Southern Baptists from across the nation have responded to the news of W.A. Criswell's death with recollections of his faithfulness to God and his belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. Following are statements released in response to Dr. W.A. Criswell's Jan. 10th passing.
"Dr. Criswell was an important spiritual leader for America. He was a man of deep and abiding faith who brought comfort to the thousands who heard his message of hope, love and compassion." ~ President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
"It is almost impossible to evaluate the life and ministry of W.A. Criswell. He had a multiplicity of gifts. He had one of the most loving hearts I have ever known. His devotion to Scripture inspired thousands of young clergy from many denominations. His preaching was electric in its power. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit in an unusual way. His counsel and love to me meant more than he ever knew. I have many memories of our times together. In recent years I did not see him often, but the memory of years past had a spiritual impact on me. Dr. W.A. Criswell will be greatly missed. Our loss is heaven's gain." ~ Evangelist Billy Graham
"W.A. Criswell was a giant in the land, and his passing is an event of singular significance. In every way, Dr. Criswell was a one-of-a-kind man of God. He was an unexcelled preacher, an unequalled visionary, an unswerving champion of the truth, and an unfailing leader of influence.
"In many ways, we stand upon the shoulders of those who have preceded us. This has never been more true than of our indebtedness to this remarkable man. From his conversion to Christ, to his call to preach as a youth, to the very end of his public ministry, Dr. Criswell has contributed to Southern Baptists and to the Kingdom of God as a wise and compassionate pastor, fervent evangelist, scholarly preacher, practiced theologian, farsighted educator, caring mentor, and steadfast denominationalist. This man of God will be remembered, and he will be missed.
"In spite of the honors and accolades paid him over more than seven decades of ministerial service, Dr. Criswell maintained a spirit of deep humility. And in spite of the hard knocks taken in defense of the truth, he radiated the joy and gladness of the Lord in His service. He magnified Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Church in his pulpit ministry, through the writing of fifty-four books, and as the encourager of ministers across our Convention.
"On a purely personal level, in the numerous meetings I've had with Dr. Criswell over the years, I became an admirer of his wisdom and his deep, pure heart for God. I recollect with gratitude that it was Dr. Criswell who kindly nominated me as president of the SBC Pastors' Conference in Dallas in 1985. I treasure the memory of his many heartening communications with me over the years. His encouragement to me was doubtless duplicated many times over to other pastors over the country.
"We express our heartfelt sympathy to Mrs. Criswell, to Ann, and to his many devoted friends upon our mutual loss, and we commend them to the grace of God." ~ Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
"I consider him to be a mentor as did thousands of pastors. He was the father of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention and will be known for his stand on the inerrant word of God.
"I got to see Dr. Criswell up close in a way that few people do. I was just in awe of what a great man of God he was." ~ James C. Merritt, president, Southern Baptist Convention
"Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Criswell touched the lives of many — not only in Texas, not only Baptists, but millions around the world. He will be sincerely missed." ~ Rick Perry, governor of Texas
"The family of First Baptist Church of Dallas is deeply saddened by the home going of one of God's great saints. Dr. W.A. Criswell served our congregation for 50 years as pastor and was serving as pastor emeritus at his death. He will be greatly missed as a minister, preacher, but most especially as shepherd of the flock. While we are sad, yet we rejoice over the fact that he is with the Lord that he loved and that he served so faithfully all of these years. He was a prayer partner and an enormous encouragement to me as a young pastor, particularly since I was following in the footsteps of a legend." ~ Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas
"Dr. W.A. Criswell was a giant in the land, and it is now hard to imagine Baptist life without him. He towered over our denominational life for a half-century, casting a shadow that shaped at least three generations of pastors and Baptist leaders. His robust pulpit ministry led to a recovery of biblical exposition among Baptist preachers and those of other evangelical denominations. He was a bold champion for biblical truth, and this great lion gave courage to thousands of others.
"He was larger than life, and his influence will continue long after his death. His pastorate at First Baptist Church in Dallas set the pace for the rise of great multi-thousand-member congregations all across the nation." ~ R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"My friend, Dr. Criswell, gave leadership, voice, and inspiration to the restoration of the Southern Baptist Convention to its biblical roots. I am so glad he was able to see the victories for which he so earnestly prayed." ~ Judge Paul Pressler