Item description for A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett...
Overview I fear we shall never see another Tozer. Men like him are not college-bred but Spirit-taught." Leonard Ravenhill, 20th century British evangelist. Pastor A.W. Tozer, author of the Christian classics The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, was a complex, intensely private, deeply spiritual man, and a gifted preacher whose impact for the kingdom of God is immeasurable. In this thoughtful biography, bestselling author Lyle Dorsett traces Tozer's life from his humble beginnings as a Pennsylvania farm boy to his heyday as a Chicago pastor?when hundreds of college students would travel to his South Side church to hear him preach and thousands more heard his Sunday broadcasts on WMBI?to his final pastorate in Toronto. From his conversion as a teen to his death in 1963, Tozer remained true to one passion: to know the Father and make Him known, no matter what the cost. The price he paid was loneliness, censure from other, more secular-minded ministers of the times, and even a degree of estrangement from his family. Read the life story of a flawed but gifted saint, whose works are still impacting the world today.
Publishers Description "I fear we shall never see another Tozer. Men like him are not college-bred but Spirit-taught." Leonard Ravenhill, 20th century British evangelist. Pastor A. W. Tozer, author of the Christian classics "The Pursuit of God" and "The Knowledge of the Holy," was a complex, intensely private, deeply spiritual man, and a gifted preacher whose impact for the kingdom of God is immeasurable. In this thoughtful biography, bestselling author Lyle Dorsett traces Tozer's life from his humble beginnings as a Pennsylvania farm boy to his heyday as a Chicago pastor--when hundreds of college students would travel to his South Side church to hear him preach and thousands more heard his Sunday broadcasts on WMBI. Eventually, he came to his final pastorate in Toronto. From his conversion as a teen to his death in 1963, Tozer remained true to one passion: to know the Father and make Him known, no matter what the cost. The price he paid was loneliness, censure from other, more secular-minded ministers of the times, and even a degree of estrangement from his family. Read the life story of a flawed but gifted saint, whose works are still impacting the world today.
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Studio: Moody Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1" Weight: 0.66 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2008
Publisher MOODY PRESS BOOKS #13
ISBN 0802481337 ISBN13 9780802481337
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More About Lyle Dorsett
REV. DR. LYLE W. DORSETT (Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia) is the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of numerous books, among them biographies of Joy Davidman (Mrs. C.S. Lewis), E. M. Bounds, and Billy Sunday. Keenly interested in the life and writings of C. S. Lewis, he has published a volume of "Lewis s Letters to Children," "The Essential C. S. Lewis," "A Passion for Souls: The Life of D. L. Moody"; "Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C.S. Lewis" and "A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer." His most recent book, published in August 2012, is titled "Serving God and Country: US Military Chaplains in World War II."He serves as Rector of Christ the King Anglican Church in Homewood, Alabama, which he and his wife and deacon, Mary, planted in November 2007.The Dorsetts have two children and four grandchildren."
Reviews - What do customers think about A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer?
Looking for a biography on the life of A.W. Tozer? This is it! May 12, 2009
This is the story of a man that God used to bring about true change in the lives of thousands for His Kingdom and glory. A.W. Tozer was not only a spiritually gifted preacher, teacher, and author; he was also, not unlike all of us, a flawed human. Lyle W. Dorsett has written this wonderful biography that takes you through the childhood, life, and ministry of A.W. Tozer. Tozer was anything but a perfect servant of God and at times his life choices leaves wonder as to why he did them, but his imperfections are what make him human and the lesions behind them can be great blessings for anyone willing to learn. In the end, it is clear that God can use sinful man to bring about His glory and honor.
Lyle W. Dorsett has done a masterful job of taking the true story of the life of A.W. Tozer and has left us with this wonderful biography. The lessons about living with a passion for God and the warnings of family neglect from the life of A.W. Tozer are valuable treasures for all looking to grow closer to God, yearning to stand for truth, longing to lead a powerful prayer life, and learn about the dangers of neglecting your family in doing so (losing focus on those closest to you when it does not and should not be this way). This, in my opinion, is a must read.
