Faith-Based Blog a blog about faith from a believer with bandwidth

1Sep/10

Retro Read: Texas Monthly on W.A. Criswell

A little retro-reading to mix into the current assortment, here. This is a 1984 Texas Monthly profile of Dallas minister, W.A. Criswell. There's actually a lot going on in the article: a brief history of the theological spats that preceded Criswell at First Baptist, Criswell's own evolution on racial issues through the 50s and 60s, and an interesting mix of how Criswell dealt with the then-infant Religious Right and other issues in the crosshairs of faith & politics. Somehow, when I read about Criswell endorsing Gerald Ford in 1976 (against fellow Baptist, Jimmy Carter), I get a flashback to all those 80s musicians who dropped a few cans of Aqua Net into their hair: it may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight it sure looks weird.

What's most impressive about this write-up (to me, of course) is that it does a better job than most of capturing a church's membership more accurately than a stereotype shoehorned into a 750 word story sometimes allows. Although situated just south of Dallas' wealthy University Park/Highland Park area, the writer points out that much of the membership (circa 1984) is due more to the population explosion that was going on in the less well-to-do north Dallas suburbs. This stuck with me since I know I've seen Lakewood's membership characterized as either a very wealthy, exurban/suburban church or one with a whole lot of poor people that were being fleeced or suckered against their will. Likewise, the membership at Ecclesia has proven to be a bit more difficult to summarize in the ways I've seen done in the media.

Read it at Google or below ...

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