Stolen Sermons

March 20, 2006

Keith Herron has a good column at Ethics Daily about plagiarizing sermons. He offers a balanced but critical take on the practice. Here are a few highlights:

One author expands the lexicon of terms that help illuminate the moral and ethical understanding of sermon plagiarizing: hypocrisy (the pretense of being someone else, i.e. someone better than one is in fact), lying and fraud.

... One pastor was caught after two years of consistently plagiarizing the sermons of others and cited his depression and ministerial burnout as a contributing factor. Another pastor plagiarized sermons as a way to mask the time being spent with another woman in an illicit affair. Those issues indicate the moral conflict within the minister.

But not all issues center in the moral life of the preacher alone. They should include the excessive expectations of an ever-demanding church. Pastors are expected to churn out high-quality programs for all age groups and worship experiences that titillate and thrill the soul week after week.

... The moral issue of cutting corners and plagiarizing can and should be a shared responsibility requiring both pastor and church the courage to question one's contribution to the struggle.
Amen! Hopefully more pastors will give these issues serious consideration so that a little "borrowing" does not hurt their witness and ministry.