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A Feast of Fragments: The Papers of R. A. Torrey


The basis for this page is a paper by Bob Shuster of the Billy Graham Center Archives, delivered by Wayne Weber of the Billy Graham Center Archives at the R. A. Torrey Conference at Biola University in La Mirada, California on October 21, 2003. However, as the staff becomes aware of additional Torrey sources, this page will be updated to include the new information, with the additions in bold.



On August 3, 1882, Reuben Archer Torrey, Yale graduate, scholar and pastor of the Congregational Church in Garrettsville, Ohio was having a hectic day. Not only was he trying to write a sermon, he had to deal with an unwanted request for a recommendation and lead two meetings at church. On the plus side, he celebrated with his wife Clara her birthday.

But it seems that for him what stood out most that day was a revelation of the strength and mystery of the human will. This came not from study of Calvin or Aquinas, but from contact with his one-year old daughter, Edith. To quote from his diary,

"This day have spent largely on a sermon which I intend not to preach. Read a sermon in Scotch Sermons. Looked some over a book brought to me for my commendation but which does not seem to deserve it. Book agents are a nuisance. Leaders meeting tonight very interesting. Prayer meeting not so much. Had a struggle with Edith today to make her drink her milk out of a cup as she did yesterday. After resisting all day she did so at evening with great gusto. I hardly understand it. I don't think it will do to set it down unconditionally as spunk [?]. It was Clara 's birthday today. I gave her Jacob Abbot's Gentle Measures in Training Young.

Documents are funny things. What is preserved for posterity is often surprising. We have a fairly good record of Torrey's day on August 3, 1882 (although it would be interesting to have a transcript of his and Edith's conversations). However, for one of the most popular preachers of the first half of the twentieth century, a man who spoke to large crowds on thousands of occasions, we have only one brief recording of his voice. He wrote dozens of books, hundreds of articles and Sunday school lessons. as well as tracts and other ephemera. Many of these are still in print or available in libraries or through used bookstores. But how does one study Torrey as an educator, a Christian leader - a church politician if you will, as a pastor - as a man? His printed sermons tell us something about Torrey the preacher, but where can we go to recreate what it was like to be sitting 100 years ago in an audience in Melbourne Australia or London England or Chicago Illinois or Montrose, Pennsylvania, and hearing Torrey preach?

What I would like to do today is briefly tell you what unpublished documents of Torrey still exist and are available in manuscript repositories. I won't deal at all with Torrey's published writings or materials published about him. Nor will I say anything about Torrey materials still in private hands. Much of what I will say is based on indirect reports which I have been able to gather from researchers and archivists. It is quite possible some of you in the audience know of major materials which I don't. If so, I hope you will report on these during the question period after my talk. But incomplete as my paper might be, and it makes no claim to comprehensiveness, I hope it is a start to building a more complete picture of Torrey as a man and a Christian.

When an archivist talks about the "papers" of Charles Finney or George Washington or anyone else, he means something quite specific. He means documents that person created and received in the course of his or her normal work and life, kept in the way that he or she kept them. They can include letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photos, old menus, pressed flowers, laundry lists or even doodles. They might be material kept for purely business reasons and others for sheer sentimental nostalgia. But in any case, a person's papers, so defined, have two special values, which can't be found in any other gathering of their ephemera or memorabilia.

First, their order (or lack of order) is a key to the mind of their creator. How an individual keeps and describes his records shows what he thinks is important in his daily life, how he relates to the different parts of his world. How did he arrange things so that he could find what he needs later? What mementos from thirty years ago did he still keep? This helps to reveal a person. Of course, it does not tell the whole story and any body of records record reflects accident as well as plan. But it is a clue

Secondly, a person's "papers", are, in the an old Watergate phrase, are an indicator of "what he knew and when he knew it." If these are, indeed, really a person's "papers" and not an amalgamation put together after his death, they are not only uncontaminated by later events and opinions, but they also don't record anything going on at the time about which the record creator was ignorant. They indicate what crossed his desk and how he handled his day-in-day-out routine. They make a little easier the impossible task of putting yourself in the mind of another person, perhaps one that's many centuries dead.

But there is no need to go any further into archival theory. The fact of the matter is that, in that sense, R. A. Torrey Sr's papers exist nowhere. He was the chief executive of five still thriving institutions - Moody Bible Institute, Moody Church, Biola, Church of the Open Door, and the Montrose Bible Conference. But none of these have his files as he kept them and as at one time they must have existed. He was, one would guess from his writings and his public image, a man of disciplined and ordered habits, but if he had at home file cabinets of his sermons, correspondence, and files on other activities, projects and plan, they no longer exist that I know of. Anyone studying Torrey must do without the clues a true collection of "papers" could have provided.

