Dr. Albert Mohler has broken the silence on the Ed Litton plagiarism scandal, addressing it by way of a student’s question at SBTS’s President’s Forum earlier this morning, who asked him how students, pastors, and churches should think about the reproachful topic.
Mohler, long believed to be the presumptive winner of the SBC Presidency on account of being the worlds most well know Southern Baptist, famously lost to Ed Litton just a few short months ago after being crushed in a rank ballot at the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention. While Mohler has so far been silent about Litton, his comments here are telling:
Plagiarism is Real Bad
Mohler comes out hard against plagiarism, explaining the seriousness he and the faculty of SBTS take it, expelling students who engage it in while noting:
“We at Southern seminary take plagiarism of first-rank priority. …..and in the academic community or the artistic community, plagiarism is mostly about theft. It’s mostly about taking someone else’s material in a way that is attributed uncredited and thus it’s a form of theft….
…Plagiarisms (is) a very serious thing. It’s a very serious thing….even if you had preachers who said, ‘I’m fine with you using my sermon’…then that’s not the theft issue in plagiarism as the most graphic issue, it’s the presentation to the congregation issue the congregation thinking this is and having the right to think this is coming from the preacher when it’s it’s actually not except in the voice….
My alarm is about the state of preaching in the Southern Baptist Convention in the larger evangelical world, how much of this is happening, how, how many congregations are not hearing, biblical exposition, faithful exposition coming not only in the voice of their preacher…that’s that’s a crisis, I think we face that, that this new story is now brought to us.
The Crisis is Real, so Is Docent
While many have sought to gaslight us and claim it is not a problem, that our major expose on Docent was mere nitpicking and making a mountain out of a molehill, even Al Mohler, whom we have been pathologically critical of, has backed our assessment, warning:
“Many evangelical churches, some especially big evangelical congregations appear to be receiving, when I can only describe as manufactured sermons. It’s like there’s now a process of manufacturing a sermon in which the person delivering the sermon is not even at the centre of that activity, or is only at the end, as if someone else does the engagement with the text, someone else does the basic, thoughtful structure of the sermon, someone else provides the outlines, someone else provides the summary of the text, someone else provides even the illustrations.
And in some cases, someone else provides basically the sermon. And now we have firms in engaged in the activity of at least parts of that, if not the whole. And I think there are huge problems with that. I don’t think that is the biblical model of preaching.
Looking at this crisis of manufactured sermons, it doesn’t appear at all to be consonant with the model of preaching in the New Testament and with the church’s humble understanding of preaching throughout the Christian centuries…This particular news story has revealed the fact that it is evidently increasingly common in many circles for manufactured sermons be pretty much Sunday by Sunday the norm. I think that is something that should alarm us.”
Litton is at the Center of the Controversey
…I have to say that there simply is no doubt that this conversation we’re having right now is occasioned by the fact that the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Ed Litton, has been involved to some degree in preaching someone else’s sermon. And beyond that, we can see the whole issue of the kind of manufacturer of sermons that is now widespread. I would simply have to say that that is precisely not what we are trying to teach or to hold up as an example here.
We were in an election together, and he won. The Southern Baptist Convention he elected Dr. Litton as president. And no doubt because of his many gifts. And this is an issue that I have to leave between the Southern Baptist Convention and its president. The Southern Baptist Convention alone decides who its President shall be, and the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville decided that Dr. Litton would be its president. From this point onward, about that role, that has to be between Dr. Litton and the Southern Baptist Convention and I of all people should not imply that I know the answer to that question.
In short: Ed Litton is at the center of this and isn’t a model for SBTS students to follow, Docent is real, and the manufacturing of sermons is a widespread problem.
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