Billy Graham Center

Papers of Reuben Archer Torrey, III - Collection 331

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Reuben Archer Torrey, III

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Audio Tapes and Video Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes
    Video Tapes

Transcript for T1

Transcript T2

Brief Description:
An oral history interview in which Torrey discusses his childhood in China as the son of Presbyterian missionaries; his experiences at boarding schools in China and Korea; his grandfather, Dr. R. A. Torrey, Sr.; his work as an Episcopalian parish priest in the U.S.; teaching at an Anglican theological college in Korea; and his founding and work at Jesus Abbey, a retreat center in Korea. There is also a videotape of Torrey showing slides at a meeting and being asked questions about his work.

Collection 331
March 29, 2003]
Torrey, Reuben Archer, III; 1918-2002
Papers; 1986

Audio Tapes, Photograph, Video Tape (.06 cu. ft.)


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Reuben Archer Torrey, III, (known as Archer) was the son of Reuben Archer Torrey, Jr., and the grandson of evangelist educator R. A. Torrey, Sr. His parents served as Presbyterian missionaries in China, and Torrey was born and raised in North China. He attended mission schools in both China and Korea. Torrey graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1939 and from Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University, which he attended concurrently, in 1942. He served in the Merchant Marines during World War II. After the war, he left the Presbyterian Church and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1946, after receiving a MTh degree from the University of the South.

Torrey served American parishes in Georgia, Missouri, and Massachusetts for eleven years, before being called to re-establish St. Michael's Theological College for the Anglican Church in Korea. After serving as Rector there for seven years, in 1965 he and his wife, Jane Grey, founded Jesus Abbey, a retreat center in the mountains of Korea. They had three children.

Archer Torrey died on August 6, 2002 at Severance Hospital in Seoul, Korea.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains an oral history interview and a video tape of an April 23, 1986, meeting of the Otterbein United Brethren Missionary Convention in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The video, #V1, begins with an introduction of Torrey by "Brother Cook"; Torrey talks about the work being done at Jesus Abbey and shows slides of the Abbey, the surrounding countryside, and some of the activities of the Abbey, such as prayer groups, singing, making a thatched roof, doing laundry in a stream, making kim chee, woodworking shop, the outdoor chapel designed by Jane Torrey, among others. Many of the slides are photographs of paintings which were done by Jane Torrey. After the slides, the scene shifts to a library where Torrey, Mr. Cook, two other unidentified men, and two unidentified women, sit around the table and Rev. Torrey answers questions about the work at Jesus Abbey.

The oral history interview with Torrey was conducted by Robert D. Shuster on May 14, 1986, at the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is noted in the margin to the left of the topics discussed. The index is keyed to cassette copies of the interview, not to the reel-to-reel original. The boldfaced entries correspond with the Cross Reference list at the end of this guide, and are intended to highlight the topics covered in the interview.

Tape T1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape).
Born in North China, January 19, 1918; earliest memories as child; memories of his amah (native nanny), emotional attachment to her, and grief at leaving her, healing; to the U. S. on furlough when he was 8; miserable at school; 3 years there, difficulty of adjusting to American style of life; Western style of life in China; imperialism, "We manage them." Rudyard Kipling on western imperialism; Roland Allen [?] book; not approved of to talk about imperialism in mission circles; why imperialism? Missionaries are a product of their own culture, also worldliness; America the capital of Christianity; Satan corrupts American Christianity by making it worldly; missionaries missing truths of the Bible about politics and economics; British got control politically; America got control financially; American business community vs. American missionary community in China; missionaries saw business people as sinful and worldy but they were too, in that they trusted their own judgement rather than God's; his parents built a house in southern colonial style, 3 story, conspicuous, most Chinese houses one story; father said later if he could change he wouldn't have built that house like that; tried to use it for Chinese, make them welcome there; vacations on beach with only white people; missionaries who don't care about the people they serve; don't want to associate with them, only to save them from hell--like Jonah; missionary very high rank in Korean society, which is a very strongly hierarchical society; mssions theory in 1 John; fellowship together with all saved, joy together; motive for missions--love for others; associate with the people; hadn't wanted to go to Korea, because he had been brought up in China, and had learned prejudice against Koreans; aware that his parents were missionaries very early; assumed that God wanted him to be one--didn't like it, but hated America so wanted to return to China as a missionary; in college decided to verify his assumptions about God; always assumed that God was there on a child level; needed certainty in his heart; really wanted to go into physics; God made himself real to him over 2-1/2 years through prayer and Bible; suddenly no question--went to ministry; still had not learned to love God or missions, only obeyed; Holy Spirit worked; speaking in tongues; baptism of the Holy Spirit in college; had all gifts of the Spirit except tongues until later; baptism of the Holy Spirit"--term gave trouble with grandfather's colleagues; they wanted the term "be filled with the Spirit." Grandfather, R. A. Torrey, leaving Moody Bible Institute and Biola over this question; wrote to New International Version translators because "be filled" two different words in NT, two senses, but NIV wouldn't do anything; wrote Wycliffe Bible Translators, and they wanted to research it; now wants to write New American Standard translators; description of parents as missionaries. Only ones in their mission area that wanted "baptism of the Holy Spirit;" believed in power of God for miracles and prayer, not human systems; competent people, intelligent, but didn't depend on that; father learned very fluent Chinese; had nice things from home but stopped using them; kept "low profile"; force committee (decided which missionaries would be placed where in the field)--father head of it, no one else liked that job; father avoided involvement in controversy, stayed out; misunderstood by more agressive colleagues for lack of involvement; false image of father, disliked him; hated fundamentalist outspoken people; rebellious, went to Davidson College instead of Wheaton College and parents let him; dropped out of seminary, construction work, went to sea during World War II; visited father in Chicago, was welcomed in spite of his unorthodox attire and suddenly rebellion all gone; church must keep moving forward, close to Scripture; love, not duty; Roland Allen; let Holy Spirit lead church once they are saved in own culture; but we westernize them and their churches; all his life in China didn't know Chinese culture growing up, finally read about it in America at college, doing a thesis on a proposed educational system for China; felt cheated; problem of ancestor worship; missionaries can't solve the problem, have to let the Chinese work it through for themselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit; rural evangelism trips away from western compound in China; house in rural evangelism area; father interested in economic problems, clinical work, very practical, science orientation; inherited father's practicality, mother's philosophical side; father head of International Famine Relief Commission in Shandong, good administrator; example of administration skills in famine time; got along with all missionaries, including Roman Catholics, peaceful; grandfather, R. A. Torrey, resigned from Moody Bible Institute and Biola rather than cause conflict; uncompromising but not in conflict, unemotional side appealed to men, books still printed today; appearance of grandfather described; didn't know him well, awe-inspiring; mother's involvement in mission activity: piano, Bible teaching, women's work, evangelism to women, child care, practical teaching on hygiene, childbirth, child rearing; not much contact with Chinese Church; North China American School experience; sister Helen miserable there; parents moved them to school in Korea, Pyengyang Foreign School; feeling of repentance to school principal when they left North China; new atmosphere at school in Korea, his name respected; being an MK--community to itself, neither American nor Chinese; went to Montreat, N. C. in summers with other MK's; obligation felt to become missionaries; very artificial world; real world too scary; provincial internationalism; was a pastor (Episcopal priest) in America for 11 years; no opening in China; didn't have a heart for the pastorate at first, but attitude improved after six years, through prayer; asked by Anglican Bishop in Korea to start seminary there.

