REUBEN A. TORREY
Reuben A. Torrey was an influential Bible teacher and evangelist who was influenced by
D.L.Moody and, through him by . With Torrey and his little book, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit ,we come to a much more clearly defined statement of the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit in terms of power. Torrey denied that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was connected to sanctification. Torrey’s views seem to have influenced some in the early Pentecostal Movement but his teaching is acknowledged more readily in Charismatic circles. J. Rodman Williams, in his, RenewalTheology, Volume 2, says,
I add here a word about Reuben A Torrey, Moody’s successor and the first head of Moody Bible Institute (opening in 1899). Even more strongly than Moody he stressed the need to be filled, or baptized with the Holy Spirit…….Neither Moody or Torrey stood in the Holiness tradition with its stress on “entire sanctification.” They both viewed baptism with the Holy Spirit as following upon regeneration and as empowerment for ministry. Torrey especially has had significant influence on the charismatic renewal.
Williams in the above passage illustrates the importance of Torrey for our study. It is with Torrey that we find the clearest statements about the purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit in terms of power. The ambiguities that we discovered in Finney are missing here. Torrey obviously considered his little book to be vital to his teaching on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He included the text of this book in his larger work,
The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Torrey was convinced that nobody was fitted for Christian service until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit; he says,
If a man has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit he is a saved man, but he is not fitted for service until in addition to this he has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Torrey then goes on to affirm that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected to testimony and service. He then denies any connection with entire sanctification, indeed, he denies that the idea of entire sanctification is biblical. To see how Torrey explicates his position we need to look at a rather long quotation. Torrey says,
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the purpose of empowering for service. It is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit to cleanse from sin. Further than this there is a work of the Holy Spirit where the believer is strengthened with might in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in his heart by faith, that he might be filled unto all the fullness of God (Eph.3:16-19 ASV).
There is a work of the Holy Spirit of such a character that the believer is “made… free from the law of sin and death” (Rom.8:2), and through the Spirit does “mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body” (Rom.8:13). It is our privilege to so walk daily and hourly in the power of the Spirit, that the carnal nature is kept in the place of death. But this is not the baptism with the Spirit, neither is it the eradication of a sinful nature. It is not something done once and for all, it is something that must be momentarily be maintained. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal5:16). While insisting that the baptism is primarily for the purpose of empowering for service, it should be added that the baptism is accompanied by a great moral uplift. (See Acts 2:44-46; 4:31-35) This is necessarily so, from the steps one must take to obtain the blessing.
Torrey’s views as expressed here are closer to Keswick teaching with its idea of suppression of the old man. He also expresses clearly the line that was to become familiar, that the baptism with the Spirit is separate from sanctification. However, one must ask whether even Torrey maintains the distinction convincingly, after all he does say that the blessing is accompanied by a great moral uplift. This point will be returned to later as it needs further development in the light of other passages we have not yet looked at.
Torrey’s exposition of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as enduement with power for service became the model which later developed into the full blown Pentecostal doctrine. During the Nineteenth Century there had been this gradual shift from the emphasis on purity to that of power. There had been various influences in this development as has been seen in previous chapters. At this point we should also note the influence of the British Methodist, William Arthur. His book, The Tongue of Fire
, was published in 1856 and was widely read both in Britain and America. Arthur, in his use of Pentecostal language, shifted the emphasis from purity to power. It is not known whether Torrey read Arthur’s book but the point is that this book had a pervasive influence. We do know, however, that Moody and Finney had both influenced Torrey; both of them had, in setting forth their views of the baptism of the Spirit, emphasised power. Torrey developed his teaching and clarified what he believed the baptism with the Spirit is. Torrey exercised a wide preaching and teaching ministry in which he frequently spoke of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. During these meetings it was Torrey’s desire to lead people into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It may be that the spoken word carried more influence than the printed page, certainly some of the testimonies that Torrey cites would lead one to conclude this to be the case.
