Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pastoral Plagiarism Update

I have been meaning for months now to post an update on this topic. After the WSJ article came out in the Fall, Steve Sjogren responded on his blog. He basically said that those who take issue with his suggestion of using others sermons are not really interested in evangelism. The language in his blog post is now significantly changed from its original. In response to criticism, he softened that statement while keeping his basic position. Tim Ellsworth covered the story very well in this post.

Since that time Dr. Mohler of Southern Seminary devoted his radio show one day to this topic. He and guest, Dr. Hershael York, did a great job covering the topic.

Various newspapers around the country continue to pick up the story- apparently from the WSJ story- and comment on it. Typically the reporters see the problem clearly in spite of the spin given by proponents of the practice. However, The Christian Index, paper of the Georgia Baptist Convention, ran a story which in essence defends the practice of sermon ‘borrowing.’ The story was entitled, “Plagiarism: Whose Message is it?” It seems to have generated some response. This response is particularly well worth reading. Here are some excerpts from this layman’s response:

The College Dictionary defines plagiarism as “to use and pass off as one’s own writing or ideas from another.” Of course we know this meaning, but reading the article in your publication it seems as though this must not apply to pastors. Over a dozen pastors hopped, skipped, and jumped around the facts like a grasshopper on a hot grill. The answer is simple; anyone using another’s writings or ideas is a cheat! It seems simple enough to me

If pastors spent more time in the Greek and Hebrew to exegete the scriptures they wouldn’t need to plagiarize others works.
Just about every pastor I have been under has spoken of Zacchaeus up a sycamore tree at least two or three times a year. Hey, we know that story. How about some meat of the doctrine? We have had an over abundance of milk.

One of the ridiculous statements in your article read something like this: “pastors who document the origin of their sources into fine detail usually deliver cold and impersonal messages.” This is a smokescreen to cover-up the fact that they wish credit for something they did not originate

In closing, just get into the Word and forget about making impressions on the congregation. We have minds of our own and can think without fancy utterances

Well said!


Sam said...

Unfortunately this is all too rampant in today's church. people continue to come out to defend plagiarism in the church. Just today Perry Noble of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC wrote this :

Perry Noble heavily borrows and plagiarizes from men like Ed Young Jr and Mark Driscoll without giving them proper credit. When he rationalizes and justifies plagiarism within his own church he is sending a poor message to up and coming pastors that will see the size of his church, over 5000 and think that Perry's methods are the ways to grow a church. In fact Perr's church is having a conference soon. I wonder what they will teach other pastors and lay people.

Also, Desiring God had a great article on plagiarism as well

Tim Ellsworth said...

Sjogren never did respond to my comment or Jrazz's comment on his blog. I thought that was pretty telling.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for this link Sam. I have previously mentioned the Desiring God article, but Iam not aware of Perry Noble. Thanks for letting me know about it. I will check it out.

Ray Van Neste said...

Good point. I noticed that as well. It does not seem that there is a great interest in interactionon his part.

Jeff Lash said...

Alright...I am all caught up on this situation since I have been away from your blog for a while. There are so many things wrong with his argument that I don't even know where to begin. And certainly I am not adding anything that hasn't been said already but it is a telling sign of what ministry has become to many people and many churches. Aside from the issue of originality (which Mr. Sjogren weighs in heavily on) there are problems with the idea of just ripping off another sermon so that you don't have to spend time in the Scriptures yourself. Then to say that it is nonsense in order that you may spend more time "reaching" people was about all I could take. To believe that you can be more effective by stepping away from the Scriptures, spending less time in the Holy Word of God, is the reason why so many churches are full but have few believers within them. They are drawn to a man, a personality, and yet are deficient in the truth of the Gospel. They have heard too many cute stories and too little Scripture, too little Gospel. Furthermore, I heard a pastor once say in a meeting that he didn't feel he needed to spend hours of study preparing passages and messages he has been reading all his life. I just cringed in that moment. I thought to myself that if I ever say that, please God bring me to my knees because my arrogance has blinded me. If hearing the Word of God brings about true repentance and belief and men are not taking the time to study and use it in preaching then we shall eventually realize how much we are truly "reaching" people. I could go on but I digress. I am thankful for those who continue to labor in the Scriptures that they may present a strong, accurate message straight from God's Word.

pastorbrianculver said...

I just came across your blog. Good article here. Couldn't agree more about how sickening it is to find pastor's doing nothing more than "cut and paste" their sermons off the internet. Stay true to the Word of God and keep delving into Scripture!

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for stopping by Brian!