Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The Attributes of God, Vol. 1 by A.W. Tozer (Book Review #58 of 2015)
The Attributes of God Volume 1 with Study Guide: A Journey Into the Father's Heart
Tozer's Pursuit of God (my review) is one of my all-time favorite books, and this one ranks pretty highly on the list of Christian works as well. The editor has compiled several Tozer sermons examining ten attributes of God. This was a free audio book of the month at Christianaudio.com. I finished this book while in the middle of reading J.D. Grear's (very modern) Gospel Revolution. I find that while Grear intends to draw attention to the infinite magnitude of God in the Gospel, he is largely ignorant of the work of several before him-- like Tozer-- who did a very good job of this. Attributes can be read easily alongside Piper's Desiring God or God's Passion for His Glory, Piper's commentary on Jonathan Edwards' The End for Which God Created the World.
Tozer intends the Christian to marvel at God's infiniteness, something we cannot truly grasp. God is infinite and self-existent, he existed before time and created time. Since God existed before the universe as He created it, He has always enjoyed his triune self. God invites us to enjoy Him in Christ, that's the greatness of the Gospel. Real faith relies on God and His character as revealed in His word, true faith knows what God is like. God is enthusiastic, so we should be too. "God cannot be indifferent about anything."
"The local church will only be as strong as its perception of God," this is a good word. Where God is lifted up and magnified, the church is strengthened. But "our religion is weak because our god is weak," writes Tozer-- noting that supposedly Einstein rejected God because he did not find the God preached in American pulpits to be the same awesome God who must have created the marvelous universe. Tozer writes from his vantage point of mid-20th century America, where he saw churches with "more people and more spirituality but less holiness and less reverence for God." I would say now we have less of each.
God did not make us because we deserved it, but He made us to know Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him. We have resurrection "because God loves his friends," -- like Abraham, and Moses. As Jesus reminded us, God is God of the living, not the dead. God is the only thing that can ultimately satisfy our never-ending wants.
Tozer writes that "justice" and "righteousness" are indistiguishable in Hebrew, it's the same word. God has always been just and always just as merciful. God is described as merciful many more times in the Old Testament than in the New Testament, something people unfamiliar with Scripture are mistaken about when they claim that God's nature is somehow different in the New Testament. Justification and regeneration are not the same, but one does not occur without the other.
Most Christians are "trying to be happy" but are left with a sense of "remoteness" from God. Tozer remarks on the remoteness, noting that our sin nature makes us feel remote but reminds the reader that God is not geographically or actually far away-- God is everywhere. We should remember that when we pray or when we work.
Tozer takes a tact similar to Augustine in interpreting the Song of Solomon as being symbolic of Jesus. This is problematic for many Hebrew scholars. Also of note, Tozer quotes often from 14th century Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Divine Love. This is probably a bit too mystic for some, but Tozer finds Julian's description of the vastness of God's love to be among the best available in English. It is important to keep in mind that Tozer is writing to Christians, those who are truly God's children in Christ. When he uses the term "we," he is not using it as meaning universally all people.
We cannot comprehend the holiness of God; when God talks about "pure white" we see "dingy gray." Only when we ponder the depth of God's infinite love in the Gospel can we start to be excited about holiness.
I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.