Saturday, December 06, 2008

A.W. TOZER OF 1950s calls for CHURCHES to get out of “RUT & ROT”, i.e. QUIT SEEING LIBERALS as ENEMY and SEEK REVIVAL and REFORM from Within

A.W. TOZER OF 1950s calls for CHURCHES to get out of “RUT & ROT”, i.e. QUIT SEEING LIBERALS as ENEMY and SEEK REVIVAL and REFORM from Within

By Kevin Stoda

Last week I had written on the topic of spirituality in the wake of the Mumbai Siege.

This week I turn to the spiritual crisis in supposedly Christian America (, but the words I share are words that can be spoken to people of all faiths and creeds).

I recently opened James L. Snyder’s 1993 compilation of RUT, ROT, or REVIVAL by A. W. Tozer and was struck by the call in our misguided sound-bite age against misleading television evangelism and FOX-NEWS-pro-war evangelism dividing Americans of all faiths these days.

A.W. Tozer, author of LET MY PEOPLE GO and ROOTS OF THE RIGHTEOUS, began by stating:

“What is the worst enemy our church faces today? This is where a lot of unreality and hypocrisy enters. Many are ready to say, ‘The Liberals are our worst enemy.’ But the fact is that the average evangelical church does not have too much trouble with liberalism.”[p. 2]

In short, there have been very, very few cases of someone standing up in front of people in churches and shouting out that the first five books (Pentateuch) of the Bible are complete myths.

There have been very few known instances of churches being invaded or surrounded by peoples shouting that “Christ will not come back one day.”

Tozer reports, “We just cannot hide behind liberalism and say that it is our worst enemy. We believe that evangelical Christians are trying to hold onto the truth given us, the faith of our fathers, so the liberals are not our worst enemy.”[p.3]

Concerning the state, Tozer adds, “Neither do we have a problem with the government. People can do about whatever they please and the government pays no attention. . . . There is no secret breathing down our backs watching our every move.”[Ibid.]

That is, unless we consider the spies in liberal meetings and tapping of liberal persons telephones and e-mails!

For Tozer, “The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today [and in almost any age] is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes ‘lord’ in the life of the church. Programs are organized and prevailing conditions are accepted as normal.”[p.3]

Interestingly, Tozer lived a fairly alternative lifestyle and lived sparsely to give as much effort as he could to his faith and related activities of raising families and church. According to many web sources sharing of the Tozer family, this is a common refrain: “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.”

Evangelical Christians [of either conservative or progressive political bent] have a lot to learn from A. W. Tozer’s lifestyle and words—especially in 2008-2009 as we struggle through a second Great Depression in a century and in an age when public transport and fast national train networks need to be rebuilt and developed.

Christians and non-Christians need to represent a cooperative--yet revolutionary—peoples who are ready to change for the better ourselves and our world—wherever we are planted.

The status-quo of divided church kingdoms on Sunday morning and separate prayer meetings must be ended. In the final scheme of things, Tozer writes, churches [and societal groupings of all stripes] are just (1) a reflection of the individual membership and (2) all change in church ways--even mis-directions--starts with the individual.


“Politicians [of whatever political orientation] sometimes talk about the state as though it were an entity onto itself. Social workers talk about society, but society is people. The church is made up of real people, and when they come together we have the church. Whatever the people are who make up the church, that is the kind of church it is—no worse and no better, nor wiser, no holier, no more ardent, no more and no more worshipful. To improve or change the church we must begin with individuals [p. 7],” explains Tozer.

Naturally, working at the individual level is something that community organizers and leaders of all types need to focus on—whether in politics, in the church, in human resources, or in community development.

NOTE: At a time of economic turmoil and under-employment it is more crucial than ever that the individual become empowered in order to empower society or church, synagogue, mosque, or temple.

