01 June 2012

When is Plagiarism Not Plagiarism?

I guess we are seeing the logical results of the culture that's been around in colleges and universities for a long time.  This response, written by the always-interesting-and-sometimes-provocative Carl Trueman, to this web site which provides 'research services' to pastors, is very interesting.

I suppose there are legitimate reasons for pastors to use such a service, but I can't see how such a service could be financially viable if it was restricted to 'legitimate reasons.'  I have a funny feeling, as Trueman hints, that there is a lot more ghost writing going on than meets the eye.  In my mind, this kind of ghost writing for sermons is no different than the purchasing of parts (or all) of term papers by college students.

Well, there is one difference:  college students who buy their papers will answer for their dishonesty, but pastors who don't do what they are paid to do will answer for their dishonesty as well.  I can relate, because sometimes I don't always do everything I'm supposed to do, so I'm guilty of the same thing at times.  What really bothers me is these pastors will also answer for their responsibility as teachers, per the New Testament proscription on teaching, cited by Dr. Trueman.  That's kinda scary.

I don't want to paint all these pastors with a broad brush as dishonest.  Some of the names and faces on the testimonial list are pastors I greatly respect and admire.  I'm sure many pastors really do use this service for viable and legitimate reasons.  But I think they should be very careful in attaching their endorsement of such a service because of the liability of being associated with those who step over the line of appropriate activity.

It will be interesting to see if this story grows some legs.

1 comment:

  1. On a much smaller level, as a women's Bible study teacher, I know that my own struggling with the text adds to the passion and conviction of my lesson. I certainly use commentaries and other helps, but I like to learn and put the lesson together myself. No matter how good they are, the pre-made lesson plans lose the flavor that only the teacher's preparation can add. How much more so with a sermon?
    Also, I know that much of my growth as a teacher comes from this struggle in planning. Pastors will miss out on a major blessing for themselves and the church by purchasing their "term papers."
    Such a great topic to discuss--Trueman also addresses anonymous ghost writing in Christian books )that are so-called authored by big name pastors) in his latest book, "Man Rushes in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread."


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