SEBTS Spring Convocation Marks the W.A. Criswell Chair Installation

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The W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching was installed at spring convocation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). 

For the convocation address, the service featured a video recording of Criswell’s sermon “Whether We Live or Die?” Criswell delivered the message at the pastors’ conference at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Dallas, Texas on the evening of June 10, 1985.

Criswell’s message was fitting, as the donor of the chair is Jack Pogue, who was a close friend of Criswell. Pogue is a layman in Dallas who was led to Christ by Criswell. Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS, shared, “They had a father/son relationship, and Jack has done a tremendous job in honoring and perpetuating the legacy of Criswell.”

Pogue has overseen the construction and maintenance of the Criswell Sermon Library, a goldmine of the expository sermons of Criswell. He will also make it possible for there to be endowed chairs of preaching at four SBC seminaries bearing Criswell’s name.

“Jack is a dear friend and a wonderful brother,” Akin said. “I thank God for how he has been used in our Lord’s work.”  

Jim Shaddix, professor of preaching and a teaching pastor at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., was installed in the new chair. This is the sixth SEBTS chair installed in the past 10 years.

“This is the greatest honor, encouragement and affirmation in my life in ministry,” Shaddix said. “I was there in 1985 as a seminary student when Dr. Criswell gave this address. It opened my eyes to become aware of what was going on and the need to stand on God’s word and preach it faithfully with integrity.”

Criswell lived from 1909 to 2002 and was the former President of the SBC and patriarch of the Conservative Resurgence. He is also the founder and a past chancellor of Criswell College in Dallas.

The point person for the Conservative Resurgence was Criswell. “If not for men like Dr. Criswell, you would not be here today,” Akin said.

Criswell’s address outlined the “pattern of death for a denomination, the pattern of death for an institution, the pattern of death for a preacher and a professor;” and highlighted “the promise of renascence, resurrection and revival” in Christ.

Criswell quoted the 19th century British Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, on the importance of acknowledging the infallible Word of God and to stand against theological liberalism, “Inspiration and speculation cannot long abide side by side. We cannot hold the inspiration of the Word and yet reject it.”  

Criswell also encouraged the audience to “never turn aside from His great high calling to preach the whole counsel of God, warn men of their sins and the judgment of God upon them, baptize their converts in the name of the triune Lord, and build up the congregation in the love and wisdom of Christ Jesus.” He added, “Just keep on winning souls to Jesus!” 

“The way of God is always onward, forward and upward,” Criswell said. “The Lord never recedes. … Our greatest days are yet to come.”

The legacy of Criswell lives on as those in attendance witnessed the election of Chuck Quarles as professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology. He signed two formative documents at Southeastern: the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and the Abstract of Principles, which confirm the institution’s stance on inerrancy. 

To view this message online, please click here

To view additional photos from the service, please click here.

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