Barry Creamer elected Criswell College president

DALLAS—Barry Creamer, vice president of academic affairs and professor of humanities at Criswell College, was unanimously elected president of the school during a special trustee meeting on Monday (July 7).

Creamer, 51, has served as a Criswell College professor since 2004 and is a leading voice on cultural and theological issues, often addressing them on the radio program “For Christ and Culture,” which he hosts on KCBI-FM in Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Prior to the vote, presidential search committee members lauded Creamer for his grasp of the college’s identity, being described by one committee member as “Criswellian” in his DNA. He earned a master of divinity there in 1994. 

He was also praised for his commitment to the classroom and to mentoring young men to preach the Bible expositionally, and as an “independent thinker” with “fresh ideas,” as a scholar-pastor who has debated the likes of Calvinist Baptist Mark Dever and leading atheist Sam Harris, and as a committed family man as attested to by his wife. 

Jim Richards, search committee chairman, said the committee looked at well over a dozen potential candidates, “many qualified, godly men in the pool,” but were committed to dealing with only one man at a time in the process. 

“No one has a better grasp of Criswell College than Dr. Creamer. He understands the historic connection to its founder, Dr. W.A. Criswell,” Richards said in his opening remarks to the board. 

Additionally, Creamer, in his role, lives with the daily operation of the school, has been deeply loyal to it even when opportunities to go elsewhere have come, and has a vision for the school’s future ministry, understanding the challenges in expanding the curriculum and relocating the campus, Richards said.

Joshua Crutchfield, search committee member and two-time Criswell graduate, told the board one of his fondest memories of studying under Creamer was gathering with a group of students at Creamer’s house, “young men he was mentoring to preach and teach, working through Acts, working through a book of the prophets, hearing how they are developing sermon outlines, investing in these students. Incredible.”

The admiration of fellow faculty and the growth of the school “is a large testimony to the kind of man Barry Creamer is,” Crutchfield added.

Having served with him in the college’s executive cabinet after earning two Criswell degrees, Andrew Hebert, another search committee member, said he had seen Creamer “lead courageously” and that he would be ready from day one for the job.

“Dr. Creamer understands the challenges that lie before us” and can articulate the past and the future as a “genuine pastor-scholar.”

Having served the college faithfully and been the pastor of Woodland West Baptist Church in Arlington from 1987-2004, “I think Dr. Creamer has staying power, which is something we need,” Hebert said.

Another search committee member and Criswell graduate, David Galvan, said it was telling for him to hear the heart of Creamer’s wife Joan, who told the committee, Galvan said, that “she thought [leading Criswell College] was something God was preparing her husband for” through their years of ministry.

Jack Pogue, longtime Criswell trustee, agreed with one assessment of Creamer as sharing the DNA of school founder W.A. Criswell, who espoused a vigorous pre-millennial eschatology, biblical inerrancy, and the idea “that Jesus Christ died for everybody.”

Addressing the board just prior to his election, Creamer said his primary interest in serving the college in any position, but especially as president, stems from his conversion and the power of the gospel.

“My life really was changed when I met Jesus,” Creamer said. “I want the gospel to go out. I want people to be changed. I want them to hear about Christ. At the end of the day we have to put out students who are sharing the gospel, who know what it means to witness to people, and who get the meaning of that, which is somebody’s life was messed up, they meet Jesus, and then their life is transformed. That’s just missing from a lot of things right now.”

Also, Creamer said his commitment to the college dovetails with his commitment to the local church and that while the college seeks to expand its academic offerings, preachers “are still going to be the core of what we produce.”

“While we’re developing these other programs and beginning to produce the kinds of people who can run a corporation or build a business,” the school must also equip them to “handle the Word of God with real confidence, to grasp what it actually means and to be able to teach that to their neighbor, to their Sunday School class, or sit down with their pastor and help him return from the brink, from heresy or error, which happens all the time.”

“I think Criswell College can do that better than any other school, anywhere,” Creamer said.

Additionally, Creamer said he is “very committed to the academy,” noting the school’s wide influence, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention in the last 40 years.

“That kind of influence has to come somewhere for the culture at large, and it’s not happening yet,” Creamer said, describing his vision for turning out culture-changers able to influence the world in the same way the school influenced the SBC during the Conservative Resurgence.

‘That’s what we are trying to get at. That’s what we’re trying to build,” Creamer said.

Creamer earned a Ph.D. in humanities with a philosophy and history emphasis from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). He graduated summa cum laude with a master of divinity degree from Criswell in 1994 and a bachelor of arts in English from Baylor University in 1985.

He has served churches in a variety of roles, from pastor to minister of evangelism, since 1982. While teaching adjunctively at Texas Woman’s University in Denton and at UTA, Creamer was pastor of Woodland West Baptist Church for 17 years.

He is a member of Lake Highlands Baptist Church in Dallas and has been married to Joan for 31 years. The couple has four adult children.

The members of the Criswell search committee were: Jim Richards, chairman, Joshua Crutchfield, Andrew Hebert, David Galvan, Keet Lewis, Jack Pogue, trustee chairman John Mann, and committee alternate Paul Pressler.

Creamer’s presidency begins officially on Aug. 1.

He succeeds Jerry Johnson, who left to become president of the National Religious Broadcasters. LifeWay president emeritus Jimmy Draper, a longtime Texas pastor, has served as the school’s interim president.

 

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TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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