Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pulpit Plagiarism

Yesterday I got a 'pastoral resource' magazine that comes for free in order to solicit me. One of the adds caught my eye because it was advertising that through their resources I would "never suffer from writer's block again" when it comes to my sermons. It seems that they can market to pastors, sufficient resources to help. I have a feeling that this has less to do with credible helps and resources then it does with aiding to the sort of practices that encourage pulpit plagiarism. Unfortunately, the danger of said marketing is that it convinces the user he is not really plagiarizing because the person(s)/organization does not mind if their material is used.

The pastor, however, is to be spending fresh time in God's Word so that he might mine the treasures and reflect as a shepherd on the needs of his particular people based upon what this text says.

This morning on facebook a friend of mine posted a quote, which I real produce below. Although it may abound with more ease in an internet age, sadly pastoral plagiarism is not merely a recent phenomenon.

"Beware of all plagiarism.  In 1839, The Baptist Christian Watchman published that a minister in Massachusetts preached 300 sermons which he borrowed from a brother minister; that another man had preached a large part of a sermon without stating that he had copied it from another printed essay; and that three ministers were in the habit of using the lithographic discourses call "The Pulpit."  All these cases involve dishonesty.  And sound views in morals must condemn such conduct.  Any man who thus practices must lose these four things:  1, habits of invention; 2, self-respect; 3, public confidence as a perfectly fair and honest man; and 4, ability to be extensively useful.  Men will not confide in a notorious plagiarist.  He can not do much good."Hints and Helps in Pastoral Theology, William Plumer, 113-14, first published 1874

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