PLAGIARISM AND THE PULPIT

By Andrew E. Courtis

In God’s blueprint and design of the church He has gifted certain individuals to be teachers of the word of God. This is an important and weighty responsibility that ought not to be considered lightly. For this reason the apostle James counselled his readers, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

It is the preacher’s duty to take the Scriptures and rightly handle them (2 Tim. 2:15). He is to carefully, with great precision accurately handle the word of truth. This refers to God’s word, the Scriptures (cf. John 17:17). How is this done? This will come a result of one who carefully studies the Scriptures and applies specific principles in interpreting God’s word. This is called exegesis (from a Greek term meaning “to lead out”). Exegesis is the practice of carefully studying the Bible and drawing a conclusion that comes from the passage you are studying. The preacher is to be a diligent workman. This process will involve hard work and time! The preacher/teacher is to be an approved workman who is diligent in handling the truth. Of course, throughout the duration of his study he will need to consult other writers (commentaries etc.) who have given themselves to this practice of biblical exegesis as well. This is will be helpful and encouraging.

At this point, I want to discuss the problem of plagiarism. Many preachers and teachers seem to bypass the process of study by simply crafting their sermons by directly using the work of others. What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s words or ideas and making them look like yours. This practice is an issue of theft and trickery. It is wrong for preachers and teachers of the word to neglect their study of the Scriptures and substitute it for plagiarism. Powerful preaching will occur when the man of God, in full dependance on the Lord, gives himself to prayerful study, consults with other men of God and preaches the word. Plagiarism is a poor, lazy and deceitful substitute.

For further reading please see:

TGC Asks Don Carson: When Has a Preacher Crossed the Line into Plagiarism in His Sermon?