I have been studying the life and teachings of Mr. Tozer, who I would argue was very wise man who was far ahead of his time. He clearly understood God, mankind, and the assignment of the New Testament Church. He also clearly understood the dangers and struggles of the Church going forward.
Born into poverty in 1897, he was a self-educated man who taught himself what he missed in high school and college. 1950, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Wheaton College. He became a great preacher.
Over the years, he grew increasingly troubled over the world’s increasing influence upon the Church. His belief, always unwavering, was that the Church was intended to influence the world and argued that failing to do that indicated the Church was failing in its mission.
His last message, The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches, printed in the Alliance Weekly and dated May 15, 1963, was published three days after his death. His biographer James L. Snyder suggested that “In a sense it was his valedictory, for it expressed the concern of his heart.” Tozer said, “Among the gospel churches Christ is in fact little more than a beloved symbol . . . The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten, but it has been mostly relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion.”
There are more than 60 books that bear his name, many of which were compiled after his death from sermons he preached and articles he wrote. Two of those works are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. Many of his books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God.
He argued that “The church that cannot worship, must be entertained and men who can’t lead to worship must provide the entertainment!”
Mr. Tozer died in 1963 and it is actually quite remarkable that a half century ago he had the vision to be able to see the struggle of today’s Church when so many preachers today don’t have enough snap to even realize that a struggle exists. I am troubled when I enter a sanctuary and the altar of the Lord looks like the bandstand of the honkey-tonks where I once hung out. I am deeply troubled when I hear music coming from that once reverent altar that sounds like it would be better suited in back those honkey-tonks.