Reading is for rich people, anyway. Who has time to read an 11,604-word article (literally, we counted) exposing the largest scandal in evangelicalism in decades? Most reading these days is done on the toilet from the ambient glow of your mobile device, and spending that amount of time might give you muscle atrophy or eye strain. So, let me make it easy for you in this 1,400-word article, Docent for Dummies. Think of it as the CliffsNotes version of what you’ll find in our lengthier piece, here.
How Litton Opened Up Pandora’s Plagiarism Box
New president of the SBC, Ed Litton, was found to have a heresy known as partialism (a non-Trinitarian) within his church’s doctrinal statement within only hours of his election. As if the SBC President not having an orthodox confession of faith is bad enough (Athanasius would have punched him in the face), within a few hours concerned Baptists noticed that the doctrinal statement was plagiarized on the church’s website, lacking proper attribution to the church it was stolen from.
In the days that followed, other concerned individuals found example after example of plagiarism in Ed Litton’s sermons. He had clearly plagiarized (in some cases word-for-word) the sermons of JD Greear and Tim Keller and had been doing so for nearly 15 years.
Instead of resigning in disgrace, Litton blamed his “sermon writing team” who gave him the words to preach. As videos began to drop of dozens of Litton’s plagiarized sermons, JD Greear wrote an article claiming that Litton’s plagiarism was flattering and gave him permission to use that which he found useful. Yet not once did Ed Litton cite Greear in his sermons. Instead, he presented the sermons as his own material, as well as sermons from multiple pastors who gave Litton no such absolution.
Around the same time, concerned Baptists found videos of Ed Litton admitting to “lying” (his word) to how much time he spends doing sermon prep, and JD Greear was found on video admitting to purchasing his sermon material. Like Litton, Greear never told his congregation he was using work that was bought and paid for.
DOCENT: A BRIEF SYNOPSIS
Soon, it became clear through our research who Greear was using to write his sermons: Docent Research Group. And Greear was not the only megachurch leftist pastor who was using their “resources” to preach. Included were megachurch pastors like Tim Keller (who is on video endorsing Docent – in particular a specific Docent writer), and Matt Chandler. Other pastors using Docent to produce their material include Ronnie Floyd, Mark Driscoll, Craig Groeschel, Judd Willhite, Matt Carter, Austin Stone, Dave Nelson, Roger Patterson, Patrick Kelly, Ryan Rush, Vic Pentz, and David Swanson. Organizations using Docent Group to write their articles include the Witness (formerly RAAN), and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
Surely these sermon writers – properly attributed or not – were orthodox, solid believers? We found through our research that (without exception) the Docent writers were egalitarian feminists, Critical Race Theorists, Marxists (or at the least, anti-Capitalists), and social or political progressives.
Surely these sermon writers were properly trained? Nope. While a few were still in Bible College or seminary, many had degrees in sociology, political science, race studies, and gender studies.
Surely these sermon writers were affiliated with good, Protestant, and evangelical churches? Again, no. Some were Roman Catholics (like Ronnie Floyd and Tim Keller’s “researcher”), some were United Methodists, and there’s at least one practicing homosexual in there – we are unsure what Synagogue of Satan he attends.
These writers include most prominently, Brad Vermurlen, whose academic work shows he is a Roman Catholic whose expertise is in using “New Calvinism” to turn evangelicals to the political left. This is is on his résumé, which includes giving talks on the positive aspects of Marxism. Keller could not have spoken more highly of him, and Floyd used him to help restructure the SBC in 2010 (marking the end of the conservative reign of the denomination).
Other writers include Colin Wright, Drew Tucker (who appears to have written for Greear), Caleb McMurfree (who’s gay), Robbie Foreman (associated with Driscoll), Democrat activist Zack Nielsen, feminist preacher Heather Joy Zimmerman, and Lifeway’s Ashely Gorman (who wrote an article praising Planned Parenthood and attacking pro-life Christians). Grayson Pope was annoyed enough at Lifeway for not attributing him to articles, he wrote about it on his own website. These are just are a few of the Docent writers we found. Most have been scrubbing their social media and websites of references to Docent since about the middle of the week that Ed Litton was elected SBC president and the Docent scandal broke.
One former writer for Docent stands out – Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition. In a very important article at The Gospel Coalition, Wilson complained that one of his clients didn’t want any exegesis – the theological work which produces sermons, but only research and illustrations. In other words, most clients wanted exegesis – the job of the pastor. In damage-control mode, Docent has been claiming it only provides illustrations, surveys, and “research” but not exegetical sermon work. Jared Wilson (bless his heart) testifies differently.
The public faces of Docent (unlike those of their writers) are placed on their website and aren’t any better in terms of their unabashed liberalism. Docent founder Glenn Lucke is a BFF of Russell Moore. Albert Mohler endorsed his book (which discussed how to use the pulpit to change the way evangelicals vote). Most of his scholarly work is on Social Justice.
James Gordon, a colleague of Ed Stetzer’s at Wheaton, is the Second-in-Command at Docent. He deleted his Twitter account, but not before it was noticed that he offered to “light the first match” to burn down American cities during last summer’s George Floyd riots. Like a faithful Critical Race Theorist, Gordon tweeted out, “According to my definition, black people can’t be racist.”
Joy Harris, the third public figure featured at Docent, works directly for Michael Wear. You might know him as “President Obama’s Ambassador to America’s Believers.” The Democrat activist has been featured on The Gospel Coalition, preached at JD Greear’s church, and been published frequently on the website of the ERLC (all Docent-related organizations).
The last and final public face of Docent is Amber Bowen, who works for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “Intersection” Department, has praised the work of Marxists, and uses preferred pronouns for the “transgender.”
What are churches paying for pastors to not do their job? We have the screenshots and PDFs from Docent provided in the lengthier piece. In summary, using Docent costs between 3 and 10k per project, although cheaper annual fees vary based upon the services rendered.
As has been the conviction of this website for some time, there are enemies in the church (heck, a documentary is being produced about it), and we have been pointing at The Gospel Coalition the whole time – the hub of the fraudulent and destructive ideology forcing itself upon the church.
As I’ve said many times, genuine moves of God begin in the pulpit, go out into the pews, and work their way outward toward the world. Yet Social Justice has been forced upon the pews from the pulpit, which has been influenced by the world and the vain philosophies we were warned about in Colossians 2.
As I’ve said many times, it seems as though all of these Social Justice megapastors – from JD Greear to Matt Chandler to Tim Keller – are preaching from the same script. It now seems as though they literally are.
Pulpit crimes have been committed against the church:
- Pastors have plagiarized the work of others, atttributing their labor to themselves
- Pastors have derilected their duty to do their own study
- Pastors (or churches, unknowingly) have been paying people to do their pastor’s jobs
- Those writing the sermons and providing the “research” for nearly a million people a week (according to Docent) are Social Justice Commies, homosexuals, Romanists, Critical Race Theorists, and feminists.
The church has been invaded. This is a call to action for the Christian church:
- Ask your pastor if he has ever used Docent (or a similar group) to help his sermon “research”
- If so, ask to see the research they provided him compared to the sermon he preached
- If he did not preach his own words, without attributing them to the original author, fire him for thievery (1 Timothy 5:20)
- If he has been using church funds to provide a service that he is already paid to do, fire him for theivery (1 Timothy 5:20)
- Ask your church if there are anyone within it who has written for Docent (or a similar group) ghost-writing sermons for pastors knowing their words would not be attributed. Begin the Matthew 18 process to correct them.
[Editor’s Note: For hyperlinks, screenshots, and primary sources, read the lengthier article here]
A CALL TO ACTION
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