That does not mean, of course, that there is nothing. Like the twelve baskets of fragments left over after the feeding of the five thousands, many fragments remain from the feast. I will give a brief summary of where these can be found and then say a little more about their contents.

I said that the five institutions I mentioned above didn't keep Torrey's papers as such. But they all have archives and they all keep mementos of Torrey's part in their development. The Biola library houses ( in addition to a historical exhibit in the library that contains photos and other documents from the school's founding and early history) an institutional archives. The actual files of Torrey's deanship have not survived, but there are some photos, and more significantly, the papers of Lyman Stewart, with copies of his letters to Torrey.

The Church of the Open Door, now in Glendora, California, at one time also had a room that contained an exhibit on the church's history. This has now been closed down for space reasons, but the numerous items contained in it are still stored at the church and I have here a copy of the extensive inventory. Most of the items listed for Torrey are photographs, but there are a few other types of documents as well.

Mr. Steve Smoker of the Montrose Bible Conference was kind enough to describe to me the Torrey materials that the conference still has in its files. Torrey of course was the founder of the conference and spoke there often. There are a few correspondence files left from the early days of the Conference but since Torrey generally left the details of administration to others, he is not really reflected in these. There are numerous photos of Torrey at Montrose events and with his family, as well as newspaper coverage of Montrose conferences in which Torrey participated. Montrose also has programs and brochures from some of these early meetings. The only other item that Mr. Smoker was aware of which the Conference still has was one of Torrey's Bibles, annotated with his notes.

Moody Bible Institute has perhaps the richest and most varied Torrey collection. There is a file of dozens of photographs, from 1891 thorough 1928. These include many portrait photos of Torrey and a few informal ones, a few pictures of his family (these are the Torrey children, with Edith on the right, many years after she refused to drink her milk), some scenes of him at Moody Bible Institute, a couple of Torrey leading evangelistic meetings, and other pictures of Torrey with co-workers, such as Charles Alexander, his song leader on his around-the-world tour. More importantly, the MBI archives has about a third of a file cabinet drawer containing folders of Torrey materials. Besides articles, clippings and exhibit captions written about Torrey after his death, often long after, these folders hold much original material - class lecture notes , correspondence, clippings about Torrey evangelistic meetings and a few about events during his leadership of the Institute, manuscripts of sermons and speeches, and letters from a variety of people reacting to the news of Torrey's death in 1928. Also in the file are the notes of men who were planning biographies of Torrey. Besides this treasure trove, the MBI Archives has hundreds of letters of Dwight L. Moody, including over seventy to Torrey. The letters to Torrey start in 1889, but are most are from the last three years of Moody's life, 1897 thorough 1899. The MBI Archives also has several of the large souvenir volumes published during Torrey's world evangelistic tours from 1902-1905 and at least one letterpress book of correspondence from 1898 (according to Lyle Dorsett's biography of Moody) and some scattered other items from the Torrey's era.

Next, the Moody Church. This congregation (often referred to as the Chicago Avenue Church during Torrey's pastorate) had many cubic feet of archives. In 1986, it gave these to the Billy Graham Center Archives, and we arranged and described these and put a guide on the web. The bad news is, the collection has almost nothing about Torrey.

Besides the Moody Church collection, the BGC Archives also has a R. A. Torrey Sr. collection in which we have built over the years with contributions from many, many sources, especially Torrey descendants, Margaret (Parker) Shank, Helen (Torrey) Renich-Meyers, Elizabeth (Wiggs) Hood, and Mr. Arlo Johnson. Most of the photographs we have were made from glass negatives donated to us and are of family gatherings. Also, Mr. Arlo Johnson allowed us to make copy photos of dozens of pictures from a Torrey family album. Here is a picture of R. A. Torrey Sr., R. A. Torrey Jr., and R. A. Torrey III. The paper records include diaries of Torrey and his wife Clara. Also in the collection are a few letters to family and friends; many sermons; scrapbooks and souvenirs from evangelistic campaigns; newspaper and magazine clippings, several Sunday school lessons, one of his personal Bibles, annotated. All together, our Torrey holdings occupy about 2.5 cubic feet of shelving.

In addition to the Torrey collection, information about Torrey can be found in the several other collections at BGC Archives.