Insightful reading Nov 24, 2008
Lyle Dorsett's well-researched biography of A.W. Tozer provides valuable insight into this godly man to whom many have attributed prophet-like qualities. There is no doubt that God used--and continues to use--A.W. Tozer for His glory. But this biography is a reminder that God's servants are not perfect, only God Himself is. Watchman Nee was correct when he wrote, "Anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later that the great hindrance he has in the Lord's work is not others, but himself." To this I think Tozer himself would have added a hearty "Amen!"
A. W. Tozer and the Pursuit of God Oct 7, 2008
An elderly Christian gentleman once told me that if he could have only one book other than the Bible, it would be The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God, also by A. W. Tozer, are two of the best loved Christian books of the twentieth century. Their author, Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963), is remembered as a modern-day Christian mystic, and, apart from its founder, the best known pastor in the history of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
This latest biography of A. W. Tozer, A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer, is the latest in a series of short, informative biographies of influential evangelical Christians by Lyle Dorsett, Professor of Evangelism at the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University. Dorsett's goal is to provide a biography of Tozer that portrays him as a real human being, one who was far from perfect but saved by God's great grace and used by God to lead other Christians into a deeper, more meaningful Christian faith.
Like Dwight L. Moody, about whom Dorsett has also written a biography, Tozer had very little formal education and a lifelong passion to lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Unlike Moody, who was never ordained, Tozer was ordained by the CM&A in 1920. For the remainder of his life, he served the Alliance in pastorates in the U.S.A. and Canada, as editor of the denomination's magazine, The Alliance Weekly (later The Alliance Witness), and through his many widely popular books. A. W. Tozer did more to spread awareness of the CM&A than any other spokesperson.
Although he had little formal education and no formal seminary training, Tozer read widely and deeply in the works of great secular thinkers like Aristotle, Plato, Spinoza, Descartes, Hume, Hegel, and Karl Marx, as well as the early Church Fathers, and other great Christian thinkers like Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, Madame Guyon, John Newton, the Wesley brothers, and many more. Tozer believed that there was much to learn through reason, "But knowledge of God and the human spirit and the soul can be grasped only through the Holy Spirit" (96). He believed that reason was a valuable tool, but, he insisted, [God] "is above human reason and He is above human science" (qtd in Dorsett 96). Like Moody, Tozer wanted Christians to "enter into a deeper life with Christ." He was convinced that God wanted his people to "know Him" not just "about Him" (125). When faced with a difficult passage in the Bible, Tozer urged believers to "[g]o to God first about the meaning of any text" before consulting human authors. Once when he was accused of disliking the Scofield Bible, he said that on the contrary, "I've worn four of them out, and I have number five now at home . . . I just don't believe its notes. When it starts telling me things are otherwise than they are, I just write that off. But he does divide up things nicely for you" (qtd. 139).
A major part of Tozer's appeal in his sermons and books was the obvious fact that he read much wider than was common for most seminary and Bible college graduates. Also, it was very evident that he knew God intimately. He had experienced the deeper life that he urged other believers to seek. What Tozer found in the CM&A was a celebration of "Jesus Christ as Healer, as well as Savior, Sanctifier, and Coming King." All too many believers, Tozer was convinced, "tend to substitute logic for life and doctrine for experience" (qtd. 126). The cure for such a shallow relationship could be found in the "Four-fold Gospel" as taught by the CM&A's founder A. B. Simpson.
