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Apr  2015 19
Fred Craddock Remembered

The late Fred Craddock was remembered by members of the Phillips Theological Seminary community recently. Below are some shared memories from former classmates, students, and colleagues that were submitted prior to the memorial service.

 From: Rev. Dr. Jeff Knighton, Phillips alum, 1988

As if it happened yesterday, I can remember when I met Dr. Craddock in Perryton, TX, First Christian Church a very long time ago.  He was a preaching/teaching guest during a weekend of renewal.  I was single, floundering a bit before heading off to undergraduate school, and sensed for the first time a genuine call to ministry in his company.

 

At this point I'm in my 30th year of ministry in the CC/DOC, licensed in 1985 and a graduate of Phillips Graduate Seminary in 1988, and inclined to remember, each time I pick up one of his incredible books, how the vibrations from his butterfly wings changed my life for Christ's sake, and I trust for many others along my way in ministry.

 

With you, I thank God for the Christ-blessed life and ministry of Fred Craddock.

From:  Rev. Bill Inglish, Phillips alum, 1977

When I took the preaching class in the summer of 1975, Fred knew I was preparing for a career as a chaplain or pastoral counselor, but he'd been impressed with my class sermon.  When we met for our one-on-one session, he ended it saying, "Well, you never know, Bill.  You may back into the pulpit."  I did, of course, and his words--and his class--changed the direction of my ministry and my life.

From: Rev. Donald Carter, Phillips alum, 1974

I can not say enough about Fred Craddock.  I took several inspiring classes with him.  He was one teacher that you did not want to miss for a class.  (Phillips Theological Seminary/The Graduate Seminary Phillips University has had wonderful teachers through the years.)  I can recall many stories and many experiences with Dr. Craddock.

 

Being at Phillips Graduate Seminary from 1971 to 1974, he captivated my attention in class, as a preacher, as a teacher, as a counselor, etc.  I graduated in the spring of 1974 from Phillips Graduate Seminary.  In the evening of that Graduation Day, Cheryl and I were going through our wedding Rehearsal.  On the next day, May 26th, Dr. Craddock was a part of our Marriage Ceremony.  Yes, he took care of his Students.

 

In my Senior Year at Phillips Graduate Seminary from 1973-1974, I served as Student Body President.  I was working on a Sermon for Phillips University Chapel.  The Seminary faculty and students from Phillips University and others made up the congregation.  I felt like the professors, etc. would be listening for certain things in that message.  How do you prepare?  Even though I had Homiletics under Dr. Craddock, I got an appointment with him.  I learned even more from him.  Many his thoughts and teachings have stayed with me.  Again, I remember so many things but he took a few minutes here and there to affect my life and the lives of hundreds of students.

 

He challenged us to do better and be better in our Ministries.

 

For over 40 years in Ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I have been ready to go a distance to hear one Sermon from Fred Craddock.  This does not count the times that I have heard him at Regional Assemblies, General Assemblies, Educational Events at Seminaries, etc.  He will be missed.

 

May God bless and strengthen his family, friends, and all who knew him.

From: Rev. Keith W. Purscell, Phillips alum, 1970

When I was a freshman at Johnson Bible College, Fred Craddock was a senior student.   He was also the student pastor of a very close church in the valley where Johnson Bible College was.  A number of the students would go to the congregation to worship and hear the senior’s messages. 

 

I moved to Nebraska Christian College in the middle of my Sophomore year.  I Graduated in 1953 and then attended graduate school at Lincoln Christian College in Illinois.  I studied for one year there.  In 1968 I Began Seminary Education at Phillips University and graduated in 1970.  Fred Craddock was on the staff and I studied under his leadership and appreciated very much when he shared insights with students whether the class or the chapel.  When I was called upon to share a sermon for the class taught by Fred Craddock the message included an illustration  that brought the whole class to full laughter for about 5 to 7 minutes.  The discussion I had with the professor demonstrated the person to person relationship the Dr. Fred Craddock had as part of his ministry and life. 

