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Second thoughts on Tozer's theology #24858
Mon May 09, 2005 6:14 PM
Mon May 09, 2005 6:14 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 7
Texas
asterisktom Offline OP
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Hello everybody,

I don't post on this board that often, usually being satisfied with my lurking status. But I believe I have something that is worth coming out of lurkdom for.

Below is a part of an article I wrote, address is below. I would very much like to discuss this topic here on the Highway.

------------------------
A.W. Tozer is a revered authority for many, and to attack him almost seems to be an attack on sanctification and holiness itself. But, with him as well as ourselves, we need to always apply the tests of Scripture on the teachers of Scripture. None of us are immune from this necessary cross-examination. That is what these articles are about.

Mystic Sidetracks
Tozer's indebtedness to the Catholic mystics of the Middle Ages becomes apparent to anyone who studies Tozer. He often does not bother to divulge precisely where his quotes are from, though whether by design or intentional neglect is hard to ascertain. Teresa of Avila, Nicholas of Cusa, Meister Eckhardt, the anonymous "The Cloud of Unknowing", and several more, are called as testimonies for his pressing for the need for a closer walk with God.

But who would argue the need for this closer walk? Not us. What we disagree with is the calling in of these dubious authorities when the Scriptures are a much better means - in fact the only sure source - that we need to have Christ formed in us. "To the Word and to the testimony!", Isiaiah warns us (Isa. 8:20) "If they speak not according to this word there is no light in them." To this we can add Acts 17:11. Later in this article we will take a closer look at Tozer's favorite authorities, and see if they are to be trusted. Many do not know much about these mystics and monks that Tozer references. If they did, their respect for them - and for anyone who quotes them approvingly - would lessen considerably.

The whole article of mine can be found here:
http://www.geocities.com/asterisktom/tozer.html

I look forward to some good discussion on this topic. I believe that A.W. Tozer tends to get a free pass from a proper examination because he does say very many good things that need to be said. But I believe that the whole tendency of his teaching is not a good one.

Please understand that is not meant as a slam on the man, but on his teaching which has very greatly influenced the Christian church, especially in these four decades after his death.

Tom Riggle

Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: asterisktom] #24859
Mon May 09, 2005 6:54 PM
Mon May 09, 2005 6:54 PM
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Hi Tom,

Welcome to non-lurkdom. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'm happy to see you jumping in. I am afraid however that I can not help you in your search. I for one do not read Tozer. My sincerest apology. I enjoy reading from Packer, Sproul, Schaeffer, Spurgeon, Piper, Vos, Machen, Ryken, Murray and so on. So I'm not qualified to really give an honest opinion about Tozer, but what I can tell you is that if any of his teachings do sway toward mysticism then I would definitely not be interested in reading any of them.

Y.B.I.C,

Dave.


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: Reformation Monk] #24860
Mon May 09, 2005 7:41 PM
Mon May 09, 2005 7:41 PM
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asterisktom Offline OP
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Quote
Hi Tom,

Welcome to non-lurkdom. I'm happy to see you jumping in. I am afraid however that I can not help you in your search. I for one do not read Tozer.


Thanks for the welcome.I have often enjoyed reading articles here, but have usually been too busy to contribute. I am glad you haven't read Tozer. You didn't miss anything. But you may be surprised how he has worked himself into otherwise sound publications. Consider this, from your own board:

http://www.the-highway.com/voice_Tozer.html

Now if you read this, you can discern his quite un-Biblical Ordo Salutis already in this very article.

I am willing to substantiate this claim if anyone is interested.

Take care. Thanks again for the welcome.

Tom Riggle

Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: asterisktom] #24861
Mon May 09, 2005 8:12 PM
Mon May 09, 2005 8:12 PM
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Pilgrim Offline

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Pilgrim  Offline

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Quote
asterisktom said:
Now if you read this, you can discern his quite un-Biblical Ordo Salutis already in this very article.

I am willing to substantiate this claim if anyone is interested.

Well Tom, I am interested in how you can see anything of Tozer's alleged "ordo salutis" in that article. Tozer was not a Calvinist by any means and this is clearly seen where he talks of Christ having reconciled all of mankind; even the entire world, which any discerning reader would simply offer a chuckle and read on. But having read through the article myriad times, I am unable to find his "un-Biblical Ordo Salutis". So, could you point it out to me please? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

FYI, the article was made available in order to defend God's immanence and active providence over against modern Deism. And, to also defend the fact that the Bible as God's inspired written Word is the only source of truth by which one may be saved. That was Tozer's purpose in what he wrote.

In His Grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: Pilgrim] #24862
Mon May 09, 2005 8:51 PM
Mon May 09, 2005 8:51 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 7
Texas
asterisktom Offline OP
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asterisktom  Offline OP
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A quickie for now: I realize that such articles can be used for other purposes and that blanket approval of the author of that article is not implied. I hope I didn't rankle anyone on that account.

