Blog Template Theology of the Body: Sermon plagiarism

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sermon plagiarism

Preaching on a regular basis is extremely difficult work. The demands of our culture require preachers to provide sermons that are engaging, funny, and fresh. So it is no surprise that some pastors are plagiarizing sermon material that they get from the web. It is interesting to me to see how nonchalant some pastors are about this -- including the ones whose material is being plagiarized. What I wonder about is why it is so difficult to include in the sermon something like "Ed Young tells the story...." or "as Rick Warren wrote..." I'd actually like to hear sermons that reference the thought of other preachers, as I think it shows that the preacher is attempting to connect his or her sermon to a tradition (however recent) of interpretation.

Part of this, as well, is the result of what I think is a move to sermons as entertainment. I remember the first time I read a sermon by Jonathan Edwards and was struck by how dense and theological it was. Likewise with a sermon by John Wesley, Augustine, Aquinas, or Gregory of Nazianzus. When I read their sermons I always wonder how long they'd last in modern pulpit. Most of them would probably last about two months before they'd be run off for being too dull or too dense. My concern is that sermons that are formed by entertainment priorities rather than theological priorities leave parishioners with a superficial understanding of the Christian faith, and thus something that they cannot rely upon during the trials of life.