What can be learned from the life and ministry of Dr. W. A. Criswell, the pastor who served for fifty years as the leader of one of the largest churches of the largest Baptist denomination in America?
Certainly, his hardscrabble childhood, his parentage (especially his opinionated and forceful mother), and his preacher-models and professors all helped to mold him into the leader, pulpiteer, and winsome personality that helped to produce his advance. Still, the gifts, abilities, and motivations of God should not be minimized as reasons for his success. Criswell’s approach to preaching, to doctrine, and to his pastoral duties endeared him to his congregation. If he was not the architect or the chief strategist of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, he was at least one of the chief motivators of it. Appreciated for his scholarly preaching and for his many books, he received attention from people in all walks of life. He had critics among both those referred to as liberals and those referred to as conservatives. Some of the criticism was deserved and some was not.
He left an enduring legacy of ministers whose lives he influenced, of a college bearing his name, of more than four thousand recorded sermons, and of more than fifty books.