Criswell College names sixth president

DALLAS?The Board of Trustees of The Criswell Center for Biblical Studies (CCBS) unanimously elected Jerry A. Johnson, 39, of Louisville, Ky., as the sixth president and chief executive officer of CCBS, which includes The Criswell College and Criswell Communications, during its meeting Dec. 5.
Johnson, a native of Malakoff and a 1986 Criswell graduate, will likely assume his duties Feb. 1, Mike Deahl, search committee chairman, told the board.

Johnson comes to The Criswell College from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a doctor of philosophy in Christian ethics and most recently served as dean of the seminary’s Boyce College and a member of the seminary’s executive cabinet.

Johnson succeeds C. Richard Wells, who resigned in May to become pastor of South Canyon Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D. Since then, Lamar Cooper, executive vice president and provost, served as acting president of the four-year college begun in 1971 by First Baptist Church of Dallas and named in honor of the late W.A. Criswell, the church’s longtime pastor.

“He has taught in academic settings, and he has administrative experience as a dean, and he has served extensively as a pastor,” said board Chairman Royce Laycock. “He brings a pastor’s heart to this position in addition to all the other strengths we need.”

In addressing the board before his election, Johnson said he sensed a strong calling to Criswell though, initially, he resisted because he and his family were happy in Louisville. He explained how as a young Southern Baptist college student he became disillusioned with Christian education and considered leaving the Southern Baptist Convention, only to discover The Criswell College after coming to Dallas to hear Criswell preach.

Johnson, referred to in the meeting by a trustee as a “(spiritual) grandson of Dr. Criswell,” said he would work to maintain the school’s foundational principles developed by Criswell himself, which included a commitment to the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture; the centrality of expositional preaching, and the priority of evangelism.

He said he would work to increase emphasis on student recruitment, financial development and relationships inside and outside the institution.

Quoting B.B. Warfield, Johnson told the board, “‘If the call to preach is the highest calling, then there is no greater task than to prepare men to do it.’

“That is why I am excited about this opportunity,” he said.

Jim Richards, a Criswell trustee and executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said, “With tremendous rejoicing and celebration I welcome Dr. Jerry Johnson back to Texas and The Criswell College. He brings scholarship, a passion for souls and a Christ-like spirit to the office of president. I believe and pray that The Criswell College’s best days are ahead. It is my delight to have Jerry as a co-laborer in Texas. I have counted him among my dearest friends for a number of years. It is now a special treat to be able to work more closely with him.

“The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has a strong advocate in Dr. Johnson. We share the same convictions. We desire to reach people for Christ. We are a part of the greater Southern Baptist Convention family.

Jerry Johnson will make a tremendous impact in the years to come.Richards added, “Rhonda is a lovely first lady for the college. The children will bring excitement to the campus. It is a new generation, a new day and a new opportunity for The Criswell College and Texas.”

“I think it was very clear to all of us on the day that we interviewed Dr. Johnson that there was a unanimity in the room that we felt like that this was the man, clearly, that God had brought to us,” said Mac Brunson, pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas and The Criswell College chancellor. “We’ve been through a long process ? yet the Lord guided us through it all to Jerry, and I’m excited about his being here, I really am.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, commented, “I congratulate Jerry Johnson upon his election as president of The Criswell College. Jerry Johnson is a man of rare gifts and solid conviction. He combines first-rate scholarship with evangelistic passion and stellar leadership ability. The Criswell College has chosen a young man with great gifts as its next president. He is a personal friend and a cherished colleague. We will surely miss him as dean of Boyce College, but we expect great things out of his service at the helm of his alma mater.”

Johnson’s first ministry assignment was as pastor of Ireland Baptist Church in Ireland, Texas in 1982-83. He has served as a youth pastor, interim pastor and pastor at num

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