Andi Cumbo - Writer, Editor, Online Writing Courses, Classes & Lessons

A.W. Tozer Makes Me Grumpy – 10th Most Popular Post of 2012

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I’ve tried for years. In various articles and now with The Knowledge of the Holy, and I have to say – with apologies to all who do – I just don’t like the guy. And perhaps worse, I don’t agree with a lot of what he has to say about God and the nature of faith and church community*

Here are the five things I find hardest to agree with in his work:
1. The characterization of science as a failure. Now, I’m not one to say science trumps everything – I don’t believe that. But I do believe in the practice of science as something that can align with the practice of faith. Tozer doesn’t seem to see that.

2. The portrayal of most humans, but not him, as looking for a weak, “everything goes” God. Of course, at some times all of us long for a God that will look with favor on the really stupid stuff we’re doing, but in actuality, I truly believe most humans want a God who, while loving them all the time, really wants to protect them from their own stupidity, even if that means being disciplined and hurt a little.

3. The tone of his writing. Because Tozer doesn’t refer to himself any time he’s talking about the “wrong” ways people believe and act, and because he seems to think – even as he says it’s impossible for humans to do so – that he has God figured out, I find him terribly arrogant. So much could be gained if he simply used himself as an example sometimes. Or if he admitted he didn’t know something. Then, maybe I could feel some camaraderie with him.

4. The literal reading of Scripture. Now, of course, this says so much more about my understanding of the nature of Scripture, but for me, it’s really hard to grasp some of his points when we just don’t read the Bible the same way. I see story and metaphor and poetry – he sees history. That’s a hard one for me to reconcile.

5. The lack of a pervading sense of compassion and grace toward humanity. This one thing makes it very hard for me to read him. So much of what he says seems to have written humans off, as if we cannot possibly “get it.” But if our God can love us and have enough compassion enough to send Godself, God’s own son to earth to give us the grace we don’t deserve, well, I wish Tozer could cut us a little slack, too.

*I realize I could be the wrong one here. Maybe my perceptions of these things are in error. I’m fully willing to admit that. So feel free to explain to me why I might be mistaken about Tozer, nice, okay?

Also, I haven’t given up on Tozer yet. I keep working through his books and discussing his writings with people. I’m not writing him off . . . just trying to find out why he makes me so darn nuts.

What do you think of A.W. Tozer? How is his work meaningful to you? How does is it not? Are there other writers you prefer to read?

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Author: Andi

I am a writer, editor, and writing teacher whose most recent book, The Slaves Have Names, tells the story of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised. When I'm not working, my husband and I are working to make our small farm - God's Whisper Farm - a retreat here at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry The Deuce

    I haven’t actually ever read any of his stuff. I probably tend to blend a bit of what your and his takes. I see the history of Israel as actual history, but with God wrapping a lot of metaphor and poetry within in it. I see the poetry of the Bible containing history and metaphor. I find myself in a weird position in my life: a bit too fundie/literal for a lot of folks and a little too progressive/whatever else for others. I’m a swirling wind containing a lots of thoughts that never seems to light.
    Larry The Deuce recently posted…Christmas Is Hard: An Older Christmas PostMy Profile

    • http://www.andilit.com Andi

      Like you, Larry, I see the Bible as both historical text and literary document. And yes, it’s hard to sit between the “camps” so to speak, but bravo to you for being true to what you see as truth. There’s honor in that.

  • http://marthaorlando.blogspot.com Martha Orlando

    I haven’t read Tozer, but many of my on-line blogging friends have been doing a book study. They’ve had some pretty amazing commentary, enough to make me actually curious about his writings. Your blog here has, too.
    Thanks, Andi!
    Martha Orlando recently posted…Million Dollar RoomsMy Profile

    • http://www.andilit.com Andi

      I’ll be eager to hear what you think when you read him, Martha.

  • http://www.google.com/ Maura

    I came across your blog post and wondered whether you’re interested in feedback?