The Pursuit of God (The Definitive Classic) Digital – Unabridged, April 15, 2014
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- Publisher : Oasis Audio; Unabridged edition (April 15, 2014)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1621883043
- ISBN-13 : 978-1621883043
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C1: Following Hard After God: Tozer makes this statement, “…before a man can seek god, god must first have sought the man.” Really? So, god is the one who seeks the relationship with humans? How so? There have been many gods in human history in which Christians do not believe. People believed in these gods as Christians believe in their god. How can we demonstrate that the Christian god exists and that he is perusing a relationship with anyone? Tozer goes on, “Before a sinful man can think a right thought of god, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him.” First, per the bible aren’t we all sinful? Second, what is this work of enlightenment? How can we demonstrate it has occurred? Tozer then states [for god] “He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.” Does he? I do not have this urge, does that mean god doesn’t want me to pursue him? Will I go to hell because god didn’t give me this urge? Tozer states, “God is a person, and in the deep of his mighty nature he thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may.” How does Tozer know this to be true? He is simply asserting he knows something instead of demonstrating the truth of his statement. Tozer goes on, “He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions.” Does a god communicate with us? Before Judaism and Christianity many people thought that other gods were communicating with them, where they right? People “feel” like something is communicating with them but that doesn’t mean there is an external intelligent entity actually communicating directly to those people’s brains. If a god was communicating, what is he saying? Is he providing information which could not be known by humans by any other means (like the cure for cancer)? No, it is not. It is how people feel about their beliefs. It is emotions people are feeling about the concept of a god in their minds. It is a relationship with themselves. Tozer states, “Now as always god discovers himself to ‘babes’ and hides himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent.” So, god only reveals himself with people who have a child like mind? People who, like children, are easily fooled? People, who are willing to believe things without demonstrable, verifiable, and objective evidence? And, god will intentionally hide himself from people who are seeking actual evidence for his existence? What do we call an adult to has the mind of a child? A fool (a person who acts unwisely, or imprudently). So, is Tozer saying that god is only interested in communicating with and saving fools? Telling people to not use their logic and critical thinking skills is dangerous and self-serving.
C2: The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing: Tozer covers the evil of physical possessions. Tozer states, “They were made for man’s uses, but they were meant always to be external to man and subservient to him.” Humans use physical things to better our lives. If someone takes owning physical positions to an unhealthy level then I can see where it may be an issue. However, few people I know do this. Tozer states, “But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of god a potential source of rune to the soul.” Really? Physical things can lead to the ruin of the soul? First, can Tozer demonstrate souls exist? Again, anything taken to an unhealthy level (including religion) can cause issues in people’s lives. If Tozer believes it will impact an afterlife he must demonstrate this afterlife and his god exist. He refers to the story of Abraham and Isaac. This is not a good comparison. I don’t believe this story actually happened in reality, it is just a story about following god not matter what. Another human being is not a possession. It was Abraham’s duty, as a father, to protect Isaac from harm. Yet, he hears a voice and decides to follow those instruction to murder his son. Is god really so jealous that he can’t stand a father loving his son?
C3: Removing the Veil: Tozer states, “God mad us for himself: that is the only explanation that satisfies the ear of a thinking man, whatever his wild reason may say. Should faulty education and perverse reasoning lead a man to conclude otherwise, there is little that any Christen can do for him.” Again, Tozer is speaking of belief in something based on emotion and he denounces reason and education. This is ridiculous. He goes on, “I speak to thirsty hearts whose longing have been wakened by the tough of god within them, and such as they need no reasoned proof. Their restless hears furnish all the proof they need.” Again, he is telling people that how they “feel” about the concept of a god is the reason they should believe this god exists in reality. Reason and education are far more important than how you feel about any topic. How you feel about something has no bearing on weather or not that something is real or true. He goes on to talk about how sin is always based on “self”, “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of god from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction.” Yes, being a selfish jerk is not good. But, there are real world consequences for being a selfish jerk. He goes on to give a list of traits he believes his god has: Immutable (unchanging over time, unable to be changed). Really? It is obvious that the god of the old testament who sanctioned slavery and genocide is very different then the god of the new testament who told us to love our enemies. Omniscient (knowing everything) How can anyone know that this god is omniscient? Righteous (morally right or virtuous) Is it morally right to murder homosexuals, unruly children, or large groups of people because they are on the land that you think a god promised to you? Spirit (a supernatural being) How can we determine & demonstrate if anything claimed to be supernatural actually exists? Tozer states, “God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust.” Can anyone demonstrate that god is doing anything for anyone?
