Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sermon Borrowing - Plagiarism or Similar Styles?

Question:
My pastor is using sermons he has copied from other sources; the internet I think. These messages are preached for the most part exactly as I find them on the internet. Is this acceptable from the Biblical perspective?

Answer:
All preachers use unoriginal material, hopefully the Bible. When preacher,s without giving credit, use a complete sermon, and use the same illustrations and unique commentary this is stealing or plagiarism. The eighth commandment Exodus 20:15 "thou shalt not steal" is broken. It is hard to be about the business of saving souls when you are breaking God's moral law and not preaching the truth using true stories.. There have been instances on the internet busting preachers who have copied other preachers even down to "zany" personal  and vivid Vacation Baptist School experiences.
Using a general well known illustration is not committing plagerism.  Claiming to be the orginator of "the two row boats and a helicopter" illustration is wrong.  Preachers can use stories and deflect credit by saying "someone once said...".
Be certain that if you confront your pastor he is not just preaching from the same text but is reproducing another's sermon. If the sermon is on the internet you should watch the sermon along with some church leaders. I Timothy 5:19 "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses." If everyone agrees then approach the preacher.

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