Wednesday, January 6, 2016

R. A. Torrey, the Busy B

Reuben Archer Torrey did not have the folksy warmth of his mentor D. L. Moody, nor the intellectual depth of Edwards, nor the eloquence of Whitefield, nor the theological precision of Spurgeon.  Compared to these giants, he was a grade "B" preacher.  But he was a busy B, starting both the Chigago (now Moody) Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University), conducting worldwide evangelistic tours like an early Billy Graham, and spearheading the conservative response to theological liberalism through the publication of "The Fundamentals".  The man was driven.

Torrey does not get as much press as the giants in whose shadow he followed.  And rightly so.  Nevertheless, when I learned that Fred Sanders had compiled a biographical portrait of Torrey using Torrey's own sermons and that Moody Press would give me a copy for free in exchange for an unbiased review, I quickly clicked okay.

How God Used R. A. Torrey contains thirteen complete sermons by Torrey, interspersed with short biographical bridges.  These sermons are sometimes bland, a tad repetitive, and occasionally wrong.  Nevertheless, they reveal the sincere heart of a man burning with burden to point his listeners to Jesus.  His "Found Wanting" contains an exposition of the 10 Commandments that sounds like something straight from Ray Comfort.

But Torrey was more storyteller than expositor, and the Lord blessed him with some amazing life experiences to tell about. His sermon "Why God Used D. L. Moody", while containing only one verse of Scripture, is jammed with powerful stories of his mentor's love for Jesus.

Should you buy this book?  If you don't read much, my recommendation is that you stick with reading more substantive dead authors such as Spurgeon.  But if you are a bookworm and enjoy biographies of Christian leaders, you will enjoy this book.  Most of the sermons contained in the book are available online, so you can read some to get a taste for free.  I also have a copy I'll give to anyone who will pay the postage for me to mail it to you!

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