Tape T2 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape).
Anglican Bishop was John Daley; a description of him; teaching theology as a science, to be taught in three labs: individual and God, individual and Christian community, Christian community and world community. Students live in community with prayer, repentance, worship; more than lectures and tests; Koreans disliked this way of teaching; lLoyalty of people to former bishop, Bishop Cooper; new Bishop Daley needed interpreter to communicate; the interpreter not truthful; loyal to old Bishop so changed wording of what Daley said. Catholic wing of Anglican Church in Korea; Torrey resigned after six years; couldn't back down on issues anymore; stayed one more year before he left; moved to mountains to start house of prayer for church and nation; now been going for 20 years with 70 full time people; average of 20 guests there always; daily and weekly schedules there; how they support themselves; farming, lectures, handcrafts; donations from Americans and Koreans; Presbyterian Church was not flexible and faith oriented enough for what he wanted to do in missions; Episcopal church did; his feelings about Episcopal Church; greatest change in Korean church; [sound difficulties] founded conservative, preserve the past; small handfull want to keep up to date, liberation theology; m ajor change: charismatic movement surfaced in Korea, new emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Assemblies of God Church in Korea; size, staleness, greed in Korean church; prophecy about South Korea; college and seminary students' response to need for repentance, lay people's response; response to the prophecy.



The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by R. A. Torrey III in May and October, 1986 and by the Billy Graham Center Administration in 2003.

Accession #86-54, 86-103
October 20, 1988
Lannae Graham
S. Feeck
J. Nasgowitz

March 16, 1990, Revised
Janyce H. Nasgowitz

March 29, 2003, Updated
Robert Shuster
C. Sawyer

Accession: 86-54
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., approximately 65 minutes. Interview with Reuben Archer Torrey, III, by Robert D. Shuster, recorded on May 14, 1986. Topics discussed include his childhood in China, imperialism, Korean society, speaking in tongues, rural evangelism, college and seminary training.

T2 - Reel-to-real, 3-3/4 i.p.s., approximately 35 minutes. Continuation of interview with Reuben Archer Torrey, III, by Robert D. Shuster, recorded on May 14, 1986. Topics include the Anglican church in Korea, founding of Jesus Abbey, the Korean church.

Accession: 03-18
Type of material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

TORREY, REUBEN ARCHER III. 1 2" x 2" photo of Torrey. B/w. N.d.

Accession: 86-54
Type of material: Videotape

The following items are located in the VIDEOTAPE FILE:

V1 - VHS cassette; color; April 23, 1986; approximately 75 minutes. Videotaped meeting of the Otterbein United Brethren Missionary Convention in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. It begins with an introduction of Torrey by "Brother Cook"; Torrey talks about the work being done at Jesus Abbey and shows slides of the Abbey, the surrounding countryside, and some of the activities of the Abbey, such as prayer groups, singing, making a thatched roof, doing laundry in a stream, making kim chee, woodworking shop, the outdoor chapel designed by Jane Torrey, among others. Many of the slides are photographs of paintings which were done by Jane Torrey. After the slides, the scene shifts to a library where Torrey, Mr. Cook, two other men, and two women, who are never identified, sit around the table and ask Rev. Torrey questions about the work at Jesus Abbey.

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Last Revised: 3/29/03
Expiration: indefinite