PART 1: EVERYTHING BUT THE FUNDING. THAT IS COMING IN PART 2.
NOTE: IF THIS ARTICLE IS TOO LONG TO READ FOR YOU, TRY OUR MUCH SHORTER VERSION, DOCENT FOR DUMMIES, PUBLISHED HERE.
Imagine a headline in which the newly elected president of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination was caught – within hours of his election – committing theft. This theft, a clear violation of God’s immutable Moral Law (Exodus 20:15) is fairly unique in that it contains within the stone tablets carved by God’s own anthropomorphic finger no explanation or asterisk. The 1st Commandment contained the reason for not worshipping other gods, the 2nd Commandment contains a lengthy description of what idolatry entails, the 3rd Commandment contained an imprecatory curse along with its edict. The 4th Commandment gave a long list of ways the Sabbath was to be observed. The 5th Commandment included a promise of blessing for those who follow it. The 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Commandments, however, included no caveats, curses, or blessings at all. They were simple enough that even pagans required no further explanation.
Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not lie.
Editor’s Note: This article is lengthy. For your convenience, we’ve hyperlinked its various parts so you can zoom forward past the parts of this saga with which you are already familiar:
- The first evidence of plagiarism (and the can of worms that followed)
- Greear plagiarizes his sermons, making his defense of Ed Litton’s plagiarism more understandable
- Greer deletes his article defining plagiarism and condemning it as theft
- The Docent Group (the basics)
- The Docent Group: A leftist plan by non-theologians to place progressive ideology into America’s pulpits (and examples of their left-wing writers)
- Why does Docent Exist?
- The public faces of Docent Group expose their leftist invasion into the church
What we have discovered in researching the Docent Group is that the plagiarism of Ed Litton – and what it further exposed about the plagiarism of JD Greear and ultimately enabled by the Docent Group – is widespread and pervasive in evangelicalism.
Within this article, you will discover the following: Writers and operators of the Docent Group are heavily connected with The Gospel Coalition, The Witness: Black Christian Collective (formerly RAAN), the ERLC, and the President of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
You will find an expose’ on the writers of Docent Group, and a survey (complete with photographic and primary-source evidence) that demonstrate the group universally holds to leftist-progressive ideologies, Marxism (in various forms), egalitarianism, and includes at least one practicing homosexual. You will discover that many have no theological training at all, but specialize in sociology and political activism.
In no uncertain terms, what we have discovered by researching Docent is that it is a coordinated effort across Big Eva to invade America’s churches with leftist ideology in the name of “sermon research,” all the while producing sermon-writing and facilitating plagiarism. Sermon plagiarism is hardly the only danger presented by Docent – the more dangerous issue is that the contents of the sermons provided by Docent present leftist ideology masquerading as exegesis.
New SBC President Ed Litton was exposed committing the sin of theft (that even pagans understand without divine explanation) mere hours after being narrowly elected. The first evidence of Litton’s plagiarism was his church’s doctrinal statement, which articulated a form of the heresy known as Sabellianism, Modalism, Monarchianism, or Partialism (which denies the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and Article II of the Baptist Faith & Message). The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BF&M) has been approved for use in almost all state conventions (including Alabama, where Ed Litton pastors), and is used as a requirement for employment in every Southern Baptist Convention national entity, every SBC seminary, almost every SBC undergraduate Bible College, and most SBC churches. There are some hold-outs who prefer the 1925 or 1963 versions of the BF&M, but every version upholds the Trinitarian doctrine, just as the ancient Athanasian and Nicene Creeds used to define basic Christian Orthodoxy for more than 1700 years.
The statement of faith on Litton’s website, however, did not affirm the Trinity (that God consists of three distinct persons and not “parts” or “masks” like Modalism, Sabellianism, or Monarchianism). It denied it – insisting the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are parts of God. On the basis of this doctrinal statement, Litton would have been defrocked, dis-ordained, or removed from the pastoral office, from the Roman Catholic Church to every single branch of Protestantism (with the exception of “Oneness Cults”).
Why the church belonging to the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention wasn’t using the BF&M as its doctrinal statement was bizarre enough, but that it used a doctrinal statement denying the Holy Trinity was beyond the pale of imaginable reality. Christians on Twitter soon began to point out his statement of faith was contrary to Southern Baptist (and Romanist or Protestant belief). Phoenix apologist, James White, pointed out the heresy of the statement in a lengthy blog article here.
Within hours, Litton had the statement removed from his church doctrinal statement, but the undeniable evidence of plagiarism was clear. The statement was apparently lifted, without attribution, from another church. That church appears to be the Dallas Bay Church (see below).
Litton’s church website made no attempt to credit Dallas Bay Church for their uniquely written word-for-word doctrinal statement. Neither did Litton apologize for stealing it publicly or – so far as we know – privately. While it is common for churches to use the doctrinal statements written by other churches (for example, thousands use the doctrinal statement of MacArthur’s Grace Community Church), we are unaware of any church not explicitly citing the source of their statement of faith.
Christians on Twitter – tipped off by Seth Dunn who to our knowledge was the first to discover the statement was a copy-paste without attribution – began to point out that not only was the statement askew; it was plagiarized.
At this point, Litton defenders argued that surely a pastor of a megachurch couldn’t be responsible – and probably wouldn’t even know what his church’s website stated. But this was the church’s official doctrinal statement. How could Litton not know?
The Scripture says, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)” and “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Timothy 4:16)” and these verses condemn Litton as doing neither.
AN EXPLOSION OF IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE OF WIDE-SPREAD PLAGIARISM THEN ABOUNDED
Reformation Charlotte, run by an evangelical and Baptist in good standing in his local church, Jeff Maples, first posted a video of Litton stealing Greear’s material entitled, Like Greear, New SBC President Says the Bible “Whispers” About Homosexuality. The subject matter is enough to turn the stomach of most Southern Baptists, arguing that God “whispers” about homosexuality but “screams” about greed (essentially saying we should condemn homosexuality as a lesser sin). Scripture answers:
“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” (Matthew 10:27)
The Bible clearly does not “whisper” about homosexuality. Nothing about God’s demolishing of Sodom was quiet, and neither was Paul quiet as he used homosexuality as the prime example of the depths of human depravity in Romans 1. Robert Jeffress pointed this out, referencing the Reformation Charlotte article, on the Todd Starnes program here (it is worth listening to).
Soon a YouTube Channel called “Bookman” showed a side-by-side video comparison evidencing Litton’s plagiarism of JD Greear (below).
An anonymous YouTube channel called, “Pastor Plagiarism,” posted three videos of Ed Litton preaching sermons from Romans, juxtaposing the words of Litton with the words of former SBC President, JD Greear.
So far, three of those videos from the YouTube Channel have been released, showing plagiarism from his sermons from Romans 1, Romans 7, and Romans 8 (see below, and click graphic for the link, or click here).
Following these releases, the polemics ministries of Reformation Charlotte, Capstone Report, and Protestia banded together to further the research into this scandal, demonstrating that Litton had not stolen a sermon or two, but virtually all of them from the series.
Capstone Report, run by an evangelical and Baptist in good standing in his local church, Alan Atchinson, posted a timeline of the plagiarism scandal entitled, “How an Ed Litton Plagiarism Scandal Became SermonGate”. As Atchinson pointed out while quoting Jeffress, “If [the Reformation Charlotte article] is true, it is tremendously troubling.”
