Books often start with a ‘catch’—something to start readers feeling eager for more. Charles Williams’ War in Heaven, for example, begins with: “The telephone rang without result, since there was no one in the room but the corpse.” Decades ago, students were often required to memorize the opening lines of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...”
The first sentence of The Knowledge of the Holy is profoundly true, but it also clarifies why Tozer’s book is important:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, our spouse, our boss, our neighbor, ourselves: Tozer says that nothing is more critical about any of those persons than their thoughts about God.
If he is right, then we’d better have a true (Biblical) understanding of God’s character. Anything less is idolatry, which Tozer describes as “thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” Fortunately, God reveals enough about Himself in the Bible, and Tozer’s book summarizes and organizes what we find there.
This is a thoughtful, worshipful study of God’s character. Each chapter focuses upon one of His attributes (His justice, grace, holiness, etc.), what the Bible says about it, and what it means to us. God’s love, for example, means that He desires what is best for us; His wisdom means He knows exactly what is best for each one of us and how to make it happen; and His sovereignty means He has all the power required to make it happen. The practical application of these truths, of course, is that we can trust Him utterly. Such truths about God will also incline us to worship Him, to praise Him for His infinite excellencies. (And it turns out that praising Him is good for me, too!)
Tozer emphasizes the unity of God, that there are no contradictions among His attributes. He does not, for example, suspend being merciful in order to be just. He is always both, and Tozer expresses this fact concisely: “All that God is does all that God does.” While humans vacillate, and frequently have to choose between love and wrath, God does not.
Every few years, I feel like I need to read The Knowledge of the Holy again—perhaps seven or eight times so far. It never fails to enlarge my view of God. This means that Tozer is doing something for me now that God wants to continue the rest of my eternal life, for He is infinite, and infinitely worthy of praise.
For that and other reasons, this is the favorite of my ‘Top 10 God books.’ It’s not about religion, or about Christian issues. It’s about God Himself, an inexhaustible topic deserving more attention than anything else. Period.
For this series, I’ve chosen two Tozer books (his The Pursuit of God was already reviewed), which both excel at leading readers to passionately pursue a personal knowledge of God. In the next post, I’ll describe my choices for the ‘honorable mentions’—a dozen other great books that each came in eleventh. What a blessing it is that, in our language, there are so many good books to help us know our Lord!
(The Knowledge of the Holy has been made available for check-out from the ABEFC library, along with other titles in The Bookshelf.)