Book Review: The Fire Of God’s Presence

The Fire Of God’s Presence: Drawing Near To A Holy God, by A.W. Tozer, compiled and edited by James L. Snyder

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

While I think this is a very excellent book, I’m not sure how much of this book is A.W. Tozer and how much is James L. Snyder. Ultimately, as a reader, it makes little difference to me who gets the credit for this striking and powerful work, assembled posthumously out of sermon messages and stitched together elegantly to create a powerful book about the importance of holiness in the life of the Christian and in the importance of fire as a symbol of God’s presence. It is indisputable that a book by A.W. Tozer [1] is far more marketable, even decades after his demise, than a book by the editor and compiler, but the way that this book is written, it is hard to know how much credit to give to the person who formed this book out of the raw materials provided by a most excellent and rather pointed writer and speaker. So in praising this book, while I do not know how much credit belongs to which of the people involved, credit is well-deserved in any case for a powerful book that, even if made out of materials that are decades old, still hits hard today.

At about 200 pages long, this book is made of 20 relatively short chapters that together discuss the encounter between various biblical figures and God. The fact that so many of these encounters have such similar and such striking parallels gives the book an overall unity that drives home a point about what it means to truly know God rather than simply know about him. This book begins with a series of chapters that deal with the experience of Moses and the Burning Bush (1-9, 11), which gives a framework for the work as a whole and suggests that the encounter between God and Moses in Sinai was something that Tozer returned to over and over again in his messages and drew something fundamental from. After that there are other chapters that deal with the barriers we try to put up against God’s presence (10), and a few chapters which discuss other figures of faith who had their own encounters with God, like Isaiah (15), Ezekiel (16), and Elijah (17, 18), as well as Daniel’s three friends (19), all of which the author uses to illustrate the importance of experiencing and being blessed by God’s presence in our own lives (20).

I found myself reading this book on two different levels. One of the levels is the author’s intended one, a reflection on what it means to know God and the way that encounters with God make the believer feel uneasy as a result of the knowledge of our own fallen state and the incredible holiness of God, before which no unholiness can stand. The fire of God is a refining fire, but it is a deadly fire for beings as unrefined and impure as we often are. It is all too easy to forget this when we think of God as our pal instead of our Creator and Master, and Tozer never lets the reader forget the seriousness of the material that he is dealing with, as is his custom in general as a writer. On the other hand, though, the way that the book was made out of sermons and formed by someone after Tozer’s death opens up the obvious question of how much of this book’s form is due to Tozer’s own message and how much is due to the work of a skilled editor and compiler? As a writer of somewhat scattered material, it is a somewhat haunting question for me personally as to whether anyone will ever think to stitch together my own writings as has been done here.

[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.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History. Bookmark the permalink.

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