In Tozer’s words to the church, he warns believers, “When people in the church only point to others for improvement and not to themselves, it is sure evidence that the church has come to dry rot. It is proof of three sins: the sin of self-righteousness, the sin of judgment, and the sin of complacency.”[pp.7-8]

Such examples of (1) crippling self-righteousness, (2) destructively bad judgments and (3) blind complacency were witnessed by America in the run-up to both 9-11 and again in the misguided takeover of Iraq less than two years later.

At both those times, some churchmen spoke out, but the fingers of accusation need to often point homeward—not always outward.

Tozer then gives the counter-example of how the 12 disciples in the upper room responded to Jesus announcement that “one of you will betray me”.

Those 12 disciples immediately pointed to themselves and asked of themselves, “Is it I, Lord?”

These disciples exemplified humility.

In turn, humility is where all of us need to start when analyzing the source of weaknesses in (1) country, (2) society, (3) culture, (4) church, and (5) families.

Such individual humility must be in place before change is possible and any spiritual--as well as subsequent church or societal--revival begins.

Mediocre-striving individuals build mediocre churches and organizations, just as mediocre-oriented leaders build mediocre administrations in governance.


Self-righteous anger is one of the unpleasant characters of Christianity that my own father passed on to me.

He taught me that self-righteous anger was OK. In my childhood, he raved against the wealth of the Catholic Church. (Yet, when he was homebound in his later years, he continued to watch the Catholic services on TV.)

My Dad also raved against the lack of progressive taxes in his later years, and the lack of affordable health care in his later years. (Yet, he called me a radical when I tried to go further in pushing the system to be changed for the better for all.)

In the meantime, I have been educated by another Christian leader who recently taught, “There is no self-righteous anger. It is just anger.”

In short, we need to call a spade a spade. Our individuals failing the church by not reforming themselves?

Are individuals failing to reform America because they don’t reform themselves?

Are leaders and businessmen around the globe making the same old mistakes because they don’t reform themselves instead of worshipping the status quo?

Tozer writes, “Self-righteousness is terrible among God’s people. If we feel that we are what we ought to be, then we will remain what we are. We will not look for any change or improvement in our lives. This will quite naturally lead us to judge everyone by what we are. This is the judgment of which we must be careful. To judge others by ourselves is to create havoc . . . .” [p.8]

Look at the havoc many years of fighting have done to Afghanistan, Iraq and even in the American political-economic landscape.

Most of the havoc came from people—especially government and church leaders, but also all individuals in each of these lands—being firstly self-righteously angry--and then secondarily allowing themselves all kinds of excesses--while thirdly making numerous excuses for their own human frailties.

Anger is anger. Anyone in anger management will explain this to you.

In addition, Tozer warns, “Self-righteousness also leads to complacency. Complacency is a great sin and covers just about everything . . . . Some have the attitude, ‘Lord, I’m satisfied with my spiritual condition. I hope one of these days You will come, I will be taken up to meet You in the air and I will rule over five cities.’ These people cannot rule over their own houses and families, but they expect tor rule over five cities. They pray spottily and sparsely, rarely attending prayer meeting, but they read their Bibles and expect to go zooming off into the blue yonder and join the Lord in the triumph of the victorious saints.”

Deception and complacency have certainly left America in a huge financial mess—and with currently too few community resources to aid those who are ailing and in need now that cutting social services in government at both the state and national levels have taken many local governments to the brink of bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Thirty-plus years of promoting privatization of government and social assistance to the poor and needy have led people to the church quite often, but the political-economic-and social deceptions have hallowed out the social infrastructure and the American economy as a whole since the 1970s.

This reliance on faith based services, private water companies, and private home schooling have also contributed to the hallowing out of other national- and state-infrastructures in recent decades.

I ask, “What has gotten us the churches and America, into this pickle whereby everyone is pointing fingers and doing nothing to change the individuals who make up the better part of our planet?”

Tozer asks, “I wonder if we are not fooling ourselves. I wonder if a lot of it is simply self-deception.”