Besides there major caches of Torrey documents, there are a few odds and ends at other institutions. As far as I could discover, there are no Torrey documents in repositories outside the United States. The librarian at the Lambeth Palace Library in England writes that they have the official Church of England periodicals, Church Times and The Guardian. Those from 1902-1905 doubtless have articles about the extended evangelistic meetings Torrey and Alexander were holding around the British Isles in this period. Calls to the archives and manuscript departments of the Minneapolis Public Library, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Chicago Historical Society and the Los Angeles Public Library didn't turn up any Torrey documents, although a more thorough search may find something. The Chicago Historical Society, for example, has a number of collections with information on the World Columbian Exposition of 1893. Torrey, under the leadership of D. L. Moody, supervised a major evangelistic effort during this six month event. The Congregational Library and Archives had only printed Torrey materials. It does have (as JoEllen Haugo of the Minneapolis Public Library discovered for me) minute books of at least one of the churches Torrey founded, the Open Door Church of Minneapolis or at least the church that was the heir of several mergers, the 38th Street Open Door Congregational Church. However, the minute books only go back to 1896 and Torrey ended his pastorate a decade earlier. There are no Torrey materials in the early Pentecostal records kept by the Flowers Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri.

The Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a very significant collection, the John Murdoch MacInnis Papers (Record Group 266). MacInnis was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Montrose, Pennsylvania during the time Torrey was starting the Montrose Bible Conference. He worked closely with Torrey to develop the conference and served as its secretary for nine years. He became a teacher at Biola in 1922, toward the end of Torrey's deanship, and served as Torrey's successor as dean from 1924 until his resignation at the very end of 1928. I have not personally looked through the collection, but the guide lists numerous folders of material related either to Torrey or Biola. Possibly the collection also contains information on the Montrose conference. This collection is obviously worth further exploration by any Torrey scholar. The documents about MacInnis' resignation from Biola, forced by members of the board who considered him a Modernist, might also contain reference from both sides to Torrey's legacy.

Torrey was for years on the board of the Northfield schools that Moody started. He was also a frequent speaker at the Northfield Bible conference. The records of the schools, kept at the Northfield Mt. Hermon School Archives, in Northfield Massachusetts contains very little unpublished information on Torrey. There are some letters of reference that he wrote for various students to the headmasters of the schools. There are also photographs of him on campus. There are printed sources for his speaking engagements at the Northfield Bible Conference, including publications of his talks or summaries of them in the periodicals Record of Christian Work and Christian Endeavour. Peter Weis, the archivist at Northfield Mount Hermon Schools, told me that the school newspaper, The Hermonite also contains coverage of Torrey's appearances on campus.

A few miles from Biola, there are a few choice items at Fuller Theological Seminary. The future radio evangelist Charles Fuller, after his conversion while listening to the preaching of Paul Rader at the Church of the Open Door, attended Biola in the early 1920s. He took Torrey's class on sermon preparation and presentation. The seminary Guest House on Walnut Street in Pasadena has a very well done, multi-room exhibit on the life and ministry of Charles and Grace Fuller. In one of the cases are Torrey's original notes from 1921 on some of Fuller's classroom presentations. Apparently Torrey gave these to Fuller later and Fuller preserved them in his papers. The handwriting is hard to read and the notes are cryptic, since they apparently were only intended by Torrey as reminders to himself to use during his oral critique. But he seemed to feel that Fuller made a good entrance, pointed at real life applications of the text and drew important morals. I might add that the Seminary archives has Fuller's papers. It is possible that there might be more in his files relating to Torrey from Fuller's Biola days. It is worth investigating, anyway.

The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, Tennessee, has the papers of A. C. Dixon, the man who followed Torrey as pastor of Moody Church and preceded him as editor of The Fundamentals, as being a lecturer at Biola and the inaugural speaker at the very first Montrose Bible Conference. Torrey knew him well and had contact with him over many years, although most of the records of that contact are, apparently, lost. Among Dixon's correspondence are a couple of Torrey letters from 1920 and 1921 (including Dixon's resignation from Biola) and a file of reactions to and critiques of The Fundamentals. And of course, Dixon's papers as a whole are helpful to anyone trying to understand evangelism and American Protestantism during Torrey's lifetime.

North Park University in Chicago, on the other hand, has a brief but interesting exchange of correspondence with a man Torrey probably never met. Archivist Ellen Engreth kindly to sent me from the Covenant Archives and Historical Library copies of a 1922 exchange of letters with Professor Axel Mellander of North Park Seminary about the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. It is an excellent example of the hundreds of letters Torrey must have written to those who wrote in to disagree with something he said or wrote.

The Billy and Helen Sunday Collection in the library of Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana includes a few letters from Torrey to Sunday. (The microfilm edition of this collection is also available at several college and university libraries around the country.) Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has in its archives the papers of evangelical scholar Wilbur M. Smith and these include a file with a notebook by Oscar Sanden contain part of a biography of Torrey which he was writing but apparently never published. The Kautz Family YMCA Archives, a part of the Social Welfare Archives at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, includes some nineteenth century Torrey letters in its Dwight L. Moody Files.

Finally, Yale University Archives has material which is not exactly archival, but is priceless nonetheless. They have a number of books or booklets published by Torrey's class, the class of '75, in which members of the class tell what they have been doing. There are two with comments from Torrey and one with his class obituary.

So, there you have a cursory description of the Torrey materials scattered through a number of institutions. But what do these papers actually say? What do they tell us about Torrey? Let me describe them a bit under three headings: Torrey as an evangelist, Torrey as an administrator, and Torrey as a man.

Torrey first became known to the general public as an evangelist. His world tour of 1902 to 1905 included visits to China, Japan, Australia, India and other countries, but most of his time was spent in England and Scotland, with one visit to Ireland. Moody's evangelistic meetings in England in the 1870s were an obvious model for Torrey's tour at the beginning of the 20th century. This tour, as well as his appointment as first superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute, helped mark him in the minds of many as Moody's successor. When he returned to the United States, he continued to hold evangelistic meetings, whatever his other responsibilities. In 1908 he founded Montrose Bible Conference. He spoke there annually but continued to hold other meetings. His last evangelistic meeting was in Florida in 1927. The next year, his last, he continued making plans for new meetings, but had to cancel them because of poor health. Evangelism was the heart of his ministry.

The world tour not only looked back to Moody's ministry but was also a step to the toward greater fellowship and communication between conservative Protestant traditions in other countries. It can as one of the a precursor of the trends that later developed into the Lausanne movement. Probably the best source for recreating Torrey as an evangelist are the printed souvenirs that were published for his meetings in Australia, New Zealand and England. Moody Bible Institute has several of these, the BGC Archives has one and there is another at the Congregational Library and Archives. These are the size of magazines with dozens of pages. They usually include several sermons, information on the planning and results of the meetings, information on various special events, and many, many photos. The best photos of Torrey and Alexander in action are in these souvenirs. The BGC also has smaller but similar souvenir booklets printed form Torrey's meetings in Cleveland in 1907 and Scanton, Pennsylvania in 1909. Moody has newspaper and magazine clippings and printed letters from Torrey about the tour and Clara Torrey's diaries in the BGC Archives cover these events.

During Torrey's lifetime, large citywide evangelistic meetings were treated as major news events in American papers. Both MBI and the BGC have individual newspaper clippings or copies of clippings from his various campaigns and individual meetings. Here is a clipping from MBI. As you can see, newspapers have not changed much in a hundred years. You notice, they are careful to make clear in the headline that Torrey didn't see the show. Montrose has clippings about his sermons there. The BGC also has two scrapbooks of clippings covering his daily messages and other activities from his 1906 Philadelphia meetings. These help to give a feel for the tempo and organization of a Torrey evangelistic campaign. There is an interesting Torrey letter in the Billy Sunday collection at Winona Lake College and seminary. It is addressed to Sunday and discusses the follow-up of people who come forward at evangelistic meetings. This in done in the context of Torrey's criticism of one counselor at Sunday's 1917 Los Angeles campaign.

It is difficult today even to make a complete list of Torrey's meetings because for many there are no records. One of his first major evangelistic efforts, under Moody's leadership, was the evangelistic outreach to the millions who came to Chicago in 1893 for the World Columbian Exposition. This effort, which included dozens of speakers, hundreds of meetings, and all sorts of special activities, attracted up to 132,000 people a day. It is described briefly in Torrey's books, such as Why God Used Dwight L. Moody. Of the voluminous correspondence, handbills, planning records, and sermon notes that must have been created, however, virtually nothing remains except for a few clippings at MBI as well as this 1917 letter in which Torrey discusses the event.

The Exposition was toward the start of Torrey's evangelistic ministry. The BGC has a record from the very end, a newspaper clipping describing his last meeting, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida in 1927.

Both MBI and the BGC have manuscripts of his sermons and sermon notes. Here, for example, is a small notebook of sermon outlines from the BGC's Torrey collection. Torrey's diaries at the BGC sometimes give very brief descriptions of other people's and his own reactions to his sermons. The BGC also has dozen of sets of typed notes, with written annotations, for Sunday school lessons from 1916. Torrey taught large Sunday school classes in Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as publishing weekly lessons for other Sunday school teachers.

I now move to Torrey as a administrator. Both Moody Church and Church of the Open Door under his direction were centers for Christian outreach to their communities. MBI and Biola provided the staff and leaders of many, many ministries in the United States and overseas and helped shape the character of American Fundamentalist and Evangelical movements. The Montrose conference was an important forum for those movements.

Do we have documents that tell us what part he played in the life of these institutions? Well, we have enough to give us some hints, though not enough to tell anything like the full story. At both MBI and Biola, Torrey was a formidable teacher of courses on soul-winning and preaching. The MBI archives has copies of some of Torrey's lectures, based on a stenographer's records, on topics such as Soul Winning or the Holy Spirit. There are several other interesting items in MBI's Torrey file. Here, for example, is some sort of questionnaire, perhaps for an institutional history, that Torrey filled out describing how he was appointed head of the Institute by Moody. There are also several letters from the period of his superintendency, especially the latter years, when he was away traveling for years on end. Of course, then he had to be an absentee leader, but these letters t0 A. P. Fitt and other members of the MBI staff do give some sense of his style and concerns. Here is a 1903 letter to William Evans, hiring him as a professor. And here is a 1906 memo, prepared by Fitt about ways that Torrey's evangelistic campaigns could benefit the Institute. Obviously, they were struggling with the problems caused by his long absence. The Kautz Family YMCA Archives has a series of correspondence in its Dwight L. Moody files about the cancellation in 1898 of a weekly Sunday school class taught by at the Chicago YMCA, an event that was a harbinger of the growing split between liberal and conservative Protestants in the United States.

Three other sets of correspondence will help in understanding Torrey's contribution to as an administrator. As mentioned, there are at MBI dozens of letters from Dwight L. Moody to Torrey, mostly from 1897 to 1899. There are no copies of Torrey's responses, if any. Usually these letters or notes are brief, reporting on Moody's activities, asking questions or giving instructions. Torrey assisted Moody in a variety of projects. These letters don't all deal with the Institute. But there are enough to give an idea of the kinds of issues Torrey faced and his relationship with the Institute's most influential sponsor.

The next set is with the man who would be Torrey's successor at Moody, James Gray. The correspondence starts in 1892 and continues to 1928, the year of Torrey's death. It begins cordially but was often testy as the years went on, particularly as Gray became de facto leader of the Institute in the last years of Torrey's formal superintendency. However, they continued to correspond after Torrey left Moody and became the first dean of Biola. Often their correspondence dealt with educational and administrative issues. The letters are particularly valuable because in them we have Torrey expressing himself as an administrator on a range of issues and personnel questions. Here, for example, is a letter about Torrey's reasons for opposing the development of an association of Bible schools and his thoughts on the difficulties of setting a common education standard. Let me stress again, though, that although the Gray-Torrey correspondence covers more than three decades, there is only a relative handful of them.

That certainly can't be said with regard to the letters of Lyman Stewart to Torrey, now in the archives of Biola as part of the Stewart papers. Stewart, of course, was the oil company executive who provided much of the support for starting Biola and who was the driving force behind the publication of The Fundamentals. He was also a supporter of Torrey's evangelistic ministry. There are 106 of the letters for the fourteen-year period from 1909 to 1923, the year of Stewart's death. They are typed copies in letterpress type volumes. Letters to Torrey are interspersed with Stewart's other correspondence. I only examined one of the letters, dealing with a contribution Stewart was making to Torrey. However, it certainly seems very possible that other letters would deal with Torrey's recruitment to Biola and his expectations, the educational policies of the school and its doctoral stand, and the publication of The Fundamentals. The Stewart-Torrey record is a one-sided conversation, since there is only Stewart's side. Other records that might have given Torrey's view of from the very early days of Biola, that is to say the Torrey years, have not survived to be preserved in the Biola archives, except for photographs and the Institute's printed publications.

It also seems very likely that MacInnis' papers at the Presbyterian Historical Society will be worth exploring. There are not only apparently several letters between MacInnis and Torrey, but the other Biola documents in the files will probably be helpful in studying the philosophy and life of the school at the end of Torrey's deanship and during the transition to new leadership.

One other collection of documents that includes glimpses of Torrey as a leader are the records of Africa Inland Mission in the BGC Archives. Torrey was president of the United State home council of the mission from 1911 until his death and the collection contains several rather contentious letters exchanged with the AIM general director in 1916 that show him functioning as a board member and organization leader.

