A Legacy of Biblical Fidelity: A Tribute to Dr. Trevor Craigen

May 10, 2019

Dr. Trevor Craigen entered his heavenly rest on April 26, 2019 at the age of 74. Having faithfully completed his earthly sojourn, a journey that included teaching at The Master’s Seminary for some 15 years beginning in 1994, he was welcomed into the glorious presence of his Savior. The theology he taught for so long, he is now experiencing firsthand (1 Cor. 13:12).

Our hearts and prayers go out to Dr. Craigen’s family. His wife, Coleen, served in our seminary library for many years. Both she and her husband left an indelible mark on The Master’s Seminary that will not soon be forgotten. May the Lord raise up many more faithful servants like Dr. Trevor Craigen.

This weekend (on Saturday, May 11), a memorial service is being held for Dr. Craigen near his home in Warsaw, Indiana. In keeping with that service of remembrance and rejoicing in Christ, a number of our faculty who knew Dr. Craigen have expressed their gratitude for the gift he was to us. Their words of tribute are included below:

“Like most young seminarians, I was inherently impressionable when I started my M.Div. studies. I am so thankful that the men God used to impress His truth upon my heart were men like Dr. Trevor Craigen. His fiery passion for truth combined with his unwavering commitment to clarity and precision (along with his distinctive South African accent) made him one of my favorite professors. In his Systematic Theology courses, I was profoundly impacted by his unwavering insistence on biblical truth as the basis for sound theological methodology. If a doctrine could not be clearly defended from the text of Scripture, it was to be held loosely if at all. For his students, Dr. Craigen prioritized quality over quantity. Instead of requiring long papers, he assigned 1200 word essays, and then evaluated them thoroughly for the precision and clarity of their content. For me, later courses with Dr. Craigen included Charismatic Theology, Angelology, and Biblical Cosmology. In every case, he consistently exemplified a rigorous commitment to both biblical exegesis and academic excellence. When it came time to write a thesis for my Th.M., Dr. Craigen graciously agreed to be one of my readers/advisers. I could think of no one better. Dr. Craigen’s legacy of biblical fidelity and academic fastidiousness will forever serve as an example not only to me, but to all the students whose lives he touched through the years.”

—Nathan Busenitz, Dean of Faculty

“I first met Dr. Trevor Craigen back in 1994 when I was a student at TMS. He was my teacher. Later, in 2006 I became a professor at TMS. I was a young and green and Trevor Craigen took me under his wing and became my mentor. As the years went by I came to know Trevor as a friend. I always wanted to call him “Dr. Craigen,” but he insisted on “Trevor.” Both he and Colleen would often come to our house where my wife, Holly, would cook us a meal and then the four of us would play the game, Boggle for hours. I think Trevor, with his keen mind, won every single time. When I think of what Trevor Craigen means to me–he was my teacher, mentor, and friend. He is a man of God, and I cannot overstate his impact on my life.”

—Michael J. Vlach, Professor of Theology

“I will always be grateful for Dr. Craigen and the impact he had on me as a student at The Master’s Seminary. He was one of my first professors when I arrived in 1996, and I immediately developed a deep appreciation for his demeanor as a teacher and for his method as a theologian. I remember his genuine concern for me whenever he would stop and talk with me outside of class. I also remember his sincere commitment to be biblical as he taught through the various aspects of theology. He was not committed to any particular “system” simply for the sake of tradition, academic respectability, or popularity. He only wanted to please the Lord by believing and obeying whatever His Word said. That is what made him a real theologian, and I am grateful for the privilege of having learned under him.”

—Brad Klassen, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition

“One of the many great characteristics of Trevor Craigen was that his passion for ministering to fellow believers carried over into the theology that he taught.  I was a student at The Master’s Seminary when Dr. Craigen first arrived here in the mid 1990’s.  On one occasion, he visited the church where I was ministering and sat in on a Sunday morning youth group meeting where I taught.  Weeks afterward, he asked me how “Andy” was doing.  Andy was a young man in our youth group whom Dr. Craigen had met that morning.  Dr. Craigen later told me that his heart had been drawn to that young man and he couldn’t stop thinking about him.  It was, and has been, a great reminder to me about the importance of not only teaching truth, but also loving people. That is just one example of how Dr. Craigen could not separate his theology from his practice.  What a blessing he was to me.”

—Brian Biedebach,  Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry

“Dr. Craigen made an indelible impact on me during my time in seminary. He was a model churchman, a careful theologian and a warm and wonderful minister. I first met Dr. and Mrs. Craigen when they were faithfully serving in the college ministry at our church. His love for Christ’s people was evident as he employed his tremendous intellect and quick wit to minister to collegians.  In seminary, I took three classes with him. My most memorable was an upper level historical Theology elective called “Anabaptist Theology.” There were eight of us in the class. I don’t think a single student at that table knew anything about the radical reformation before class began. By the end of the semester, we had been guided through a crucial period in church history by a master scholar who was as comfortable extolling the strengths and condemning the weaknesses of the forerunners of Baptist theology as he was introducing us to the world of craft microbrewed root beer. He told us about tongue screws with tears in his eyes, countered our sloppy knee-jerk Calvinist excesses, showed us the danger of reaching beyond biblical revelation, had three-page long tongue twisters memorized, and led us in a vigorous discussion of the Münster Rebellion and while evaluating gourmet root beer that he provided for the class. God gave me a tremendous example of a thoroughly Biblical ministry in Dr. Craigen!”

—Austin T. Duncan, Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry

“A little over 20 years ago, our Beloved Dr. Craigen came to Mexico City. He was the second TMS professor who taught and launched the Word of Grace Biblical Seminary (WGBS). Today, WGBS continues to train faithful men who follow the doctrine we received from Dr. Craigen. Only the Lord knows the scope of Dr. Craigen’s impact and we praise the Lord for it.”

—Luis Contreras, Spanish Education, Translator at WGBS

A Prayer for a Faithful Servant from a Grateful Spiritual Son:

Dear God,

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the privilege You have given me to study under Your servant and my teacher and spiritual father, Dr. Trevor Craigen.  You know how much he labored to teach us, how faithfully he prepared challenge us, and how continually he devoted himself to modeling true spiritual maturity and character for us everyday in seminary.  But more than that, You know how he freely gave of himself and his time to shepherd us through both the academic and practical aspects of the Christian life and ministry.

I am eternally grateful to You, O Father, for giving him to us–and to me personally as a professor, a mentor, and a true friend and spiritual father.  I still remember vividly how, in the midst of the final stages of my thesis, he simply asked me to come over to his house and then sat down and spent the afternoon working through all the remaining issues so it could be completed.  You, O God, deserve all the praise for You surely blessed us richly with this choice instrument of grace, mercy, and sanctification which You gave to us.  Now, O Lord, please enable us all to likewise glorify You in our lives all the way to glory–whatever trials may come–and help us follow the example of Your choice and humble servant Trevor for Your glory and our good.

These things I ask confident they are in keeping with Your will in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

—Dr. Bryan Murphy, Associate Professor of Old Testament

Connect With TMS

apply icon
contact icon
visit icon
find a church icon
give icon