Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A New Poll

by Brian G. Heyer

As a segue into a new discussion post, Intrepid Lutherans are introducing a new poll topic on plagiarism committed by pastors. It seems like a question with an obvious answer, but perhaps there is nuanced thinking among our earnest readers. Please vote at the right of the screen.

Intrepid Lutherans was launched with the poll question: "Do you think the Wisconsin Synod is currently divided in Doctrine and Practice?" This is a serious question, and it is proposed without temerity. Relative to our many readers, a small number found the poll link and voted. The results are visually interesting and unsurprising given the nature of the efforts and messages here. A graphic of the results are posted below.

The divisions in doctrine and practice should be identified, corrected, and healed. Two other Lutheran-named synods have examples of festering wounds that have gone untreated. Since the trend is for the church to function as a worldly business (with SWOT marketing analysis, strategy sessions, etc.) then in the interest of maintaining a 'going concern,' a middle manager somewhere should crank out a Harvard Business School-style case study of the ELCA. What is the two-decade long result of giving a place at the podium to those who distance themselves from the Confessions in belief and practice? Is there a complicated heuristic in discerning that error always first seeks acceptance and tolerance on only minor points? What is the result if the error is not immediately corrected? Such a study and paper would be useful reading to strengthen the Boards of Elders around the synod.

The pains of division were entirely evident leading up to, throughout, and in the reactions after the LCMS convention last month. As that synod groans, what benefit is there to suggest that the very toxins causing their pain — adopting Church Growth Movement methodologies, copying sectarian worship practices, and ultimately distrust in the efficacy of the Word, etc. — would have no effect on WELS?

What rationale exists to think that we can whistle past the graveyard, that we can refuse to try to identify the prior mistakes of others, that we can copy and paste their mistakes into our dear Wisconsin Synod, and yet somehow come up with a different result? Which is it: are we less human or more Godly than they?


Anonymous said...

If by plagiarism one means conduct such as secretly adopting someone else's sermon (or substantial parts of it) and giving it as your own (at best that is highly deceptive) or even worse, adopting someone else's personal experience and presenting it as your own (that is simply lying), then I wholeheartedly agree that such is wrong. But, a sermon is not a scholarly work and should not be held to the same standard (where the source of every non-original phrase, thought and concept is documented and footnoted). Where does on draw the line? I suppose I would simply say “I know it when I see it.” (quoting Justice Potter Stewart’s comment about pornography Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964) (concurrence).

Harvey Dunn

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


I think you've summarized well what we mean.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Dunn,

In fact -- and this may shock you -- we are talking about wholsale, non-attributed, nearly verbatim copying of entire sermons, devotional materials, and other resources, including repeating someone else's thoughts and experiences as one's own.

Even in the course of a sermon, which, as you point out, is not an acedemic work, I would nevertheless argue that if a pastor is going to quote Luther, Chemnitz, or some other fine theologian, or some not-so-fine theologian, or the thoughts, observations, or experiences of others, some form of attribution is ethically necessary. Such attribution does not at all need to rise to the level of APA or MLA citation standards, but simply provide indication that what follows is not original, i.e., "Luther stated...," or "I have read some theologians indicate...," or "An acquaintance of mine observed...," or "I recently read a biography which contained an interesting anecdote..." Something. The pastor's integrity requires such honesty, IMHO.

Mr. Douglas Lindee

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee,

No, it doesn't shock me...

And, I actually don't think I really have much disagreement with what you say with the caveat that I don't think that a citation is always necessary for each and every derivation of quoted material.

Here's an example of where I think a citation would not absolutely necessary. I purposely closed my original comment with a quote from Justice Stewart. If my comment had been a sermon, then I (personally) would not have an issue with the pastor stating without attribution something like: "Where does on draw the line? I'm not sure, but I know plagerism when I see it" instead of "Where does on draw the line? I'm not sure, but as Justice Potter Stewart said: "I know it when I see it."

That said, I can understand that some may have a different view.

