Aiden Wilson Tozer is a name that we think of in Christian circles very often. We know him as A.W. Tozer and so he has written many books such as The Pursuit of God and The Attributes of God and dozens more. He came to faith at the age of seventeen, and was a self-taught theologian. His writings and sermons were so highly regarded that some saw him as a 20th century prophet. His works are timeless, and some today still consider him to be a prophet for the church (page 7).
In the book And He Dwelt Among Us Tozer ministers to us, not as a prophet, but as a caring pastor and leader. Tozer wrote over forty books and was Pastor of Southside Alliance Church in Chicago, but he also pastored many others at various times. As a successful author he received royalties from his work, but often gave the proceeds to those less fortunate than himself. He was called to preach the difficult message of pursuing Christ at all costs. The beloved pastor and writer went to his eternal reward in 1966 and is buried in Akron, Ohio. The book is edited by James L. Snyder is Pastor of Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida and is regarded as a leading authority on the life and ministry of A.W. Tozer.
The book is not the work that fans of Tozer have come to expect. It is a collection of sermons that Tozer gave over the course of a year on the Gospel of John. It is a treasure of spiritual insight that any Christian would be blessed by.
And He Dwelt Among us consists of thirteen chapters that dwell on a passage from the Gospel of John. The chapters can be further compiled into section such as chapters 1-3 deal with creation, chapters 4-6 with the incarnation, chapters 7-8 with application, and chapters 9-13 with contemplation. These passages are expounded upon in a masterful way and include exhortations on Christian Living, the incarnation, and the nature of God. As stated in the introduction the book is a series of sermons over the course of a year by Tozer. He embarked on this series of sermons as a cure for what he called spiritual boredom. To Tozer spiritual boredom was “When Christians become addicted of the activity of the world around them to the exclusion of spiritual disciplines (Page 10).” In his day, much like ours, people rested in the faith that they received and did not seek Christian maturity. This work, edited by James L. Snyder, was Tozer at his best as he sought to erase this spiritual boredom.
In And He Dwelt Among Us Tozer takes the reader on a journey to better understand the Gospel of John. In the first chapter he deals with John 1:1 and immediately references the wisdom books of the Old Testament. To understand this passage one must know how it related to those before it. Tozer states that some passages are hard to understand, but are really building blocks for future spiritual thought. To Tozer John 1:1 is one such passage (Page 15). This concept is carried over into chapter two where Tozer illustrated that Christ existed before time.
In Chapter three Tozer focuses on John 1:10 and Christ, the “Word”, is described as the cause of everything that is made. Tozer uses the Greek word logos, and says that the world did not come into existence by itself (Page 46).” The “Word” came to not only create the world, but create it in and orderly and beautiful fashion.
The most famous, and most widely used, passage of scripture is John 3:16. Many pastors and theologians have discussed this verse in great detail, but Tozer is careful state that he has not done so. He has such a high regard for this text that he compares it with Moses and the burning Bush. In regards to this Tozer states, “This text should be approached as Moses approached the burning bush in his day. It is a sacred confrontation with God (Page 107).” He says that nothing compares with the twenty-five words in this text and illustrates a vital truth. That truth is that God cares about each person that he sent his son. It also exposes a great lie of Satan that is often used on believers. That lie being that God has no concern for us (Page 110).
In Chapter eleven Tozer makes a case for the vicarious atonement. Tozer describes the common objections, such as moral responsibility not being able to be transferred among persons, acknowledges it, and does the unthinkable. Tozer not only acknowledges it, but says they are correct. However, this is where Tozer is best because He describes what we become in Christ and ho there is nothing like it. Speaking of this objection Tozer states that theologians have made a simple process immensely convoluted. He describes the vicarious atonement as, “But in Jesus Christ himself, we became part of Him and He became part of us and took us up into himself so that in one sense, when He died, as Paul said, we all died (Page 181).”
Tozer concluded And He Dwelt Among Us by dwelling on John 14:7-11. He states something profound as he says that a nation will only be as great as its religion, and no religion never rose above its concept of God (Page 203). His conclusion to the listeners, and readers, is that they must have a relationship with Christ. This is vital because one can only know God by knowing Christ.
And He Dwelt Among Us is a great work of sermons that have many strengths. It is written in such a way that one does not need to be a seminary graduate to understand and apply its teachings. The language is understandable to the new believer and average layperson. One interesting strength in regards to its language is that is seems to surpass time. These sermons were given earlier in the 20th century, and evolves over time. Words that were used back then may not have the same meaning today, but this does not apply to And He Dwelt Among Us. The language carries over and the meaning is the same today.
Another strength is the amount of scripture that is in the book. The book has informative chapter titles, and the scripture passages let one know what will be discussed. Tozer utilizes his skills in expository preaching and theology to draw his listeners and readers in. He draws them by various means including history, natural theology, and typology to help his listeners, and readers, understand the text and apply it to their lives.
No matter how many strengths a work has there will also be a weakness. Though the weaknesses are few they do exist and will be discussed. One weakness found, at least for this modern reader, is Tozer’s use of Hymns and poetry intermingled with his sermon. This is more of a cosmetic issue, and is one that is telling of modern times. The modern reader may rush over them and see them as inconsequential. However, this weakness is easily overlooked as these sermons were in the early 1900’s and were a part of preaching for many Pastors. It was difficult process to find something in which to disagree with Tozer on. The weakness discussed does not take away from the work in any way, but may, to the right reader, assist in helping Tozer make his point in a deeper way.
The areas in which the book shows its strength are too great to mention. And He Dwelt Among Us is best suited for anyone who wants to have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. The verbiage, and accessibility of the text also allow it to be a resource for someone who is not a Christian. Someone who is curious about the claims of Christ could easily pick up the work and understand it. That is perhaps the greatest compliment.
James Snyder did a masterful job in organizing the sermons into a collective whole. They are complimentary to each other and show a vast amount of salvation history within their pages. There are many misconceptions and theories about the John’s gospel, and Tozer clears them up using the gifts that he was blessed with. As previously stated the teaching contained within And He Dwelt Among Us may have been ahead of its time. It is transcendent as the meaning that Tozer had is easily carried over to the reader today. This book is a great addition not only to a theological library, but to anyone who strives to have a deeper faith on Christ. It is beneficial to the new believer as well as to the individual who has been a Christian a majority of their life.