Maples later put together a great collection of Litton’s words juxtaposed against their original authors in a mini-doc available below.
The polemics blogs stayed on it, with great credit going to Jeff Maples of Reformation Charlotte and Alan Atchison of Capstone Report. Capstone originally uncovered that Litton had been plagiarizing Greear at least as far back as 2015, then Maples put together a longer video demonstrating this. Maples posted another video demonstrating that Litton’s co-pastor was also plagiarizing Greear, and yet another showing that Litton was also plagiarizing Greear on Romans 12 and, frankly, who-knows-what-else. Protestia (editor, Dustin Germain) pointed out at least 15 sermons from Litton have been plagiarized by Greear.
Yet Litton wasn’t only plagiarizing Greear. Atchinson also showed evidence that Litton had plagiarized a sermon from Tim Keller, in which his wife also preached with him on stage.
World-renowned polemicist Justin Peters covered examples of Litton’s plagiarism in a video on June 28 (below).
The night Justin was finishing this video, I (JD Hall) spoke to Justin on the phone and was asked, “What do you think will happen?”
I was clear. Two things would occur by the next day. First, Greear would put out a statement calling the plagiarism flattering and second, dozens or hundreds of more of Litton’s sermons would come off-line and they needed to be downloaded and saved to hard drives immediately.
The very next day, Greear posted an article absolving Litton of theft and claiming that Litton had called to flatteringly compliment him on his Romans sermon series. Greear stated, “…Pastor Ed Litton reached out and told me that he had really appreciated my take on Paul’s warnings in that chapter and asked if he could use some of the content with his congregation, as well as how we had broken down our entire series on Romans at The Summit Church. I told him that whatever bullets of mine worked in his gun, to use them! My own take on these kinds of things is usually shaped by the input of many godly men and women. Ed and I have been friends for many years and we have talked often about these matters, and I was honored that he found my presentation helpful.”
There are several problems with Greear’s (predictable) statement in defense of his heir as SBC President.
- Litton did not use “some of the content” but plagiarized it largely word for word
- Litton did not attribute the content to Greear with his congregation, decieving them into thinking it was his own material
- What in the world did Greear mean when he said that [sermons] are “usually shaped by the input of many godly men and women?” If he meant commentaries, the men-part might be true. But if Greear meant that pastors typically use a sermon-writing team, that would come as a shock to most of the 14k SBC pastors and their congregations. This left everyone asking the question, what was Greear talking about?
Litton has shown no repentance whatsoever for his plagiarism, doubling down in sunshine-pumping friendly podcast appearances. In a non-interview public relations exercise for WKRG, he claimed that all the accusations of plagiarism have come from “unnamed sources.” While the above-mentioned YouTube videos are anonymous, the well-substantiated and indisputable accusations complete with video evidence have come from Southern Baptist laymen like Jeff Maples and Alan Atchinson who indeed have names. Furthermore, a long list of men, ranging from James White to Justin Peters, Rod Martin to Tom Buck, Gabe Hughs to Michael O’Fallon, and literally thousands of more men have pointed out Litton’s career of sermon-theft. Heck, various petitions have been launched online to call for his resignation in which people must sign up by name. Are names really necessary when the video evidence is so overwhelming and satisfies any biblical requirement for witnesses?
Litton continues to lie about his plagiarism (theft and lying are part and parcel to one another because deception is deception). In fact, Footage surfaced of Litton admitting to lying about how much he spends time in sermon prep…like…literally admitting to lying about sermon prep; this is not a paraphrase (read below):
Doing more damage control, Litton appeared on the sunshine-pumper platform SBC This Week, a podcast put on by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, to discuss this scandal. In the podcast, Litton compared his plagiarism of Greear to using a commentary (credit: Reformation Charlotte). Of course, quoting a commentary without citing it is also plagiarism.
Notice that synonyms for plagiarism, defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” has the synonyms of “piracy, theft, and stealing.”
Continuing his lack of repentance, Litton went on to blame his homiletics professor who he claims encouraged stealing others’ work with the analogy, “when a diamond miner goes looking for diamonds, he doesn’t hold up the pick and the shovel, he holds up the diamond.” Of course, stealing another man’s diamond is a good way to be thrown down the mine shaft in a normal world.
Litton continued to defend his theft, explaining that he “[employs] a preaching team approach at Redemption Church that is comprised of eight men from our staff/congregation who meet weekly to discuss study insights, outlines, and approaches to the text. This sermon prep process includes working in the languages, consulting commentaries and books, and listening to strong communicators. In that process, I learned about my friend J.D. Greear’s messages on Romans and discovered what he had recently preached resonated with the direction God was leading me and our preaching team. We often consulted his manuscripts along with other resources as we prepared.”
Litton has never, so far as we know, acknowledged that a “team” was writing (or stealing) his sermons and several comments from his own congregants in social media demonstrate that this was news to them.
Paul tells Pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 that his job as a pastor is to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” However, Litton likened having younger men write his sermons as “mentorship,” which seems to be precisely the opposite of how mentorship is supposed to work.
The pastor’s primary job is prayer, study, preaching, and teaching. The Scripture could not be clearer. In the same pastoral epistle (2 Timothy 2:4) Paul says that an elder must be “apt to teach.” Employing a “sermon writing team” and plagiarizing 15 years of sermons doesn’t seem to qualify.
Back when Richard Land, the predecessor to Russell Moore at the ERLC, was caught plagiarizing his material, a bevy of articles were released by those who wanted to see the more conservative ethicist replaced with one more resembling Russell Moore. Many SBC leaders wrote articles defining and repudiating plagiarism, and each and everyone clearly repudiates the actions of Ed Litton.
One of those defining plagiarism and calling it a disqualifying sin was JD Greear. Here’s what Greear had to say at the time (HT Ps. Cuatro Nelson):
How do we know Greear said this? It was certainly a strong statement that would condemn the presidency and pastorate of Ed Litton if Greear indeed said it. It reads, “If I ever preach the gist of another persons’ sermon, meaning that I used the lion’s share of their message’s organization, points, or applications, I give credit…”
Greear tweeted out his message against sermon theft in 2010.
[Editor’s Note: After this article came out, Greear put his article back up. We’ve yet been able to research if it has been edited]
Greear deleted this condemnation of plagiarism and theft as soon as Litton’s plagiarism scandal broke. If you click Greear’s tweet link (here) you’ll see that it’s been scrubbed (as best he could) from the Internet. However, the Internet has a memory only second to God’s, and the Wayback Machine has the article here. While Greear speaks in the tone of an emotive post-modernist, saying things like, “When I take a direct point or a line or the creative wording of a truth from someone, I feel like I should cite,” he also went through a point-by-point (preemptively) case for why Ed Litton “broke the rules of what is generally considered plagiarism.” Why would Greear delete the article, again? The timing of its deletion – coinciding with Litton’s plagiarism, gives the answer. Exodus 23:1-3 explicitly condemns judging a man with partiality. Just as God judges without respect of persons (Acts 10:34), so should JD Greear.
At the beginning of Greear’s article, in which he claimed that sermon-theft was “tricky” and provided a world of caveats that would both condemn Litton and yet go light on most forms of plagiarism, he cited an article from John Piper. To Piper’s credit, that article has not been deleted. In it, Piper said plainly…
“The essence of plagiarism is to give the impression that the ideas or words of another person are actually your own. This can be done intentionally (in which case it is outright theft) or unintentionally-but either way it is wrong.”