For Montrose, Moody Church, and the Church of the Open Door, virtually nothing remains from the Torrey years. Montrose, as mentioned, has phonographs, programs and newsletters. The BGC Archives also has one interesting letter in the William Blackstone collection, a letter in which Torrey contrasts Montrose with the Northfield Bible Conference started by Dwight L. Moody. Also, as mentioned above, the Macinnis collection at the Presbyterian Historical Society might have information on Montrose. The Moody Church collection does have a very complete set of handwritten minutes of the church's executive committee. These span the years, with some gaps, from 1872 to 1920, over the entire period of Torrey's pastorate, which was from 1894-1906. Here is the minute recommending that the church call Torrey as pastor. The minutes give a good idea of the week-by-week range of activities at the church, but they are for the most part very terse and Torrey makes few appearances. Apart from the minutes, there is nothing about Torrey in the collection, although the BGC LIBRARY (now Evangelism & Missions Collection of the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections) has the church's newsletter, Our Field and Work and this does contain a few Torrey articles. It only covers the period 1897-1901. Church of the Open Door does have several photographs and a few other mementos. I have an inventory here to their archives. Anyone who is interested can look at it after this session. The manuscript materials that survive don't allow us to say much about Torrey as a pastor and a congregation leader.

Finally, there are the materials that allow us to study Torrey the man. Of course, the correspondence, sermons and writings already described convey something of his personality. James Paul Cogdill, has some interesting comments in his 1990 dissertation, "A Major Stream of American Mass Evangelism: The Ministries of R. A. Torrey, J. Wilbur Chapman and W. E. Biederwolf" He says,

Torrey at one point suggested that he found criticism helpful. 'I have always found more help from criticism than I ever have from praise.... I am of such a temperament that criticism, even though it is unfriendly criticism...does me far more good than praise ever does.' Torrey's own letters, however, don't support his statement. Torrey's correspondence with Fitt and Gray at Moody Bible Institute seem to indicate a personality that was unwilling to explore compromise even on relatively petty issues.

Be that as it may, there are other documents that have to be looked at to evaluate the man. Above all, there are his diaries, a personal day-to-day account of his life which, as the excerpt I quoted at the beginning indicates, give interesting insights into his mind. The BGC Archives has four volumes. The first, covering the years 1882-1883, is the earliest surviving Torrey document that I know of. It begins during his pastorate in Ohio and continues with the beginning of his study in Germany. Dr. Fred Sanders has told me that, in addition to whatever other value is has, this volume is interesting because it is one of the few places that Torrey mentions and comments on the social science and theological books he is reading, thereby allowing the student to know what intellectual trends of his time he was familiar with first hand.

The diary starts, for example, with mention in several entries of his reading Darwin's Descent of Man, which had been published eleven years before. The next volume we have covers 1906-1907, when Torrey was in the midst of his city wide campaigns around the United States and near the end of his MBI superintendency. The last two diaries are from 1926 and 1928. They describe, his growing frailness amidst continuing evangelistic work and writing.

There are evidences in the Torrey's printed works of other diaries. For example, in How God Answered Prayer, he quotes from an 1889 diary which apparently has not survived. I hope I am wrong and if anyone at the conference knows about the location of other diaries, I would certainly like to know about them.

Besides these four R. A. Torrey diaries, we have 8 diaries of Clara (Smith) Torrey, his wife. (This 1891 photo is from the MBI archives.) These cover the years 1902 to 1908, 1910, 1919, 1921, and 1922 to 1928, the year of R. A.'s death. There is also one more diary for 1936-1938. So they cover the period of Torrey's world tours, his largest citywide meetings, a good portion of his leadership of MBI and Biola, the founding of Montrose and his last years. They are touching human documents and often contain information that can not be found anywhere else, such as details about Torrey's meetings in India and China.

The Archives is honored to have these diaries and thanks to a gift from a generous donor we can now take steps to make them more widely available. Torrey Johnson was the first president of Youth for Christ and an influential evangelist in his own right. He seemed to be destined to be a preacher, since his parents named him after the evangelist of their generation they most admired, R. A. Torrey Sr. After Rev. Johnson's death last year, his family felt that one way to honor his memory was to give a gift to the BGC Archives for the filming of various collections of evangelism history. Thanks to this gift from the Johnson family and the Torrey Johnson Evangelistic Crusade, we were able to make microfilm copies of the diaries. And with the Johnson gift, plus funds form Carlton and Miriam Ericksen, we were able to make CDs of the diaries as well. The Johnson and Ericksen gifts have and allowed us to give copies of both the microfilm and the CDs to the archives of Biola and Moody Bible Institute. The Johnson family, the Ericksen family, and the BGC Archives hope these copies will be a valuable resources for scholars here and a way of reaffirming R. A. Torrey's place in Biola history.

