Disagreeing With Tozer is Treacherous Ground

I realize that I’m treading on thin ice here (and trust, it’s April in Minnesota and even though it’s snowing today [I blame Al Gore]; the ice is certainly thin). Disagreeing with one like A.W. Tozer is indeed treacherous. Yet, in a daily devotion I receive in my email each day, this is a portion of what came today:

Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” –Jeremiah 1:6

To be articulate at certain times we are compelled to fall back upon “Oh!” or “O!”–a primitive exclamatory sound that is hardly a word at all and that scarcely admits of a definition….

In theology there is no “Oh!” and this is a significant if not ominous thing. Theology seeks to reduce what may be known of God to intellectual terms, and as long as the intellect can comprehend it can find words to express itself. When God Himself appears before the mind, awesome, vast and incomprehensible, then the mind sinks into silence and the heart cries out “O Lord God!” There is the difference between theological knowledge and spiritual experience, the difference between knowing God by hearsay and knowing Him by acquaintance. And the difference is not verbal merely; it is real and serious and vital.

I think I know what he means here: theology CAN become something of a head-only proposition so that when you come across some magnificent truth of the Lord God, there is no “Oh!” and a worshiping of the One True God. I think that’s what he means.

This is where I disagree with Tozer. While acknowledging that theology can become a merely intellectual activity, it does not have to become that and Tozer makes it sound like all theology is that way. I, if you’re going to use the terms of “spiritual experience” like Tozer does in this quote, have frequently found myself going “Oh!” in the reading of great theology. In fact, if it’s truly great theology, then it’s nearly impossible not to stop and go “Oh!”

Most people, and even most pastors, would say that theology is “boring.” And if it’s systematic theology, then it’s defintely a Lunesta© moment. But if it’s worshipful systematics you’re looking for, then there are few better than Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Few have ever incorporated worship with theology in book form. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

So, while Tozer is correct that there are times when our head just doesn’t kick our hearts into the proper frame of worship and awe, I find it quite easy to do. Keep your heart in tune with your mind, seek to know more and more about God and you will indeed find yourself going:




2 Responses

  1. Wow!! (another primitive exclamatory) … Is this word I can use?

    Listen to yourself. Talk (or type, as the case may be) about an “intellectual activity”. As I also use this Devotional on a daily basis, I think I can comment. Tozer is all about the “I am” and trying to motivate people away from the “I think I am”. Brother, take less time expressing yourself to men and devote that time to our Lord. The Holy Spirit should then be able to guide you from there.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Scott and leaving a comment. However, I must say, I’ll need to devote some intellectual activity to your comments here because they really don’t make any sense to me (probably my numbness of mind). I’m unclear where you think I’m merely exercising in an “intellectual activity.” I tried to make it clear that both the heart and the mind must work together. As for Tozer being all about the “I am”, you’ll have to explain that one to me. I really an uncertain as to the meaning of both those phrases.

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