Harvey Dunn

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Not only that, Mr. Dunn, but often times the words of Scripture or of a Lutheran theologian - even longer sections - become so ingrained in the mind of a pastor that he may end up nearly quoting entire Scripture passages or Catechism sections, either relying on his hearers to know where the words came from, or not even intending to use a quote at all.

Either case would be perfectly acceptable in a sermon.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Rydecki,

I agree (I was struggling a bit as to how to express that idea – you did it well).

Put another way, in a sermon in one sense, one should not be proclaiming "innovative" or original ideas regarding the truths of scripture – since what is being proclaimed should by definition what has been proclaimed. (If a pastor has a truly new and original idea regarding scripture and its meaning – then I personally would want such to be stated at the outset.)

Harvey Dunn

Anonymous said...

Rev. Rydecki,

There is a "be" missing from my last comment. It should say:

Put another way, in a sermon in one sense, one should not be proclaiming "innovative" or original ideas regarding the truths of scripture – since what is being proclaimed should by definition be what has been proclaimed.

Hopefully it makes more sense now.

Harvey Dunn

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

"Which is it: are we less human or more Godly than they?"

I find that all true Christians are deeply in need of the Lord's continual presence and God's free gift of forgiveness, by his Son. Through repentance and with faith given by means of the Holy Spirit, confessional Lutherans and/or "Christians," cling to and constantly, again and again, cling to their Savior, Jesus Christ. We Christians want forgiveness always and so we always focus on repentance, Means of Grace. We cling to the Law only to have Jesus Christ cling to us. We WELS, make it a point to always acknowledge constantly our sins- this seems to be the main focus for WELS- I think. Other "Lutherans," or "Christians" want less of God's free gift; they, to me, want more fun times and fun talk, and entertainment and anything that is less, "I am a sinner, but I am forgiven."
Hopefully this makes some sense to anyone who reads it. If I missed any main points, I apologize.
I still have not voted because I am unaware still, of how dived WELS is or isn't. I do not have enough information as to who is doing what,good or bad, specifically, within WELS.

Anonymous said...

Whether the copying is verbatim, paraphrase, or the use of another's outline; it is wrong to take credit for someone else's work. It does not matter if the work is scholarly or informal; it is still wrong to take credit for someone else's efforts.

Ideas are free, but the work it takes to express an idea into a paragraph or an outline is not free. It is deceitful to take credit for someone else's efforts.

Pastors should be honest, ethical, and forthright. The Christian Church should expect no less.

Rick Techlin

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

An anonymous commenter wondered, "Who cares? Why should this even matter?"

Anyone care to answer?

Rev. John A. Schroeder said...

An honestly constructed sermon is neither a research paper nor an dispassionate lecture subject to APA style guidelines. Neither is it a showcase for rhetoric and elocution, helpful though such may be. It is a living proclamation, viva vox! It requires plain hard work, sweat, even tears, certainly prayers to the Most High God begging for the Spirit's breath. Sermons are best delivered in simple words which are perfectly capable of conveying profound undertones. Folks in the pew can easily spot the difference between canned goods and garden fresh. The preacher who believes plagaristic ploys are beyond detection plays the fool. That being said, what possible shame can there be in actively crediting the distilled wisdom gleaned from faithful confessors of the past? Certainly, a preacher will also want to pay close attention to the choice of words used in a sermon lest he by uncritical adoption of expressions inject the theology of glory so deeply embedded within the very expressions of its popular purveyors. The apostolic admonition in 2 Timothy 1:13 still applies. Preachers ought to pay close attention to the very exemplars of expression which the Holy Spirit caused to be written down for our understanding. Words carry great meaning. Choose wisely. If the point under discussion also concerns the importing of methodologies and practices which have a decidely unLutheran, non-means-of-grace,sectarian ringtone, then there ought to be no answering such calls. The "spoiling the Egyptian" argument which says we can sanatize bapticostal and American Evangelical ministry methods, strategies, and practices to make them "more Lutheran" is a cynical fallacy. Those who promote such assimilation practices are naive at best, and incompetent at worst. Practice affects doctrine and doctrine affects practice. You can't have one without the other. Those who do have no clue.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Techlin,