There is also a small amount of personal correspondence in the BGC Archives that shows Torrey as a father and husband. Here is one of the letters to his daughter Margaret when he was serving as a chaplain during the Spanish American War. Other letters are to daughter Edith, such as this one comforting her over her terrors about World War I. And there are several letters Torrey wrote to his wife from China in 1921, always starting "Darling Clara:" and ending "With boundless love, Archie"

Torrey speaks to us through another source. Earlier, I mentioned the class notes booklets from Yale. Beside containing extremely valuable biographical information, these also have many fascinating opinions from Torrey himself. Let me quote a few. The 1895 volume, called The Twenty Year Record, describes Torrey (and presumably indirectly quotes him) as,

In politics a through-going mugwump; has had little to do with politics, especially of late years. Formerly manipulated caucuses, attended conventions, worked at the polls and wasted time generally. Ran for office once and was ingloriously defeated.

A little further the author mixes in some direct quotations with some sad news for the Torrey archivist.

"Has never kept newspaper clippings. 'Hideous caricatures of me have appeared in many "papers" I have not sued any of them yet'. In favor of intercollegiate sports, as properly played. Has himself played the game within a few years, but as exemplified in the last Yale-Harvard game is bitterly opposed to it."

A little later, the author writes,

"In answer to question as to his views on populism, says, "I am not crazy.""

Torrey added in answer to a question about hobbies,

"I have but one hobby: to get men to know and believe and love the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom I owe all the wondrous joy I know and anything there is good in me; and to believe the Bible-the book I once doubted utterly, but now know to be the Word of God, and to give up trying to be or do anything in their own strength, and to let the Holy Spirit come in with all his fulness to do it all."

The 1900 Yale Rough Notes quotes from a Chicago newspaper article about Torrey,:

"If Dwight L. Moody had been a Catholic he would have died a cardinal prince. If R. A. Torrey had been a catholic, he would be and remain a very useful, a very consistent, a greatly beloved priest in some great metropolitan parish. That, I think, illustrates the difference between the founder of the church and the man to whom he passed on his parochial mantle when the chance for wider activities drew him form Chicago."

Not, perhaps, an inspired prophecy, considering that Torrey left on his four-year world tour a little over a year later.

A little further on, there is a letter from Torrey himself, in which he discusses various classmates, some of whom had died in the Spanish American War. He mentions Robert D. Townsend, then editor of the Christian publication, The Outlook.

"Townsend I have met a number of times and he certainly is a success as an editor. He shows his old friendship by getting reviews of my books in "The Outlook," though my theology is not the kind they enjoy; but college friendships count for something, there as well as elsewhere."

I will stop there and only say these brief entries in the Yale class books will be invaluable nuggets for the biographer.

Another type of record that can give some sense of the man, if used with care, are reminiscences of those who knew him. Several of these are contained in the 1936 issue of The King's Business, which have been distributed at this conference. The BGC Archives has taped oral history interviews with a few people who could describe Torrey first hand. Here for example, is his granddaughter Helen Renich-Meyers, in an interview taped in 1980, talking about her earliest memory of her grandfather:

[excerpt from T1, Collection 124]

I have one particularly distinct memory of my grandfather. We had...were staying with Grandfather in Asheville, North Carolina, which is where his home was at the time, and where he died later. But in Asheville I was attending a summer school to just check up to see if...help me a little bit with my reading, I think was the point of it. And in a particular reading class we had the story of David and Goliath, and to my...(rather poor, as a nine year old child)...the teacher had said that, that...it was just a fairy tale, which was very upsetting to me, and I couldn't wait to get home on the bus, and I ran into the house, and found my father in the hallway. And I said, "Daddy, Daddy, the teacher said that the story of David and Goliath is just a fairy story that's not true at all." Well, before I knew what had happened my grandfather loomed out of nowhere, and before my father could collect his thoughts or say anything, he bellowed in the voice that filled Albert Hall, and he said, "The idea of anybody telling my granddaughter that the Bible is not true!" Well, after that I didn't doubt the Word of God as being the truth. Grandfather just adored his grandchildren and I think the reason so many of his grandchildren really followed earnestly in the footsteps of the Lord is not only godly parents but the fact that he prayed for all of us.

That certainly helps paint a picture of Torrey.