I am finding to my chagrin that the article I wrote on this particular Tozer article may have been one of those that went poof when my computer froze up. Give me some time. I may have to write it again. It will be good exercise.

Also, part of the "un-Biblicalness" of Tozer's writing here comes from reading lots of other Tozer - like I did.

Tom Riggle

Tozer, Mystics and Lloyd-Jones [Re: asterisktom] #24863
Mon May 09, 2005 9:09 PM
Mon May 09, 2005 9:09 PM
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asterisktom Offline OP
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While ransacking through the files and drawers of my computer for the aforepromised article I could offer this following piece that also has to do with Tozer:

An interesting discussion between Tozer and Lloyd-Jones is quoted here, as well as a glimpse of Tozer's motivation:
http://www.e-n.org.uk/1997-04/379-I...f-A-W-Tozer.htm

"Christian mystics
Tozer's hunger for God led him to study the Christian mystics. Their knowledge of God and absorbing love for him profoundly attracted Tozer. They were spirits kindred to his own. 'These people know God, and I want to know what they know.' But at the same time, the Bible remained absolutely central. [It is my contention that this last sentence, sadly, is not bourne out by his writings. But that would have to be a different article.]

'Once', Martyn Lloyd-Jones recalled, 'Dr. Tozer and I shared a conference years ago, and I appreciated his ministry and his fellowship very much. One day he said to me: 'Lloyd-Jones, you and I hold just about the same position on spiritual matters, but we have come to this position by different routes.' 'How do you mean?' I asked. 'Well,' Tozer replied, 'you came by way of the Puritans and I came by way of the mystics.' And, you know,' said Lloyd-Jones, 'he was right.'"

"coming by way of the mystics" - he means, almost to a person, Roman Catholic mystics. In some cases, as in Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, markedly anti-Reformed Catholics.

Tom Riggle

Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: asterisktom] #24864
Tue May 10, 2005 3:40 PM
Tue May 10, 2005 3:40 PM

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I read quite a bit of Tozer. I really enjoy him. I have seen his use of mystics before (and I really appreciated your article bringing some of that out). My one issue, and this is not just with your article, is this:

I think we have become very scared of the mystical (if I may be allowed to use that word) movement of God in our lives. We've turned Christianity into an intellectual pursuit with no "experience" required, and most of the time, experience being looked down upon. This is a quote from The Reformation Study Bible ESV, page 1708:

Christianity is neither a common confession to the exclusion of individual experience, nor a private piety without corporate vision.

I think a lot of times, that is what Tozer is getting at. He's trying to make the modern church (of his day and our's) aware that there is more to Christianity than just head knowledge, as the BIble is clear to teach on many occaisions.

SOrry if I am off topic <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/sorry.gif" alt="" />

Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology #24865
Tue May 10, 2005 4:59 PM
Tue May 10, 2005 4:59 PM
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asterisktom Offline OP
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asterisktom  Offline OP
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Some good comments here. I agree that there are Christians who do overlook experience altogether. But all of our experience must be anchored by the sure Word of God.

Quote
I think we have become very scared of the mystical (if I may be allowed to use that word) movement of God in our lives. We've turned Christianity into an intellectual pursuit with no "experience" required, and most of the time, experience being looked down upon.


Ah, but I am not sure you are allowed to use that word "mystical", seeing as it is not used in Scripture. This is not nit-picking at a lexical mote. The definition of "mystical" according to Britannica is "a quest for a hidden truth or wisdom". By definition - and practice - it imagines a different way to God (or God-awareness) other than the Word of God. Tozer's so-called "Christian mystics" (Julian of Norwich, Madame Guyon, Evelyn Underhill, etc.) pointedly downplay the Bible as a means to grow in knowledge of God. Instead these mystics - and Tozer as well - make much of preparation, but little for study of the Word. "Be still and know that I am God" is taken out of context.

By setting up a too harsh contrast between experience of God and reading God's Word, Tozer overlooks that the plain reading and studying of God's Word by a believing Christian (IOW, one who obeys God) is God's ordinary way of making His own become more and more like Christ. Tozer's method, by contrast, will lead to introspective and subjective naval-gazers.

But I agree with your (and Tozer's) cautions about head knowledge - which is actually just garden variety unbelief. If we believe that the Bible is the Word of Life we will study it as if our life depends on it. If we really don't believe that, we will (whatever else our lips may say) just do whatever we please. This is not "head knowledge vs. "heart knowledge" but unbelief vs. belief.

