Culture: Living As Citizens Of Heaven On Earth–Collected Insights From A.W. Tozer, by A.W. Tozer
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book may politely be said to be a bit mistitled. That is not to say that this book is by any means a bad one. It is, in fact, quite an excellent book and one that I highly agree with in terms of its focus on avoiding the compartmentalization that tends to happen with believers. Though this is by no means the only book written about this subject , it certainly is a great book and a prophetic one. Dealing with matters of considerable contemporary interest to the Church at large and to Evangelicals in particular, this book gives a timely as well as timeless rebuke to some of the more lamentable trends within the Evangelical movement. Likewise, the author’s understanding of the bigoted nature of leftist and secularist groups is itself rather prescient, considering that this remains a fact that is not commonly recognized by those on the left who fancy themselves to be open-minded. Not all of these insights will be appreciated by everyone who reads this book, but the author is clearly “not far from the Kingdom of God” at all in his analysis.
This short volume of a bit more than 150 pages is divided into 24 short chapters that are taken from a few of Tozer’s preexisting works and repackaged here. The author talks about the sacrament of living (1), the bible as an unchanging authority (2), draws two portraits of the church (3), looks at how the truth is modified by many contemporary believers and ministers (4), and looks at both the biblical concept of the church (5) and the model church of Thessalonica (6). Later on in the book the author deals with such issues as income taxes (8), the need for believers to have both courage and moderation (10), something the author recognizes as a struggle within himself, the honest use of religious words (11), properly seeing the earth as a spiritual battleground and not a playground (14), and warning Evangelicals not to try to curry favor with the powerful and engage in social climbing that would distort the Gospel message (15). The author also reminds us, if such a reminder was necessary, that the Gospel by necessity will interfere with our private lives by forbidding us to do what we want to do and commanding us to do what we are unwilling to do (20).
Although I greatly appreciate this book, I do not feel as if the title is the best one, not least because the author is not talking about culture so much as he is talking about the responsibility of believers as citizens of heaven and pilgrims and sojourners on earth. To be sure, this book touches on issues of culture, but it would have been better titled “Citizen.” Then again, the decision was not mine. In this particular book, Tozer is at his toughminded best, demonstrating that not only was he a clear-eyed observer of the Christianity of his day and someone who had a fair deal of understanding about the path that Christianity was moving on, but also someone who was clear-eyed about his own shortcomings and struggles, and someone who was not self-deceived as to his own harshness when it came to defending what he saw of the truth in an embattled situation. That sort of self-knowledge is precious, in that it keeps this book from being self-righteous, even if it is certainly a rigorous book of considerable fierceness.
 See, for example: