Pastor, Plagiarism Is More Than Theft

"At the heart of all plagiarism are two sins: (1) theft and (2) deception. When a preacher plagiarizes he is not merely making an 'unwise decision' or engaging in 'immature indiscretion.' He is violating both the eighth and ninth commandments (Ex. 20:15–16). He is insulting a true and holy God." - TGC

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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The article does address laziness also, and I think this might be the main thing. All you have to do is credit whatever sources you pull from. It takes so little effort (I'm reminded of Prov 19:24)

... but also don't pull whole sermons. If a man lacks the skills to analyze a passage, come to understand it, think through how it applies, then organize that into a message, there are lots of places he can sign up for classes to develop those skills. 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

T Howard's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
If a man lacks the skills to analyze a passage, come to understand it, think through how it applies, then organize that into a message, there are lots of places he can sign up for classes to develop those skills. 

My question would be if this man lacks the skills to analyze a passage, why is he even in the pulpit?

In a former church, I discovered the pastoral intern was regularly taking his sermons from sermoncentral.com.

Bert Perry's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

The article does address laziness also, and I think this might be the main thing. All you have to do is credit whatever sources you pull from. It takes so little effort (I'm reminded of Prov 19:24)

... but also don't pull whole sermons. If a man lacks the skills to analyze a passage, come to understand it, think through how it applies, then organize that into a message, there are lots of places he can sign up for classes to develop those skills. 

If a man lacks the skills to exegete a passage and preach it, then he ought to refrain from teaching altogether (James 3:1) until that matter is rectified.  I've seen guys who were not, and the spiritual damage they can do is huge. 

The saddest (and kinda funny) example is a guy who was told in Greek class that he ought to learn English first (he was a native speaker, not an immigrant) ignored not only that, but also that his theology was following swirling winds....and proceeded to horribly damage many peoples' faith.  Legalist KJVO Arminian to legalist KJVO Calvinist to libertine KJVO Calvinist, never checked whether he actually was a good handler of the Word.

We might infer that plagiarism/excessive borrowing functions as a confession of not being apt to teach at all...

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

I've been a member of two search committees at my current church, and I've always been careful to get a picture of how a candidate thinks on his feet.  Others seem to be very interested in whether they've got the "right answers", not just only on fundamentals, but also on issues like dispensational thinking, Acts 2 gifts, and the like, but my questions are "if time and money were no issue, and you had the chance to take a few seminary level courses, what would you take?" and "what is your go-to reference in approaching a theological question that is new to you."

What I found in asking these questions is that too many (really most) Bible college graduates knew "the right answers", but in approaching new questions, they were not quite apt to dig deep in the Scriptures, and preferred to go to commentaries.  I half wondered whether I'd have been able to figure out the preferred commentary by Bible college, and transitively, I wonder whether you'd see a correlation between educational background and the likelihood of borrowing/plagiarism.

Not that Hebrew, Greek, and systematics are a guarantee that one will not plagiarize (far from it), but if church leadership isn't adequately equipped, they're going to try and compensate somehow.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.