But why was Greear’s now-deleted post on plagiarism so much lighter than that of John Pipers? It is peculiar, for sure. But, the facts have come to light which makes the entire affair more understandable. Greear has been outsourcing his sermons.
Again, Reformation Charlotte broke this news (at least to us). In his article, JD Greear Admits to Purchasing Sermon Material to Make Himself Look Good, Jeff Maples titled the piece after a direct quotation from Greear in yet another deleted article.
Greear even gave the organization from which he plagiarizes his material. Its name…The Docent Group. The term “docent” refers to one who teaches underneath the internship of another. But as you will discover, the Docent Group is writing the sermons; and JD Greear, Tim Keller, and other megachurch pastors are the docents. The real sermon-writers (as you’ll see below) are largely unknown.
Meanwhile, one tweet of rebuke is particularly interesting. It comes from Anthony Bradley, who went from a theological conservative (who used to rail against religious race-baiting on the Glenn Beck Program as far back as 2008) to perhaps evangelicalism’s most notable race-baiter in 2021 (we chronicled his journey here), had this to say about Docent back in 2013:
To his credit, Bradley hasn’t changed his stance on plagiarism and called Greear and Litton’s plagiarism “pathetic” on July 12. Even pagans know thievery is wrong.
Again, from the memory bank of The Wayback Machine, Greear wrote a glowing affirmation for his sermon writers (to whom he has never given credit while preaching their sermons to his congregation). See it for yourself here.
Docent has been a humongous help to me, saving me literally hours each week and improving the quality of my preaching dramatically. These guys are the real deal. I give them assignments and questions on everything from interpretation to cultural analysis to illustration, and they get me thorough answers, always on time. They are outstanding scholars and really “get” my job as a communicator. I often have people remark to me, “How many hours did you spend on that sermon? Where do you get time to do all that research?” Ha. Thanks, guys for making me look so good! – JD Greear
The article, originally posted by Docent Group, lists its other users. Mark Driscoll, whose untimely demise at Mars Hill, which led to the megachurch’s collapse thanks to Janet Mefferd’s epic interview in 2013 in which she called him out on plagiarism in his books (along with a long list of scandals that then arose to the surface, placing straw upon straw upon the camel’s back of Driscoll’s leadership at the megachurch), proudly used the service. He was later caught plagiarizing in his books: A Call to Resurgence, Trial: 8 Witness from 1 & 2 Peter, and Real Marriage, to name a few. But, it was his sermon plagiarism using Docent Group that was the real pulpit scandal.
Driscoll said of Docent Group…
Docent has been invaluable to me. I think I have had them do nearly everything but cut my grass. They have saved me hundreds of hours of work and multiplied my effectiveness. I have recommended them to lots of friends because any ministry that serves leaders who serve God’s people is a great gift.
Other endorsers on the website include Pastors Craig Groeschel, Judd Willhite, Matt Carter, Austin Stone, Dave Nelson, Roger Patterson, Patrick Kelly, Ryan Rush, Vic Pentz, and David Swanson.
All of these men have at least two things in common (1) they are megachurch pastors and (2) they are proponents of social justice.
But these aren’t the only men. The Marxist head of the Social Justice Movement in evangelicalism (and registered Democrat), Tim Keller, still has an endorsement of Docent Group up online. In doing so, he recommended the group based upon their savviness on “cultural and social topics.” Ask yourself where this registered Democrat stands on cultural and social topics.
Keller claimed that ministry is more difficult now than in years previous and that we need to understand “our local culture.” He credited Brad Vermurlen of Docent Research Group to “help you understand your local culture better.” Wherever you’re reading this from, it’s unlikely Vermurlen knows your local culture, but we digress.
What Vermurlen does know, however, is how to use a movement like the Reformed Resurgence to promote progressive-liberal ideology into the church in the name of religion.
His book, Reformed Resurgence: The New Calvinist Movement and the Battle Over American Evangelicalism, was – unsurprisingly – given a sterling review at The Gospel Coalition (the primary pseudo-religious, uber-political organization driving evangelicalism leftward) by contributor, Nathan Finn.
Despite writing a book on how to use the Reformed Resurgence for “cultural change” (read that: political change), he self-identifies as an “ecumenical Christian traditionalist.“
The synopsis reads as follows, “Vermurlen develops a new theory for understanding how conservative religion can be strong and thrive in the hypermodern Western world. His paradigm uses and expands on strategic action field theory, a recent framework proposed for the study of movements and organizations that has rarely been applied to religion. This approach to religion moves beyond market dynamics and cultural happenstance and instead shows how religious strength can be fought for and won as the direct result of religious leaders’ strategic actions and conflicts.”
Where was Vermurlen trained? What is his sermon expertise? Here’s a PDF of his bio and resume’ and it’s amazing (in a bad way).
[Editor’s Note: Vermurlen reached out to Protestia to claim that he’s not a Roman Catholic, he just subscribes to Roman Catholic theology, works for a Roman Catholic Organization, and identifies instead as an ecumenist. You can see the screenshots provided and judge for yourself]
He has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in sociology and is the driving force behind Tim Keller’s sermons and Docent Group in general. His dissertation, which was available here (we cannot provide a free copy without copyright infringement) was taken to “private” after the Docent scandal broke. However, the dissertation abstract (still available) reads…
“Calvinism has long been of interest to social scientists as a strict, early modern theological system that eventually led to the rise of modern capitalism, radical politics, and state power. This project turns the lens on Calvinism more directly, investigating and explaining the increasing prominence of Calvinism in American Evangelicalism today, especially among Millennials. This “New Calvinist” or “neo-Reformed” movement has garnered nationwide attention in recent years as a significant and influential Christian trend that runs counter to advanced-modern sensibilities of self-determination, relativistic tolerance, and egalitarianism. This work explains how pastors, seminary professors, and other Calvinistic leaders use and engage with elements of today’s culture to position themselves strategically in relation to the rest of American Evangelicalism, and how this serves to advance their distinctive early modern ideology and power over the field.
It goes on, “Working at the intersection of the sociology of culture, religion, organizations, and movements—and highlighting issues related to power, conflict, ideologies, strategy, gender, and more—this project develops a new, field-theoretic model of institutional religious strength…. Data are from participant observation at three leading Calvinist mega-churches across the United States; interviews with 75 pastors, seminary professors, and other Evangelical leaders; and content analysis of Evangelical books, sermons, and websites.”
Surely you can see the point; This is how to commandeer the pulpit to overturn the old paradigms and Calvinist traditions such as “capitalism.” From his own resume’ and bio, his employment included being a Presidential Fellow at the Roman Catholic Notre Dame, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D.
Vermurlen’s Twitter profile is more specific as to his current moonlighting.
What is the IACSUSC in his bio?
The guy Keller uses for his sermon “prep” and who is a leading figure with Docent group also is a fellow for “Advanced Catholic Studies,” a “hub for scholarship that fosters Catholic thought, imagination and experience.” Again, this explains a lot, especially as it pertains to Tim Keller, who as E.S. Williams (of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle) exposed in his book, has an infatuation for Roman Catholics and argued on the Catholic Radio program, First Things, that he fervently believes that affirming the Apostles Creed is proof of justifying faith.
*Vermurlen reached out to Protestia on Twitter and argued that he didn’t write Keller’s sermons, but only spoke at Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church for a two-day seminary. As atrocious as that is alone, we’ll let Keller’s own words (above) speak for themselves.