Perhaps the finest feature of Dorsett's book is how he reveals to the reader the human side of A. W. Tozer. The Tozer we encounter in A Passion for God is one whose zeal for God's house brought great pain to his own. No doubt in part due to the very difficult relationship he had with his own father, A. W. Tozer found it near impossible to relate to either his wife or his children on an emotionally intimate level. He seems to have wanted only a surface relationship with his wife, Ada, and remained always distant from his children. His youngest child and only daughter, Rebecca, knew him best. She once said that the estrangement between her parents may have been due in part to the fact that her mother was a romantic to the core, whereas her father eschewed sentimentalism and displays of emotion, and seemed to fear intimacy" (142). Rebecca also noted that her mother never read anything but the Reader's Digest. There was something that drove a wedge between her parents, something that she was never able to understand. From the children's perspective, both parents remained distant from their offspring. According to their son Lowell, "We were known ironically as `the Tozer kids.' But we were not a unit or tight-knit family. We were a family full of individuals" (qtd. 108).
A. W. Tozer and his wife Ada both suffered from depression, but neither knew how to be healed. Ironically, as Dorsett concludes, both confessed to friends late in their life together that they had lived a lonely life. Even after the children were grown and gone, and his pastoral and other duties were lessened, Aiden seems to have kept himself busy so as to have "no time to develop the marital intimacy that they had both learned to live without" (158). After Aiden's passing in 1963 and her remarriage to Leonard Odam in 1964, the former Mrs. Tozer said of her first husband: "My husband was so close to God, a man of such deep prayer, always on his knees, that he could not communicate with me or our family. No one knew what a lonely life I had, especially after the kids left home" (qtd. 144). Of her new life with Odam, she said, "I have never been happier in my life. Aiden loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me" (qtd. 160). As for Aiden, shortly before his death, he confided to a fellow pastor, "I've had a lonely life" (qtd.144).
A. W. Tozer is remembered as "one of the great spiritual giants of the past century." Whether already a Tozer fan or one desiring an introduction to him, Lyle Dorsett's A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer is an interesting and delightful read. The only criticism this reviewer can make is to note the absence of an index. Only novels should be published without an index.
Keen insights into the life of an evangelical prophet Jun 16, 2008
As much as I love Tozer the author, I knew little of the man himself. What a blessing that one of my favorite professors when I was student at Wheaton College, Dr. Lyle Dorsett (now at Beeson Divinity School), who also happens to be a renowned expert on C. S. Lewis, has written a biography of this great Christian leader. Until this biography, I was not even aware that two previous works on Tozer's life existed or else I would have devoured them eagerly. Despite knowing nothing of these older bios, it was my great fortune to write Lyle a few years ago and discover that he was in the process of writing A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer. When the book made it to pre-order on this site, I put in my order right away.
A Passion for God is a difficult book, not something I expected on opening it.The primary difficulty? It contains a mere 150 pages of genuine biographical material, leaving a tad unquenched readers' thirst to know more about the man who has been routinely labeled a genuine 20th century prophet. This is not to say that the scholarship here is inadequate, far from it, only that the private Tozer remains an enigma, even to those who knew him.
Dorsett chooses to open his examination of Tozer with the quote, "I've had a lonely life." Indeed, as enormous a spiritual giant Tozer most definitely was, he proved a tough man to know. Even his family felt the distance, especially his wife Ada. Dorsett portrays a man who at once was close to Jesus and yet remote from the others who loved him. Once Tozer left the home of his youth, he eschewed visits, even going so far as to resist visiting his wife's family, despite his mother-in-law being instrumental in introducing Tozer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Tozer himself had been converted in 1915 shortly before his 18th birthday, praying to receive the Lord in the attic of his family's Akron home. Having been born into a poor dirt farming household that later moved to the Rubber City, Tozer never forgot his humble roots. He took his disdain for wealth into his marriage to Ada in 1918; after his death it was revealed that he'd been giving half his paycheck back to the churches he had pastored, had refused a pension in the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination in which he served for decades, and had taken no royalties on the paperback editions of his bestselling books.
Tozer pastored briefly in several poor churches in West Virginia and Ohio before ultimately receiving a call to Southside Alliance Church in Chicago, where he pastored for most of his life. He didn't like to drive, so his family lived close to the church for years, even after the humble wooden church was replaced with a far grander building.
