recommendation, but a source for Tozer’s quotes. Although I agree with the thoughts regarding Tozer’s quotes, I could not find a gospel or statement of faith on the site, so it is simply a source quote.11

PANTHEISM OR PANENTHEISM

Citations from Tozer’s book:

“God contains space.” [TAG, p. 5]

“Then there is God. God has the attribute of immanence and immensity. God is immanent, which means you don’t have to go distances to find God. He is in everything. He is right here.

“God is above all things, beneath all things, outside of all things and inside of all things. God is above, but He’s not pushed up. He’s beneath, but not pressed down. He’s outside, but He’s not excluded. He’s inside, but He’s not confined. God is above all things presiding, beneath all things sustaining, outside of all things embracing, and inside of all things filling. That is the immanence of God.” [TAG, p. 22, emphasis added]

“Remember that God is outside of all things and inside of all things and around all things.” [TAG, p. 23, emphasis added]

“God is omnipresent, which means God is everywhere. God is also immanent, which means that God penetrates everything. This is standard Christian doctrine, believed even in the earliest days of Judaism. God is omnipresent and immanent, penetrating everything even while He contains all things.” [TAG, pp. 137-138, emphasis added]

Tozer adds, “God is so immense that the universe cannot contain Him. Though He is in everything, He is not confined to or contained by His creation. Instead, He contains it. As an exercise to see how this view of God stands up against Scripture, meditate on Isaiah 40. Note how certain verses relate to what Tozer has said so far about God’s immensity. It is interesting to compare verse 15 to Lady Julian’s vision of the hazelnut.”

MY COMMENTS: Tozer’s thoughts are Pantheism or Panentheism. God and the universe are not one and the same thing. He is not found ‘within all things’, and it’s fairly easy to see he is leaning on Mystic Julian of Norwich’s writing (a Catholic female hermit who had visions). The world is not part of God. And God is not dependent on the world. He needs nothing from man.

Some more thoughts from the website referenced11

#1: If God is in everything [and by extension, every person], then there is no distinction between good and evil, there is no distinction between believer and unbeliever, children of God and children of disobedience/wrath, for all actions would then find their origination with God since He is in everything/everyone.

#2: There is no such thing as sin—because if God is in everything/ everyone, then He cannot act against Himself. For example, there cannot be such a sin as idolatry, because those considered to be worshiping idols are actually worshiping a manifestation of God. Nor can one person sin against another simply because each being filled with and permeated by God simply cannot act against God.

#3: If God is in everything, and there is no such thing as sin, then there is no need for redemption.

#4: If God is in everything, there is no such thing as sin, and no need for redemption, then the Bible is not true for it teaches the creation is distinct from the Creator, not a part of the Creator, that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, and require redemption.

#5: If God is in everything/everyone, there is no real eternal judgment, for He would have to render judgment against a part of Himself.

I am sure there are other implications which I have not explored, but these should suffice to show that Tozer’s teaching concerning immanence is, at best, sub-Christian, if not slashing away at the heart of fundamental Christian teaching.

“In the previous chapter I dealt with the fact of remoteness – that distance is unlikeness – and I pointed out that hell is for those unlike God.” [TAG, p. 138]

“Heaven is a place of complete comparability, and sin introduces incompatibility between God and the sinner. There cannot be any comparability or communion between the two because sin introduces that quality which throws humans and God out of accord with each other.” [TAG, p. 140] 11

Tozer received his ordination in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a movement which affirms sanctification/perfectionism as a second work of grace subsequent to conversion/justification.12

Some books that documented Tozer’s Mysticism

I am not recommending these books in any way, shape or form. Some brief blips from the books themselves will follow for you to see for yourself. Just showing that it is not a question that he was involved with, recommended and quoted many mystics.

The Mystic Spirituality of A. W. Tozer, a Twentieth-Century Protestant E. Lynn Harris, 1992

Though much work has been done in the fields of Catholic and Oriental spirituality, Protestant spirituality has been neglected. After a brief biography of Tozer, this study compares Tozer’s mysticism to thirty-five mystical classics he recommended, such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc. 

Lamps on the Candelabrum: Five Evangelical Mystics

by David, A J. Seargent MA PhD FRAS

This eBook gives a brief account of the lives and basic teachings of five Christian teachers who could be described as “evangelical mystics”. They are A. W. Tozer, Watchman Nee, the Indian “Christian mystic” Sadhu Sundar Singh, Pakistani visionary, Gulshan Esther, and Welsh evangelist, Selwyn Hughes.

BOOKS BY TOZER (publishers description)

The Christian Book of Mystical Verse  by A. W. Tozer 

The purpose of this book is to bring together in one convenient volume some of the best devotional verse the English language affords, and thus to make available to present day Christians a rich spiritual heritage which the greater number of them for various reasons do not now enjoy. I have not hesitated to apply the term “mystical” to the material I have collected here, though I readily admit that fewer than half a dozen of the men and women who would be called true mystics in the strict classical sense will be found here. Such names as Eckhart, Ruysbroeck, John of the Cross, Teresa, Rolle, Tauler, Hilton, Francis of Assisi, for instance, are not represented in this volume at all. On the other hand the frequent appearance of such a man as Watts might cause the reader to lift a questioning eyebrow and ask, “Is Watts also among the mystics?” Well, the answer must be, Of course he is, and so are John Newton and James Montgomery and Reginald Heber and Charles Wesley, as well as many others who might have balked at being called mystics but whose writings, nevertheless, reveal unmistakable traces of purest mysticism and are the better for it. And for that matter the same thing may be said of the inspired writings of such men as Moses and David and Isaiah and Daniel and Paul and John, the works of the latter showing more than traces of the mystical spirit, being indeed charged full with it.