Notice the lectures given on Vermurlen’s bio:
- “Religious Congregations in the United States as Constituting a Strategic Action Field.”
- “Religious and Secular Organizations in Progressive Political Activism.”
- “Religious Youth Group as an Arena for Social Causal Mechanisms.”
- “The Embodied Spirit and the Internal Roots of Weberian Marxism.”
On the self-provided bio on his own website, Vermurlen lists his influences (mostly Romanist Liberation Theologians) along with a few other figures including Tim Keller, Rod Dreher, Kevin DeYoung, Russell Moore, and Carl Trueman (note: all are either now or have been council members of The Gospel Coalition, with the exception of Rod Dreher, the Eastern Orthodox idolater who ordered Christians out of “the culture wars” in his book The Benedict Option; I wrote a response to his book, called The Benedict Arnold Option). Dreher’s book, which was featured at TGC and by Albert Mohler (Dreher – an idolater who denies penal substitution preached at SBTS’ chapel services) was part of a 1-2 punch for the Evangelical Intelligentsia’s game plan to turn evangelicalism to the left. The first part of the plan was to convince conservative Christians to stop being engaged in the so-called “culture wars” (Russell Moore promised he would not fight cultural battles when he took over the ERLC), which lasted from 2012 to 2016. At the election of Donald Trump, the second phase began and continues to this day. Now, these same individuals are demanding that Christians start fighting on the leftward side of the culture wars (Gospel Coalition writers like Paul Tripp, for example – another Gospel Coalition board member – claimed that they had been preaching a “truncated gospel” for not preaching Social Justice all along).
The change between “Social Justice is bad” and “Social Justice is good” among the Evangelical Intelligentsia could not be better documented than in the 2012 debate between Albert Mohler and Jim Wallis (the far-left leader of Sojourners). Mohler took the side of Social Justice being a distraction from the work of the church (watch the video here). But after Big Eva spent four years telling Christians to get out of the political fight, they entered back into it and by 2018, Mohler not only refused to sign the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel (which was his position in 2012), he demanded that his faculty not sign the statement under threat of firing, and eventually fired the lone professor who signed it despite his threat and all other remaining conservatives at the seminary.
It should come as little surprise then that Albert Mohler – also a Gospel Coalition board member – wrote a sterling endorsement for Common Ground: Conversations that Matter the Most, written by the founder of the Docent Group, Glenn Lucke (see below). All roads to and from the Docent Group origins point to The Gospel Coalition.
Meanwhile, Vermurlen – who worked for Docent and Lucke – in his same bio brags of “awards” by the now-woke Mere Orthodoxy, uber-woke Alan Noble, and the pro-LGBTQ Calvin College. He also explains that he worked with Ronnie Floyd (SBC Executive Committee President), Mark Driscoll, and Matt Chandler. The latter has his own page at Docent Research Group. Vermulen brags that his Catholic-driven work to invade American Reformed Theology has wrought him $194,530 in grants alone from Catholic or Social Justice organizations. This does not count the money he has made writing other people’s sermons. These facts demonstrate that there is significant money being put into invading America’s pulpits.
Ronnie Floyd’s use of Docent was interesting, to say the least. We do not know if Floyd (also a TGC contributor) has been plagiarizing his sermons from Docent like Greear and the others, but Vermurlen testifies that Floyd used his work – a Social Justice Warrior and Roman Catholic – to restructure the SBC under the 2010 Great Commission Resurgence Taskforce Report (over which Floyd presided, and is marked by many as the beginning of the conservative reign over the denomination).
In his bio, Vermurlen cites his helping Floyd orchestrate the GCRTR, writing, “I articulated examples from modern history and sociology of how extant social structures and systems change when the Spirit of God moves. The full report, which also included examples from the Bible, was used in the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
As an aside, I was present in Orlando when Floyd’s task force report was passed and remarked at the time that Morris Chapman’s sermonette against it was the finest preaching I had ever heard (you can read Chapman’s perspective on it here). In fact, I was intending to vote for the GCRTR but Chapman’s stirring words, assuring us it would turn the denomination to the left, spurned my conscience to vote against it. For those who are unaware, Morris became president of the SBC in 1990, which marked the end of the Conservative Resurgence battles which began with the presidency of Adrian Rogers in 1979 (Morris was a staunch conservative, and after his tenure, the liberal left or – like Albert Mohler – went “underground” until about 2016).
Again, Vermurlen’s own website states, “Also, I subscribe pretty much entirely to Catholic social teaching.” That hyperlink was provided by Vermulren, and takes you to a book on Amazon entitled Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The book’s own editorial review references its promotion of globalism, environmentalism, and casts dispersions upon capitalism as a part of the church’s “social doctrine” (read that: Social Justice).
Considering that Brad Vermurlen was an early driving force of the Docent Group, and a Romanist who wrote a dissertation and later a book on how to use the “Reformed Resurgence” and “New Calvinism” to bring about social and political change, what does this say for the rest of the group writing America’s megachurch sermons?
THE DOCENT GROUP: A LEFTIST PLAN BY NON-THEOLOGIANS TO FIT PROGRESSIVE IDEOLOGY INTO AMERICA’S PULPITS (AND AN EXAMPLE OF THIER LEFTWING WRITERS)
As explained above, Vermulen’s main work has been promoting Roman Catholic Liberation Theology and Social Justice into Reformed evangelical circles. According to Vermurlen’s book (linked above), “New Calvinism” can be used as a “sociological framework to bring about cultural change,” and is eerily similar to the warnings I gave about New Calvinism at the Judge Not Conference in 2017 (see below). The book, written by Vermurlen, lines out the game plan simply enough; use America’s pulpits to change our social, cultural, political traditions, and beliefs.
If you’re wondering if Brad Vermurlen of Docent Research group is a conservative or liberal, here are a few screenshots of his Twitter page.
“Black Feminist Sociologists” kind of says it all, doesn’t it? This is the dude helping Tim Keller write sermons.
Biological sex is gender. It’s not an ideology. It’s science. But let’s go on… Vermurlen positively cites Phillip Holmes, the son-in-law of Voddie Baucham who has taken the opposite position from Bro. Voddie on Social Justice and who now takes part in The Witness: Black Christian Collective (formerly the Reformed African American Network) a Critical Race Theory organization. In case you’re wondering where this organization stands on politics, check out their politics section here (many written by Jemar Tisby). Their articles praise Kamala Harris, repeatedly call Republicans “racists” and push #BlackLivesMatter activism. Make no mistake about it; this is the “cultural and social changes” Tim Keller, Brad Vermurlen, and the Docent Group have been using New Calvinism to promote.
There’s more to be found in Vermulen’s Twitter feed. For example, he RTs Neil Shenvi, who has presented himself (fraudulently) as against Critical Race Theory (most CRT opponents have figured this out by now) while sitting under JD Greear’s pastorate and speaking (ostensibly) as a CRT expert, absolving every notable CRT advocate as not teaching CRT. This type of this is called “controlled opposition.” Or, consider Vermulen’s RT and ‘like’ of James Lindsay (an opponent of CRT) claiming that “liberals are playing for power and playing for keeps.” It’s clear that he was trolling Lindsay, and agreeing that yes, we are playing for power and playing for keeps.
From the RT below, you can see that clearly, Vermurlen is on the side of CRT.
Check out the other video endorsements for Docent Group from the megachurch pastors they’ve selected to highlight, and try to find a genuine conservative. We double-dog dare you.
