Book Review: Evenings With Tozer

Evenings With Tozer:  Daily Devotional Readings, by A.W. Tozer, compiled by Gerald B. Smith

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Having read quite a few writings by A.W. Tozer [1], it is interesting to see his writings used for devotional readings, which are generally not known for their pointed contents or fierceness, both of which this book provides in spades.  In reading this book, though, I had some questions that the book didn’t answer at all, such as the places these writings came from?  To be sure, this book read with all of the ferocity that one expects from him, but where indeed were these readings found?  This book contains no textual notes that indicates whether these writings were short and fierce texts by the author, or whether they were taken from larger works, and this gives the book a certain sense of mystery about them.  The mysterious nature of these texts is increased when one ponders that there is a companion volume to this work (which I have not yet read) which is titled Mornings With Tozer and which promises to be equally fierce to this volume.

Even so, as far as devotionals are concerned this book is a pretty straightforward one.  It contains 366 devotionals, each of them one page, for every day of a leap year.  Moreover, as is common, there is a standard approach for all of these devotionals, with the day of the year followed by a title, a quoted Bible verse, and a short discussion of several paragraphs.  Unsurprisingly, perhaps, there is a great deal of similarity in the contents included.  Many of the devotionals are critical about contemporary society, focus on issues of faith and obedience, discuss the burden of responsibility on Christians and especially on ministers, comment on taking God seriously and taking the church to task for not taking the Bible seriously.  Other devotional topics of high frequency include the author’s belief in Christian mysticism, specifically the view that the Bible cannot be understood in its reading without the presence of the same spirit that inspired the writing of the Bible.  Although Tozer ends up hitting many topics over and over again, there is a lot to enjoy and appreciate here, especially as the writing never gets tiresome or too repetitive, even if one wonders where it came from in Tozer’s body of work.

Like many books by Tozer, this one presents an interesting challenge for readers.  It is likely that Tozer was rather personally reflective, but he comes off as especially fierce and likely will both attract some readers specifically because of that fierceness and will repel others on those same grounds.  Tozer’s works remain rather popular as far as reprints go in large part because of the way that he speaks in such an honest and forthright and critical fashion about the fashionable follies of contemporary society and Christendom.  Yet I wonder how many people will read this book the way it was actually intended.  While there will be some people who read this book and use Tozer’s rather pointed critiques to encourage their own criticism of contemporary society and the contemporary church and others will be offended because they will take Tozer’s comments personally and view the criticism as negative and unjust, I wonder how many readers of this book will be cut to the heart and will view it was an opportunity to encourage their own repentant attitude and their own reflection about their own fallen and corrupt human nature.  It seems unjust that this book will likely be used to poke at others but may not manage to prick our own hearts.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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