Litton and Greear: Borrowing or Plagiarism

Admittedly I haven’t listened to the full sermons of either men so I’m not claiming it’s plagiarism…Litton may give credit. I don’t plan to listen to the sermons to find out. I’m mainly just tired of hirelings telling sheep that homosexuality doesn’t send people to hell. But sadly that’s nothing new. Just sad for the SBC to keep electing weak men. sigh


Also, I find it odd that Greear talks about one of “in some of my travels overseas, I’ll go into these temples…” but then gives a very similar same story from that Litton attributes to Tripp.

Maybe Greear was quoting Tripp (like I said I didn’t listen to the full sermon) or maybe he was on the same trip w Tripp, but that seems odd too.

He could have also had a very similar and unrelated experience as Tripp.

Still, the whole thing made me sick. Repeating the lie that sin doesn’t send you to hell. Copying sermons…

We went through this with my former pastor. He was copying large bits from other sermons. It was the beginning of the end for us (and over half the congregation).

I’ll be shocked if there’s any true reckoning here for Litton/SBC. Hopefully faithful shepherds can learn from this and many will see this and repent.


Can you imagine how empty their minds are? And Paul Tripp is even worse. He hasn’t a thought that’s original. He’s an extremely proud man with one hammer-on riff called flattery. He’s antinomian right to the core. What’s most awful though is the hundreds of thousands of sheep they heal falsely. Love


Is “borrowing” a sermon disqualifying for an elder?

Let’s say he basically credits his source, something like “I was helped so much by JD Greer’s preaching on this difficult passage.”

Then he goes on to use the same outline and illustrations, etc. Is this lying? Is it theft? Is it seeking sordid gain? It, imo, is not above reproach. It looks very bad. Is “intellectual property” biblical? If all truth is God’s truth then should intellectual property be a respected item in the church?

What if he doesn’t credit the originator of the sermon? Does that make a difference?

If he is called to account and says, yes he’s done it but that he denies it is sinful: He is still studying and working on sermon prep; he believes these are the words his flock needs to hear; he is not specifically profiting off the “borrowed” material… What then?

And say he makes a concession - pledges to credit more sources in the future, going so far as to publish then online?

(I’m still processing what transpired at my church a few years ago, a very similar situation. I can say that if it happened again I would leave that body.)

At the end the day, what is a good sermon? What should a sermon be? These are questions I’ve pondered for years. God can certainly take a “borrowed” sermon and use it for good. But that doesn’t make it good.

Sorry for all the questions. I promise to read any thoughts/answeres :grin:

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I wonder if this is a staff thing. Staffers sharing notes with each other and then reproducing another megapastor’s sermon, in whole or in large part?


I had a situation at a church where the pastor used complete sermons from others (usually Rick Warren) almost all the time. He said Rick Warren gave permission for anyone to do that. The elders were not aware, but when they eventually found out (I went the pastor privately and proceeded from there), I was the bad guy.

That led to me finding a whole lot of pastors doing the same thing! In the end, these were my conclusions.

  1. Pastors/ministers have a duty to teach the whole counsel of God.
  2. They have a duty to apply the Word to their people.
  3. They don’t necessarily have the gifting to produce original content week after week (in fact, originality can lead to error).
  4. As long as the content of their teaching is true and useful and transparent in its origins, there is no reason it needs to be original, as long as it applies to the church.

Now I know that goes against prevailing wisdom, (and I certainly think the pastor I refer to above was not being honest or feeding his church well), but I can see no biblical reason for ministers needing to create new messages every week if the same content is to be taught to the whole church.

Happy for pushback.


As I’ve thought about it here and there, I’m less concerned that they used used another’s material (though the material and points being word for word is lazy and weird and, far worse, the content is horrendous). Every preacher (I assume) has used another preacher’s material in some sense, “One pastor has said…,” I would venture to say there’s a difference between being lazy in sermon prep vs using a good example or some points you were taught by someone else. But I don’t carry the preaching burden week in week out at my church so I probably should just keep my mouth shut.

Honestly my bigger concern is if Greear did in fact tell Paul Tripp’s mission/idol story as if it was his own. It’s one thing to borrow someone’s points…it’s a whole other thing to intentionally lie to your people about your mission experience you never actually had.

But he was already lying about what Scripture says so why should I be surprised if he lied about an experience with God he didn’t actually have.

But I’m not SBC. I have no way to be of help so I’m just moving on trying to put my hand to plow and get back to work. These things can easily distract me.


I don’t know that these guys write their own sermons. Once you are at the level where you can be president of the SBC, a staff of people is writing your sermons, like speechwriters for politicians. They may hire the same staff, or that staff may very freely swap sermons and illustrations. So this could be inadvertent on the part of the men themselves.

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Do you know this, or just suspect it? It’s the first I’ve heard of it.

Both Ed Litton and JD Greaar have now released statements on this issue:

In Litton’s statement, he very clearly and openly says he has a team approach to sermon writing, and that he borrowed from Greaar’s sermon series on Romans heavily.

We employ 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.

I found that J.D. Greear’s message on Romans 1 was insightful, particularly his three points of application. With his permission, I borrowed some of his insights and those three closing points…

Our team also, with his permission, used The Summit Church’s chapter and verse breakdown of Romans as we mapped out our entire series.