There are other plagiarists-for-hire besides Vermurlen, of course. While Docent Group keeps their sermon writers secret (as you would imagine), we have found some who have bragged about working as sermon writers for Docent in social media.
Is Tucker a conservative? On March 23, he affirmed and quoted JD Greear, complaining that Christians are leaving their church over things that don’t matter (read that: Social Justice and egalitarianism).
And he aligns himself (apparently) with Social Justice Warriors Matt Smethurst and Jackie Hill Perry. Oh, and Dallas Willard (I would say “God rest his soul,” but I’d be lying). Oh, and Beth Moore. This is another guy writing sermons for megachurch pastors. See the problem? Do you see the connections?
In a now-deleted tweet (thank you, screenshot technology), Caleb Murphree acknowledged his work with Docent Group.
He’s a homosexual. See his profile now.
Docent appears to be asking their writers to scrub their social media of references to Docent (or in the unlikely case, Murphree went back to a tweet from 2010 to delete it only days ago without being prompted by Docent). Either way, Caleb Murphree is now “#faithfullyLGBT.”
And lest someone say that his tweet doesn’t imply he worked for Docent per se, here’s a screenshot from his LinkedIn profile…(see below). He also worked for Solomon’s Porch, Urban Village Church, a denominational position with the United Methodist Church, Redemption Bible Church, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
How many evangelical megachurch pastors preached sermons by this gay United Methodist? There’s no telling.
Robbie Foreman – now pastor at Together Church – worked for Docent.
You can see his profile below. And, he proudly admits to being a writer for Docent on his church website.
His RTs include Lecrae, Stetzer, Beth Moore, Hershell York, and the regular “Big Eva” celebrities. But mostly, he shares material from Church Fuel, a Docent Group knock-off that provides “research” for pastors.
Proverbs 26:11 comes to mind here.
Zack Nielson is another writer for Docent Research Group. See his tweet, below.
As of July 16, his last tweets are RTs of the following people (in this order): Gavin Ortlund (The Gospel Coalition’s Ray Ortlund’s son and fellow Social Justice Warrior – Nielson also RT’d a tweet from Ortlund interviewing Russell Moore for his “courage“), ACTS29, Tim Keller (TGC), and Kevin DeYoung (TGC). Oh, and there’s plenty of Jen Wilkin (TGC, who preached a few weeks ago that a woman’s period is a metaphor for the crucifixion), lesbian Rebecca McLaughlin (TGC) in there, too. But is this Social-Justice-by-association?
That article (linked above), promoted by Nielsen, claims that Christians who supported Trump are guilty of “blasphemy, in service to ideology, leading to idolatry, justified by heresy.” How many sermons has this guy written which have been preached to the millions of Christians subjected to megachurch plagiarism?
Docent also has the help of The Witness in finding their plagiarists-for-hire. See below.
We mentioned The Witness earlier in the article. As a reminder, they pretended to be Reformed and conservative evangelicals, before coming out as Critical Race Theorists and social justice warriors (and thankfully, changed their name in the process). They are, and I will write it again even under the threat of redundancy, that they are among the most liberal, Marxist organizations in all of Christendom.
Heather Joy Zimmerman is another writer for Docent Group (see below).
The byline comes at the end of an article posted on (The Gospel Coalition’s) Ed Stetzer’s Christianity Today sub-blog, The Exchange. She is one of Stetzer’s students at Wheaton. Would it surprise you that Zimmerman is an egalitarian feminist and liberal? Shocking, right?
Here is her pinned tweet…
1 Timothy 2 disallows women from preaching or teaching in the church. And yes, we hope pastors know the Bible more than anything else.
Here she is calling concern over Critical Race Theory (Cultural Marxism) “paranoia” and a “red herring.”
And another praising lady preachers.
Ashley Gorman was another Docent writer. Look at her bio (below) to see that she was both a plagiarist-for-hire at Docent and a staff-member at JD Greear’s Summit Church. According to her LinkedIn profile, she currently works for Lifeway Christian Resources (an SBC entity) heading up “Women’s Publishing.” Imagine that…a woman who used to write other people’s material, now working for an SBC publishing house (we’re just positive there’s no plagiarism going on there, right?).
She has since password-protected her own website.
Thankfully, the Wayback Machine saved her article, which attacked the pro-life movement and derided Christians who attended a pro-life rally. Although she stated her positional opposition to abortion, Gorman likened abortion to a necessary evil because Christians are not prepared to handle all of the “unwanted babies.” She wrote…
She went on to say, “Let me be clear: Places like Planned Parenthood exist because the average woman in crisis doesn’t feel safe or comfortable approaching people in the church for help or guidance.” Right. Abortion is the fault of the people at pro-life rallies.
She later added, “The sad truth is that Planned Parenthood has been meeting a need that the church has ignored.”
Another writer for Docent Group is Grayson Pope. You can see his Twitter bio below.
Pope’s website exposes not only his work for Docent, but that the ERLC uses Docent writers without attribution. And in fact, it uses Docent writers with false attribution.
He’s also used his Twitter and blog to provide a “Christian defense” for not voting for Trump
Notice that the ERLC falsely attributed the article to Heather Rice-Minus, who is attributed with 14 articles at the ERLC website (how many did she really write?). But don’t worry, he still loves Russell Moore’s newsletter (which he probably wrote).
Is anyone in Big Eva writing their own stuff?
One should ask why no conservative Docent writers could be found (not one) in our research. It is probably due to one of two reasons, or a combination thereof;
(1) Anyone with an ounce of Biblical integrity would not take payment for writing a sermon they know will be plagiarized
(2) The Docent Group intentionally hires only Social Justice advocates, Critical Theorists, and feminists to write sermons for America’s pulpits.
It’s been established that from Tim Keller to JD Greear, from Craig Groeschel to Ed Litton (at least by extension of plagiarism) reaches a lot of people. In fact, they claim to provide the sermon “research” for more than a million people every month.
The organization claims, “Docent’s work reaches over a million people every month who are blessed by pastors better equipped to do their work and backed up by excellent research. Docent brings the resources of the academy into the life of the church in simple, helpful ways.”
Ah, yes. “The academy.” What would we do without them?
But aren’t pastors supposed to spend their time laboring in the Word, studying to show themselves approved? Isn’t that why the diaconate was invented so that church leaders could devote themselves to preaching (Acts 6:2)? Aren’t we told in Isaiah 40:28-29 to “not tire in studying God’s Word”? Aren’t we told to meditate upon God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1:2)?
According to Docent, there’s not enough time for a pastor to do their one primary job.
The Docent Group says, “There isn’t enough time in the day for pastors to do all the things they need to do. The modern pastor is an administrator, organizer, and strategic planner, but many pastors weren’t trained to do these things in seminary or didn’t get into pastoral ministry for these reasons. We leverage our Researchers to maximize our client’s time and help them focus on the things they are called to do.”
The “researchers” (aka sermon-writers) do the pastor’s actual job, but Docent Group is run by political leftists, Critical Theorists, Social Justice Warriors, and egalitarians preparing sermons for millions of people. They do so only for megachurch pastors whose budgets are in the millions of dollars, who can afford their services.