Although Torrey emphasised that the baptism with the Spirit was for power for service, he also listed a number of conditions for receiving the baptism with the Spirit. These conditions raise some questions as to the consistency of his thinking as they are directly linked to purity. Daniel Steele had maintained that purity must precede power. Reuben Torrey agrees with this up to a point but denies that purification is part of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Torrey would argue that purity is connected to sanctification and one needs to have renounced sin to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He strongly believed that Holiness teaching is mistaken when it identifies the baptism with the Holy Spirit with entire sanctification. Torrey clearly states the need to renounce sin when he says,
The second step is also found in the word repent. While the change of mind about Jesus is the first and prominent thought, there must also be a change of mind about sin – a change of mind from a sin-loving or sin-indulging attitude to a sin-hating and sin-renouncing attitude. This is the second step: renounce sin, all sin, every sin
It is important to note this connection between the renunciation of sin and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Sadly this emphasis was to be lost in later generations.
Torrey’s fourth step is also connected to sanctification, it is, obedience. When Torrey explains this fourth step, he comes very close to the Holiness emphasis, especially in his use of altar terminology. Torrey says,
What does obedience mean? It does not mean merely doing some of the things or many of the things or most of the things that God bids us do. It means total surrender to the will of God. Obedience is an attitude of the will lying back of specific acts of obedience. It means that I come to God and say “Heavenly Father, here I am and all I have. Thou hast bought me with a price and I acknowledge Thine absolute ownership. Take me and all I have, and do with me whatever Thou wilt, I surrender myself and all that I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever to thy control and use.”
It was when the burnt offering-whole no part held back- was laid on the altar that “there came forth fire from before the Lord” and accepted the gift (Lev.9:24), and it is when we bring ourselves, a whole burnt offering to the Lord and lay ourselves thus upon the altar that fire comes and God accepts the gift.
The altar terminology that Torrey uses is very similar to that of Phoebe Palmer’s and shows the influence of Holiness teaching even when it is being denied. Torrey would claim that this is just a step that is not to be identified with the baptism itself. It could be claimed that the real differences between the two parties are minor because both want to see Christians leading pure lives and being empowered by the Spirit. However, this would lead to a minimising of the differences that are real, especially as regards entire sanctification.
Torrrey’s views also lead to a syllogism of power, if you have asked for the baptism of the Spirit, you have received it. Torrey puts it this way,
If Christ has been accepted as Saviour and Lord and openly confessed as such in God’s way; if sin has been searched out and put away; if there has been total surrender of the will and self to God; if there is a true desire, for God’s glory, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit– if these conditions have been met, any reader may ask God to baptize him with the Holy Spirit. He then can say, when the prayer has gone up, “That prayer was heard; I have what I have asked: I have the baptism with the Holy Spirit”; and he has a right to get up and go out to his work assured that in that work he will have the Holy Spirit’s power.
But someone will ask “Must I not know that I have the baptism with the Holy Spirit before I begin to work?” Certainly, but how shall we know? I know of no better way of knowing than by God’s Word. I would believe God’s Word before my feelings any
This seems to negate any concept of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and at this point Torrey’s view is different from that of the Pentecostal model. Pentecostalism would promote the idea of initial evidence as a demonstration that the believer had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Torrey did not completely deny the inner witness of the Spirit but rather he believed that it would come as the believer stepped out in faith.
Reuben Torrey’s formulation of the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as empowerment for service was to have a great influence on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements of the Twentieth Century.
The birth of Pentecostalism shows the impact of diverse views of the baptism of the Spirit. Developments within the Holiness Movement and the evangelical circles influenced by men like Moody and Torrey would all have their influence. Many early Pentecostal leaders had come from a Holiness Movement background and retained their belief in entire sanctification. This position is still maintained by Holiness Pentecostals today. The new scheme saw a threefold blessing;
conversion, entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In this scheme of the threefold blessing the baptism with the Holy Spirit was seen in terms of power for service. This was how William Seymour and the other leaders of the Azusa Street Revival understood the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The first issue of, “The Apostolic Faith”contains many references to the need for sanctification prior to the baptism of the Spirit. The following short article demonstrates this clearly.
