“I think it might be demonstrated that almost every heresy that has afflicted the church through the years has arisen from believing about God things that are not true, or from over-emphasising certain true things so as to obscure other things equally true. To magnify any attribute to the exclusion of another is to head straight for one of the dismal swamps of theology; and yet we are all constantly tempted to do just that.”
The Knowledge of the Holy is another book exploring the attributes of God. But, as with much of Tozer, it is written with a devotional lens; beautifully crafted, each chapter takes something true of God and carefully goes some way to drawing applications from this attribute. Gorgeous turns of phrase with penetrating and far-reaching consequences are dotted throughout, like “God is everywhere here, close to everything, next to everyone.” These alone provide much prayer-fuel, and ensure that reading anything by Tozer is fruitful. Particularly heart-stirring are a trio of chapters towards the close of the book, where the mercy, grace and love of God are addressed and interwoven.
In Tozer’s introduction, he informs the reader that the book is deliberately written for “plain persons”. The problem with The Knowledge of the Holy is that it is not. From its pompous title to each chapter beginning (oddly) with a prayer in King James English, this is not an accessible book. Granted, the “plain person” of 1961 is likely to look much different to the “plain person” of 2019, and yet if my task is to suggest books for today, then The Knowledge of the Holy has no niche. For something similarly devotional, Tozer’s own The Pursuit of God is much better, and for something accessible on the attributes of God, Wilson’s Incomparable outshines it. Further still, Pink’s The Attributes of God is meatier, and, arguably, fuels prayer more effectively.
Tozer’s message has an interesting application to a conservative-evangelical readership. It could be argued that in these circles, the systematic study of God’s attributes is neglected in favour of the laudable exposition of Bible texts in sermons. Because of this, books like this one that do just that may be particularly beneficial in filling the gap.
I would happily recommend The Knowledge of the Holy, but I cannot help but wonder who to. I would sooner suggest the aforementioned The Pursuit of God, Incomparable or The Attributes of God. Theirs has a steadier aim.