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

From the Inside Flap

This classic of Christian testimony and devotion explores the attributes of God in words that fly straight to the heart. A superb aid to strengthening and deepening the spiritual life, each chapter begins with a prayer, lucidly discusses a divine aspect–from God’s infinity to God’s love–and relates that aspect to today’s world, while pointing always to God’s wonder and inscrutability.

Tozer asserts that the cause of many of our modern spiritual woes is the loss in today’s church of a lofty concept of God. He argues persuasively that the cure lies in our rediscovery of God’s majesty. “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us,” he writes. “The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” The Knowledge of the Holy bears eloquent witness to the concept of God’s majesty, encourages reverent meditation on the being of God, and offers a way to bring back spiritual power to our lives.

Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Publisher’s comment: “Here is a masterly study of the inner life by a heart thirsting after God, eager to grasp at least the outskirts of His ways, the abyss of His love for sinners, and the height of His unapproachable majesty,” Quoted from the introduction by Samuel Zwemer. 

This version has been carefully formatted use on the Kindle e-reader. Scriptural references have been footnoted with book, chapter, and verse to aid the reader in their study of the Holy Scriptures regardless of their preferred translation. Some secular & apocryphal references have also been footnoted with brief highlights to better inform readers of the wealth of knowledge from which Tozer draws. This version also presents all quotations of the words of Christ in red letter format.

In the first chapter, “Following Hard After God”. Special attention is drawn to the first and last paragraph:

  1. “If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then 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). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.

 

  1. When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the “and” lies our great woe. If we omit the “and” we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.

 

  1. We need not fear that in seeking God only we may narrow our lives or restrict the motions of our expanding hearts. The opposite is true. We can well afford to make God our All, to concentrate, to sacrifice the many for the One.

 

  1. The author of the quaint old English classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, teaches us how to do this.  “Lift up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love; and mean Himself, and none of His goods. And thereto, look thee loath to think on aught but God Himself. So that nought work in thy wit, nor in thy will, but only God Himself. This is the work of the soul that most pleaseth God.”

MY COMMENT: There is some truth above. But it just is not ‘great plainness of speech’ (2 Cor 3:12). Heb 11:6 also comes to mind. Who is he to say what ‘most pleases God’? It seems the writer took some from James 1:6-8, but this is just man’s word above God’s (1 Cor 4:6). Reminds me of the excellency of speech 1 Cor 2:1-5 warns against.

  1. Again, he recommends that in prayer we practice a further stripping down of everything, even of our theology. “For it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself.” Yet underneath all his thinking lay the broad foundation of New Testament truth, for he explains that by “Himself” he means “God that made thee, and bought thee, and that graciously called thee to thy degree.” And he is all for simplicity: If we would have religion “lapped and folden in one word, for that thou shouldst have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word of one syllable: for so it is better than of two, for even the shorter it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit. And such a word is this word GOD or this word LOVE.” 5

But the Bible says:

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Tim 4:16

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim 3:14-17

A.W.Tozer Quotes Daily

July 16, 2012

“Artificiality is one curse that will drop away the we kneel at Jesus’ feet and surrender ourselves to His meekness.” – A.W.Tozer, ‘The Pursuit of God’, Chapter 9: Meekness and Rest 1

My Comment: (Didn’t Christ take the curse for us on the cross? Gal 3:10-14). God bless us all to be searching His Word to see if what people are saying is really true (Acts 17:11)

1 – A.W. Tozer quotes Daily – Facebook

2 – Nicholas of Cuza – Vision of God book description

3  https://www.thebereancall.org/content/november-2009-q-and-a-3

4 – Daniel Snyder’s book “In Pursuit of God”.

5 – http://www.onthewing.org/user/Tozer1%20Reconsidered%20-%20Riggle.pdf

6 – http://tozer.simpsonu.edu/Pages/About/Tozer-AWTozer.htm

7 – The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 2, pg. 115-117; Compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe.

8 – https://expreacherman.com/2012/09/21/paul-washer-again-lordship-salvation-message-and-worse/

9 – https://www.gracelife.org/resources/lordshipsalvation/?id=1

10 – Tozer, Heresy!, 9-20

11 – http://davestheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/a-w-tozer-a-trojan-horse-for-apostasy/

12 – http://www.frontlinemin.org/higherlife.asp

 

4 Responses to “A.W. Tozer: Should Christians Read or Quote?

    • Thank you Jack, I appreciate that and will edit it. I did this document so many years ago, and someone asked me to post whatever I had. Back then, things were for me, so I did not save some sources. Appreciate it.

  • reformednazarene
    1 month ago

    This is incredible. I must admit I did not know much about Tozer, other than seeing some pretty good quotes by him from time to time. Thank you for doing the work of bringing his background to light. I am very familiar with most of these mystics and with the contemplative movement, but had no idea of how deeply he was influenced by these people and ideas.

    • Hi Manny. Me too, I understand. It was before my husband passed away (from 2004-09) that pastors recommended these guys, but I tended to read up on them before quoting them, mainly because I had suffered a partially ruined and wasted life because of these quotes. Obviously some/many were good, or I wouldn’t have kept buying their stuff. If only I had been a Berean…

      God bless you brother. False is permeating our entire society including the ‘church’.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: