Thursday, March 30, 2006

Plagiarism again, response to Sheep's Crib

J. A. Gillmartin has posted his response to my arguments on pastoral plagiarism (post 1, post 2) at his blog The Sheep’s Crib. I think my argument can be best made by encouraging you to read his post and compare it with what has been said here, not only in my posts but in the wealth of good comments and the items I linked from Justin Taylor.

I do not think Gillmartin’s post adds significantly to the discussion, so I will not give a detailed response. Here are just two points.

1. He argues that stewardship would suggest we use all available good resources. I wholeheartedly agree. He claims I disallow the use of bound, printed sermons. I never said that. In fact I would encourage the use of such, at least from good expositors. I said clearly that we ought to learn from others, but then preach our own sermons.

2. He accuses my argument of being ‘neo-pharisaic’ (his term). He is concerned about adding non-biblical requirements to believers, here particularly pastors. But, is the requirement of laboring in the Word an unbiblical, human addition? I agree that adding unbiblical requirements is damaging and dangerous (legalism). I also believe that negating biblical commands, telling people they need not do what the Bible says, is also damaging (antinomianism). In 1 Tim 5:17 the elders who rule well are defined as those who labor (the word here suggests toil) in preaching and teaching (see the commentaries for supporting argument that ruling well is defined as laboring in this way). Timothy is exhorted to ‘devote’ himself to teaching (1 Tim 4:13) and he is to watch closely his teaching (4:16). Indeed his carefulness concerning his own life and his teaching will lead to the salvation of others (4:16). Search the Scriptures. The requirement for pastors to be men steeped in the Word as a result of real labor to understand them is a thoroughly biblical one. Leaning too much on the work of others, skipping the hard work ourselves, avoids this biblical mandate and will stunt the growth of pastors and the churches they lead. To encourage men to avoid this mandate is serious error.


Adam Winters said...

Very simply put. And simplicity is often the best argument. It seems common sense that preachers need to spend time in the Word. John McArthur said this week on Dr. Mohler's radio show that spending time in the Word is first and foremost a means to edify and feed his own soul to walk with God daily. The congregational ministry is really the overflow of such personal labor in the Word.

I don't think the Sheep's Crib really understands you if it thought it was necessary to critique you of discouraging study of resources. Anyone who knows you will say that you are about as modern day Puritan as they come (which is a great compliment).

In short, nice job on the brevity of this response and encouraging everyone to check out the archives and compare the positions. But somehow I think this post is going to generate a lot more debate and comments.

D.R. said...

I wrote a response over at Sheep's Crib myself and suffice to say I think that Mr. Gillmartin is confused. He doesn't seem to understand the arguments that either Steve Sjogren or you are making. And I think his charges of "neo-pharisaism" and legalism are both unwarranted and tacky. I think he misses what the Biblical call of pastor-teachers/elders is, as well. I am hoping he eventually sees the point being made. Thanks again for bringing this critical subject to the forefront for discussion. I know of a few people who do (or at least have done in the past) exactly what Sjogren calls for pastor to do (one is sadly a Union grad).

Tim Ellsworth said...

Thanks for this response, Ray. I think you handled it well. I'm with D.R. It seems to me as well that Mr. Gillmartin is confused, and often twists your words to indicate something that you never intended.

Keep up the good work.

Brett said...

You have been very gracious and forthright in your response, Dr. Van Neste. I appreciate your irenic spirit in light of the fact that this man has clearly misunderstood and, in turn, misrepresented your words. What's worse, he has moved past your words to your motives. Like D.R., I posted a response (more like a defense of you. Yes, I know, you don't need me defending you, but it made me feel better) over on Mr. Gillmartin's site.

slmayes said...

As on the previous two posts on this subject, I think that you are directly on target. Phillips Brooks said, "Preaching is truth delivered through personality." A sermon should be the product of our own devotional life with God and our labors in the Word as we are taught by the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt we will be influenced by the works of other preachers and commentators, but still, the sermon should be the fruit of our own labor.

J. A. Gillmartin said...

Brother Ray -

Praise God for solid supportive friends! Wouldn't you agree?

With regard to your response ... I'm envious of your gift for brevity, a gift those of Irish descent sorely lack I suppose.

I'm hoping more will post comments on our blogs for the benefit of all; at this moment I mulling over what has been said.

Please understand, I am deeply concerned about the health of the Bride in the western world. I pray the Lord will allow both of us to make a contribution to the restoration of her health in our efforts.

BTW I deliberately avoid the use of the term "Pharisee" because it doesn't fit you. For the same reason, I also avoided using the words "legalism" or "legalist." In spite my efforts, it has been suggested I labeled you a Pharisee.

If felt in any way this to be true let me apologize. It is not true in my heart, in spite of what my words may have conveyed.

Kevin Roe said...

Your response is proof that it's easy to write less and say more. Good job.

Bruno W said...

Mr. Gillmartin states the following in beginning of his post on his blog:

"Right up front it is important to note one thing: Dr. Van Neste's principal complaint is the lifting of another pastor's sermon en toto and preaching it virtually word-for-word, something he sees encouraged in the linked article below; whereas my position is that it is poor stewardship not to use all freely available resources for the reaching of the lost and the teaching of His sheep."

Mr. Gillmartin's position is not the opposite of Van Neste's. Being a good steward and of all available resources is not the opposite of plagerizing. If he wanted to contrast Mr. Van Neste's position, he needs to say something like, "While Van Neste believes is wrong to preach another person's sermon as your own, I believe this is good use of all available resources." So I'm in agreement, Mr. Gillmartin doesn't seem to understand the actual issue at hand. The issue is not using all available resources; the problem is using the resouces in a certain way, namely as if you're the originator of that material.

D.R. said...

Mr. Gillimartin,
Now maybe I am confused. It seemed clear to me that you were suggesting that Dr. Van Neste was advocating a position in line with "neo-pharisaism." Thus it would be logical to conclude that this was just modern pharisaism, especially since you offered no definition of "neo-pharisaism" that differed from "pharisaism" in any way. Additionally, you did define "pharisaism" at the end of your post, though you did not offer a definition of "neo-pharisaism," leaving one to assume, as I did that you meant "modern-day pharisaism." You said this in regards to Dr. Van Neste:

"At first I thought Dr. Van Neste had fallen into this trap, but then he put up a post which clearly demonstrates he abhors pharisaism as much as I do. So at this point I believe he has inadvertantly stepped in it and just needs a good shoe cleaning."

I don't think (nor do I think anyone else believes) that you were calling Dr. Van Neste a Pharisee, but you seemed to suggest implicitly that he was being legalistic in regards to this issue. Now, what I took issue with and felt you should apologize for was your comment in which you said the following:

"Clearly the unwritten words in Van Neste's your posts reveal an underlying theme of superiority and arrogance; they you imply that only those who fit his your round hole are acceptable, the others are hopelessly doomed to trying to get into a square hole. I don't think so!"

That to me was worthy of an apology above all else, not the issue of whether or not Dr. Van Neste is a Pharisee when it comes to writing sermons.

I hope that clarifies why I called for an apology and why I felt one was in order (not that Dr. Van Neste desires one or feels that one is necessary). Thank you, however, for your candor and your willingness to apologize for not being clear.

Barry J. Maxwell said...

Who's on first?

Ray Van Neste said...

Brother Gillmartin,

I accept your apology. Thank you. The goal of course is truth for the good of the church, as you suggested as well.