Tim Challies has an interesting and frustrating post today about plagiarism in the pulpit. I wrote about this back in April, concerned with the impact Rick Warren’s sermon selling might have on the character of pastors and churches. Challies links to the latest Wall Street Journal article by Susan Sataline about this very topic and brings his typical wisdom to the conversation. I appreciated the paragraph about why pastors might choose to preach other men’s sermons:
Of course we would be remiss to read about this issue and to neglect asking why pastors feel it necessary to preach other peoples’ sermons. I’m sure that in some cases pastors are simply lazy and are looking for a way to avoid what can be a long, tedious task. But in many cases I suspect pastors preach these sermons because they feel their congregations will demand a certain quality and a certain level of entertainment that they cannot provide. The spirit of pragmatism lives in the church today and I know of many pastors who have succumbed to it. They feel that their congregations will be better served by a sermon that is witty and contemporary than by a pastor who absorbs himself in a week-long study of the Bible. Some churches expect far too much of their pastors, demanding that they be leaders and entertainers more than preachers. Some pastors are not allowed sufficient time to adequately prepare their sermons. In many cases, the pressure for plagiarism may well originate in the pews and not in the pulpit.
I think it is just one more evidence of a weakening commitment to the Word of God and its power to change lives when truth is clearly preached by one who has be thoroughly changed by his interaction with that truth. What do you think? Or does it even matter?
I also appreciate Challies’ words of caution about speaking to the secular press about issues inside the church. Read down to the bottom of his article.