• November 20, 2021

Society of the Burning Heart and Passion for God – AW Tozer’s Spiritual Journey

“I’ve had a lonely life.” This is a statement made by Dr. Aiden W. Tozer shortly before his death in 1963 at age 66. The truth is that he “kept almost everyone he knew at a personal distance” throughout his life.[1] It is only by tracing his heritage that we get an idea of ​​why he was so distant.

He grew up in the harsh mountainous country of Pennsylvania, in the foothills of the Alleghenies. His father Jacob was a hard-working and uncompromising man, completely removed from sentimentality. Although always very grateful for his heritage, Aiden carried a huge burden for the family from the age of ten, after a fire tragically burned down the family home. From an educational point of view, McGuffey’s readers played a very important role in the education of Tozer’s children by providing a solid, Christian-based moral direction. The fire that significantly disrupted much of the family dynamics that the Tozers had, was later seen as something that brought something good, but only after a great deal of adjustment pain. The fire marked the end of an era and Aiden was never a child again.[2]

Some books have a refreshingly lively depiction of the truth, and Lyle Dorsett’s portrait of the 20th century prophet, Aiden Wilson Tozer, also known as AW Tozer, is rich in precision and has been thoroughly researched.[3] This article is based and summarized on the Dorsett book.

The “Fiery Heart Society” and “meeting God in worshipful silence” were always what captivated Dr. Tozer. He essentially loved his Lord Jesus Christ, first and foremost in his life. Wrapping the mysticism of God with the infallibility of the Biblical Word regarding Deity theology, Tozer was a spiritually fervent and well-rounded minister that anyone could find. Drawn to Christianity when he heard Matthew 11: 28-30 preached, he felt burdened and weary for Christ and found early encouragement to invest spiritually in his future mother-in-law, a fanatic of Spirit-filled worship. .[4] This released within him a call from God that would faithfully endure for the next forty-five years.

Although he was called and responded very soon, he and his new wife Ada were seriously surprised by World War I, and Aiden was recruited under strange circumstances that would have proven to be important proof of his calling. This part of the story is truly unnerving: an inspiration of fidelity.[5]

His ordination on August 18, 1920 was marked by the reason that he did not celebrate with others afterward; he sought “his Savior in the secret place” preferring to be alone to pray and seek the face of God.[6] its Prayer of a minor prophet[7] it reflects his burning desire to follow his “terrible, wonderful and fascinating” God. Pray for protection against the “curse of commitment, imitation, professionalism.” He said in it: “I am a prophet, not a promoter, not a religious administrator.” Instead, he asked God to “lead [him] to the place of prayer. ” [8]

Despite the claim that he was one of the most respected pastors of the 20th century, it is ironic that Tozer “was not an example of how to do pastoral work.”[9] Yet he was a tower for all the ministers, youth, and college-age people he counseled. His teaching and preaching ministry was said to be of the highest class. Young people saw him as an authoritative figure because he lacked ambition and never pushed his own wheelbarrow; it was worth up to an inch.

One of the harshest critics of his own ‘profession’, he played his part as enemies both in the ministry and beyond. He seriously regretted the decline he saw in the then modern church and its commitment to biblical principles. Dr. Tozer attributed the ‘personality boys’ penchant for spiritual engagement as ‘nervousness’ and overly subject to the world.

Tozer’s strengths were many. First, he was an anointed lover of the Deity. He loved Jesus Christ more than anything or anyone. She truly worshiped him and spent up to five or six hours a day (all morning six days a week) praying and reading the Bible. It was also quite ecumenical as long as other denominations and leaders supported biblical inerrancy and did not compromise biblical ideals for worldlings.