Ed Litton’s whole statement should be read for the context of these quotes, but I think this gets at the meat of what Litton says happened vis a vis Greaar, and Greaar is in agreement.

Don’t know. It’s a guess. But it seems more plausible to me than Litton sitting down and intentionally plagiarizing a sermon. It seems like the kind of thing that would be easy for someone to catch. It’s a dumb thing to do with no obvious upside. Unless it’s someone else’s mistake who is under Litton, or someone who is working for both Litton and Greear and these men just don’t manage these things well.

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This makes me absolutely disgusted. I simply don’t have any helpful words that would add to this conversation. I hate everything about it.

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The quote above about Litton’s “preaching team”, or whatever, reminds me of when I came across a video of Mark Dever. He would gather some of his congregation into his office to look over his manuscript and points, prior to preaching, to critique and make adjustments etc. I thought this was bizarre. These men have such a low view of preaching and of its authority. Let’s all gather together in consultation, and, with the combined efforts of our brains, we will arrive at something that’s helpful and winsome for everybody. Everyone’s voice will be heard. No one will be left out. No toes will be stepped on. No conscience will be pricked. Egalitarian to the core. Perfectly fits our shameless age and smacks of carnality. I’m not a pastor at this time but I have preached a number of times. I don’t know how any man with an honest conscience could allow himself to take another man’s sermon or part of a sermon and actually proceed to “preach” in any biblical sense of the word, whether he wants to call it stealing or borrowing and whether or not he got “permission.” At that point, you are not preaching, you are regurgitating and lazy.

I agree there is something weird going on, but I actually think that some of my best sermons (including convicting applications) come from discussing my sermon ahead of time with wise others.

Also, I preached a sermon of @jacob.mentzel’s recently. (He sent me the manuscript for that purpose.) And maybe it was partly because I was being lazy, but there’s more to it than that. It was a good sermon. I think that’s the first time I’ve done that, and I wouldn’t want to do it again I don’t think. But if I wasn’t constantly taking points from Calvin and others, I don’t think my sermons would be nearly as helpful.

The thing that stood out to me was the following important tell (emphasis mine):

Not faithful expositors. Not convicting preachers. Not caring shepherds. Not spirit-filled defenders of the faith. No.

“Strong communicators.”

Obama was a strong communicator.


I’ve been to one of those sermon prep sessions Dever talks about, and that’s not at all what it was.

There’s a difference in seeking input from others in how we preach and merely preaching the cues of others. And, if I may, one can merely preach the cues of others as easily by depending (wrongly) on commentaries as by depending (wrongly) on collaborative efforts.


This conversation reminds me of one reason why I dislike The Babylon Bee. They blatantly stole The Onion’s humor formula and devalued The Onion’s ability to profit in a large sector of the more conservative marketplace. That was sin.

People always want to talk about the difference between inspiration and theft, but I think it’s pretty simple. If it detracts from the other guy’s ability to profit from his work (even in subtle, non-monetary ways) it’s theft. That’s still a blurry line, but not nearly as blurry as people act. And, yes, I’m sure I’ve crossed it in my content creation. But I never acted like it was my God-given right to do so.

And that is my contribution to “Litton and Greear: Borrowing or Plagiarism.”

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Meh. Not seeing it. First, conservatives can’t just go scrolling through The Onion headlines. They are often filthy. Second, even if they do, and one of the filthy ones is funny, they can’t share it publicly. Third, if one of the other headlines happened to actually do a decent job dealing with the conservatism things that the Bee generally does, a conservative could and would share it, especially if it did a better job than the Onion. And finally, The Onion does not and cannot approach the topics as an insider. All of those point to no loss of profit from the Bee taking the niche it has.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t an element of copying though. The sincerest form of flattery and all that.

And people do that all the time in all sorts of art, including comedy.

I think your best objection is really that it is bad art.

Same with the sermon. Bad content. Not that there’s nothing else wrong. But that’s the main thing.


As one wag recently wrote:

If you want to make fun of Democrats, The Onion knows how to do it:

Biden To Continue Unpopular Trump-Obama-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Reagan-Carter-Ford-Nixon-Era Policy…

Nancy Pelosi Berates Progressive Democrats For Electing Such Polarizing Speaker…

And here’s the Bee: To Fight Climate Change, Biden Sends U.S. Military To Eliminate Flatulent Cows…

Nancy Pelosi has unveiled a proposal to simply guess how people were going to vote… And you’re also a big, dumb, doo-doo head.…

Do they not see the difference? It’s not just that these are both poop jokes, but that it’s lazy. There’s no insight, no edge, no a-ha moment. Not everything The Onion publishes is comedy gold, but this is just what The Bee does, every time.


This also reminds me why CS Lewis is terrible. :wink:

Articles aside, some of which are funny, I’ve been listening to the podcast and think I’ll stop. They do this thing at the end where they ask everyone to accept Jesus into their hearts – whoever is on. Atheist, Christian, etc. Then they say they “got one”. It makes light of something very serious, whether you are the “accept Jesus into your heart” kind of evangelist or the “repent and believe” type – it should not be taken lightly.

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