Criswell College is a Christian liberal arts college located in Old East Dallas, Texas. Since its foundation, the college’s mission was to provide professional higher and religious education for both men and women. Aside from that, the college also prepares them to serve as Christian leaders in society. Criswell College aims for all of these while maintaining an institutional commitment to biblical inerrancy. In this article, we are going to learn more about the history of Criswell College.
During Dr. W. A Criswell’s twenty-fifth anniversary as the pastor of First Baptist Dallas on October 5, 1969, he decided to present his idea to the church about an institute that would give biblical teaching for uninitiated people that would be both spiritually and intellectually comprehensive. A year after, the church eagerly approved of Dr. W. A Criswell’s proposal started immediately and started to develop the curriculum that would echo the nature of the enduring ministry of W. A. Criswell, which is about teaching that is centered on the Bible, along with an evangelistic passion and evangelical theology.
The college first held its classes on January 12, 1971. During that time, they offered two certificate programs that consist of twelve semester hours of study in theology and the Old and New Testaments. On the first night of the college, they got 329 students to enroll. During the institute’s first two years, it operated as a night school that provided working lay people with an education that was once unavailable to them during their convenient time.
In 1973, the institute added a three-year diploma program, and by 1977 it added both bachelor’s and master’s programs. Two years after that, the American Association of Bible Colleges or AABC qualified Criswell College undergraduate programs. Since the institution’s founding, it housed the facilities of First Baptist Church; however, in 1989, the institution’s prayers to have a dedicated campus were finally answered when they acquired the Gaston Avenue property. The said property, which is just minutes away from Downtown Dallas, was renovated, and the college moved onto its own campus there in 1991.
Since then, Criswell College created and upheld a governing board that is independent of First Baptist Church Dallas. Aside from that, they also developed other graduate and undergraduate programs and diversified its curriculum to include several majors. Criswell College also started to offer several online graduate degree programs.
However, even if the organization developed from being an institute for laypeople to an accredited college, its mission and vision have not changed: they still continue to offer an uncompromising commitment to the inerrancy of expository preaching, Scripture, the study of biblical languages, international missions, personal evangelism, as well as hands-on practical ministry training. Every student that graduates from Criswell goes through some activity in all of these areas, enabling them to influence Christ’s culture in every field they pursue.