Church Review

Book Review: 

***DISCLAIMER*** I received this book for free from Moody Publishers to review.

A.W. Tozer’s book Church: Living Faithfully as the People of God-Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer represents the ninth book I have reviewed for Moody Publishers. A posthumous work (henceforth referred to simply as Church), this book is self-explanatory as far as what it is about; it is about the church, especially since each chapter (fourteen of them) contains the word “church.” This book discusses the church’s necessity, LORD, Spirit, organization, leadership, character, unity, communion, freedom, ability, purpose, service, witness and journey (pp. 7-162). Kevin P. Emmert serves as the book’s editor.

This book has no less than a couple pros. First, its chapters are rather short and straightforward, thus making this book easy to read. Second, Tozer raises some interesting and insightful concepts throughout the book. These include but are not limited to the concepts of “the unconsulted LORD” (chapter two), the idea that a pastor is not a hired man (chapter four), the four types of Christians that apparently do not want a Spirit-filled congregation (chapter six) and the idea that we “are not called to be the Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, chairman-of-the-board Christianity, but a cross-carrying, Christ-loving, people-loving, serving church” (chapter twelve; p. 137). The “Dale Carnegie” quote really hit me because a former pastor once gave me Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book I have found to be absolutely worthless as it pertains to my Christian walk.

While the book has some pros, I am not sure it quite outweighs its cons. The book has no less than a few of them. Two of them primarily fight for the top spot. First, Tozer shows unwavering support for Charles Finney, a heretic who both promoted Pelagianism and denied the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. The book’s editor (or was it Tozer?) also both misspelled Finney and the name of Jonathan Edwards (Finny and Johnathon, respectively; p. 43; it should be noted Finney’s name was spelled right throughout the rest of the book). Second, Tozer admits to talking back to the devil (p. 93). While he admits that that is not recommended, he fails to state that the practice isn’t even biblical. After all, even Michael the Archangel, “when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 9; NASB). Tozer also claims direct revelation from God. This, like his talking back to the devil, is also unbiblical since God speaks to people via His written Word (the Bible) in these last days we are living in (Hebrews 1:1-4). Finally, Tozer seems to insinuate a “name it and claim it” methodology when he speaks of how he removed a couple burdens in his life (p. 102).

CONCLUSION

Tozer says some good things in this book. I do believe he has a right understanding of the Gospel. However, his claims of direct revelation from God in addition to his unambiguous support for a heretic like Charles Finney certainly leaves me perplexed. This is one of those “eat the meat and spit out the bones” kind of books. The book has some meat in it. Unfortunately, it does have a couple bad bones in it as well. Given my pickiness for books, I cannot fully endorse any book lending unwavering support for a man who did as much damage to Christianity as Charles Finney did. This type of support can ruin the sanctification and discernment of some. Therefore, stay away from this book.

GRADE: 3.25 out of 5