Friday, April 14, 2017

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963)


Aiden Wilson Tozer
A W Tozer.jpg
BornApril 21, 1897
La Jose (now Newburg), Pennsylvania, US
DiedMay 12, 1963 (aged 66)
NationalityAmerican
Occupationpastor, author
Spouse(s)Ada Cecelia Pfautz
Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. For his work, he received two honorary doctoral degrees.

Early life

Tozer hailed from a tiny farming community in western La Jose, Pennsylvania. He converted to Christianityas a teenager, in Akron, Ohio; while on his way home from work at a tire company, he overheard a street preacher say, "If you don't know how to be saved ... just call on God, saying, 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.'" Upon returning home, he climbed into the attic and heeded the preacher's advice.

Pastor

In 1919, five years after his conversion and without formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church. That began 44 years of ministry, associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), a Protestant Evangelical denomination, 33 served as a pastor in a number of churches. His first pastorate was in a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Tozer also served as pastor for 30 years at Southside Alliance Church, in Chicago (1928 to 1959), and the final years of his life were spent as pastor of Avenue Road Church, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In observing contemporary Christian living, he felt the church was on a dangerous course toward compromising with "worldly" concerns.

Born into poverty, Tozer was self-educated, due to his home situation, and he taught himself what he missed in high school and college. In 1950, Tozer received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Wheaton College.

Author

In May 1950, Tozer was elected editor of the Alliance Weekly magazine, now called Alliance Life, the official publication of the C&MA. From his first editorial, titled Quality vs Quantity dated June 3, 1950, he wrote, "It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that." In 1952, he received an honorary LL.D. degree from Houghton College

Among the more than 60 books that bear his name, most of which were compiled after his death from sermons he preached and articles he wrote, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. Many of his books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God.

Death

He spent his last years of ministry at Avenue Road Church in the province of Ontario in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he died from a heart attack. He was buried in Ellet Cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: "A. W. Tozer - A Man of God."  His last message, The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches, printed in the Alliance Weekly and dated May 15, 1963, was published 3 days after his death. His biographer James L. Snyder has suggested that "In a sense it was his valedictory, for it expressed the concern of his heart." Tozer says here "Among the gospel churches Christ is in fact little more than a beloved symbol ... The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten, but it has been mostly relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion."

Personal life

Tozer had seven children: six boys and one girl. Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.

Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life," comments his biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. "He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them," writes Snyder.

Legacy

Over the years many have been inspired by the life and sermons of Tozer. In 2011, Christian music artist Lauren Barlow of BarlowGirl published a compilation of stories told by 59 artists, writers, and leaders about how A.W. Tozer inspired them. 

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