 

I have always loved his messages and the presence of the love of Craddock and the love of God present.  I do remember when he was leading a large discussion session at the General Assembly which went on for quite a long visit.  I stood up to share an idea and he called my name as I stood at the mike.  I appreciated that over those long years he still had a memory of me. 

 

Dr. Fred Craddock manifest the love of God in his ministry through his lifetime. 

From:  Tom D. Bourlier

When I was about 7 or 8 years old I attended the First Christian Church in Custer City, Oklahoma.  I went to church with my mother and three sisters.  We had a young pastor at that time who was completing his student ministry while he was at Phillips Seminary.  His name was Fred Craddock.  I remember that everyone at the church really liked him.  I remember him as being very gentle and friendly and "very tall."  Of course at 7 or 8 years old, most everyone to me was very tall.  To this day, some of the members of that church still remember and talk about him.

 

Quite a few years ago, when the General Assembly of the Disciples of Christ (DOC) was held in San Antonio Texas, and since I was going to be in town for business during this time, I accompanied my minister Dr. Gary Edens to a men's breakfast.  As luck would have it, I was seated only a short distance from where Dr. Craddock was sitting.  I told Gary that I just had to go and reintroduce myself to Dr. Craddock.  I approached him, apologized for interrupting his breakfast, and told him that I was Tom Bourlier and that he used to be my family's minister at Custer City, Oklahoma.  I told him that I remembered him from a time when he was much taller than me.  We got a good laugh about that.  He then said, "Oh yes, I certainly remember those Bourlier women."  He was referring to my mother and my sisters.  I choose to think that since he didn't mention remembering me, that I must have been a "good boy" and didn't cause any trouble in church.

 

I am sure that the Lord has already got Dr. Craddock teaching the flock.  What a soldier for the Lord he has been.

From: Dr. Harold Hatt, former Phillips faculty

I enjoyed the privilege of a double relationship with Fred Craddock. We were fellow graduate students at Vanderbilt Divinity School and colleagues on the faculty of Phillips Theological Seminary. In both relationships, Fred was a living embodiment of the reality that the power of words does not reside in the volume with which they are spoken, but rather in the insight that they enable.

 

I grieve the recognition that the voice of this powerful preacher of the Gospel has fallen silent. But I rejoice in the realization that the power of his words lives on, enabling all of us to overhear the Gospel, and then to live it.

From: A. James (Jim) Cox, Phillips Graduate alum, 1957
I count myself to be one of those whose life and ministry was blessed by Fred Craddock's lively preaching skills. From the first time I heard him preach, I was "hooked".   Fred had a unique style of preaching that the hearer was transported.  I can still hear his high pitched voice describing what it was like to ride the tail-gate of a mule drawn-wagon,  or plunging face deep into a watermelon.  But more than that, how the pages of scripture were lifted into a personal drama into which listeners were welcomed guests to the story. 

I always thought Fred changed my life as a pulpit pastor.  He reminded me that hard work was the only way to find the treasures of the biblical message.  

Planners of assemblies knew that "if Fred were scheduled to be speaker at eight o'clock (or earlier)" people would fill the seating capacity to maximum -- and the same was true if the planning committee needed to hold the crowd, Fred was the last speaker -- and it worked.

We have lost one of the great preachers of present time, but his writings and films will speak to the coming generations with the touch of his genius. 
From: Suzanne (Hobson) Shiflet

Fred Craddock was my New Testament Professor at Phillips University in Enid in 1961. I was a business major, but both Old and New Testament classes were required of all students.

 

He told many wonderful stories in class, but this one was when he was preaching one Sunday at University Place Christian Church, across the street from the Phillips University campus. The message that day was about stewardship. I don't recall the scripture or any other part of his sermon, but I do remember this. He said he wanted everyone to take out their wallets or purses and take all of the money they had with them and put it in the offering plate as it came around to them. That way, he said, when someone comes up to you this afternoon and asks you to go with them for a bite to eat or for a cup of coffee, you can say, I'm sorry, but I cannot go with you...I gave all the money I had to God today." I'm not certain how many actually gave all they had, but it certainly was a message that stuck with me and probably with many others. In fact, when I was Moderator of the Christian Churches of NE Oklahoma, I shared Fred Craddock's story at the closing session of our District meeting. Again, I'm not certain how many in the audience gave all they had, but I'm hoping the message had as much of an impact on them as it had on me thirty years earlier. I will never forget Fred Craddock. He left his mark on my heart and soul.
From: Rev. Guy Langston, Phillips alum, 1970

One fall, it came my privilege to introduce Dr. Craddock at our OK United Methodist Ministers’ Retreat.

In the introduction, I shared that Dr. Craddock had been my professor of New Testament and of Preaching and gave him credit for making me the preacher that I was at that time.  As he rose to take the lectern,

he good-heartedly mentioned into the microphone, “You can’t blame that on me!”

 

In a New Testament lecture, Dr. Craddock asked the class if they were aware that Jesus was short, and that he was glad of this because he himself was short of stature.  To reference this scripturally, he quoted the gospel passage concerning Zacchaeus and his encounter with Jesus.  The Greek translation says that Zacchaeus climbed in a tree to get a better view of Jesus for he was small of stature.  The “he” in the passage can be interrupted to be referred to either character.  Dr. Craddock made his choice.  I presume I remember this because Dr. Craddock and I were the same height.

 

A fellow seminary student having avoided serving as chapel liturgist until his senior year was finally taking his turn.  In the last Friday service, the nervous seminarian made it to the benediction where he inadvertently raised his left hand and said, “May the mace, percy, and grease of the Lord Jesus Christ go with you.”  That afternoon in the New Testament class, Dr. Craddock used pastoral humor to comfort the embarrassed seminarian by saying to him, “We all make mistakes but raising your left hand for the benediction is considered

a curse in some cultures.  And, when I went home for lunch today I discovered all my rose bushes were dead.”

From: Rev. Barb Jones, former Phillips Trustee

I attended Candler School of Theology from 1980-1983.  I was 25 when I arrived with a 3 year old and a 3 month old, and was one of 13 Disciples at Candler counting Dr. Craddock.  I chose Candler to bridge from MTh->PhD in Personality and Theology with Dr. James W. Fowler, III, but Dr. Craddock was never in favor of that plan.  He sat on the Regional Commission on Ministry and was not going to allow a student to have a license and vote in church matters who was not preparing for pastoral ministry regardless of the goal of a PhD.  That is a different story!  However, it is the reason I ended up in his Preaching class. 

 

I did not have a student pastorate; I was a research assistant for Dr. Fowler which was rare for an M.Div. student.  (Yes, Dr. Craddock won the M.Div. battle.)  Thus, I entered his preaching class with such fear and trepidation that I took it Pass/Fail.  I was from Kansas.  I was not personally familiar with women preaching.  My images of a good preacher were Dr. Craddock and my Uncle Ray, a Wycliffe translator, who could open the Greek text and preach in any number of languages.  Who was *I* to proclaim the Word of God?  I had already tangled with Dr. Craddock’s high expectations for student achievement and professional presentation over chickenpox and his New Testament course.  The final grade was going to weigh heavily on the sermon.

 

Dr. Craddock’s methodology paralleled the genius of his preaching. The selection of a student’s text was done literally by drawing a slip of paper from a hat!  As students preached, the class was divided into three sections.  One listening for literary form and movement; one listening for integrity with the exegetical content of the periscope, one listening for the context between the story in Biblical times and its relevance for the audience today.  After students delivered their sermon, each was escorted to the hall by Dr. Craddock and seated with an encouraging word.  He returned to class to lead a debrief session of the sermon from all of the perspectives.  Once he and the class settled on a set of questions to ask the preacher, Dr. Craddock escorted the student back into the classroom and sat in front of the class on stools, and conducted an interview much like a late night TV host might do.  His disarming style and humor allowed him to get to the heart of any question, no matter how exacting.  Finally, after the interview and summation, the student had to watch the video of their reaching and write a paper integrating the critique given in the interview and their own review of the video.

