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The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

This entry is part 3 of 18 in the series

"Books Every Conservative (and Liberal) Christian Should Read"

Read more posts by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

“It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.”

“Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them.”

“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”

As I pulled Tozer’s well-worn classic off of my shelf in order to refresh my memory for writing this book recommendation, I opened the first chapter and found the quotes above underlined or starred. Those marks stirred memories of when I first read this book. It had been given to me as a high school graduation gift by the principal of the small school I attended. If memory serves me correctly, I did not get around to reading it until that fall during my first semester at college. But as I read, Tozer’s words shot through my mind like bolts of lightning. I was humbled and captivated. The thunder still echoes in my soul. How many times have I found myself as a pastor saying to someone, “What a man thinks when he thinks about God is the most important thing about him”?

I must confess that I went through a phase in which I regarded Tozer lightly. In my continuing theological development, I realized that there were areas of disagreement between a few of Tozer’s beliefs and what I understood the Scripture to teach. I was after true doctrine; I was no mystic! But I now regard that phase as an immature and somewhat arrogant reaction. Hopefully with more Fatherly discipline I have come to better sense the awe of knowing God, and this has led me to admire all the more the pulse-quickening intensity with which Tozer writes about God.

Tozer offered The Knowledge of the Holy as a “reverent study of the attributes of God.” Since most Christians do not read the masters like Augustine or Anselm, Tozer wrote “for plain persons whose hearts stir them up to seek after God Himself.” Reminiscent of The Confessions, Tozer repeatedly offers prayers to the Lord as truth calls forth worship. Tozer spices the text with quotes from great poetry, not for tickling the palate, but because the subject matters demands more than tongue or pen can tell. For the structure of the book, Tozer simply walks in brief chapters through a standard listing of the attributes of God.

This book is not the place to end one’s study of the Holy One, but it is a great place to start. If we will seek the Lord’s face with this kind of intensity, it will be well for us. Tozer says, “When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old.” May God grant that it should be so.

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About Jason Parker

Jason Parker is the pastor of High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He blogs at