TWO WORKS OF GRACE AND THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST
We preach old-time sanctification, and old-time baptism with the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of power upon the sanctified life, and God throws in the gift of tongues..
1st. Justification deals with our actual sins. When we go to Him and repent, God washes all the guilt and pollution of our hearts, and we stand justified like a new babe that never committed sin. We have no condemnation. We can walk with Jesus and live a holy life before the Lord, if we walk in the Spirit.
2nd. Sanctification is the second and last work of grace. After we are justified, we have two battles to fight. There is sin inside and sin outside. There is warfare within, caused by the old inherited sin. When God brings the word, ”It is the will of God, even your sanctification,” we should accept the word, and then the blood comes and takes away all inherited sin. Everything is heavenly in your soul, you are a son of God. The Spirit of God witnesses in your heart that you are sanctified.
3rd. The Spirit begins then and there leading us on to the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. Now, as a son of God, you should enter into the earnest of your inheritance. After you have a cleat witness of the two works of grace in your heart, you can receive this gift of God, which is a free gift without repentance. Pray for the power of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost will give you a new language. It is the privilege of everyone to be filled with the Holy Ghost. It is for every believing child.
This short article demonstrates quite clearly the doctrinal structure of early Pentecostalism. Of course, this is not just a doctrinal statement but it also an expectation of an experiential reality. The witness of the Spirit is clearly expected for both justification and sanctification. It is only with this witness of the Spirit that one can then go on to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Stephen Land in his book, Pentecostal Spirituality
,shows that this teaching was being re-emphasised in 1908 in another article in The Apostolic Faith, the article which is presented in question and answer form, has some overlap with the previous article but it shows also that some issues had been more clearly thought through. The article says,
Should a person seek sanctification before baptism with the Holy Ghost? Yes, sanctification makes us holy, but the baptism with the Holy Spirit empowers us for service after we are sanctified, and seals unto the day of redemption. Sanctification destroys the body of sin, the old man Adam. Rom6.6,7… When a man has been saved from actual sins, then he consecrates himself to God to be sanctified, and so his body of sin is destroyed or crucified…
What is the real evidence that a man or woman has received the baptism with the Holy Ghost?
Divine love which is charity. Charity is the Spirit of Jesus. They will have the fruits of the Spirit. Gal5.22. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith temperance, against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”. This is the real Bible evidence in their daily walk and conversation; and the outward manifestations; speaking in tongues and signs following; casting out devils, laying hands on the sick and the sick being healed, and the love of God for souls increasing in their hearts.
Is it necessary to have hands laid on in order to receive the Holy Ghost?
No; you can receive Him in your closet. The gift of the Holy Ghost comes by faith in the word of God. You may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost right now, that is if you are sanctified… The baptism of the Spirit is a gift of power on the sanctified life, and sooner or later they will speak in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. A person may not speak in tongues for a week after the baptism, but as soon as he gets to praying or praising God in the liberty of the Spirit, the tongues will follow. Tongues are not salvation. It is a gift that God throws in with the Holy Spirit. People do not have to travail and agonise for the baptism, for when all work ceases then God comes. We cease from our works, which is a very type of the millennium.
Does a soul need the baptism with the Holy Ghost in order to live a pure and holy life?
No, Sanctification makes us holy, Heb.2.11… The Holy Ghost never died for our sins, it was Jesus who died for our sins and it is His blood that atones for our sins. 1John1.9, 7…It is the blood that cleanses and makes holy, and through the blood we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost never fails to answer to the Blood.
