Some Thoughts on Pulpit Plagiarism
by Doug Smith
Is it wrong to preach another pastor’s sermon? This issue is certainly not new, but there has been a good bit of discussion in the last few months concerning possible answers to this question, some of which is quite disturbing.
Some prominent pastors, such as Rick Warren and James Merritt, openly encourage other pastors to take their sermons and preach them—even without giving proper credit. However, others disagree. On December 7, 2006, the Albert Mohler Program featured a radio interview between Dr. Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), and Hershael York, a pastor as well as a professor of preaching at SBTS. They are in agreement about this issue, and the title of the program reveals their perspective: “Plagiarism in the Pulpit: Stealing the Material We Preach.” They believe a pastor should actually take the time to study and prepare messages suited for his own congregation instead of using something prepackaged and pre-processed. Shocking, isn’t it?
I regularly preach in a supply capacity, filling in for pastors or serving churches that do not have a pastor. I also work a full-time job. Study time is a premium amid family and work responsibilities. It could become a temptation to steal others’ sermons.
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