Dorsett ably recalls Tozer's rise within the C&MA as the leaders of that group rapidly understood they had a winner on their hands. Or more like a blaze. For wherever Tozer went, people caught fire. He went on to be a radio preacher on WMBI, the voice of Moody Bible Institute, and eventually garnered a nationwide audience.
In 1960, Tozer, who lamented his skills in pastoral counseling, accepted a call to do nothing but preach at Avenue Road Church in Toronto, serving for three years before succumbing to a heart attack on May 12, 1963.
A Passion for God reveals much more of Tozer's life than I just summarized. A few worthy notes:
* Both Tozer and his wife battled depression. Tozer once told his younger assistant pastor, Raymond McAfee, "If you want to be happy, never ask for the gift of discernment."
* Tozer was a very staunch pro-American patriot and was deeply affected by World War II, maintaining a special admiration and care for soldiers and their families.
* Fearing that he'd succumb to too many human compliments, Tozer would avoid greeting his congregation at the door of the church after services, preferring to visit his church's nursery and talk with young parents.
* Family devotion times at the Tozer household appear to have been just as difficult to schedule and pull off as they are in some of our homes.
* Students, especially at Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute, and later at his church in Toronto, adored Tozer and his messages. Tozer returned that affection, maintaining a lifelong soft spot for young people.
* Tozer wrote one of his most famous works, The Pursuit of God, in one day while traveling by train to speak at another church.
* Despite not having much education beyond fourteen years, Tozer devoured as many books as he could read, electing to read widely on many topics, particularly writings of pre-Reformation Christians who had been largely ignored by Protestants of his time. Tozer himself never attended college or went to seminary. He routinely cautioned potential pastors about problems with the seminary system.
* Tozer spent hours in prayer and study in his office at the church, often prostrate on the floor. He even wore a specially tailored pair of pants that allowed him to pray longer while kneeling.
* For years, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tried (unsuccessfully) to get Tozer to come to London to preach at his church.
* Tozer defined workaholism, somehow managing to squeeze life enough for two people into one, yet when not traveling always made it home for the family dinner.
* Tozer later regretted some of the harsh statements he made about movies with Christian themes.
While A Passion for God is a deeply needed book on Tozer, I finished it discontented. When the forwards, appendices, and index are removed, this book is a scant 150 pages. Because Dorsett revisits some issues repeatedly (Ada Tozer's longing for a more intimate relationship with a man much more devoted to God than to his wife, for instance), each revisit adds little to what was already said, diluting the fullness of the material even more.
Sadly, the one truth I hoped would be revealed in this biography never seemed to gel for me: What made Tozer's spiritual journey so profoundly different from all the other evangelical preachers of his time? Nor did I get a good feel for the one defining aspect of Tozer's life that set him well apart from his contemporaries: his love for the mystic writers of Christianity. How and why did he latch onto them when they were largely ignored by others?
Dorsett also mentions that in later years Tozer received some critiques for being overly ecumenical, though he devotes only a page or so to this unusual fact about Tozer. This is definitely an underdeveloped thought considering Tozer railed against the increasing worldliness and liberalism he saw stealing away the heart and soul of Evangelicalism. In what may have been an overdevelopment, Dorsett devotes several pages to racial issues in Chicago toward the latter part of Tozer's ministry there. In truth, Tozer did not have much to say on the issue other than he didn't want to ignore reaching out to the black community of the time, nor did he like some of the contention, both from whites in his church and blacks in the surrounding neighborhood, that was forcing his congregation to relocate.
Leonard Ravenhill discussed his friendship with Tozer in a few teaching tapes I've heard of his, so I was surprised that nothing came of this in the book, especially since I know that Dorsett likes Ravenhill, too. Dorsett also noted that Tozer spoke at several Keswick conferences, though this is not developed at all. I would have liked to have known more about Tozer's affiliations with some of the trends and schools of Christian thought of the time.
