…book review: The Pursuit of Man – AW Tozer…

The Pursuit of Man: The Divine Conquest of the Human HeartThe Pursuit of Man: The Divine Conquest of the Human Heart by A.W. Tozer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AW Tozer has a unique quality in his writing. He has the ability to put off the lofty ideas of scholarly pursuit and elevate the pursuit of the Divine as central and singular. He does this, ironically, by approaching spiritual things in a scholarly way; and he accomplishes this feat without the slightest hint of hypocrisy or contradiction.
I cannot deny that I am not exactly biased when it comes to works by AW Tozer. His style, his passion, and the depth of his thinking have a way of rooting into unexplored places inside my mind and heart and touching previously unknown nerves in my spirit. He is, for me, addictive. I don’t always agree with his social commentary, I believe that he was concerned, to certain degree, with protecting a way of life that he viewed as beneficial and so he condemned certain cultural things that I consider to be quite neutral with regard to righteousness and holiness. But the thing Tozer does that endears him to me, even in those moments when I disagree with some bit of application, is this: he always speaks in a way that convinces me that he is only interested in the depths of the Christian walk and knowledge of God. Though he “preaches” it is never “preachy” because it is always rooted and grounded in both his and the reader’s ultimate joy.

This book, “The Pursuit of Man” is no different.

In the opening chapters he makes reference to some mechanics of knowing God and how we can know Him and why we should know Him.

“The man who would know God must give time to Him.”

He moves into a classic Tozer segment that appears in all of his books at some point and in some way where he deals with the importance of separation from the world. He diagnosis, in abstract and poetic strokes, the modern condition as opposed to the Biblical expectation in passages like this:

“Are there then two crosses? And did Paul mean one thing and they another? I fear that it is so, that there are two crosses, the old cross and the new…if I see it right, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of self-assured, carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel but whose voice is the voice of Cane. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned, the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh, the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood, the new cross brings laughter.”

The last half of the book is focused on the Holy Spirit. As the title of the book suggests, there is a pursuant aspect to God where He seeks us and searches us out. Tozer asserts that the agent responsible for this is the Spirit of God. This is another place where Tozer tends to shine. Though he is not a Pentecostal he is more apt to speak about the Holy Spirit than many so called Charismatics. His scathing commentary is encouraging and offered in authentic love, but it is not powder coated or blunted in any way.

“However culpable the liberal in denying the Godhood of Christ, we who pride ourselves on our orthodoxy must not allow our indignation to blind us to our own shortcomings. Certainly this is no time for self-congratulations for we too have, in recent years, committed a costly blunder in religion. A blunder paralleling closely that of the liberal. Our blunder, or shall we frankly say, our sin, has been to neglect the doctrine of the Spirit to a point where we virtually deny Him His place in the Godhead. This denial has not been by open doctrinal statement, for we have clung closely enough to the Biblical position wherever our credal pronouncements are concerned. The formal creed is sound, the breakdown is in our working creed.”

As I said in the beginning, I am biased toward Tozer’s writing, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a powerful work that is more than worth the time to move through it. It is, as many of Tozer’s books, a short volume, around 140 pages, and it isn’t a difficult piece to read. tozerBut there are many places where, though the reading isn’t troublesome, the content is dense and must be processed. There are implications, both personal and corporate, that Tozer brings up, hands to the reader, and then walks away leaving us alone with a ticking package and a sense of urgency that “this is important right now”.

Read this. Consume it.

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