Tozer: The Pastor’s Pastor

A.W.(Aiden Wilson) Tozer was born on this day (21 April) 1897. He was perhaps the most profound mystic that evangelicals have ever produced. In spite of little formal education he was ordained in 1920 and after several small pastorates he moved to Southside Alliance Church in Chicago and remained there until 1959 when he moved to Canada. He died in 1953.

He always exemplified the good Pastor so perhaps it is not surprising that when he died his sermons were prepared and ready for the next Sunday. He had an absolute intolerance of evangelical hypocrisy in preaching and writing and his acid criticism would strip the subject bare. At all times he exalted God and abased man. The gospel according to Tozer was, “Abhor that which is evil and do that which is good.” Although he used over 40 different translations in his study he had an underlying preference for the rich Elizabethan cadences of the Authorised Version and said so on every possible occasion.

For the preacher and pastor Tozer is fascinating for the depth of his study and breadth of his reading. Dictionaries, lexicons, and concordances were always to hand. The Bible was there at the heart of everything, to which he added a wide study of theology, philosophy, the church fathers, literature and poetry. He was especially attracted to the Christian mystics. No pastor has ever read Tozer without reaching for his Bible to study something that he had revealed in a new and fresh light. In a very real sense he was real pastor’s pastor.