In his introduction to the topic of “The Christian’s Greatest Enemy”, Tozer looks at how God dealt with complacency for the Israelites of Moses day.

In Deuteronomy 2 the people under Moses were told that they have become to complacent and need to move on to the Holy Land.

In short, it was time to change.

How did the people of Moses proceed? They were told not to attack anyone and to treat everyone fairly along their journey.

They did just that.

Are American Christians—and even American non-Christians—ready to move on from their complacency of decades?

Tozer ends his message in the first chapter of RUT, ROT, or REVIVAL, by using trees as metaphor. [I find Tozer’s usage of trees as a metaphor in times of global warming and great rain forest destruction to be fairly appropriate.]

Tozer notes, “The tree that stands alive has lush, green leaves. Take a knife, scar the bark deeply and the tree will bleed. It is alive. The old dead tree just stands there, a watchtower for old sentinel crows. Take your knife and did in as far as you want to, and nothing will happen because the tree is dead.”

Dear globalists, Christians, Americans, Iraqis, Indians, Afghanis, Muslims, agnostics, and whomever or however you identify yourselves,

What kind of tree are you?—dead or alive?

Can we take real self-criticism and change?

Can we all identify the real enemies in complacency, bad judgment, and self-righteousness?

Or, like a dead oak tree, will we continue to point in all directions and not notice the dead wood within?


Tozer, Aiden Wilson,

Tozer, Aiden Wilson, RUT, ROT, or REVIVAL, Camp Hill, PA (USA): Christian Publications, 1993.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Kevin:
Interest discourse.

I might add that the major concern is Fundamentalism aka. Calvinism

This belief has that that God has chosen certain people to be saints.

This has caused a rationalism that it is okay to treat those that do not have the same beliefs as refuse because it is okay.

After we have stolen everything from these people, then it is required by us to help them since they are now poor.

This rationalism also created our version of slavery. In the New Testament, slaves were indentured servants.
In the United States, slaves were decendants of those that were captured.

This rationalism was to not help the automakers because of the unions. UAW workers cause the cost of a car to be $750 higher than a car made by non union in this country. That comes nowhere near the reason why American made cars are thousands of dollars higher for the same type of vehicle. They see it okay for a CEO to earn 22 million because he is a Republican (conservative Christian) versus Democrat (secular liberal).

The second mistake by conservatives is stating Capitalism is good and Socialism is evil. "Sh are the wealth" is now a dirty statement to conservatives.

Jesus states in Matthew 19:17 "There is only one who is good."

This means when someone says that Capitalism is good, they are worshipping money which is idolatry and they are calling Jesus a liar.

On the other hand, Socialism is not good either. Capitalism and Socialism are just tools.

If you read Matthew 19:16-24, you will hear Jesus tell a young man; "If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

This does not mean we need to make laws to force the rich to give to the poor, but it does tell someone that they are treading on thin ice if they do not care for the poor.

Most of the the extremely wealthy in this country acquired their wealth by making the government a major client. This only makes sense that they should pay a larger percentage of the taxes.

A trick by conservative leaders is to take Romans 13:1-7 to state that the death penalty is okay. Their rational is that if the government condones it, then it is okay. What the conservatives fo rget to mention is that we are the government and that if we are like Pontius Pilate and wiping our hands clean of a discression that is actually ours.

I could point out items where the Liberals in this country try to move away from God to counterbalance the wrongs by the Conservatives.

If you do a study on Pharisees of the New Testament, you will see the Conservative thought process. If you do a study on the Sadducees of the New Testament, you will see the Liberals.

It just goes to show when ever you listen to either side, you need to go back to the Bible and God to see where you are.

As it says in I Corinthians 1: 12
One of you says "I follow Paul"
another; "I follow Apollos"
another; "I follow Cephas"
Still Another; "I FOLLOW CHRIST!!!!!!!"

I again appreciate your lesson


5:20 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home