James Stuart Bell is a Christian publishing veteran and the owner of Whitestone Communications, a literary development agency. He is the editor of many story collections, including the CUP OF COMFORT, LIFE SAVORS, and GOD ENCOUNTERS series, and the coauthor of numerous books in THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDES series. He and his family live in West Chicago, Illinois.
From the Library of A. W. Tozer: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journeyby James Stuart Bell, Lyle Dorsett
James Stuart Bell is a Christian publishing veteran and the owner of Whitestone Communications, a literary development agency. Compiler of From the Library of C. S. Lewis, he also is the editor of many story collections including the CUP OF COMFORT, LIFE SAVORS, and EXTRAORDINARY ANSWERS TO PRAYER series and the coauthor of numerous books in THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE series. He and his family live in West Chicago, Illinois.
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The book is a collection of writings from the people who influenced A.W. Tozer compiled by James Stuart Bell. It's slow reading, and it should be to have maximum absorption. In his introduction, Bell writes very enthusiastically about Tozer. He's a big fan. I haven't read a single thing by Tozer and I'm intrigued. But I'm not done with the book yet. Instead of rushing through the review I am choosing to slowly go through every page with a pen and a highlighter to capture its words, to use later when I need inspiration, and to keep this book in my permanent library. It's going to take me the rest of this year to finish the book. That is why I am writing the review now. I love this book! I would heartily recommend the book for those wishing to learn of A.W. Tozer's influences. Be warned that in reading this book you will not go through it quickly. It's a little dry in places and some pages have a slight catholic influence. I garnered wisdom from writers such as St. Augustine, D.L. Moody, and Thomas Kempis. Some of the essays consoled me during moments of self-doubt and wondering. I am enjoying the journey of learning about the theologians that a friend had once tried to convince me to read. Book provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.
The Pursuit of God was my introduction to A.W. Tozer, and I've been hooked ever since. Tozer wrote, preached, and lived with such passion for God and his Word. He was never satisfied with mere knowledge and facts, he desired to know his God intimately. I want this desire. How did he get it? The first thing we notice about Tozer's life was his devotion to prayer and the reading of scripture. He spent time with God. He sought him in his word. These activities were to fulfill his longing for God, yet in the process left him with a hunger for more. It seems the closer he approached the Holy, the closer he wanted to be. Tozer was also an avid reader. He read the works of great men who had walked in the faith before him. He learned from those who shared his desire. His library contained volumes written through out Christianity, even from the beginning of church history. These men taught, shaped, and encouraged, his extraordinary life. From The Library of A.W. Tozer is a collection of these writings that contributed to Tozer's life and ministry. The book is comprised of short selections from many different authors and works, whose names include Augustine, Anselm, Thomas a Kempis, Bunyan, Edwards, Spurgeon, and many more. They are arranged in eight chapters, each with its own topic. The book can be read as a devotional, a selection at time, or for research by looking to the corresponding chapters. Another helpful feature, is the inclusion of a short biography of each author, located in the back. This is a great book, exposing the reader to many of the influences in Tozer's life. These are authors that I have always desired to read, but had never before been afforded the opportunity. Now that I've had a taste, I will definitely be seeking out more of their works. I'd like to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me this free copy for review.
Who has influenced you? If you were to make a list of authors who have influenced your thinking, who and what literature would be on that list? James Stuart Bell has compiled From the Library of A.W. Tozer, Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey, a collection of writings from some of the greatest authors and thinkers in history dating from Augustine of Hippo to Pastor G. Campbell Morgan. Bell provides a short biography of Tozer's life, his conversion when he stopped to listen to a street preacher in Akron, Ohio on his way home from work, his pastorate, and influence on what is now the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. Having never attended college, he was mentored by the woman who would eventually become his mother-in-law. She encouraged him to study the Bible and pray daily, and read good books. Five years later, he was called of God to become a pastor. The voices contained in the pages of this book are those who influenced this great man of God. It is divided into eight chapters, each containing brief writings from authors who influenced Tozer in that particular subject area. Should you be unfamiliar with the author's writings, Author Biographies provides additional knowledge for the reader. Bell also provides the original source for each writing should the reader desire to read the work in its entirety. Finally, each author is indexed to provide the reader a quick reference if needed. I appreciate this beautiful, hardback edition, and all the work and research of James Stuart Bell. This work could be used as a daily devotional, an educational resource, or as a sermon preparation tool. If you are a minister, church teacher, or an admirer of A.W. Tozer, this book needs to be in your library. It's 200 excerpts will inspire your walk with the Lord and deepen your faith.
How do you review a book that is not a book? From the Library of A.W. Tozer is not a biography of Tozer. In fact, it has nothing to do with Tozer himself except that it includes reprints of the writings of public domain materials that were found in Tozer's personal library. A. W. Tozer was a self-educated minister in the early 20th century. The breadth of his knowledge was truly determined by the resources he availed himself of. His library is therefore as good a place as you will find to look for his inspiration. What James Stuart Bell does is compile what he believes to have influenced Tozer's development as a thinker. The compilation is organized according to broad topics and includes such a wide variety of writers as Bernard of Clairvaux, John Bunyan and William Law. Mostly the book focuses on medieval monastic thinkers including Thomas á Kempis and Francis of Assisi, as well as a number of Puritan writers. Perhaps it is a reflection of my own education, but I did not find anything particularly extraordinary about Tozer's library. While the Puritans do not usually make the honored place on my nightstand, I have read Clairvaux, Assisi and á Kempis as well as Abelard and other less known Christian thinkers. To be honest, absence of early church writers in this compilation was a little disconcerting to me. Surely someone as widely read as Tozer (and compared to someone like C.S. Lewis, he wasn't really all that widely read) would have read the church fathers but the only ancient writer in the compilation was Augustine of Hippo. There was one other miscue in this compilation. Nowhere is there an inclusion of suggested Scriptural reading to go along with the various writings of Christian authors. Since the compiler suggests that this book be included in one's devotional reading, wouldn't it have made sense to include at least some suggestions? So, what did I think? I think it is pretty obvious that I was not impressed by this compilation. I am the kind of person who rolls his eyes when I spy a leather bound edition of Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest or yet another anthology of the "quotable" C. S. Lewis. Perhaps I just don't know enough about A. W. Tozer, but I feel as if he is one of those modern icons of Christianity that we exalt almost to apostolic status, and I don't connect with that kind of thing. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. I was under no obligation to the publisher.