C4: Apprehending God: Tozer states, “To most people god is an inference, not a reality.” No, believing in a god is not an inference (a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning); but I agree it is not a reality. He goes on to state, “Others do not go even go so far as this; they know him only by hearsay.” YES! This the only way people know anything about whatever god in which they believe. The Bible is hearsay. All preachers are only repeating hearsay from the bible. Anything else would be personal experience (which cannot be demonstrated to be factually accurate) or people simply lying. Tozer goes on, “The bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know god with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing…” Yet, this is not true. How can you know anything about a god? What mechanism or method can you use to discover anything about a supernatural entity? Then Tozer states, “Faith enables our spiritual sense to function.” So, you can only detect and learn anything about a god by using faith (strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof). So, you have to believe, with no evidence, in something then you can believe more things about that something? Can anyone see how little sense this makes? Tozer give his definition of reality: “I mean that which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it, and which would exist if there were no mind anywhere to entertain a thought of it. That which is real has being in itself. It does not depend upon the observer for its validity.” Yet, Tozer is too blinded by his faith to realize that his god (just like every other god claimed to exist by humans) belief doesn’t fit his own definition. He continues on, “Faith creates nothing: it simply reckons upon that which is already there.” So, faith allows people to detect the undetectable? Tozer continues, “God and the spiritual world are real. We can reckon upon them with as much assurance as we reckon upon the familiar world around us.” Sorry, but NO! You can reckon upon your concept of a god and your concept of a spiritual world; but these things only exist in your mind. You can NOT demonstrate these things exist in our shared reality in a verifiable and objective way. This is how we determine what actually exists in reality.
C5: The Universal Presence: Tozer starts, “In all Christian teaching certain basic truths are found…” Really, what truths? Tozer goes on, “God dwells in his creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all his work.” Can Tozer demonstrate this claim to be true? He continues, “It means simply that god is here. Wherever we are, god is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where he is not.” Again, Tozer must demonstrate the truth of this claim in a demonstrable, verifiable, and objective way. Now, if he is speaking of the concept of a god in the minds of humans; then you carry around your own personal concept of the god in which you believe. However, that does not make this god real external to your own mind. Tozer speaks of the beginning of our observable universe, “In the beginning god. Not matter, for matter is not self-causing. It requires an antecedent cause, and god is that cause.” No human being alive, or who has ever lived, knows how our observable universe began; this includes every Christian. This is just another claim by Tozer. He goes on, “In the beginning god, the uncaused cause of matter, mind and law.” These are just more unverified claims. Tozer goes on to claim that his god exists absolutely everywhere but yet again, he is just asserting a claim which he cannot demonstrate to be true. Tozer states, “On our part there must be surrender to the spirt of god, for his work it is to show us the father and the son. If we co-operate with him in loving obedience god will manifest himself to us and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of his face.” So, just believe in this god, follow what the bible tells you unquestioningly, and you will believe you see him in your life, and you will feel like your life is better. Isn’t this what happens in most religions. Can’t this happen with Zeus, Odin, Brahma, or Allah?
C6: The Speaking Voice: Tozer states, “The why of natural law is the living voice of god immanent in his creation. And this word of god which brought all worlds into being cannot be understood to mean the bible, for it is not written or printed word at all, but the expression of the will of god spoken into the structure of all things. This word of god is the breath of god filling the world with living potentiality. The voice of god is the most powerful force in nature, indeed the only force in nature, for all energy is here only because the power-filled word is being spoken.” This is one massive claim which must be demonstrated to be true. I’m surprised that Tozer states that the bible is not necessarily the word of god. Does this mean we can disregard the bible? Yet, can Tozer demonstrate this voice of god? Can he show it actually exists anywhere other than people’s minds? Later Tozer states, “The bible is the inevitable outcome of god’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of his mind for us put into our familiar human words.” So now Tozer states that the bible is infallible word of god. Yet the bible cannot be demonstrated to be a reliable pathway to truth.
C7: The gaze of the Soul: Tozer states, “They are the spiritual principles behind the record of god’s dealings with men and woven into the writings of holy men as they ‘were moved by the holy ghost.’” How can anyone demonstrate that the men who wrote the bible were “moved” by this supernatural force? Nothing in the bible indicates the information came from anything but humans. There is nothing in the bible that somehow exceeds human knowledge. Much of what is written in the bible is considered to be immoral today: slavery, murdering homosexuals, genocide, murdering unruly children, and the concept of hell to name a few. Tozer then speaks of the importance of faith, “Faith is all-important in the life of the soul. Without faith it is impossible to please god. Faith will get me anything, take me anywhere in the kingdom of god, but without faith there can be no approach to god, no forgiveness, no deliverance, no salvation, no communion, no spiritual life at all.” This is wrong. Without belief (faith) in things which cannot be demonstrated to be factually accurate you may FEEL that you can’t please a god. If you have it you may FEEL you can be close to a god and will be save in some imaginary afterlife; but this does not make any of these beliefs true in reality. This is just wishful thinking. Tozer goes on to try to define faith, but ultimately it is just believing something for which you do not have good reason. Faith is belief because you want something to be true, not because it is (in fact) true.
