Sunday, August 16, 2009

Disagreeing With Tozer

The great pastor/preacher A.W. Tozer has always been a great source of inspiration for me. From my first discovery of his little pamphlet, How To Be Filled With the Holy Spirit, I was hooked. That led me to other gems of his, most notably his most famous book, The Pursuit of God, and a few others. Plus, it also lead me to some of his fellow contemporaries like Dr. Leonard Ravenhill, who was just as compelling and hardcore as Tozer himself.

So, recently, when my friend offered me a chance to read another Tozer gem, I gladly accepted. The book was Tozer on Worship and Entertainment and it sounded right up my alley, the good culture seeking child that I am. And Tozer didn't disappoint. He doesn't mince words, calling out perceived evils, sins, and gaps wherever they stand. He's old school and calls it as he sees it. And that's something I appreciate, and particularly that Tozer doesn't come across as an uneducated slob either. He's well spoken and convincing.


You knew it was coming didn't you? Some of Tozer's thoughts this time out definitely cause me to pause and, well, frankly, disagree. He makes some solid challenges to the Church, calling out issues of performance that have slipped into our worship which are certainly pertinent to this day. Those issues I have no problem with. Yet, when he turns to the believer's interaction with culture, with the movies and music of the world, that's where we've got to part ways.

For sure, the interaction of faith and culture has always been a dicey, contentious area. And there are surely elements wherein we've fully dropped the ball. But Tozer takes to task the idea of "story" and I really have to disagree with him there. Tozer contends that the idea of story takes away from the Gospel itself, from the teachings of the Bible. He believes that the parishioners are more interested in hearing a good story as opposed to his hard-edged truth. And he's right and I agree. Yet, I can't believe that detracts from the beauty and the need for stories.

Consider our own Bible. Essentially, the Bible is just that, a collection of stories. It's the tale of God's interaction and overarching love for His creation, as they rise and fall and rise again, all due to His grace. And these stories encourage us, they challenge us, and in many cases, they convict us, leading us to salvation. And it's near impossible to detract from the truth that Jesus Himself utilized the power of story as a key to his own teaching. Clearly, story has a place in the life of the believer.

Stories draw us in. Stories challenge us. Stories invite us. We need the power of story.


  1. I agree. I think stories can communicate that "hard-edged truth" just as potently as a sermon. Furthermore, there are occasions when the lens of story allows us to see things more clearly than if we were simply looking at data and forced to draw conclusions.

    I've never actually read anything by Tozer, so I can question his logic (nor would I presume to).

  2. Excuse me, I meant to say "can't question his logic."

  3. I'm a big fan of Tozer - his radical frankness and grasp of spiritual things is great.
    ....but Jesus didn't call us 'fishers of men' without reason - and that, Mr. T, involves bait.

  4. Even more so than bait, I just think there's an element of honesty, of art, and so many other things that go out the window when we relegate ourselves to "the Word" alone. I don't mean to say that the Bible is not sufficient, but as creative created beings, I believe our call is to present the story of God, our stories, in the best way possible. And that can only truly be done through story...