However, the Holy Spirit has spiritually gifted to the church administrators (1 Corinthians 12:28, Romans 12:8). Each and every one of the megachurch pastors have staffs of dozens (or more) staff members, secretaries, assistants, and organizers. For example, JD Greear’s church, Summit Church, has a staff of 32 people, including a Pastor of Executive Leadership, Pastor of Strategic Development, and three “executive assistants.” Of course, seminary doesn’t equip pastors for administration because that’s a gift dolled out by the Holy Spirit and that’s why pastors – when not preparing sermons – have the secondary task of “preparing the saints for ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).
A SMALL CHURCH PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE (this section is not hyperlinked at the beginning of this article as it is more anecdotal than empirical).
Let’s be perfectly honest here: The vast majority of evangelical pastors are bi-vocational at nearly 80%. In the SBC, that figure is 50%. In my church, of about 130 members, we have one full-time pastor, two bi-vocational elders, and one part-time secretary. I put in 40 hours of pastoral church work a week, and at least another 40 hours in other projects (chiefly, Gideon Knox Group, which is part passion and part necessity to afford a house full of children and pay legal bills when I’m sued by the LGBTQ). This leaves approximately 42 hours a week sleeping at six hours per night and about 4 hours a day with my family, and another 2 hours or getting sucked into Wikipedia wormholes (or whatever else). Extra time is devoted to the family on the Christian Sabbath. That leaves a few hours a week for various hobbies like hunting, archery, and plannning for the Zombie Apocalypse (I gest…kind of). However, unlike many pastors, I have my own writing teams. These guys, like Dustin Germain, Seth Dunn, and Jeff Maples (who has moved on to his own media operations) are the best writers out there. I have many publications, radio stations, and paid writers outside of polemics (like for the Montana Daily Gazette, the Insurgency, and so on) who I have trained with the Wrecking Ball™ Writing Course. All of my employees – regardless of the publication (political or religious), including secretaries, radio station managers, and communications contractors – are required to be members in good standing of local churches with their pastors’ recommendations (even my sales personnel, and yes I’m aware that violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act and don’t care). But my writers, in particular, are stone-cold linguistic assassins, wordsmiths, and expert glossarists. I’m convinced that any one of them can write a sermon better than whatever anonymous Comintern plagiarist-for-hire works for the Docent Group. Never have I once asked for their assistance in writing a sermon because that’s the job the Holy Spirit assigned me when he made me an overseer (Acts 20:28) of this church for the last 15 years. That’s my job; God gave it to me.
My sermon “research team” consists of John MacArthur’s New Testament commentaries, Matthew Henry, John Gill, William Mounce, the Pulpit Commentary set, and a whole list of dead guys whose books fill my office shelves, wall-to-wall (all cited when quoted in a sermon).
However, there are absolutely weeks when 4-7 hours of sermon prep is not possible. In the last few years I’ve buried teenage girls. I’ve handled the estate of brothers who died with no family but the church. I’ve searched for dead bodies floating in the river. I’ve chased down drunken church members at 2AM (don’t worry, we do Biblical discipline) to take their keys and drive them home. I’ve driven 4 hours to the nearest competent hospital to visit the sick or dying more times than I can count. I’ve cleaned up brains off of the screen door when a man shot himself in front of his family. I was delegated as the pastor to visit all the COVID-19 positive “house bound” members of other churches whose own pastors wanted to avoid the cold. I do free addiction counseling for the community. I pick up beef from ranchers to stock our church’s food pantry freezers. I do jail ministry and (ordinarily) four Bible studies a week, two of which are hours from church on the local Indian reservations or satellite communities. And, in the case of the last month, go on speaking tours in which I’ve spent four nights at home in four weeks. We have deacons, and they do their job. But there are some things that only pastors can do, and that means sermon-prep sometimes suffers.
However, the Scripture provides the solution to this problem.
Like Timothy, I’ve been acquainted with the Scripture from my youth (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and am not a novice (1 Timothy 3:6) and have stored up God’s Word in my heart (Psalm 119:11). I am always prepared to provide a defense for my hope in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15). God has placed his word in my soul (Deuteronomy 11:18-23). I have stored up his commandments within me (Proverbs 2:1-5). I have the anointing from God who helps me in my weakness (1 John 2:27). My church will not be destroyed by a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). And because I preach expositionally, line by line and precept by precept (Isaiah 28:9-10) I don’t have to worry about where I’ll be in the Text. I know the Scripture, and therefore I know the power of God (Matthew 22:29). I have never asked God for wisdom and lacked it (James 1:5). The Word of Christ dwells in me richly (Colossians 3:16). And never, ever is the Bible opened on Sunday morning at the pulpit and returns void (Isaiah 55:11). And finally, if I am providentially hindered from being present, there are men right behind me to pick up where I left off (because we disciple believers). In fact, I’ve told the men that if I die in the pulpit to push my corpse aside and finish the sermon.
That said, from the perspective of a small-church pastor in the Montana West, I can tell you that if a man can’t shoot from the hip, he isn’t a real gunslinger. And if a pastor can’t shoot from the hip when time limits his sermon prep, he isn’t a real preacher. And let me be very clear on this point; I am not special. I have more help than most pastors, the vast majority of whom are working like dogs at secular jobs and would rather the ground swallow them like in Korah’s Rebellion than to outsource their preaching to speech-writers. And that’s because delivering someone else’s sermon means you’re not a theologian; you’re a thespian. Speaking for small church pastors everywhere, may everything The Docent Group stands for go straight to hell where it belongs.
BACK TO DOCENT
Docent Group writes, “We carefully pair graduate-level researchers with our clients based on theological compatibility, and we develop relationships with clients to get to know what resources would enrich their ministry.”
Interestingly enough, the Docent Group employs at least one Roman Catholic. But, we know the Statements of Faith of none of the writers because they are anonymous. From the statement above, it appears that they are students (or if interpreted differently) graduates. It does not say of what they are graduates. Like Brad Vermurlen, perhaps they are sociologists, and not theologians. Perhaps they have genders studies degrees. Perhaps they have graduate degrees in community organizing. And what are they a graduate from? Seminary? Bible College? The State University?
Given that most megachurch pastors have gone down the ecclesiologically inexcusable route of the multi-campus church growth model, they probably don’t care, but the Scripture says…
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
Does outsourcing your sermon plagiarism to random speech-writers from across the country count as “paying careful attention to the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you an overseer?” Is outsourcing it to God-knows-who, who graduated from God-knows-where, with a doctrinal statement of God-knows-what count as “caring for the church of God?”
Furthermore, examine the quality of the character of men who write the sermons of other men, anonymously, knowing their work will be stolen without attribution and portrayed to the congregation as it were their own. Do these men have the qualifications for the pastorate? Does this not speak of their own moral failures and character disqualifications to be preparing sermons for the flock of God?
We do know of one man who wrote sermons for the intended purposes of plagiarism; Jared Wilson. If you’re on Twitter, you’ll know the name. He’s a prominent Social Justice Advocate, Critical Race Theorist apologist, and egalitarian (or a “soft complementarian”) as he calls it. He also writes for The Gospel Coalition.
I was going to provide a long list of CRT-heavy, Social Justice-laden tweets from Wilson, but it turns out that I’m blocked by him already, which is odd because I don’t remember ever tweeting him since my return to Twitter.
