Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928) is a revered figure among conservative evangelicals with good memories. He was Dwight L. Moody’s right hand man, a world-travelling evangelist, the first dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, and the inspiration behind the honors program where we work, which is of course named for him. You can find his work here at the Scriptorium in various places, because, as the plaque on the wall in our hallways reminds us daily, “He being dead yet speaketh.” Our affection and respect for Reuben Archer Torrey are unfeigned.
What just occurred to me, however, is that his co-laborers usually called him either “R. A.” or, more often, “Dr. Torrey.” One contemporary said that Dr. Torrey often wore a tall, formal hat, but he always spoke in a tone of voice that suggested he was wearing one. His family, on the other hand, invariably called him Archie, from his middle name Archer. Letters to and from his wife Clara always use this name: Archie.
So that got me thinking. The only Archie I know, maybe the only really famous Archie out there, is that crazy teenage resident of Riverdale… (seen here in a 70s drawing by Christian cartoonist Al Hartley).
Definitely a far cry from the distinguished and dapper gentleman shown in the many portraits of R. A. Torrey. So the idea of calling Our Founding Dean and Moody’s Right Hand Man by the name Archie is just mind-blowing. It brings together two things which should never come into contact, two things which have nothing in common. America’s favorite teenager and the founding father of fundamentalism.
Once the idea of combining them occurs to you, however, there’s no stopping your imagination. So with apologies in advance, I give you: Reuben ARCHIE Torrey: