WSJ on Sermon Plagiarism

The Wall Street Journal has a cover story on pastors who plagiarize their sermons entitled: “That Sermon You Heard on Sunday May Be From the Web”.

HT: Justin Taylor 

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Andy on November 16, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Here is a question I have had for a while around this topic. How is this similar or different then providing a book of homilies or litergy that has been done at different points throughout church history? What was the justification for that then and would those reason hold water today or lend anything of value to the discussion?

    I don’t say this to defend it in anyway (I think there are some major theological problems some pointed out by Justin Taylor on the DG website) but I would be interested to hear from someone with more knowledge of church history then myself. Maybe Jonathan?

  2. Andy,

    Intent and motive. The intent of litergy/homilies function in that capacity. The audience understands this. As Tevia would say, it is “Tradition!”

    What we see in our churches today is someone passing off another’s thoughts as their own. The intent is not the same as above. The audience is misled and the speaker takes credit for another’s work. This is unethical. Intent and motive.

    The correct way of doing this would be to do what Paul Lamey has done with reciting historic sermons. I still think it would be much better if he wore the historic dress too.

    Someone has said something like the following: as an expository cow, you feed among many blades of grass, but you give your own milk.

    I have also heard a professor say, “Plunder the Egyptians!”

  3. Posted by Andy on November 16, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Jonathan thanks for that insight.

    One thing that I have heard, especially in regard to the english books of homilies, was that they were written because of the poor state of education among the pastors in different parishes. Is that correct? And if so do you think that adds any insight or thoughts in this discussion?

    And I agree I would like to see Paul in a robe and a white wig. I would drive across town for that one!!

    BTW: Paul I think you need a little Hugh Latimer next time. You can’t argue with a guy that was killed by Mary for being a protestant.

  4. Andy, I would have to do some research to answer you for sure. The connection you make between this topic and lack of eduction is quite ironic. I wonder if these rip-off pastors would acknowledge that?

  5. Posted by Andy on November 16, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    I would have to do some poking around to verify this but I think in a backhanded way, RW has acknowledged this. He says that the average pastor does not have the time or staff to do what he does so why not offer it.

  6. Jonathan and Andy –
    Perhaps the trend derives from a couple of other sources as well.
    (1) Many of these men may have the giftedness for tremendous impact, but they’ve payed homage to contemporary preaching models that equate “impactful preaching” with clever speech and innovative packaging. Such models are then regularly reinforced by throngs of vacuous but happy listeners who claim to have been impacted.

    (2) Whether today’s “grab-N-go” preachers are just being lazy I cannot say, but it is certain that preaching someone else’s material as one’s own requires no use of the spiritual enablement of teaching/preaching. When I read a book to my spouse, none of my spiritual gift of teaching is being used. When I must diligently study and deliver the word of God, however, I must be utterly reliant upon the work of the Spirit for any spiritual influence to result. Moreover, the use of one’s own giftedness is essential for unique exhortative and insightful clarity in the truth.

  7. If some guys are getting instant popcorn sermons from instant sermon microwaves, then one wonders what they do throughout the week? A frightening thought to just imagine one day we all have to give an account to our calling.

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