W. A. CRISWELL
“If [we] are true to that expression of faith (the infallibility of Scripture) we shall live. If we repudiate it, we shall die. God will remove our lampstand….There is no exception in this judgment….”
Wally Amos Criswell, Jr. was born along the Texas-Oklahoma border to a Baptist deacon and the daughter of a doctor on December 19, 1909.
He loved to read at an early age. Having read the Bible through at the age of six, he was saved and baptized at ten.
Although his mother wanted him to be a physician, and his father, who had seen many pastors mistreated, wanted him to be anything but a preacher, he announced his intention to enter the ministry after surrendering to preach at age twelve in a meeting conducted by Dr. John R. Rice and another preacher.
After moving to Amarillo in 1925, he had the opportunity to hear men such as L. R. Scarborough and George W. Truett. He went to college at Baylor in Waco and was ordained and preached in small churches while there. He completed a Ph.D. at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
Soon after seminary he was married to Bettie Marie Harris, whom he had met while pastor at nearby Mt. Washington, Kentucky.
He was later pastor of First Baptist Church of Chickasaw, Oklahoma and First Baptist Church of Muskogee, Oklahoma.
In 1944, he was called to be pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. The legendary George Truett, after forty-seven years as pastor, had died. The young Criswell was given the daunting task of following this great preacher.
Under his leadership the church grew dramatically. In his early years as pastor he preached through the entire Bible, taking almost eighteen years to complete the task. He was known for his stand on the inerrancy of Scripture and wrote the important book “Why I Preach the Bible Is Literally True.” He became the leader against liberalism among Southern Baptists.
After a full life of ministering the Word he loved, Dr. Criswell was called home to Heaven on January 9, 2002.