On one level I fully agree with you. But on another I don't. If a sermon (or even a blog - which is another type of informal writing)provided attibution for each and every use of another's words, then every time one said "This is most certainly true", one would not only have to credit Luther, one would also have to credit the translator who translated the text from the German (unless the speaker had done the translation himself). In the same light one could not say Walther said thus and so (unless the statement that followed was in German) without not only crediting Walther, but the person who translated his statement from German to English and one could not say Augustine said thus and so without providing the name of the person who translated the text from Latin.

All such crediting would be right and proper in a scholarly work, but in the context of a sermon (or even a blog) would in my opinion be problematic.

(Note from a copyright perspective, translations are copyrighted separately from the underlying work.)

With best regards,
Harvey Dunn

Michael Schottey said...

Reverend Schroeder,

While I agree with the sum of your comments, I sadly must disagree with one of your points.

"The preacher who believes plagaristic ploys are beyond detection plays the fool."

It appears that many who "play the fool" go undetected while the words and songs of the Egyptians are stolen willfully by the "spoiling" crowd.

Unfortunately, it is often this same crowd guilty of blatant plagiarism who have failed to properly teach their flock. If their parishioners cannot tell their right from their left, how shall they tell baptist doctrine from correct teaching?

Well said on the rest of your post however, although I think I've heard most of it before...

I kid.

AP said...

Who cares? Anyone interested in intellectual honesty cares. Anyone who cares about sound doctrine cares.

Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that a pastor copies part of Joel Osteen's weekly sermon verbatim. If it matters, we can even just say he copied ideas instead of words. Well, I would have to suggest that you have a couple of things going on here that you should indeed care about. First, you have intellectual laziness. If you really (and God forbid a WELS pastor does) want to preach like Joel Osteen, then go get whatever book or materials you need and learn how properly and do so honestly without copying another's words or ideas. Then, once you have learned to preach the doctrines of Joel Osteen, please leave the synod immediatly.

Second, you have intellecual dishonesty. No, sermons do not have footnotes. Yes, pastors should consult sound sources (i.e. commentaries) and make use of them. But Lutheran sermons are meant to be based on a serious exposition of a scripture text from the original languages. If that is not what a pastor is doing, I would dare say he is not doing his job as he was trained to do it. He is, in a sense, cheating the congregation out of what they have a right to expect: a meaty, exposition of scripture leading to a law and gospel sermon that feeds the hungry souls of needy sinners.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Kenneth J. Schmidt said...

Most WELS pastors spend many years in the seminary after religious prep school and college. If they can't write their own sermons after all that study of the scriptures and the confessions, then they should find another job more in line with their talents. Even a "not-so-bright" country parson should be able to have the research skills to at least quote reliable exegetes like Luther or Lenski when dealing with some of the more difficult to understand portions of scripture. Being a pastor is a tough job, but rocket science it ain't.

Keyser Soze said...

Mr. Dunn,

That is both a reductio ad incommodum and a strawman argument. Mr. Techlin didn't state that formal credit was required. He merely stated that some sort of attribution is necessary in order to give credit to those whose ideas are presented. This is consistent with what Mr. Lindee said earlier, and it is a position with which I agree.

Whatever the intent, neglecting to give credit to others is wrong.

Mr. Jay Ramos
Green Bay, WI

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ramos,

I apologize if my comments were not clear and on point. From my perspective, they were serious and intended to be precisely on point. (As an aside, I'm not certain that a single comment can be both a reductio ad incommodum and a strawman arguement, but if I accomplished such I suppose that is noteworthy.)

Let me further note that I never stated that Mr. Techlin was requiring "formal credit" as would be required by a scholarly work nor did I mean to imply in any way that was his position. To be clear, I don't think that is his position at all.

What Mr. Techlin did state, specifically, was that "it is wrong to take credit for someone else's work" and further that "[i]t is deceitful to take credit for someone else's efforts."

