Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book Write-Up: Culture, by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer.  Culture: Living as Citizens of Heaven on Earth—-Collected Insights from A.W. Tozer.  Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016.  See here to purchase the book.

A.W. Tozer was a pastor and Christian author who lived from 1897 to 1963.   This book, Culture, is a collection of (mostly) short excerpts from Tozer’s writings.  If there is a common topic throughout the book, it is the church as it exists in and relates to the world.  The internal life of the church is also discussed.

There are themes in this book that overlap with themes in other books by Tozer that I have read.  Tozer advocates an authentic spirituality, which includes being filled with the Holy Spirit and having a genuine knowledge of God.  In this book, Tozer goes further and criticizes dispensationalists who maintain that the Sermon on the Mount is inapplicable to Christians today.  For Tozer, the Sermon on the Mount is practically a constitution for what Christians should be like, and adherence to its principles set Christians apart from the world.  Tozer laments that many professing Christians fail to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously, including its exhortations about forgiveness and reconciliation with others.

Tozer interacts with other themes as well.  He is critical of Christians who fit in too well with the world, noting that Jesus was maladjusted.  Tozer says that spirit-filled Christians will excel in love, yet he is critical of the culture’s emphasis on tolerance.  Tozer talks about how Jesus spoke simply.  Tozer also discusses public prayer and the income tax.

Unlike in other books by Tozer that I have read, Tozer is self-deprecating in this book and is candid about his flaws.  Tozer laments his lack of patience.  At the same time, while he is somewhat critical of his fearless, tells-it-like-it-is approach, he also justifies that approach, on some level.

The book is thoughtful, as Tozer’s writings usually are.  Tozer’s advocacy of a genuine adherence to Christianity is attractive.

In terms of criticisms, Tozer could have been more specific about what exactly Christians are standing for before the world, and what sets them apart in their outlook and behavior.  He could have spoken more about giving to the poor, or, if Tozer has written about that topic, the compilers of the book could have included more about it.  Charity is emphasized throughout the Bible, and it is certainly in contrast with the self-seeking that the world so often promotes.  Tozer himself comes across as rather politically conservative in this book, but that need not preclude one from advocating charity for the poor.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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