 

My scripture text was the Annunciation:  Luke 1:26-38.  The date I was to preach was less than a month prior to the due date for my third child.  I had to make a simple sleeveless light blue dress to cover my very large body and had selected a specific lightweight toile material for an over-blouse so that perspiration would not show.  There was no such thing as a “suit” for a body like mine so I decided light blue would be fitting for Mary and Elizabeth; a very subtle touch which I would let go unspoken.  I struggled with my preparation and knew that my presence was gong to be so obvious that I could

not mention it.  I had to stick to Mary and Elizabeth and the knowledge that they alone shared:  that the Christ Child was already recognized while yet in the womb by his cousin, also in the womb, who would fulfill prophesy later in life by announcing Jesus’ identity at the Jordan river and baptizing him. 

 

I preached.  Dr. Craddock escorted me to the hall.  It seemed a very long time with a lot of laughter before he came to get me.  As we sat down on the stools, he said with a twinkle in his eye “I am quite certain that Barbara is not aware that she pulled off a perfect chiasm.”  No, I assured him I was not.  “A chiasm”, he explained “is a literary tool that compares A:B and therefore B:A”.  “And,” he continued “Barbara walked to the lectern in her light blue dress looking very much the part of the Madonna with child ready to give birth at ANY MOMENT.  Here days from Christmas, and she proceeded to deliver a narrative sermon where Mary is pregnant, Elizabeth is pregnant and we were all CERTAIN the next step will be and I am pregnant.” 

“However,” he said to me, “you resisted that urge and did not do it.  You made a salient point regarding Elizabeth, went back to Mary and we were all stunned.”  “You know,” he said, “It’s really too bad you took the course pass/fail because you would have received an A”.

 

The grade never bothered me.  His affirmation has carried me through many tough times in my life.  The day of my Professional Assessment was also the day that I saw the Judge and received the signed Divorce decree that granted me permanent and exclusive custody of the children, then 6, 3, 1 and the shocking news that “this falls under the Georgia Family Violence act and is effective immediately”.  I shared that as objective information which had not yet sunk in.  Dr. Craddock said “Barbara, you must go preach and be a pastor of a church.  You cannot do PhD work as a single parent.”  I was crushed.  But the 1983 General Assembly provided a venue for me to meet with numerous Regional Ministers, and by the time I graduated in December, the Elders of Early Chapel Christian Church in Earlham, Iowa were part of my ordination into Christian Ministry at Countryside Christian Church in Mission, KS.  I know that Dr. Craddock must have had something to do with that process. 

From: Peggy McClanahan, Phillips alum, 1974 & 1978

I grew up at Central Christian Church in Enid, Oklahoma where each Sunday during my teen years in the late 1960’s I would watch Fred Craddock arrive to teach the Lamplighters Sunday School class for young marrieds. He was not yet well known but was completely faithful in teaching that group that was a bit younger than he and Nettie.

 

Dr. Craddock was un-presuming but even as a teen I could tell that he was someone worth listening to. I called him up at home one day and invited him to speak for our district CYF rally at a town 40 miles away. He drew in that group of high school youth with his stories that opened a window on truth, just as he has with every other group with whom he has ever spoken.

 

I was very lucky to have Dr. Craddock as the speaker at my Enid High School graduation ceremony in 1970. Perhaps it is because I have heard him preach so often over the years that I could not tell you what he said. I was amazed when several of my classmates responded to my Facebook post on the day Fred Craddock died to remind me that he spoke about the importance of having a sense of humor. He said that laughter is the best medicine for hard times. For forty-five years they remembered that he told them to laugh!

 

Like all whose lives have been profoundly impacted by Fred Craddock I could go on and on. Let me simply share two more memories. One of the sermons I turned in for my introductory preaching class with him at Phillips Graduate Seminary came back with the comment: “What you had in mind to do was a good idea!”  It stung a bit but even then I knew he was right and it inspired me to learn more about crafting sermons. Not satisfied with the “B” I received in that class (the only one of my seminary career), I took a second preaching class with him, called “Biblical Preaching.” One of our sermons had to be on an entire book of the Bible, rather than a single text. I met with Dr. Craddock to review my plans to preach on Ecclesiastes and leave it hanging with the original ending of Qoheleth, which concludes with “all is vanity.” I wanted to allow the listener finish the sermon, as he often taught us, by letting the listeners argue with my ending. He looked at me there in his office with a smile and said: “I’ll be interested to see how that works.” I’ll be happy to tell you another time what happened when I finished that sermon!