Here is another example, a rather poignant one. Torrey had been one of the leading exemplars of mass evangelism for his generation. His ministry ended just as developments in transportation and communication were opening possibilities scarcely imagined in his lifetime. This is from a 1985 interview with Vernon Patterson, a native of North Carolina who as a young man knew Torrey:

[excerpt from T6, Collection 5] So he came out and had dinner with us. Our children were babies then and we asked him to take them up and pray for them which he did. And in that...at that [pauses] time after dinner he told me about his last meeting in Liverpool. He said that he had spoken to thirty thousand people at that time. This was in 1927 he told me that. He thought...he said that the last meeting he had spoken to thirty thousand people and he thought that was almost a miracle. And he explained it this way. They had a tabernacle that would seat twelve thousand five hundred people, and twenty-five...twenty-five hundred more could be crowded in, so the tabernacle filled the first time making fifteen thousand people. And after the service they...they went out and fifteen thousand people came in again and filled it. So he spoke to thirty thousand people. Well, you can imagine what a strain that might have been on his voice with no amplifiers of any kind. So he was greatly impressed with that. But he said when he got back to this country he was asked to speak on radio. Radio was just beginning to get widespread. And he was asked to come up to Minneapolis, I believe, and speak over the radio. And after he spoke on the radio [laughs] he said the...the radio ope...the radio manager told him that he had reached five hundred thousand people and he was just astonished about that, five hundred thousand people. He was overjoyed at that. This was about a year before he died. That's the way it was then.

We have other interviews which includes memories about Torrey from his grandson Reuben Archer Torrey III and evangelist Oswald J. Smith, who was saved under Torrey's ministry. We also have the brief written reminiscences of someone who knew Torrey through his appearances at Montrose. The Moody Bible Institute has other newspaper clippings and articles in its Torrey files with reminiscences about Torrey by people who knew him, as well as material gathered by people writing articles or books about the evangelist. Also in the Torrey file at the MBI archives are the letters written to MBI or the Torrey family immediately after Torrey's death from people who knew and admired him, giving their evaluation of the man and his ministry. Also interesting in this regard is the transcript of Torrey's funeral in the BGC Archives. it includes messages from Will Houghton, Peter Philpot, P. B. Fitwater, and Volney. P. Kinne.

As I hope I have shown, there are a rich variety of Torrey fragments to choose from. Doubtless we will learn about more during this conference. There are many gaps that we regret. Besides those I have mentioned, there are relatively few documents that show his process of producing a manuscript or how he developed his theological thought or his participation in The Fundamentals project. But we can be thankful for what we do have, much of which has been relatively unused by scholars. And perhaps there is more material yet to be discovered. This includes not only items such as Torrey diaries that may be in private hands, but Torrey correspondence and other documents in archives and manuscript depositories which are unused because they are not identified and described in any guide. I hope the next time a paper on Torrey's paper is presented, there will be much more to describe.

A person leaves a legacy in several ways. His or her actions and life have an influence that is often indefinable and almost always undocumented. The fragments left behind on paper, film, tape and digital bit can never truly tell the entire story of one life, but only allow better informed speculation about it. So it is with Torrey. We have perspectives and some facts that those who lived with him, worked, and fought with him didn't have. They, on the other hand, could see him and know him in ways we could not. We began with Torrey speaking in his own voice from his diary. Let us end the same way. This is a n audio tape of uncertain origin, donated to the Billy Graham Center Archives by his granddaughter Margaret Parker Shank. She spent time with her grandfather as a young girl and has identified the voice on the tape as his. He is preaching on "One reason why I believe the Bible is the Word of God." The Archives has created a site on which you can listen to the entire sermon, which, in honor of this conference, is being made available on the World Wide Web today. Here is R. A. Torrey doing what he loved best, preaching about the Word of God: [except from CN 107, tape T1]

I believe the Bible to be the Word of God first of all because of the testimony of Jesus Christ to that fact. We live in a day that many men say that they accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, but that they do not accept the teaching of the whole Bible. They say that they believe what Jesus Christ says, but as to what Moses said or is said to have said and what Isaiah said or is said to of said and what Jeremiah said and Paul said and John said and the rest of the Bible writers, they...they do not know about that.

Now this position may at the first glance seem rational but in point of fact it is utterly irrational. If we accept the teaching of Jesus Christ we must accept the whole Bible, for Jesus Christ has set his stamp of his authority upon the entire book. And if we accept his authority we must accept all that upon which he set the stamp of his authority.

As to Christ's endorsement of the Old Testament, turn first of all to Mark 7:13. Jesus has just quoted from the law of Moses. Not merely from the Ten Commandments, but from other portions of the law of Moses as well. He has set over against the teaching of the law of Moses the traditions of the Pharisees and Scribes. And in this verse he says "Ye do make the Word of God of none effect through your tradition." Now here he distinctly calls the law of Moses, "the Word of God." It is often times said that the Bible nowhere claims to be the Word of God. Why, here Jesus Christ himself distinctly asserts that the law of Moses is the Word of God. If then we accept the authority of Jesus Christ, we must accept the law of Moses as the Word of God. Of course this only covers the first five books of the Old Testament. But if we can accept this as the Word of God, we will have little difficulty with the rest of the Old Testament, for it is here that the hottest battle is being fought today.


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Wheaton College 2006