Criswell's 15 Minutes

Behind Timothy George's remembrance of W.A. Criswell.
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Timothy George is probably the only person ever to ask the late great Baptist pulpiteers W. A. Criswell and Herschel Hobbs to speak for only 15 minutes each. "And they did!" he recalled with some amazement shortly after Criswell's passing in January. The occasion was the dedication of the new Beeson Divinity School chapel in 1995. The schedule was full, so brevity was the order of the day. There is still a note of wonder in his voice as he tells the story.

Timothy says that Criswell, "like everyone else in Southern Baptist life, was larger than life and spoke with a deeper voice than God." But Criswell had a human side, and as he spearheaded the much needed (but sometimes bloody) conservative redirection of the Southern Baptist Convention, he felt deeply the pain that the redirection caused. Like Criswell, the theologically conservative Timothy says he "regrets the harshness of the controversy." He tells us he thinks "we're moving past that in most arenas," but there needed to be a "conservative redirection."

Because Timothy George knew W. A. Criswell personally and also edited some of his works for Broadman & Holman's Library of Baptist Classics series, he now helps us remember both the public accomplishments and the personal passions of the man some call "The 'Baptist Pope.' " His memorial begins on page 54.

In our last issue, Timothy compared Christian teaching with Islamic ideas about God ("Is the God of Muhammad the Father of Jesus?"). That article originated as an address to the Prison Fellowship board following the September 11 atrocities. Timothy now holds the "theologian's chair" on that board, vacated a few years ago by theologian Carl F. H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today and a founding member of Prison ...

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