by Rex Rouis
“As an evangelist, he was in the same league as D. L. Moody and Billy Graham. As an apologist, his work compares to the best of Josh McDowell or C. S. Lewis. As a preacher, he held massive crowds captive with his sensible appeals to Scripture. As an author, his writings are regarded as classics in diverse fields including theology, apologetics, Bible exposition, and practical Christian living. His name: R. A. Torrey (1856-1928), the most undeservedly neglected Christian author of the past 150 years.
Torrey’s writings are succinct yet thorough in their treatment of real-life questions and issues. His spiritual and intellectual journey led him slowly from agnosticism to liberal Unitarianism to a strong belief in what he considered the “fundamentals” of the Christian faith (hence the term “fundamentalism,” lacking the negative connotations it’s unfortunately acquired in recent years.) Grappling with these questions in his own life made him able to bring a seasoned intellectual perspective to his faith that seekers and questioners will find helpful. His many years of Christian work and service (from pastor to college educator to international evangelist) provide a gravity of experience that makes his writings valuable to seasoned ministry workers as well.
Torrey believed in the power of the Word of God to change lives; his writings are saturated with Scripture explained clearly and sensibly. Perhaps as a result, his theological thought defies easy pigeonholing into conventional labels. Though he was strongly conservative in many respects, he also had a unique and valuable perspective on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, which influenced many thinkers including his contemporary D. L. Moody. He is regarded in some circles as a forerunner of the modern Charismatic movement, but Christians from any tradition will certainly be able to appreciate his writings.
Of all the classic Christian authors I’ve read, and there are many, Torrey strikes me as by far the most relevant to today’s needs and concerns. He knew the value of an intellectually consistent faith founded on the Word of God, and was able to provide reasoned answers to many of the most difficult questions about Christianity. He anticipated many current trends and ideas in apologetics; indeed, one of his books contains a version of the “Trilemma” argument for the deity of Christ, predating C. S. Lewis’ more famous statement by some 60 years. And of course his writings on the gospel, prayer, and the nature of the Christian experience will be valuable to all who desire to see their faith grounded in the Word of God.
Why are Torrey’s writings not as widely known today as they surely deserve to be? I have no idea. But I do think it’s time to start a minor Renaissance. Perhaps this archive will be a small help; I’ve compiled several of Torrey’s best sermons, articles, and a few complete books into easily viewable online files. Find one that looks interesting and give it a try.” By Eric M. Pazdziora, editor, R. A. Torrey Archive See Also…The Place of Prayer In Evangelism – R.A. Torrey