The Fire Of God’s Presence: Drawing Near To A Holy God, by A.W. Tozer
[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.]
Generally speaking, my ambivalence towards the author is pretty strong and this book did nothing to move the needle as to the way I feel about him. In general, it may be said that I find his calls to holiness a bracing antidote to being complacent about human weakness and that is not necessarily a bad thing and if that is your focus than this book is certainly one that can be read very profitably. This book looks at the experience of Moses as setting the context for our own encounters with God in our lives, and that is certainly a very striking and interesting extended metaphor. The author seems to approach this from a somewhat mystical perspective, but it is his usual tough-minded approach, and the extended metaphor also involves a discussion of the temple as well as Elijah. Even as someone who is by no means a fan of the author, this sounds like it would have been fascinating to hear him give these messages originally, from which this book has been posthumously compiled.
In reading this book, and others like it, I am struck by how much basic logic is missing. We know that God does not dwell in and does not allow those who are not holy to draw near. We also know (or at least should) that it is not our own holiness that allows us to draw near to God, but rather the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. So far, so good. But it is striking that the author emphasizes a holiness that is not to be found by an examination of our life to see that we are obedient to God’s ways. To be sure, obedience is talked about in the general sense, but we do not get to brass tacks as to what sort of conduct meets obedience to God’s standards, God’s laws, as expressed in scripture. Perhaps the author would point to certain moral laws or sexual purity, but we do not see a deep focus on the laws as they are written in scripture, and this somewhat undercuts the author’s focus on the holiness of the believer. To what standard are we to be holy is the obvious follow-up question.
You are exactly right to get to the point (just as the author’s reputation is to do). Holiness can only come from God. The “call to Jesus” is a farse. “No man can come to Me (Jesus) except the Father, who has sent Me, draw him” (John 6:44). No one is righteous in and of himself, and it is interesting that he gives physical examples to explain a spiritual relationship. Not even someone as wise as Solomon made the connection until the end of his life. He used his God-given gift in physical pursuits, but he learned that the spiritual could not be found from the lower plane. He was “grasping at the wind.” The gulf is too wide.
Right, we can’t draw to God on our own. He has to draw us to Him.