Russell H. Dilday

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Russell H. Dilday
Russell h dilday.jpg
Born Texas, United States
Education Baylor University (B.A.)
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.)
Occupation Pastor, educator, seminary president
Parent(s) Hooper and Opal Dilday

Russell H. Dilday is a pastor, educator, former seminary president, and chancellor of B.H. Carroll Theological Institute.


He served as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary starting in 1978. During his sixteen-year tenure, the seminary annual enrollment exceeded 5000 students, making it the largest in American theological education history. In 1990, Christianity Today released a poll of its readers ranking the effectiveness of American seminaries. Southwestern Seminary was ranked “number one among the top 33 graduate theological schools in the nation. (Columns:Glimpses of a Seminary Under Assaultp.6, 99) He was fired in March 1994 by what had become majority conservative-leaning board of trustees in a 26-7 vote during the Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence.[1] Dilday described the resurgence as having fragmented Southern Baptist fellowship and as being "far more serious than a controversy".[2] Dilday described it as being "a self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics". Since 1979, Southern Baptists had become polarized into two major groups: moderates and conservatives. Dilday has been labeled a moderate, but prefers the term "constructive conservative." (Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility, p. 142) Reflecting the hyper-conservative majority votes of delegates at the 1979 annual meeting of the SBC, the new national organization officers and committees replaced all leaders of Southern Baptist agencies with presumably more conservative people (often dubbed "fundamentalists" by dissenters) who would carry out the takeover agenda.[3]

In August 1994, Dilday was hired by Baylor University to serve as a distinguished professor of homiletics at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary and to be a special assistant to Baylor President Herbert Reynolds.He also served as Acting Dean of Truett Seminary.[4] He served as interim President of Howard Payne University from 2002-2003.[5]

He was pastor of Texas Baptist churches including, First Church in Antelope, Texas, a rural congregation, First Church in Clifton; and he led Tallowood Church in Houston "from a mission to one of the strongest missions churches in Texas Baptist life." His only non-Texas pastorate was at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, a large urban congregation.[6]

Dr. Dilday has received honorary degrees from Baylor University (L.L.D), Mercer University (D.D.), William Jewell College (L.H.D.) and Dallas Baptist University (D. Hum.).


He earned degrees from Baylor University (B.A.) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.).

Part of a series on
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship


Baptist theology
London Confession, 1689
New Hampshire Confession, 1833
Baptist Faith & Message

Doctrinal distinctives
Biblical Authority
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of believers
Two ordinances
Individual soul liberty
Separation of church and state
Two offices

Jimmy Carter
Russell H. Dilday
Duke Kimbrough McCall

Related organizations

Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Baptist University of the Américas
B. H. Carroll Theological Institute
Baptist Studies Program - Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University
Campbell University Divinity School
Baptist Studies Program - Candler School of Theology at Emory University
Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Baptist House of Studies - Duke Divinity School at Duke University
International Baptist Theological Seminary of the European Baptist Federation
M. Christopher White School of Divinity at Gardner–Webb University
Logsdon School of Theology at Hardin–Simmons University
McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University
Baylor University
George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University
Wake Forest University Divinity School


You Can Overcome Discouragement, 1977

The Doctrine of Biblical Authority, 1989

Personal Computer: A New Tool for Ministers, 1985

Communicator's Commentary: I & II Kings, which was a Gold Medallion Award finalist for the “Best Commentary,” 1988,

Columns: Glimpses of a Seminary Under Assault, Oct. 2004, that revisits Dilday's monthly presidential columns at Southwestern.

Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility, 2007.


Dilday is highly respected for his denominational leadership and has been recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as one of the "Texas Twenty" – persons across the state who "have proved to be pivotal forces in their respective fields – and, by extension, in Texas." He was also named by The Baptist Standard as one of the "ten most influential Texas Baptists in the twentieth century."[7]


A native Texan, Dilday grew up in a Texas Baptist minister's home. His father, Hooper Dilday, served a number of Texas churches, and was on the staff of the Baptist General Convention of Texas for 20 years in Sunday school, discipleship training and church services, and was longtime minister of education at First Church in Wichita Falls. His mother Opal Spillers Dilday was born in Memphis, Texas, and was a children's educational specialist in Baptist churches in Amarillo, Port Arthur, Port Neches, Wichita Falls and Dallas.[8]


  1. ^ Staff. "SBC seminary president fired - Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Russell H. Dilday", Christian Century, March 23, 1994. Accessed January 16, 2009.
  2. ^ Dilday, Russell. Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys, 2007. ISBN 1-57312-469-9.
  3. ^ Humphreys, Fisher. The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Theology Has Changed and What It Means to Us All. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys, 2002. ISBN 1-57312-376-5. The era of conservative resurgence was accompanied by erosion of more traditional Baptist members (see, e.g., G. Avery Lee).
  4. ^ Staff. "Russell Dilday joins faculty at Baylor University", The Advocate (Baton Rouge), August 6, 1994. Accessed January 17, 2009.
  5. ^ Staff. "Dilday filling in at Howard Payne", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 16, 2002. Accessed January 17, 2009.
  6. ^ Jesse Fletcher (November 24, 1999). "Russell Dilday; 10 most influential Texas Baptists during the 20th century". The Baptist Standard. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ Russell, Jan Jarboe. "The Texas Twenty: Russell Dilday, A Baptist under fire", Texas Monthly, September 1994. Accessed January 17. 2009.
  8. ^ "Opal Dilday dead at 91". The Baptist Standard. March 3, 1999. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011.  External link in |publisher= (help)

External links[edit]


Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary "In 1994, the seminary experienced a sudden change in leadership with the dismissal of Russell H. Dilday as president and the appointment ..."

B. H. Carroll Theological Institute "The institute's founding chancellor is Russell H. Dilday , a former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary , who launched ..."

Southern Baptist Convention Conservative Resurgence/Fundamentalist Takeover

"Dr. Russell H. Dilday , president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1978 to 1994, has analogized what he calls "the ..."

Southern Baptist Convention "Dilday, Russell. Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys, ..."

Howard Payne University "Dr. Russell H. Dilday (Interim President) 2002-2003"

Baptist Faith and Message "Russell H. Dilday . An Analysis of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000."