C8: Restoring the creator-creature relation: Tozer starts, “A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with complete change in relation between god and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner’s whole nature. The atonement in Jesus’ blood makes such a change judicially possible and the working of the holy spirit makes it emotionally satisfying.” This change is belief that your relationship with the concept of a god has changed. You believe things will become emotionally better and then your attitude changes for the better. This can be achieved by non-supernatural methods and I would argue there is nothing supernatural happening at all. Tozer goes on, “…So we get our moral bearings by looking at god. We must begin with god. We are right when and only when we stand in the right position relative to god, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.” This is demonstrably wrong. Our morals do not come from a god. Morals are not a dictate. Our morals come from a goal shared by humans, and that gold is overall human wellbeing. Tozer states, “Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take god as he is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify him and bring him nearer to our own image.” YES! Because god only exists as a concept in human minds we do try to make him in the image that best suits us. This is why there are so many varying opinions about the Christian god. There are thousands of denominations of Christianity that do not agree on many aspects of the religion. Who and what god is, is an opinion because the existence of this god is not a demonstrable fact. He continues, “I speak of a voluntary exalting of god to his proper station over us and willing surrender of our whole being to the place of worshipful submission which the creator-creature circumstance makes proper.” You are placing this concept of a god in this position only in your mind. Then Tozer speaks of people putting things like money & ambition above god. Well, can we humans avoid this? We require money for ourselves and our family to survive and thrive in this world. Ambition can bring us this money. As I’ve stated earlier, anything taken to an unhealthy level is not god. But pursuit of doing what is in the best interest of yourself and the people around you is a good thing.
C9: Meekness and Rest: Tozer speaks of sin; “All our heartaches and a great many of our physical ills spring directly out of sins. Pride, arrogance, resentfulness, evil imaginings, malice, greed: these are the sources of more human pain than all the diseases that ever-afflicted moral flesh.” No. Tozer is demonstrably wrong. Once again, anything taken to an unhealthy level can cause problems in our lives. However, you only have to look around you to find that the vast majority of people do not suffer as Tozer describes because they understand the negative impacts of these negative behaviors. Tozer states, “To all the victims of the gnawing disease Jesus says, “Ye must become as little children.” For little children do not compare; they receive direct enjoyment from what they have without relating it to something else or someone else.” Has Tozer ever observed children’s behaviors? Children are extremely selfish and do not hesitate to take things away from other children or hit other children out of frustration. They scream, cry, kick, and hit if they don’t get what they want. They learn from the adults around them that these behaviors are not acceptable. As I have stated earlier, children are fools because they haven’t experienced enough to develop reason and wisdom.
C10: The Sacrament of Living: Tozer begins, “Our trouble springs from the fact that we who follow Christ inhabit at once two worlds, the spiritual and natural world.” The existence of a spiritual world is not a fact; Tozer must demonstrate this place exists. Tozer goes on to speak negatively of the Catholic church, “…the Roman Catholic church represents today the sacred-secular heresy carried to its logical conclusion.” Here is the issue, how can any denomination determine if what they teach and preach is right or wrong? Everything is determined based on interpretation of the bible, and anyone can interpret it however he or she chooses. This makes the bible an unreliable pathway to truth.
I understand that this book was written for a specific group of Christians who believe what Tozer believes. However, I hope people recognize that everything Tozer wrote was his opinion about things for which he can NOT know or confirm are factually accurate. He believes because he wants to believe. He believes because his beliefs provide him with emotional comfort. I am not interested in believing anything for these reasons. I am interested in understanding as many True (Factually Accurate) things as possible and as few False (Factually Inaccurate) things as possible.
By L. Pappas on December 8, 2015
Tozer wrote this in 1948. Thus, he quotes from an older translation of the Bible, one filled with Thee and Thou. Other than these quotations, Tozer is easy to follow. It takes about one-and-a-half hours to read.
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If you are seeking to deepen your walk with God, then I suggest that this book is for you - and I should also warn that it's not for the faint hearted, or for those who want a spiritual diet consisting exclusively of fluffy, comforting words. Zealous, devoted and truthful he definitely is. Tactful he ain't!
For the most part it is one that theologians haven’t been much help in answering. They tend to bind the whole issue around with arguments and terminology so complex you could be forgiven for thinking they might get more than a little lost themselves sometimes.
A few hardy souls have tried to make the subject halfway accessible for we lay people with varying levels of success. C.S Lewis in his Mere Christianity, a book based on talks he gave on the BBC during the Second World War, has been for me the go to text.
This book by American preacher A.W. Tozer who lived and worked in Chicago in the first half of last century may just join him on my personal list of required reading.
The tone is different, Lewis was an Oxbridge don and for all the good sense and noble intentions he demonstrates did tend to address his audience from a position of lofty intellectual superiority. This can, along with some of the social attitudes implied, grate on the sensibilities of modern readers.
Tozer, who was largely self-educated and began his career as a preacher in a store front church, speaks in a markedly different voice. His is that of the ‘plain man’, one who speaks simply without ever being simplistic in what he has to say.
His message, as was the case with Lewis, is that there is no more satisfying and ultimately necessary thing a human being can do than set out on the long search for a relationship with God. A demanding journey that asks much of those who make it, but one that leads them to a better and more moral life.
For all the homespun nature of his language the arguments Tozer makes are informed by years of study and informed by a deep and living faith. Anyone setting out on the journey he describes needs more than one guidebook to show them the way; this short but profound one will join a select few others in my own luggage.