Dorsett's writing style is light and easy to read, though a tendency to move forward and backward in time makes the sections on Tozer's childhood and early ministry more difficult to follow than they should be. And while I love Lyle's passion for certain topics within Christianity, he makes his presence as author a bit too obvious on issues near and dear to his heart, something I loved about him when I had him as a professor but others may find intrusive.
A trade paperback, A Passion for God sports an attractive design, with an easy-on-the-eyes typeface and good whitespace. It includes a few pictures, too. For anyone interested in Tozer, it's a worthy read, especially since it shows even a great Christian who knew God intimately can suffer from feet of clay.
A Good and Honest Biography Jun 3, 2008
A.W. Tozer is a man whose ministry has fascinated me. A man who held closely to biblical, Protestant theology, he was also a man who loved the old Catholic mystics. He had little formal education, yet had the ability to hold the most educated of men and women at rapt attention. He had a single-minded devotion to Christ and the highest respect for the Scriptures. Reading "A Passion for God" has only increased my fascination with him, for here we see more strange and seemingly irreconcilable opposites. Biographer Lyle Dorsett has written a study of the man that deals as honestly with his faults as with the areas that are laudable. And in this case the faults are almost shocking.
Tozer was a man who loved Scripture and loved nothing more than preaching its truths to all who would listen. "A.W. Tozer heralded biblical truth. He loved the Bible and unflinchingly preached what he believed people needed to hear, regardless of what they wanted." Yet he was a man who neglected the mission field in his home. "On and off over the years, Aiden exercised his role as head of the family by encouraging times of family devotions. These never lasted more than a few weeks. As one son explained, the children just did not want it and they were seldom all together for extended periods in any case."
Tozer was a man who dedicated himself to reading, study and prayer and who delighted to be in the presence of God. "There is no way to measure the hours he spent in a typical day or week reading books and wrestling with ideas, but it was substantial. In a similar vein, we know that he increasingly devoted many hours each week praying, meditating on Scripture, and seeking deeper intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. During the 1930s Tozer read voraciously, and he also developed a magnificent obsession to be in Christ's presence- just to worship Him and to be with Him." Yet he was a man who was emotionally and spiritually distant from his own wife. "By early 1928 the Tozers had a routine. Aiden found his fulfillment in reading, preparing sermons, preaching, and weaving travel into his demanding and exciting schedule, while Ada learned to cope. She dutifully washed, ironed, cooked, and cared for the little ones, and developed the art of shoving her pain deep down inside. Most of the time she pretended there was no hurt, but when it erupted, she usually blamed herself for not being godly enough to conquer her longing for intimacy from an emotionally aloof husband."
These strange inconsistencies abound. Tozer saw his wife's gifts for hospitality and encouraged her in them; yet he disliked having visitors in his own home. He preached about the necessity of Christian fellowship within the family of Christ; yet he refused to allow his family or his wife's family visit their home. For every laudable area of his life there seemed to exist an equal and opposite error. This study in opposites leaves for a fascinating picture of a man who was used so greatly by God, even while his life had such obvious sin.
We are so accustomed to reading that we often give little attention to the book as a physical object. We interact with its words and phrases but think little of the art involved in actually putting together the book. In this case I thought it was only fair to draw attention to the exceptional design qualities of this title. The cover, the design, the printing, the details are all top-notch. The book is a pleasure to read both for the content and the book itself.
Though certainly not an exhaustive biography (weighing in at just 164 pages before the indexes and appendices) "A Passion for God" is nevertheless a good and valuable one. Those who have enjoyed Tozer's writings will find here the life of a man who can and should be much admired for his deep spirituality and for his overwhelming love for Scripture. They will find here also the sad reality that Tozer, as have so many men before and after him, was willing to sacrifice his family on the altar of ministry. They will wrestle with the great irony that as Tozer grew closer to his Savior he seemed to grow more and more distant from his wife and family. His life stands as both an inspiration and a solemn warning.