However, his tweets are necessary to prove the point. Consider this line from The Gospel Coalition, in which he
makes a moral case for voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump: disparaged Christians who voted for Trump.*
[Editor’s Correction: Wilson’s attacks upon Trump were more nuanced than the statement suggests, in which provides the case for a Third Party. Wilson noted on Twitter…
“I said it before the election, and I’ll say it now: most evangelical support of Donald Trump was hypocritical, double-minded. Character matters, except when it doesn’t. Biblical virtue matters, except when it doesn’t. When power and influence (and fear) are on the line, we will sell out in a heartbeat. The result is this: evangelicalism as an institutional movement has revealed itself to be exactly what the world has accused it of being all along.”]
Speaking of Christians who voted for Trump, Wilson said, “…But what institutional evangelicalism has gained in a presidency it has lost, in my estimation, in gospel witness. And it’s not like this was hanging in the balance. Evangelical credibility was already circling the drain. It just experienced a decisive flush last night.”
But the only reason you’d vote for Trump would be to prioritize the politics of power over principles, since this man would arguably be the most unqualified leader of the free world in our history
Read his tweets. Google the man’s words. It’s sufficient enough. However, we have already covered Wilson’s Social Justice Warrioring sufficiently in our previous work, including his open warning that George Whitefield – arguably the greatest evangelist in both European and American history –
was not a Christian because he wasn’t woke. argued, he has “no complaints with those who cannot believe [Whitefield] was” a believer.
Wilson posted an article at The Gospel Coalition endorsing Social Justice warriors Ray Ortland (who, like Wilson, is also a board member of TGC)*, super-woke Mike Cosper, and pro-LGBTQ Eugene Peterson. Wilson defended TGC editor Joe Carter when he was resoundingly rebuked for claiming that the term “Cultural Marxism” is anti-semitic (because Frankfurt School Marxists – who developed and coined the term “Cultural Marxism” – were mostly Jews who had evacuated the Third Reich, a historic fact of which the ethnicity part is wholly irrelevant to those of us fighting for the real gospel over the Social Gospel).
[Editor’s Note: *Wilson has not been a board member of TGC, but a regular contributor there]
Meanwhile, Wilson the Social Justice Warrior wrote as a hired gun for Docent. He admits such in two articles at The Gospel Coalition, one here and one here. The prior link is interesting, as Wilson admits to editing Driscoll’s books and Driscoll blamed his plagiarism on his editors. But the latter is especially interesting.
One client I worked for only wanted sermon illustrations, pages and pages of them, no exegesis, no reference excerpts.
In the article (linked above), Wilson complains Docent’s client didn’t want “exegesis.” That’s interesting because Docent Group doesn’t say it does exegesis (the work of sermon-writing). Yet, Wilson admits that this particular client was an oddity because all he wanted was illustrations and not exegesis.
This also naturally leads one to ask; “if he did want exegesis, would you have provided it for him?” We know that other Docent employees did.
This observation by Wilson confirms reviews of other clients of Docent, where one pastor thanked the enterprise for crafting “exegetical material” for him. One of the companies that Docent partners with, Fellowship One, likewise advertised that Docent offered “theological insights” and “exegetical analysis of scripture.”
Thanks, Jared. You just told us what Docent Research Group is really up to.
Although their hired hands are private, Docent Group does expose four leaders on their website (below).
Glenn Lucke (mentioned above as the “founder and president,” whose book was endorsed by Albert Mohler), is a writer at The Gospel Coalition (see below).
However, Wilson’s own diatribe on Docent (mentioned above) demonstrates that contrary to his bio at TGC, the organization does mostly sermon-writing, not “customized research.”
His tweets are now “protected” (see below).
And if you try to find response tweets to @GlennLucke in regard to social justice you’ll find he deleted them (search his Twitter handle and “social justice”).
However, tracking Lucke’s support for Social Justice isn’t hard. He edited a book in the honor of Richard Pratt with Gospel Coalition writer (and Social Justice Warrior) Justin Holcomb, which you can see below or click here. With Docent’s track record, God only knows what “edited” means.
Richard L. Pratt was a professor at Social Justice proponent, Ligon Duncan’s (and James Riady’s), Reformed Theological Seminary. Duncan is a council member of The Gospel Coalition. Pratt then founded Third Millennium Ministries, another Docent-esque knock-off that provides sermons to pastors (for a price) and primarily exists to support Social Justice. See the screenshots from their website below.
An interesting scholarly paper by Lucke goes into great detail on how Protestant pastors engage in culture wars on topics like homosexuality and abortion, and seems to dismiss the value of such important matters. Entitled, Protestant Clergy and the Culture Wars: An Empirical Test of Hunter’s Thesis, Lucke writes, “Protestant clergy are, somewhat, though not completely, polarized in their attitudes on these matters.” He seems to have the intellectual acumen to know exactly how the American pulpit works and how it can be manipulated.
James Gordon, the personnel manager and project manager for Docent, also works for Wheaton College.
During the summer of 2019, James Gordon’s desire for racial equality led him to offer to “light the first match” if chaos and destruction was necessary to bring it about (click here or see below). Less than a year later, Black Lives Matter and Antifa followed his lead and torched and looted cities all over the country in supposed pursuit of Gordon’s noble goal.
As the “Social Justice Archive” pointed out, he deleted the tweet (HT Jacob Brunton). Have you noticed that all these guys delete a lot of stuff? Gordon has deleted his entire account in more recent days, but tweets to him by Social Justice Warriors by men like Griffin Gulledge – on the topic of Social Justice and CRT – show us where he stood before he began shoving his material down the Orwellian Memory Hole.
Notice, from a now-deleted tweet, that Gordon holds that “Black people can’t be racist,” a CRT tenet that says only “racism = bigotry plus power.”
Working for the extremely woke Wheaton College, which has been accused by the American Family Association’s One News Now news arm of a “wokeness epidemic” removed the plaque of missionary martyr Jim Elliot because – apparently – evangelizing Indigenous peoples is somehow “racist.” Like Jon Harris has done with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), Wheaton alumni have also chronicled their Downgrade into Social Justice extremism. They have professors, like Natan Cartagena, whose job it is to actually teach Critical Race Theory (affirming it).
But next, we come to Joy Harris, who is listed as Docent’s Operation’s Administrator. However, that’s not her only job. She also works for Public Square Strategies.
And what is Public Square Strategies? See below.
Who is Michael Wear? He was an Obama staffer and also an “Ambassador to America’s Believers.” Heck, he even wrote a book about it.
We have written about Michael Wear many times, and he has repeatedly shown up in various Big Eva forums trying to turn American evangelicals to the left. He was Obama’s ambassador to us, after all.
Wear wrote a book praising Obama’s faith (see here). Wear wrote an article for the ERLC asking Christians to ease up on our convictions when we vote (see here). Wear preached at JD Greear’s church (see here).
And, Michael Wear co-founded The (&) Campaign. This deserves a special note. Take a look at the screenshot below and click here for the original link. The article states, “Michael Wear is Chief Strategist at the AND Campaign.”
These two weren’t the only co-founders, however. Other co-founders also include Sho Baraka (the foul-mouthed, dope-smoking rapper that Mohler let lead worship at Southern Seminary). He was later dropped from Lifeway for explicit lyrics. His work in founding the organization, with Wear, is in this podcast on SoundCloud.
Another founder of the (&) Campaign was Dhati Lewis (Sho Baraka’s brother), which you can read about at Capstone Report here. As the article points out, Dhati Lewis, who founded this organization to instill “social justice in our politics” runs the Southern Baptist Convention’s SEND church planting network for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Dhaiti Lewis’s church website states he is the president of the SEND network. He’s also the host of their SEND podcast, according to NAMB, as well as the president.
