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Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene

Tozer on Common Grace and the Sensus Divinitatis

Though he uses neither of the terms in my title in the excerpt below, A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God seems to combine the ideas signified by those terms in his (admittedly personal) explanation for how to account for “all that is best out of Christ,” e.g., works of philosophical penetration and subtlety, works of sublimity and beauty. For him, it is not enough to say, “He’s a genius”; for him, such works proceed from fallen man “haunted by the speaking Voice” and attempting to respond to it, even in ignorance of what he does.

It is my own belief (and here I shall not feel bad if no one follows me) that every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin-blocked response to the creative Voice sounding over the earth. The moral philosophers who dreamed their high dreams of virtue, the religious thinkers who speculated about God and immortality, the poets and artists who created out of common stuff pure and lasting beauty: how can we explain them? It is not enough to say simply, “It was genius.” What then is genius? Could it be that a genius is a man haunted by the speaking Voice, laboring and striving like one possessed to achieve ends which he only vaguely understands? That the great man may have missed God in his labors, that he may even have spoken or written against God does not destroy the idea I am advancing. God’s redemptive revelation in the Holy Scriptures is necessary to saving faith and peace with God. Faith in a risen Saviour is necessary if the vague stirrings toward immortality are to bring us to restful and satisfying communion with God. To me this is a plausible explanation of all that is best out of Christ. But you can be a good Christian and not accept my thesis.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.