From: Linda Ford, former Phillips employee

originally shared on September 16, 2007 blogpost

http://against-a-brick-wall.blogspot.com/2007/09/preachers-jar-of-words.html.

 

This is the story of two preachers. One preacher was older than the other by several years. Both were well-respected around the country, and many people would travel great distances to hear them speak. Their ability to communicate spiritual truth was legendary. And there was a deep abiding respect between the two.

One week the two were invited to talk about their work and to preach for a group of preachers. The older preacher went first. He spoke words that reached into the very hearts of his listeners and touched them in ways that evoked more than mere ascent, a sort of benevolent intrusion, he would say. When he spoke, it was as if he knew each one personally, knew exactly what image was needed to bring heart, gut, mind, and memory into perfect agreement, allowing the words to soothe and stir and touch them in ways they never thought possible. Many said it was the best sermon they ever heard. No one argued with them.

The next day the older preacher was asked to introduce the younger preacher. They sat next to each other on the chancel. His small stature seemed to shrink even more next to her tall, slender frame. He rose from his seat, stepped up to the podium, and gazed at the crowd with a pensive look. When he spoke, he said, "On my back porch sits a jar. It's a mason jar. I put words in that jar, words that I will need later, words that I discover as I go about my day."

The auditorium was captured in hushed attention. The afternoon sun poured through the stain-glassed dome above, adding a hazy light to the already faded colors in the sanctuary. People sat quietly in time-bleached, velour-covered seats, green like the color of moss on a tree trunk, some wearing the stains of tiny drops of wine. One move and the decades old hinges of the seats creaked like rusty gates, but no one noticed if anyone moved.

In his self-described piccolo voice, the man continued. "One word," he said, "sounds like a 'honk' as it flies over. Another smells like a buffalo's breath. And one is like the silvery gleam that springs from the water when the sun hits a trout as it swims in the river." One by one he described the words in his jar, his words painting pictures and evoking memories for all who would hear.

"I am nearing the time when I will no longer have any use for these words," he said. "When that day comes, I will walk over the mountain to Barbara's house." He glanced back at the younger preacher, a smile barely inching from the corner of his mouth. "I'll leave the jar on her porch. I won't knock on the door because she probably won't answer even if she's there, so I'll just put the jar down for her. She'll know what to do with the words. She's the only one I trust to use them well."

The room grew ever more still. Listeners glanced at each other but none dared speak. The words he spoke carried such weight and significance that each knew she'd been witness to an intimate exchange. The older preacher stepped from the podium and made his way toward the chancel steps. The younger preacher sat with her head down, unable to move. The older preacher descended the few stairs from the chancel and stopped. The younger preacher finally stood. And as she stepped toward the podium, she turned to face him, and with the same smile shyly peeking from his lips, he bowed to her, and she bowed to him.

From: Tom Van Laningham, Phillips alum 1973

In the summer after my junior year at Emory, I had just completed a CPE basic quarter and had registered for summer school back at Phillips with Dr. Craddock. My adviser was not in that day to sign my fall schedule, so I asked his office mate, Dr. John Brokhoff the homiletics professor, if he would sign for me. He looked over my schedule and asked, "What are you doing for homiletics?"  I replied, "Next week I'm going back to Oklahoma and take the introduction course from Dr. Fred Craddock at Phillips Seminary." .  .  . "Craddock?" he grumbled, "Never heard of him!"  The next spring Dr. Craddock came to Candler as his successor. 

 


Dr. Craddock chaired the Commission on Ministry here in GA in the late 70's/early 80's. After Jim Jones, all the regions were rethinking standing and ordination. New requirements were added across the Disciple landscape making a seminary education mandatory for ordination and standing which was firmly administrated by the Region. At the time there was a minister at First Christian, Glennville named Bob Kicklighter. He was a pharmacist, a charismatic, and touted all that the Holy Spirit was doing through him noting it was without seminary or equivalent background. He assumed the power and glory that came from the Holy Spirit and in a bullying way was very clear that no mortal agency could interfere with his ordination or standing. In this era the Disciple Renewal had some strong support in several districts in GA and they were also not happy with the restrictions on "authentic Disciple freedom."