Consider this: The man who runs NAMB’s church planting network is co-founder of an organization whose primary purpose is to use churches to promote Democrat politics.
To reiterate, the Operation Administrator for Docent Group is an employee of Michael Wear, who put the ad campaign together.
Amber Bowen, the last of. the four public faces of Docent Group, also works at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary run by another TGC leader, Danny Akin. She heads their “Intersect Project.” You might notice the name is borrowed from the tenet of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality. It should suffice to point out in this article she derides those who refer to transvestites as having a “mental disorder” (not on the grounds that it’s a spiritual disorder, but because it’s mean) and repeatedly refers to Bruce Jenner as “Caitlyn.” Or consider this article she wrote for SEBTS, imploring Christians to read and agree with the work of a French Philosopher, Post-Modern Deconstructionist, and full-blown Marxist.
COST OF DOCENT
We have spoken to megachurch pastors who have been approached by Docent Group, off-record, and asked for price lists for the cost of sermon creation. These pastors, with whom we are more familiar, would never have considered such a plagiarism service and so they never received a price list for their work. In recent days, we have asked Docent Group through several different large-church pastors for a price list for their services. As of the time of publication, Docent Group has not responded to a single request for information.
One conservative megachurch pastor told us, off-record, that a fellow megachurch pastor in his town pays “roughly 3 times the ‘bankable hours’ that Docent advertises it takes for its work – in underestimates in its sales material – so multiply by 3 usually.” That’s a lot of money to use Docent’s plagiarism services.
But to be clear, we do not know what they charge to be the plagiarists-for-hire because their clientele is very select; megachurch preachers who seem particularly incapable of handling the Scripture, and who aren’t savvy enough intellectually to understand that what they’re being handed is a Marxist cliff-notes version of sermon exposition.
However, we do now what they charge for other services. See the screenshot below and click here for the pdf.
Docent’s surveys, as the linked PDF demonstrate, are designed to tell pastors what their congregation wants preached to them. A certain verse comes to mind…
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…
What kind of pastor would possibly survey his church to find out what to preach about? Tim Keller is the first endorsement provided for their survey work (see below).
Ed Litton’s gross and inexcusable, repeated plagiarism in the church is not unique. What we have discovered is that megachurch pastors at large are using Docent’s services. JD Greear not only uses Docent, but his staff also writes sermons for Docent. Megachurch preachers like Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, and many others rely upon Docent writing their sermons. They are also producing content for social justice organizations like The Witness and the ERLC uses Docent to produce their social justice articles. Even Ronnie Floyd, now president of the SBC Executive Committee used Docent to help him produce the Great Commission Resurgence Taskforce Report.
The writers of Docent Group, that we have been able to find (because Docent keeps their employment secret) are – without exception – social justice liberals, egalitarians or feminists, Marxists, and political liberals. Many, if not most, have no advanced theological degree. Its most prominent writers are sociologists and political organizers – not pastors or pastoral studies students. Many are women, who without exception, are egalitarian in their beliefs.
The public faces of Docent Group are political activists of the leftward-progressive bent. Their primary cause, when looking at the publicly available information, is Social Justice, not sermon exposition. These men (or women) are closely associated with Michael Wear
Virtually all names of Docent’s writers or Docent’s public leaders are separated by only one degree from The Gospel Coalition which, as we have pointed out many times, is a subversive political organization operating under the guise of religion for the implicit purpose of driving evangelicalism to the left. Michael Wear’s involvement, alone, should be of concern to everyone.
Meanwhile, this disclaimer is important: We did not find that all megachurch pastors or prominent evangelical leaders are using Docent Research Group. For example, despite 9Marx clear wokeness and hard-left trajectory, I would be shocked to find out that Mark Dever would use Docent Research Group, given his convictions on pastoral responsibilities as it pertains to preaching. Matt Chandler used his podcast to let lies be told about Docent Group not writing sermons, providing them immediate public relations help (thanks for catching that, researchers). Remember, Chandler’s fellow Gospel Coalition contributor, Jared Wilson, admitted (above) that most of what he did for Docent was sermon writing (“exegesis”). I guess nothing would shock me now.
However, we have spoken to many conservative megachurch pastors, such as those at MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, who find the notion profane. Meanwhile, we have spoken to many megachurch pastors off-record, who have been approached by Docent, and rejected their proposals as devilish.
The common denominator among those using Docent seems to be “experience-based” and “seeker-friendly” congregations with pastors who lean hard-left.
We also discovered in our research that Docent is not the only group that sells sermons. Smaller, less-expensive groups similarly exist to produce sermons for smaller churches, for prices as low as ten dollars. Almost all brand their services as “research.” However, none of those services (that we have found) require attribution.
It is our estimation that ‘Big Eva’ – and in particular, the Gospel Coalition – has fundamentally sought to change American evangelicalism by hiring-out the preaching process from pastors to sociologists and political organizers. And although Big Eva is clearly to blame given our findings, the concept of normalized plagiarism has spread to smaller churches.
Church-goers must ask their pastors the following questions:
- Are you writing your own sermons?
- Are you researching your own material for those sermons?
- Are you (or the church) paying for Docent Group to assist you in your sermon writing?
- If you use help in sermon-writing, are you properly attributing it to the original author (even if they don’t demand it)?
Furthermore, it is our assessment that if pastors are not producing their own sermons, they are not being pastors and should be terminated from their positions post-haste, in a decently and orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40) after the prescripts of Matthew 18 have been properly followed. If pastors have been guilty of using Docent Group, they should be rebuked publicly (1 Timothy 5:20) no matter how the Matthew 18 process turns out.
And finally, for those who have worked for Docent – providing sermon material that they were aware would not be properly cited and instead passed off as the work of the preacher (like Jared Wilson), they too should face church discipline and the prescripts of Matthew 18.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by JD Hall, but we used our own “research team” to help put this together including Jeff Maples, Seth Dunn, Justin Peters, Janet Mefferd, Michael O’Fallon, David Morrill, Tom Buck, Judd Saul, Alan Atchinson, Dustin Germain, and Jon Harris; their contribution to the research provided herein is not to be taken as an endorsement of the words written, but only the information provided as an HT for their contributions. That’s how proper attribution works.]
[RETRACTIONS: We have added clarifications – and retractions where necessary – to best portray the facts as it pertains to Jared Wilson. For example, he did not allege Whitefield was not a Christian because he wasn’t woke, but that he might not have been, and has “no complaints for those who believe he wasn’t.” We clarified he was not a council member of TGC as originally stated, but a regular contributor. He did not provide Christian support for Hillary Clinton, in the article hyperlinked, but instead blamed Trump voters for destroying their Christian witness. Meanwhile, we will not retract the claim that Wilson facilitated plagiarism for hire, providing “exegesis” (his own words), the work of sermon gathering, knowing that it would not be attributed to him, but to the thespian delivering it. Meanwhile, we also provided a claim from Vermurlen that he is not a Roman Catholic, but we find it discreditable due to his own bio. Nonetheless, he denies it despite his employer, resume’, and own admission that he holds to Roman Catholic theology. We are unclear on how any of his changes the scope of the story, but provide the retractions for the sake of journalistic integrity. We have seen hundreds of statements, essays, sermons, lectures, and social media accounts of Docent Group come down in recent days; in juxtaposition, we chose instead to leave up our certain of our original words and retract or clarify them for the sake of transparency instead of putting something down the Memory Hole- JD Hall ]
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