If you’re a Southern Baptist, you’ve probably heard about the plagiarism controversy surrounding SBC President Ed Litton. He has been shown to be guilty of stealing multiple sermons from former SBC President J.D. Greear. In fact, he has lifted entire sermons almost word for word, not just an outline or a passage. If you have heard his sad excuse of an explanation, then you’ve probably lost any sense of trust in the man. If he were truly sorry, he would immediately resign.
I’ve been shocked at how other SBC leaders have defended Litton and made excuses for him. The fact that they have not pressured Litton to step down shows us that corruption runs deep in the SBC. So, since the SBC elites can’t recognize the obvious problems with Litton’s dishonesty, I’ve outlined below three reasons why this plagiarism scandal is such a big deal.
First, it shows us that Litton is not spending time in prayer and study of the Word to prepare for his sermons. If a pastor diligently studies and prays about the message he brings, there is no need to plagiarize. He will have plenty of material for the sermon. A pastor’s main job is to preach the Word of God to the people of God. If he fails in this, he has failed in his main responsibility. How can he tell the congregation what God has laid on his heart, if he has spent no time in prayer or the Word? The answer, of course, is that he can’t. So he must deceive and become a phony, a fraud–which leads us to our next point.
The second reason why this is such a big deal is because Litton’s dishonesty destroys the trust of his listeners. By presenting entire sermons as his own without attribution, he is engaging in falsehoods. He is leading the congregation to assume that he prepared this sermon. He turns preaching into a performance and makes a mockery of it. How can anyone look to this man for guidance or counsel after such hypocrisy?
The third reason why Litton’s plagiarism is a big deal is that it shows Litton to be incapable of doing his job. If he has to steal others’ sermons, one must wonder if he even knows how to rightly divide the Word. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 3:2, and again in 2 Timothy 2:24, that an overseer, the servant of the Lord, must be “able to teach.” At the very least, Litton’s plagiarism brings into question his ability to carry out this duty.
To make all this even worse, Litton didn’t even steal a good sermon. He lifted a heretical sermon from the woke J.D. Greear on Romans 1. I’ve listened to the original from Greear, and it is clearly unbiblical. You would think that if Litton was trying to portray himself in a good light, he would at least find a sound, biblical message to use. But maybe this further brings into question Litton’s discernment and character.
The fact that the SBC is being led by someone who we can’t trust, and that other SBC leaders seem to be fine with his deception, shows us that this problem is much bigger than Ed Litton. It is a black eye on the entire denomination. And it is evidence that the SBC’s problems are much deeper than one man’s duplicity.