At these early stages of Pentecostalism we can see a very clear link between Wesleyan theology and a newly developed doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The early leaders did not want to depart from what they had learnt in the Holiness Movement. As leaders were added from other backgrounds we find a shift in some circles. Later developments in such groups as the Assemblies of God, would lead to a departure from this model. W.H. Durham was to contest the whole idea of entire sanctification and preach instead a more Reformed view of sanctification which led to the finished work of Christ controversy. At this time, this denomination moved away from the whole idea of entire sanctification; many other groups would follow their example, leaving the Holiness Pentecostal denomination to carry the original message. William Durham made his position quite clear when he said,
I began to write against the doctrine that it takes two works of grace to save and cleanse a man. I denied and still deny that God does not deal with the nature of sin at conversion. I deny that a man who is converted or born again is outwardly washed and cleansed but that his heart is left unclean with enmity towards God in it…. This would not be salvation. Salvation is an inward work. It means a change of nature. It means that old things pass away and all things become
The above statement demonstrates that Durham was clearly opposed to the doctrine of entire sanctification, but one has to question whether he really understood what he was fighting. He seems to believe that entire sanctification implies a denial of an inner working of the Holy Spirit at conversion. The writings of Wesley, Fletcher, Palmer and Steele all testify to the inner working of the Spirit at conversion. However, Durham’s view was to prevail and with it, in some circles, less of an emphasis on a holy life. In this scheme the baptism of the Spirit is seen as endument with power from on high, attested by speaking in tongues. Power has been emphasised in Pentecostal circles and when this has been combined with an evangelistic heart, thousands have been won to Christ. The presumption that all that is needed for sanctification has been given at the new birth has tended to downplay the need to stress the holy life. There is a real irony at this point because many Pentecostals complain bitterly about the standard evangelical view of the baptism of the Spirit, which is seen as taking place at conversion, deprives believers of power. The argument could be turned around to say that the view that says that all that is needed for sanctification is given at conversion deprives the believer of the resources for a holy life. The Charismatic Movement has followed in the steps of the majority of the Pentecostal Movement. However, one must not forget that there are still several denominations of Holiness Pentecostals who still maintain the threefold blessing of justification, entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
All of the Pentecostal teachers, whether stressing a threefold blessing or the finished work view, agreed that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is given for empowering the believer. The major difference between the two parties was whether entire sanctification is available to believers in this life or whether sanctification would only be completed at death. The Holiness Pentecostals all believed that entire sanctification must precede the baptism of the Spirit; in contrast ‘finished work’ Pentecostals only believed in progressive sanctification. These differences must not detract from their basic unity in believing that the baptism with the Spirit is an experience of the reception of divine power.
It has been presumed until recently that Durham’s finished work concept was accepted mainly by those coming from Reformed and Baptist backgrounds but D.William Faupel shows this is not the case, he says,
At first glance it does appear that those from Reformed and Baptist backgrounds tended to accept the Finished Work doctrine, while those that came from a Wesleyan background did not. Upon closer examination, however, this breaks down. Charles Parham, for example, in his spiritual pilgrimage, rejected most of his Wesleyan heritage, and was strongly influenced by Alexander Dowie, A.B. Simpson, D.L. Moody, R.A. Torrey and Frank Sandford who all fell into the Reformed camp. Elmer Fisher of the Upper room was Baptist before entering the Pentecostal movement. A.J. Tomlinson was a Quaker when he came upon the Church of God that had primarily Baptist roots. Charles Mason and most of his early converts in the Church of God came from a Baptist background. N.J. Holmes, who became a major leader in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, led a group of Presbyterians into that denomination in 1915. Likewise the Free Will Baptists who accepted the Pentecostal message remained in the Second Work camp.
Faupel demonstrates the complexity of the issues outlined above but it is quite clear that one cannot categorise the adherents of either view by their previous backgrounds. There does seem to have been a disposition among some early Pentecostal leaders to be looking for new revelation, many of these accepted Durham’s position. On the other hand, many believed that any new revelation would not contradict doctrines already accepted and therefore repudiated the new teaching.
Although the above discussion is important, both the Second Work camp and the Finished Work camp interpret the baptism with the Holy Spirit as an experience of empowering. It is power that is expected not purity; sanctification has, for both views been separated from the baptism of the Spirit. This transition in thinking has made a great impact upon both the Pentecostal Movement and the Charismatic Movement during the Twentieth Century.