He was a voracious reader, reading more books and authors in a week than some people would in their entire lives. He also read extensively on the sciences, history, poetry, philosophy, the arts, and ethics, as well as on the early Church Fathers, influences on Church history, and theologians. Second-hand bookstores and libraries were haunted places. He took the wonder of Psalm 8 literally and believed strongly in learning all he could about creation. The cliché “All truth is the truth of God” was not a cliche for AW Tozer, and “he was as motivated” as secular men, but his motives were “to know God and make him known”, not to make money.[10] Above all, “he became magnificently obsessed with the formation of the soul in the likeness of Christ.”[11]

Tozer loved children and routinely met with children in Sunday School after services rather than receiving plastic platitudes from well-meaning parishioners after his weekly sermons. Many mothers were delighted that their famous pastor planted in the lives of their sons and daughters in this way.

Tozer’s prayer life was amazing in anyone’s language. He prayed kneeling or prostrate on the ground often moaning or crying as he bathed in the Presence every day. Unwaveringly infallible in his view of the Scriptures, he would use only the Bible in many of his daily reflections and meditations. His prayer life was the main fuel for his preaching, as he sought to know God’s will through personal experience rather than writing a “self-made” sermon. I fervently wanted to “experience [truth] before the proclamation [of it]. “[12]

Tozer’s not-so-good points were probably surprisingly numerous, which is a great encouragement to the rest of us – in short, the ill-equipped, which we all are. He had the gift of discernment, but using this gift often left Tozer depressed, as he lamented the destructive influences affecting the Church and people. He often warned associate pastor Raymond McAfee, “If you want to be happy, don’t ask for the gift of discernment.”[13]

Although Tozer was capable at home, he was anything but a loving husband and father. None of his children, with the possible exception of his last, Rebecca, could say that they enjoyed a true sense of intimacy with their father; Tozer kept his affection for his Lord. When remarrying after Tozer’s eventual death in 1963, Ada Tozer said, in contrast to the husbands, “Aiden loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me.”[14] A summary of Aiden and Ada’s relationship revealed that they both lived lonely and emotionally separate lives. Aiden used to travel and preach, leaving Ada behind. Dr. Tozer never encouraged fraternization with his or Ada’s family and even actively discouraged it; Family vacations weren’t his thing either.[15]

Dr. Tozer, already mentioned, was not a pastoral caregiver. He was a stubborn prophet, and could even be called a separatist at times.[16] He felt a “sharp spiritual contradiction” between most of the pastors and the heads and hearts of the believers; that they were not actually “seekers” yet. “They look and find and they don’t look any more,” he said. This was a frightening dichotomy for Dr. Tozer and it irritated him greatly. Simultaneously he maintained biblical inerrancy and spiritual experience like no other. I had nothing but “disdain [for ministers] by materialism, consumerism and worldliness. He freely criticized ministers and churches for any evidence he saw of this.

Above all else, Dr. AW Tozer stands out as the prophetic light of the mid-20th century; his legacy has been very personal and indelible throughout Chicago, Illinois, and throughout the surrounding states within the United States. Dorsett’s offer is very well researched and written. It is a difficult book to put down. The book is also a resource; I have come back to it in several stages.

Copyright © 2008, SJ Wickham. All rights reserved throughout the world.


[1] Lyle W. Dorsett, Passion for God: AW Tozer’s Spiritual Journey, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2008), p. 17.

[2] Ibid, pp. 33-38. Once again, Aiden was 10 years old when the fire occurred.

[3] This book is widely cited.

[4] Ibid, p. 51.

[5] ibid, p. 57.

[6] The full Prayer of a minor prophet it is widely available and is printed verbatim on pages 65-68 of the Dorsett book.

[7] This work was finally published in the Weekly alliance in 1950.

[8] Ibid, pp. 65-68.

[9] Ibid, p. 135. This quote is from Rev. Ed J. Maxey, who assisted Tozer for two years in the mid-1950s.

[10] Ibid, p. 94.

[11] Ibid, p. twenty-one.

[12] Ibid, p. 136.

[13] Ibid, p. 134.

[14] Ibid, p. 160.

[15] Ibid, p. 143-4. This reference applies to the previous two sentences.

[16] Ibid, p. 138-9.

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