Tom Riggle

Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: Pilgrim] #24866
Tue May 10, 2005 5:38 PM
Tue May 10, 2005 5:38 PM
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asterisktom Offline OP
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Well, I got snookered into being a chaperone for our school field trip, so I will be gone for about a week. I will at least write a little bit on this before I leave. The article of Tozer's "The Speaking Voice" postulates a universal atonement, as you admit. But what may be overlooked is the the other "universal" here, and is the "universal voice". And this is where Tozer fails in his order of salvation; he has the wrong foundation, the assumption that everyone is hearing this "universal voice". To be sure everyone does hear the "voice" (if we can take this from Psa. 19) of natural revelation. But not everyone can hear the voice of the Shepherd. "My sheep hear My voice." John 10:27. The context assumes that there are some who cannot hear the shepherd. But this has no room in Tozer's soteriology, as we see in two paragraphs especially. Says Tozer:

Quote
Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. We are at the opposite end of the pole from there. Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.


BTW, It is not surprising that Tozer plucks this particular phrase out of its context and makes its say what it really doesn't. The original context of Psalm ---- from whence this is taken is to "cease striving (KJV "be still") and know that I am God.".The "striving" is not of a person who is at odds with himself, or who just needs to have a quiet time. The striving here, according to the context (see verses 8 and 9), is active enmity against God and His people. So, in the verse Tozer uses, the call is not for a quiet time - but surrender. Quit warring against God.


Matthew Henry paraphrases and expounds on verse ten thus:

""Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain"

But it is important for Tozer to have this be about preparative quietude because he is an admitted synergist when it comes to salvation. He needs to make room for - and find authorizing verses for - preparatory cooperation on the part of the willing would-be Christian.

Back to Tozer's second paragraph:

Quote
It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts. I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sound as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear. Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and All.


So here is the order of salvation per Tozer:
First of all - and this is an important detail - he is referring to an unsaved person here. If an unsaved person jusrt follows these prescribed steps, so he assures us, he will do well.

1. Getting still (a misuse of Scripture already - see above)
2. "If we will" - but of course, we know that God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. And we know that "no one seeks God" (=no one is willing). So already Tozer is describing a creature who doesn't exist.
3. "Sound of a presence in the garden"? Subjective in the extreme how does this work out in shoe leather?
4. Then a more intelligible voice - This idea of progressive awarenes of God is common with mystics but is not in the Word of God, but more on this later.
5. "Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures"...and..."an intelligible word".
6. "Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord". - So, in light of this last step, where do we place, say, John 3:3?

"Except a man be born again he cannot even see the Kingdom of God."

IOW, unless we have sight (Tozer's step 6) we cannot even see (and move toward) God (step 3- 5). Thus #6 is a prerequisite for 3- 5. It is out of order.

This whole notion of progressive revelation is largely foreign to Scripture. God opened Lydia's heart to listen to Paul's reaching. Many times, in fact, salvation in Scripture is quite abrupt. In no place is it the way Tozer imagines.

So his advice on how to approach God is bad. The saved do not need it. The unsaved cannot put it into practice.

Tom Riggle

Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: asterisktom] #24867
Tue May 10, 2005 6:06 PM
Tue May 10, 2005 6:06 PM
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Pilgrim Offline

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Sorry, my friend, but I really think you are fabricating a criticism of something which simply isn't to be found in that particular article. Tozer nowhere even hints that anyone can be saved apart from the Gospel. He nowhere even intimates that salvation is to be found in the natural revelation. What he is saying is that the natural revelation does speak to all of mankind, of which Paul affirms in Rom 1. That which can be seen of God is clearly seen in the things which are made and likewise God has testified to His eternal deity and Godhead within them. Thus all men are held guilty before God for they KNOW that He is and that they are accountable to Him yet they exchange that truth for a lie and worship the creation/creature rather than the Creator Himself.

Now, as most of us will agree, Tozer did fall victim to Mysticism, not unlike many others of his day. And it is also agreed that his theology is wanting; i.e., he was an Arminian. But what he cannot be found guilty of, at least in that specific article is promoting a different "ordo salutis" by introducing salvation via natural revelation.

I can't help but get the impression that you are on some kind of quest to destroy A.W. Tozer, even though at times you admit that his writings do contain some truth. What I'm calling for here is fairness. If Tozer is guilty of creating his own "ordo salutis", even distant from the expected Arminian error he embraced, it isn't to be found in that article. It simply isn't fair to "eisogete" the error you claim he is guilty within that piece.

Bottom line . . . your claim lacks cogency, IMHO. grin

In His Grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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Re: Second thoughts on Tozer's theology [Re: Pilgrim] #24868
Tue May 10, 2005 7:06 PM
Tue May 10, 2005 7:06 PM
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asterisktom Offline OP
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OK, then I guess we have the usual impasse here. I do believe that you misunderstand what I was getting at - not at all focusing on natural revelation (that was only in passing). But perhaps I was unclear in bringing my point across. Oh well, I don't have time now to go further on this thread.

I do notice that you didn't really look into my particular points, for instance, how he sets up he sets up advice by getting us to "Be still...etc." There is no use in me going to the time to argue on the basis of these details if it is to no avail. (Too many irons, too little fire)

Tom Riggle


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