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Tozer on the Church

9780764230974_1401622@2xA W Tozer was a master of the soundbite long before Twitter and 24/news was invented. He was also a prophetic voice to the 20th Century to the church.  Recently I have been reading some of his thoughts on the church – and I thought I would share them with you.

Whilst the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Bride of Christ, and there are many stories of local encouragements, I am discouraged and depressed by what I see of much of the Church in the West today.    I’m not talking about the liberal progressives – whose distance from Christ and his Scriptures is such that they can hardly be called ‘Christian’.  Nor am I talking about the evangelical ‘progressives’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one).   Their error is obvious.  But I am thinking about the professing evangelical church – including the Reformed.   When I witness the lack of unity, the power games and the inability or refusal to engage prophetically with the wider culture, then it is deeply disturbing.  Perhaps at a future date we can look at how the prevailing culture has far more influence on the church than vice versa – but for this week consider these gems from Tozer and how apposite they are to the 21st-century church.  (All of them are taken from The Quotable Tozer). 

download“An area of the church I refer to as the ‘fringes of evangelicalism’ where the playboys of the gospel are so very active and vocal – will never know what we are talking about here. Christianity has become to them a way whereby they can have a lot of nice, clean fun and still go to heaven when it is all over.  I am afraid the fringes are seeping deeper toward the core of today’s Christianity.  The popular leaders today are the playboys with a grin as broad as a barn door, and with all thirty-two teeth shining in their glory.  They dash about the church, whipping the congregation into a frenzy of good feeling”  (God’s Power for Your Life).

“There is a new church today – a new brand of Christianity that is running rampant.  This new church is seeking assurance by adding up her virtues.  ‘Look at me’ she says with an arrogant spirit.  Never in our country have we seen bigger church buildings or larger congregations.  Never has there been more social activity than there is today.  For the most part we take courage from numbers.  ‘That must be a good church – look at all of the people going there.’ is the reasoning one hears today”  God’s Power for Your Life

In the last few years, Christianity has become a show whose focus is entertainment.  We are trying to beat the world at its own game; we are losing and not realising that we are losing”  God’s Power for Your Life. 

“Americans are impatient, and the same goes with American Christianity.  Some people now want Christianity in the form of a pill, something that will work very quickly.”  Living as a Christian. 

download-1“I believe the situation has become so serious that the earnest observer is forced to wonder whether our popular evangelical religion today is indeed the true faith of our Fathers or simply some form of paganism filled with a veneer of Christianity to make it acceptable to those who want to call themselves Christian.”  The Crucified Life

“Some imagine that Christianity is a playground.  They are wrong.  It is not a playground; it is a battleground.”  A Disruptive Faith. 


It is easy for us to look at other areas of the church where we can see the wrong.  And to signal our own virtue in comparison.  It is usually harder to look at our own tribe – although sometimes we find it easier if we are hacked off or in a powerplay.  It is almost impossible to look into our own heart and have the painful experience of seeing ourselves as God sees us.  Tozer for me works wonders – because when I read him (even more so when I read the mirror of God’s Word) I don’t only see ‘them’, I see ‘us’, I see ‘me’.

It’s my belief that the problem with society is its turning away from God.  The problem with the church is that we are far too often following society.  We need to repent – and that repentance must begin with me.   We must stop attacking as if we were in the playground – and get into the battle.

A Revolutionary Question for the Evangelical Church (and the Participants at the “Sing” Conference)

Keep Silent….or Speak Out?k





  1. I often quote Tozer, a man of whom it could be said – if it were not bordering on the blasphemous – “He was “before his time!”

    The little volume “Whatever happened to worship?” is a gem – and could have been written this year (although I suspect that he would have written more strongly!). Taken from a series of messages preached in 1962, it includes words such as: “I am finding that many Christians are really not comfortable with the holy attributes of God. In such cases I am forced to wonder about the quality of the worship they try to offer to Him.”

    There is nothing wrong with joy – but we so often ignore the reality of Who it is we worship. Yes, He is my Friend. Yes, He is my heavenly Father. Yes, He is the One Who loves me with an everlasting love. But He is also Almighty God, the Creator, and Sustainer, of all that is – and I must never forget that!

    1. I’m thankful for a resurgence in the writing of (readable-applicable) books on the attributes of God. Reading one now — None Greater. (Matthew Barrett). Tozer’s and Pink’s remain classics in their own right. Packer’s ‘Knowing God’ remains near the top, though it has some ESS issues. In ‘God in the Wasteland’, David Wells shows the critical need for the church to get its thoughts on God back to the Biblical centre: “The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to staunch the flow of blood that is spilling from its wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace too ordinary, his judgment too benign, his gospel too easy, and his Christ is too common,”

  2. No one wants to repent…to accept the works of the Christ on the Cross for their sins. You have to be humble…people now are too proud, arrogant and full of themselves.

  3. My favourite Churchman was the late Moderator of the Kirk’s General Assembly , Dr W. Roy Sanderson.

    Dr Sanderson inherited both the name William and many shares in the family Vat69 whisky business , William Sanderson and Co. and eschewed his first name in order to distance himself, in an age in which the Kirk was very tough on drink , from the source of finance for his theological calling and subsequent moral authority.

    Vat69 whisky was so popular with British police and army officers during the Malayan Emergency’s battle with Communism that a fighting unit borrowed the name and invented an implausible acronym to please the Malay / Muslim members of the unit.

  4. Tozer was a significant influence on my early Christian life. “Man – the Dwelling Place of God” was the first book I recall reading, loaned by my Anglican minister. I have his well known books and even a downloaded sermon. Not read them for years. Comfortable Christianity they are not.

  5. “ I’m not talking about the liberal progressives – whose distance from Christ and his Scriptures is such that they can hardly be called ‘Christian’. Nor am I talking about the evangelical ‘progressives’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Their error is obvious. “

    If Christianity is an inward and spiritual religion before it is externally manifested, I do not see how Christians can say, of other Christians, that the latter are not Christians.

    If election in Christ is a fact, and is founded, not upon human prudence, but solely upon the sovereignly gracious good pleasure of God; and if election does not make the elect into instantly matured saints with no admixture of sinfulness; then ISTM that there is no “room” for professing Christians to say, with any claim to certainty, of other professing Christians, “Those people are not Christians”.

    At most, ISTM that Christians can say something like “To judge by what can be seen of that person’s life, that person gives a strong impression of not being in Christ”. In this life, during which “we see in part”, I do not see how Christians can be certain that another group of Christians is not Christian. IMHO, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” is excellent advice for Christians who deny that other followers of Christ are Christians: for all are members of each other.

  6. James,

    ISTM that your opening paragraph reveals the problem. Christianity is an external, objective religion before it is inward and spiritual. It centres in the Christ of the Scriptures. This is what liberal progressives reject – they construct their own Christ, having dismissed Scripture’s revelation of him.

    The New Testament abounds with warnings about those who reject the truth as it is in Jesus – whatever their inward, spiritual experience might be. If someone is detached from the objective truth of Jesus, they can’t be Christians, can they?

    It is in this sense that I think David is right to question whether liberal progressives can be called Christian.

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