 

The Commission on Ministry was bringing the new and stronger requirements to the Regional Assembly for approval. A session to review the document and field questions was scheduled the day before the vote but the room was woefully small so we adjourned to the sanctuary to accommodate the crowd. It was a hot topic, and everyone felt the Kicklighter and Renewal opposition. The next day the time came for the document presentation and vote. It was presented during the business session and the sanctuary was packed. Dr. Craddock rose in his deliberate way and introduced the document in all its parts. When it came time for questions, on cue Bob Kicklighter rose in opposition and it went something like this: "The Holy Spirit is the single power ordaining a Christian minister. Tell me, by what authority is man (sic) given the responsibility to ordain a minister of the gospel?" 

 

In a measured voice Dr. Craddock said, "Please give your name?"  

 

"I am Dr. Bob Kicklighter, the minister of First Christian Church, Glennville."

 

In the same measured voice, Dr. Craddock responded. "It is Acts 1 verse 26, the choosing of a disciple to replace Judas. The choice was between Barsabbas and Matthias. After praying, the disciples selected Matthias. The Greek word is "edokan" .  .  . "by the raising of hands."

 

With the authority of scripture from the book of Acts, the teacher turned the adversary into a student. With "the question" answered, the Assembly moved on to the approval of the new standards .  .  . by the raising of hands.

From: Dr. Robert (Bob) Gartman, Phillips alum, 1955

My most appropriate story is of the kindness of Fred Craddock to his friends who have never been able to preach as well as he.

 

We were fellow students in seminary at Phillips, he in the class of ‘53 and I in the class of ‘55.  I knew him from his coming to Phillips during my junior year as an undergraduate.  We were classmates my first year in seminary – a class from Ralph Wilburn. I remember mostly that I had labored on a term paper & produced one of some 20 pages for which I was very proud as I ascended the steps in the Marshall Building just behind Fred and his big buddy, Roger Carstensen. One of them said to the other “How many pages?”  The answer was some – to me huge- number close to 100 pages.  The other answered  “Beat you! Mine is 4 more than yours!”  As I trudged up behind the two – I suddenly was no longer proud of my 20 pages.  Each of my fellow students had outdone me in  quantity and, I believe in quality.

 

But the above is not the real story by which I wish Fred to be remembered.  In later years, even before he was famous, as I served pastorates in Midland, TX, Springfield, MO and Dallas, Fred would come to preach and after hearing him each time, I would be down because I was not up to him!  This is about his kindness to me.  Once when we talked about his preaching – and mine – he said,  “I do not preach 45 or more times each year to the same congregation. You do!  I can preach nearly the same sermon again and again to different audiences – trying to improve a sermon with each preaching.

 

“You know those machines in which you can drop rocks found along side a road which tumble stones until they become polished like jewels?  I can polish a story with each telling. Don’t try to preach like me. Be yourself!” 

 

I took comfort in his kind words. Recently Gene Boring, recalling Fred as his teacher, remembered something of the same advice from Fred:  “Just because you wear a camel skin and eat locusts does not make you John the Baptist!”

From: Lillian Holliday McCall, Phillips alum, 1957

My sister, Virginia and I have known Fred since we were young.  We met him at Bethany Hills Conference Grounds in Tennessee when the different youth groups from all parts of Tennessee would have our yearly summer camps. He was from Humboldt and we were from Columbia. He was an outstanding young person even then as we remember during our last camp. He was asked to be the speaker at our evening Vespers. service.  This was usually done by our Dean of the camp.  He also was pastor of our church in Columbia, TN and was dearly loved by my family and the people of Columbia.

 

We have followed his career and have seen Nettie and Fred from time to time.  Even with his being an esteemed preacher and all of his "fame"we found him always to be the same humble, honest, and entertaining person we knew as a youth.   He will be sorely missed.

