A. W. Tozer in his book The Attributes of God, originally a sermon series at Southside Alliance Church in Chicago, explores ten attributes of God: Infinite, Immense, Good, Just, Merciful, Gracious, Omnipresent, Immanent, Holy, Perfect. Tozer mines the depths of these ten attributes of God and calls his readers into a deeper love of God and deeper understanding of who God is.
"Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God. And I insist upon this and I have said it many times, that the basic trouble with the church today is her unworthy conception of God." Page 41
The Bible is God's own self revelation. He is the main actor and the main point. Many Christians have a small god theology because they do not know who God is; they wrongly put themselves as the main character of the Bible. Tozer rightly reminds us who God is and why he is rightly to be praised. Knowing God's attributes help us to think rightly of God and helps us to keep Biblical truth in tension.
"No attribute of God is greater than any other one. We think so, But since all of the attributes of God are simply God, then it's impossible that anything in God could be greater than anything else in God." Page 83
Rather than working against each other or being at war with other attributes, God's attributes work together. God's infinity and immensity means that his attributes are complete, whole, 100% God. He is not 20% mercy, 30% love, 10% Justice and so on. His attributes are complete, not lacking anything; nothing could added or removed. If anything were to be changed in God, he would not be God. Tozer does not go too far in trying to explain God's attributes. There is still much mystery that exists in God. In speaking of the mystery of God suffering of Isaiah 63:9, Tozer acknowledges that he does not know how God can suffer but encourages his readers to not deny truth because we don't understand it. There are many truths we experience on a daily basis that we cannot explain.
In reading the Attributes of God, it does not take long to recognize the context was set before my time with the use of King James Version of the bible and sayings such as "nickel-in-the-slot, get saved, escape hell and take heaven" (page 30). C.S. Lewis in the introduction to Athanasius' On the Incarnation advocated for readers to at least read an old book for every three new ones. Reading the old books draws you out of a modern context and allows you to view Christianity without modern presuppositions. I have found this to be helpful to understand there are struggles that are common to all Christian generations and also see perspectives outside of my own generation. Every few books I try to read one from the early church, the puritans, or early-modern American timeframe. The need for rich theological truths on the attributes of God is just as needed now as it has ever been.
"In trying to understand today's [early 1900s] Christianity (and by that I do not mean liberalism or modernism, I mean evangelicalism or gospel Christianity, we must take into account two things which have happened over the past fifty years... There is a popularity of religion in our time... We have to our advantage better systems of communication: radio, television (if you like it), telephone and all other modern means of communication... I was thinking that there isn't a single linguistic group, ethnic group or social group anywhere that doesn't have somebody bent on evangelizing it. We have lost from our gospel Christianity almost altogether what people use to call religious fear. And along with our loss of religious fear came a corresponding flippancy and familiarity towards God that our fathers never knew." Page 177
The book is comprised of ten chapters, each one on a different attribute of God. At the end of the book, there is a 12 week study. An introduction, one week per attribute and a review. This is perfect for a small group study or Sunday School. The lesson plan includes a weekly liturgy of reading, prayer, Scripture reading, questions and exposition of the text, meditation, and closing in prayer. The study guide makes for a great way to discuss theology with others. It is important to not only read about theology but to discuss it with others and to put your understanding into your own words. I recommend this book to anyone who desires to grow their affection of God as well as their knowledge of who he is. Knowing who God is will guard your heart from false teaching and keep you from doubt or despair in times of suffering.
"Always God acts in conformity with the fullness of His own wholly perfect, symmetrical nature. God always feels this overwhelming plentitude of goodness and He feels it in harmony with all His other attributes. There is no frustration in God. Everything that God is He is in complete harmony, and there is never any frustration in Him. But all this He bestows in His eternal Son." Page 106
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review as part of the Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. The opinions I express are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.