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.
Tozer hailed from a tiny farming community in western La Jose, Pennsylvania. He 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 theological training, 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 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.)
- The Praying Plumber Of Lisburn: A Sketch of God's Dealings with Thomas Haire (Undated booklet, but the articles originally appeared in serial form on January 6, 13, and 20th 1954 in the Alliance Weekly (Now Alliance Life)) (https://archive.org/details/ThePrayingPlumberOfLisburn)
- Total Commitment to Christ: What is It? (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
- The Menace of the Religious Movie (Internal evidence seems to indicate a date around the mid 1930s.) (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
- Five Vows of Spiritual Power (New edition: CrossReach Publications)
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):
- That Incredible Christian (1964)
- Man: The Dwelling Place of God (1966)
- When He is Come (1968) ISBN 0-87509-221-7
- I Call It Heresy! (1974) ISBN 0-87509-209-8
- Who Put Jesus on the Cross? (1975) 0-87509-212-8
- The Pursuit of God (1976) STL Books, Bromley, Kent ISBN 1-55742-753-4
- Gems from Tozer (1979) ISBN 0-87509-163-6
- Renewed Day by Day: Daily Devotional (1980) ISBN 0-87509-292-6
- A Treasury of A. W. Tozer (1980) ISBN 0-8010-8851-8
- Echoes from Eden: The Voices of God Calling Man (1981) ISBN 0-87509-227-6 Originally published as, The Tozer Pulpit Vol. 8: Ten Sermons on the Voices of God Calling Man
- Leaning Into The Wind (1985) STL Books, Bromley, Kent ISBN 0-903843-98-6
- Whatever Happened to Worship? (1985) ISBN 0-87509-367-1
- Whatever Happened to Worship? (1986) OM Publishing, Carlisle, ISBN 1-85078-010-2
- Faith Beyond Reason (1987) OM Publishing, Bromley, Kent ISBN 1-85078-025-0
- Jesus, Our Man in Glory (1987) ISBN 0-87509-390-6
- Jesus, Author of Our Faith (1988) ISBN 0-87509-406-6
- Men Who Met God (1989) OM Publishing, Bromley, Kent ISBN 1-85078-058-7
- That Incredible Christian (1989) OM Publishing, Bromley, Kent ISBN 1-85078-064-1
- I Talk Back to the Devil: Essays in Spiritual Perfection (1990) ISBN 0-87509-437-6
- The Coming King (1990) STL Books, Bromley, Kent ISBN 1-85078-074-9
- Christ the Eternal Son (1991) ISBN 978-1-60066-047-4
- The Best of A. W. Tozer, 52 Favourite Chapters Compiled by Warren W Wiersbe (1991), Crossway Books ISBN 1-85684-007-7
- Man: The Dwelling Place of God (1992) ISBN 0-87509-415-5
- God Tells the Man Who Cares (1992) ISBN 0-87509-508-9
- Born After Midnight (1992) ISBN 0-87509-416-3
- We Travel an Appointed Way (1992) OM Publishing, Bromley, Kent ISBN 1-85078-116-8
- The Knowledge of the Holy (1992) ISBN 0-06-069865-9
- Out of the Rut, Into Revival (1992) ISBN 978-0-340-72235-0
- The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in Christian Life (1997) ISBN 0-8027-2707-7
- The Attributes of God, Volume One with study guide by David E. Fessenden (1997) ISBN 0-87509-957-2
- The Attributes of God, Volume Two with study guide by David E. Fessenden (2001) ISBN 0-87509-988-2
- The Best of A. W. Tozer, Book 1 (1979) ISBN 0-87509-458-9
- The Best of A. W. Tozer, Book 2 (1995) ISBN 0-87509-594-1
- The Tozer Topical Reader (1999) ISBN 0-87509-838-X
- The Radical Cross (2005) ISBN 0-88965-236-8
- The Worship-Driven Life: The Reason We Were Created (2008) ISBN 1-85424-877-4
- Signposts: A Collection of Sayings from A.W. Tozer ISBN 0-89693-583-3
- Tozer on the Almighty God: A 366-Day Devotional ISBN 0-87509-972-6
- The Pursuit of God ISBN 1-60066-015-0
- Faith Beyond Reason ISBN 1-60066-033-9
- Warfare Of The Spirit ISBN 1-60066-059-2
- The Pursuit Of God With Study Guide ISBN 1-60066-106-8
- The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (2009) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-4689-7
- Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith (2009) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-4690-3
- And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John (2009) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-4691-0
- Living As a Christian: Teachings from First Peter (2010) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-4692-7
- Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews (2010) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-4693-4
- A Disruptive Faith: Expect God to Interrupt Your Life (2011) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-5761-9
- The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience (2011) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-5922-4
- The Dangers of a Shallow Faith: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy (2012) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-6204-0
- Preparing for Jesus' Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope (2012) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-6395-5
- God's Power for Your Life: How the Holy Spirit Transforms You Through God's Word (2013) Regal Books, Ventura, CA ISBN 978-0-8307-6537-9
- Keys to The Deeper Life (1984) Clarion Classics published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI ISBN 0-310-33361-X
- God Still Speaks (2014) CrossReach Publications