The topic of sermonic plagiarism keeps coming up – a product of the internet and podcasting age, no doubt. Here’s yet another article on the subject. I guess when The Wall Street Journal gets involved, it’s news!
Most public speakers and preachers “borrow” material at some point. We’ve all done it – even if only when we were new to speaking and more influenced by the thoughts of others more than our own interpretations. For some of us, something that we’ve read or heard is meaningful to us and seeps into our mind and heart becoming expressed in a sermon or talk – this is mostly good. For others, preaching unattributed material is a way of life and work.
It is surprising to me that there is not more uniformity regarding the ethics of sermon plagiarism. I find myself agreeing with Thom Long that, “Every minister owes his congregation a fresh act of interpretation,”and “To play easy with the truth, to be deceptive about where the ideas come from, is a lie.”