W. A. Criswell
W. A. Criswell began his 75 year long career in ministry as pastor of First Baptist Church Chickasha, Oklahoma and First Baptist Church Muskogee, Oklahoma before following George W. Truett as Pastor of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas in 1944 where he served for the next 50 years. Criswell popularized expositional, verse-by-verse preaching, and once took 17 years of Sunday sermons to preach through the entire Bible. On one New Year’s Eve he preached a message entitled “The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible” that showed that the sacrifice of Jesus can be seen in every biblical verse. The message took 4 ½ hours! Criswell preached more than 5000 sermons from the pulpit of First Baptist Dallas.
Criswell was a defender of a literal interpretation of the Bible and is credited with leading the Southern Baptist Convention, of which he served twice as president, to a return of its conservative roots. Dr. Paige Patterson stated that Criswell was a “redneck preacher with a scholar’s head” that made it difficult for his liberal theological opponents. Criswell received his B.A. from Baylor University and his TH.M and PH. D from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Criswell wrote 54 books, received eight honorary doctorates, started the Criswell College, First Baptist Academy, four radio stations including KCBI and a 700-bed homeless shelter. But his greatest love was to preach the gospel and see First Baptist of Dallas grow to over 28,000 people under his
Billy Graham, who was a member of First Baptist Dallas and considered Criswell his pastor, said that “his preaching was electric in its power” and that “his devotion to Scripture inspired thousands of young clergy…”.
“To lift Him up, to preach His name, and to invite souls to love Him and to follow Him is the highest, heavenliest privilege of human life.”W.A. Criswell