From: Eugene Boring, former Phillips faculty member

Fred and Nettie came to Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University) in 1953, the year I graduated from high school and enrolled at JBC as a freshman. He had graduated from JBC in 1950, had just graduated from seminary at Phillips, and was beginning his teaching career. Fred was an instant hit with our incoming class, became our class sponsor, and that relationship has existed over all the decades in between. Several of us gathered at Johnson last summer for another class reunion.

At Johnson, I took the basic homiletics course from him my sophomore year. This meant it was the second time in Fred's life he had taught the course. The course was a splendid introduction to the art and craft of preaching, and many of us were already becoming week-end student ministers, so the course was not just theory for us. I still have the notes I typed up after each class.  A random note from the same page discouraged us from imitating famous preachers, because we would imitate the wrong things, not what actually made the preacher great. "Just because you wear camel's hair and eat locusts doesn't make you John the Baptist."

 

I also took a course in Shakespeare and one in Milton from Fred. I had had a good literature teacher in high school, and had some appreciation of Hamlet and Macbeth, but for the first time I was in a class in which the power and subtlety of language came home to me.By far the most profound and life-changing course I had at Johnson was from Fred, a semester-long study of Paul's letter to the Romans (which also introduced me to Karl Barth). Though I had already read the NT several times, in Fred's Romans class for the first time I was grasped by Paul's theology of grace, and Fred took his place with Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Campbell, and Barth as those who had been grasped by the transforming message of Romans. Others in the fabled class of 1957 were in that course, and had a similar response. Incidentally, Fred was fresh from studying at Phillips, where he had taken Bill Baird's Romans course.

About my junior year, Fred inquired in an after-class conversation whether I had considered doing graduate work and teaching in a college or seminary. I responded that I was headed for the pastorate, my calling and first love, and saw no way to combine the two. His gentle, non-pushy response: "Think about it!"

From:  Charles Lindberg, Phillips alum, 1953 & 1957, as told by Bob Gartman

Most of us of us preparing for ministry at Phillips and its seminary helped earn our way serving as weekend ministers or youth directors in congregations.  Charley Lindberg, (famous for having the name of the great flyer to live up to), ministered in California for some years, is now retired in Modesto. When we talked of the death of our fellow seminarian, Fred Craddock, Charley reported that the most difficult person to live up to was Fred Craddock.  He had served as weekend pastor at Custer City, OK.  Lindberg succeeded Fred in that position.  Charley’s story is that before Fred’s last Sunday in Custer City, Lindberg was with him for “a trial sermon” to follow him. 

 

Charley, a PU basketball player, was 6’5”.  Fred was about 5’4” if he stood tall. They walked down the aisle together – and laughter broke out!  When Charley entered the pulpit to preach, he towered over it until he reached down and moved the coke case on which Fred usually preached. The congregation knew they could not keep Fred, they chose Charley for the next several years. Evidently, as we knew he would, Charley succeeded also.  Surely, however, it was a hard act to follow.

From: George Gibbs, Phillips alum, 1953, as told by Bob Gartman

Some years back George was retiring as pastor in Longview, TX.  He invited Craddock and me for a service in Gibbs’ honor.   Naturally Craddock, famed as a preacher, was the preacher of the day. I’m not sure why I was there except that Gibbs and I had been friends in church camp in southeast Texas back in high school days – before George went to the Navy, then Phillips.

 

In introducing Fred Craddock to preach, George said something like this: “I’m retiring. Bob will soon retire. Fred maybe has retired from teaching, but not from preaching.  No one will want me (speaking of himself, Gibbs), or Bob (speaking of me), to preach much, but they will want Fred and as long as someone can help him to a pulpit and put a box  for him to stand on, crowds will come to hear him and he’ll never get to really retire!” 

 

There’s truth in that. Not only that, but Fred’s books and recordings of his sermons will still be in demand!

 

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Phillips Theological Seminary

901 N. Mingo Road
Tulsa, OK 74116

p 918-610-8303
f 918-610-8404

Campus & Directions

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