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The Warfare of the Spirit: Religious Ritual Versus the Presence of the Indwelling Christ
~A. W. Tozer , Harry Verploegh
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Media: Paperback
ISBN/ASIN : 1600660592
Manufacturer : WingSpread Publishers
Release data : 20 June, 2006

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    1 star1 star1 starNo starNo star    Helpful Food for Many Evangelical, Non-Denominational Christians

    Aiden Tozer was an American Protestant Pastor in the early to mid 20th century. While he seems to have been acquainted with academic trends (I'm not exactly sure to what extent), he read the Holy and God-breathed Scriptures and the writings of the early Fathers the way they were meant to be heard - he _digests_ them, rather than _dissecting_ them (clearly critical studies can help us to love, understand and digest the divine-human gift of the Scriptures - but digesting them is most important, and Tozer will help teach you how to do that).

    This is a selection of his sermons (there are others), delivered on various occasions, and collected together by Mr. Verploegh according to various topics of consideration.

    There are more than two dozen sermons here, each one short enough to be read on most lunch breaks, and appropriate for small-group discussions.

    I must say - before I begin any criticism - that Tozer is both healthier and more nourishing than roughly 85% of what's pushed as Christian literature today in the US.

    I first came across Tozer's work while I was part of an international cult. Tozer was one of several factors that guided me out of it, so I have always remembered portions of his books with a great degree of fondness.

    It has been almost nine years since I left that cult, so I thought I would re-read Tozer to see what kind of impression he would make on me today, and to discern just _why_ it was that he was helpful to me then.

    Tozer never turns Christianity into some sort of a clan thing. He rightly emphasizes the individual's need to be responsible for their own ascetical struggle towards a messianic love (their "walk with God"). However, he sometimes goes too far with this, demonstrating an almost hyper-individualistic tendency that looks, at times, to be anti-community, which is obviously contrary to the apostolic teaching on the nature of the Church, found everywhere in the Gospels and the apostolic letters and elsewhere.

    It is telling that in his sermon "Let No One Become Necessary To You," which is properly aimed at breaking attachments, it is framed in the negative. It is _against_ something that has gone wrong, it is antithetical, rather than _setting_forth_ and fleshing out a vision/thesis of something beautiful. Much of his writing has this knotted element in it, yet I found that helpful (at the time) to break away from the cult I was cemented into. It is not much help to me today, however, and it would not be helpful for everyone.

    Given this, and given that some important points of emphasis in Tozer are simply not rooted in a historically correct vision of the world (unless you want to willfully blind yourself), it might be better to look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. However, given that most of what is put out on the market today is fluffernutter, be sure that what you're after is actually better - as I said, Tozer is both healthier and more nourishing than roughly 85% of what's published as Christian literature today in the US.

    I might suggest starting with "Beginning to Pray" by Anthony Bloom, "The Roots of Christian Mysticism" by Clement, "The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death" by John Behr, "Living Prayer" by Robert Benson, "For the Life of the World" by Alexander Schmemann, "The Desert Fathers" translated by Helen Waddell, "The Shattered Lantern" by Rolheiser, "Mysteries of Faith" by McIntosh, "The Art of Prayer" introduced by Kallistos Ware, or any of the volumes of the Philokalia (I am particularly fond of volumes one and four). Just about anything by C.S. Lewis is worth reading, too, or else try N.T. Wright's "Paul, in Fresh Perspective."


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