A. W. Tozer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Aiden Wilson Tozer
A W Tozer.jpg
Born(1897-04-21)April 21, 1897
La Jose (now Newburg), Pennsylvania, US
DiedMay 12, 1963(1963-05-12) (aged 66)
Occupationpastor, author
Spouse(s)Ada Cecelia Pfautz

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor.[1] For his accomplishments, he received honorary doctorates from Wheaton and Houghton Colleges.

Early life[edit]

Tozer hailed from a tiny farming community in western La Jose, Pennsylvania. He was converted to Christianity as 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.


In 1919, five years after his conversion and without formal education in Christian theology, Tozer accepted an offer to serve as pastor of his first church. That began 44 years of ministry associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), a Protestant Evangelical denomination, 33 of them serving as a pastor in several different congregations (his first, a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia). Later, and for thirty years (1928 to 1959), he was the pastor of Southside Alliance Church in Chicago; the final years of his life he spent as pastor of Avenue Road Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Observing contemporary Christian living, Tozer felt the church was on a dangerous course toward compromising with "worldly" concerns.

Born into poverty, Tozer was self-educated and taught himself what he missed in high school and university.[2]


In May 1950, Tozer was elected the editor of Alliance Weekly magazine (now Alliance Life), a position he filled until his death in 1963.[3] Alliance Life is the official publication of the C&MA and is currently a bi-monthly magazine.[4] From his first editorial, titled Quality vs Quantity dated June 3, 1950, Tozer 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."

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.


He spent his last years of ministry at Avenue Road Church 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." [5] 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[edit]

Tozer had seven children, six sons and a daughter.[6] 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.


Over the years, many have been inspired by the life and sermons of Tozer.

In 1950, Tozer received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Wheaton College.[citation needed]

In 1952, he received an honorary LL.D. degree from Houghton College.[7]

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.[8]

Published works[edit]

Books written or compiled by A. W. Tozer during his lifetime include the following:

  • Paths to Power (1940) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • Wingspread: A. B. Simpson: A Study in Spiritual Altitude (1943) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • Let My People Go: The Life of Robert A. Jaffray (1947) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • The Pursuit of God, (1948) Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, ISBN 0-551-00455-X (Online E-text) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • The Divine Conquest (1950)
  • How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit (1952) ISBN 1-5174-6228-2 (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • The Root of the Righteous (1955) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • Keys to the Deeper Life (1957)
  • Born after Midnight (1959) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • Of God And Men (1960) Harrisburg PA: Christian Publications, ISBN 0-87509-254-3
  • The Knowledge of the Holy, (1961) New York: Harper & Row, ISBN 0-06-068412-7 (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
  • Christian Book of Mystical Verse (1963) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)

Booklets (Undated, published before his death.)

There are also many compilations of sermons and other writings which were edited and published by Christian Publications, Inc., Regal Books, and others after Tozer's death. Although the following books were published posthumously, authorship is attributed to A. W. Tozer. (This list is by no means complete. Original publication dates are given where possible):


  1. ^ Harris, Lynn (1992). The Mystic Spirituality of A.W. Tozer. Edwin Mellen Pr. ISBN 0-7734-9872-9.
  2. ^ A. W. Tozer (Author of The Pursuit of God), www.goodreads.com. Accessed 2013-07-11.
  3. ^ Tozer, A. W. (2009). Life in the Spirit. ISBN 9781598563344.
  4. ^ "Historical Timeline". Christian and Missionary Alliance. Retrieved 2013-10-16. The publication, begun by A. B. Simpson was originally named The Word, The Work, and The World, later renamed The Alliance Weekly, later renamed The Alliance Witness, later renamed to its present name Alliance Life.
  5. ^ History: A.W. Tozer, cmalliance.org.
  6. ^ Tancordo, and James Joshua. “A. W. Tozer: A Mystical and Confessional Evangelical.” Handle Proxy, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 19 Feb. 2018, http://hdl.handle.net/10392/5527.
  7. ^ Bailey, Nathan, ed. (1963-07-24). "Significant Dates in the Life of Aiden Wilson Tozer" (PDF). The Alliance Witness. Christian and Missionary Alliance. 98 (15): 7. OCLC 52856644. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 1952-Received LL.D. degree from Houghton College. This issue of The Alliance Witness is subtitled Dr. A. W. Tozer Memorial Issue.
  8. ^ Barlow, Lauren (2011). Inspired by Tozer: 59 Artists, Writers, and Leaders Share the Insight and Passion They've Gained from A.W. Tozer. Ventura, California, USA: Regal. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8307-5929-3.

External links[edit]