Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897–1963) is widely regarded as one of the deepest theological thinkers of the 20th century. He is known worldwide for his prayer-bathed way of speaking pithy truth and introducing people to God. Tozer was a man of integrity. He lived simply, committed himself to lifelong learning, and drank deep from God's Word. Tozer's poignant writings typically lead people to worship and weep in conviction.
“It is easy to learn the doctrine of personal revival and victorious living; it is quite another thing to take our cross and plod on to the dark and bitter hill of self-renunciation.”
— A.W. Tozer
Regarding his personal life, Tozer was the father of seven children and husband of one wife, Ada, to whom he was faithfully married for 45 years. While Tozer was a godly man of prayer, it is said that he was difficult to know. He had a gift for speaking and writing, but sometimes he withheld his thoughts to the point that those around him felt pained. He could also speak harshly at times. He was apologetic about some of his criticisms and willing to model repentance, even though he was acclaimed.
“I want nobody fooling me with unreality. I do not want anybody coming and fawning over me if he does not mean it. I do not want anybody to lie to me in the name of etiquette or ask me for a dime to support something I do not believe in. I do not want anybody to ask me to believe in a religion that I have to take on the basis of somebody's authority. If Jesus Christ cannot change me, if my Christianity is not real; if the problem I face is not a real problem; if it does not mean heaven, hell, death and the grave; then I do not want to be wasting my time with it at all.”
— A.W. Tozer
Pastoral / Professional Background
Vocationally A.W. Tozer served as pastor of Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Chicago and Toronto. In 1950 he became the editor of the Alliance Witness. Tozer understood the power of words. He took pains to put his thoughts into edifying statements that would strengthen the Body of Christ and bring more glory to God. Tozer stands out because he avoided both the fundamentalism and the anti-intellectualism so common among Christians of the 20th century. Tozer's preaching was fresh. From his studies he drew heavily from Christian mystics, early church fathers, and revivalists. A.W. Tozer was particularly impressed by John Wesley's self-description of being "a man of One Book, but a student of many." Tozer preached the gospel so plainly that it has been said he was invited to speak everywhere—once. He refused to stand at the church door to shake hands with the congregation after church because in his mind that was "glad handing" people and setting himself up to be flattered and thus self-deceived. Biographer Lyle Dorsett put it this way: "Tozer concerned himself with the depth of his ministry, and left the breadth of his ministry up to the Holy Spirit."
Writings of Tozer
Even today God uses Tozer to soften human hearts and lead people into the holiness of joy. It is interesting to note that Tozer's 30 books sell better posthumously than they did when he was alive. Two of his books, The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, have become Christian classics. Recorded sermons of A.W. Tozer are available as MP3 files at The Christian and Missionary Alliance Website. To learn more about A.W. Tozer, see Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer (Lyle Dorsett), The Mystical Spirituality of A. W. Tozer Twentieth Century Protestant (Lynn E Harris), and The Life of A.W. Tozer (James Snyder).