Now, from my perspective, when one uses a translation other than one's own, one is most assuredly using someone else's work and taking advantage of someone else's efforts. (Translations are not "easy" and they do in fact require skill, creativity, time and talent, if they are to be done well.)

Use of someone else's translation without attibution (or at least without confessing that one was not the translator) to me, arguably, is implicitly taking personal credit for such. That said, I personally don't see that as a problem. In other words, despite the clear fact that the pastor in using someone else's translation would be taking advantage of another's efforts and work, I would have no issue with a pastor's failure to acknowlege that fact.

Indeed, I likewise would have no problem with the use of the phrase "This is most certainly true" in a sermon in an unattibuted way - for exactly the reasons stated by Rev, Rydecki, i.e., "... often times the words of Scripture or of a Lutheran theologian - even longer sections - become so ingrained in the mind of a pastor that he may end up nearly quoting entire Scripture passages or Catechism sections, either relying on his hearers to know where the words came from, or not even intending to use a quote at all. Either case would be perfectly acceptable in a sermon."

Now, I may have misread or misinterpreted what Mr. Techlin was saying, but my understanding of his statements was that they were inconsistent with Rev. Rydecki's position. Hence my comments.

And to try to re-focus the discussion, as the the "why it matters" question, what I do see as very problematic, as I've aleady stated, is "secretly adopting someone else's sermon (or substantial parts of it) and giving it as your own (at best that is highly deceptive) or even worse, adopting someone else's personal experience and presenting it as your own (that is simply lying)."

With best regards,
Harvey Dunn

AP said...

Mr. Ramos is right I think. It is not terribly difficult to indicate sources. For example, what if a pastor wanted to use a direct quote from one of Lenski's commentaries. There is an easy way to give a citation in a spoken exposition. You simply give credit by including a preface like, "As Lenski said in..." That would be enough in a sermon. Besides, maybe someone in the congregation might want to look more deeply in to what Lenski, Luther, the Confessions, or some other source said and learn from it themselves.

Maybe outright plagiarism is not the most important issue here. Maybe the issue is that of Lutheran pastors even turning to sources rife with false doctrine to inform their sermons (whether credit is given or not) instead of the sources they should use as Lutherans: (primarily) scripture in the original languages and (secondarily) the confessions and confessional commentary. Luther's works are 55 volumes in English. Are you really telling me there is so little Lutheran commentary to generate a need to turn to false teachers?

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Joe Krohn said...

I'll agree with the points on plagiarism. I actually voted on this one and I see I am in the overwhelming majority. Being a musician, I follow what goes on in the music industry and one of my pet peeves is all the sampling that goes on. Plagiarism must be a symptom of society today...but that is another discussion.

What is even worse though is when preachers take liberties with scripture and change things for the sake of a dramatic presentation; as if the scriptures do not stand on their own and we need to help it along these days. Reformed preachers to this all the time. And sad to say I heard a WELS pastor do this. If you want to interject an opinion then say so. But to state something from scripture as truth when it is only conjecture in my opinion is heresy.

Joe Krohn

WELS church lady said...

Commenting on plagiarism is also confessing our Scriptural understanding that fraudulent activity is wrong. We all do things that are sinful, yet the Bible says that pastors are to be above reproach.

Many WELS pastors and professors have authored editions of The Peoples Bible Series. This series was intended for our pastors to use in Bible Class. It is important to note that the pastor should inform the class when relying on direct quotes and long passages. In a recent class, my pastor held in front of us a copy of The Peoples Bible Series on Civil Government. He then explained who the author was. As the class read pre-printed passages, our pastor would repeat the author's name every so often. In case you are wondering, we also read directly from Scripture.

What we are really talking about is a much bigger picture. Permit me to ask the $60,000.00 question. "Where is the discipline for pastors who have already been exposed of plagiarism?" There are two groups running the WELS, Cofessionals and Church And Change! For instance, a pastor copies a letter from Willow Creek leader Bill Hybel and sends it to members of his congregation. The congregation is lead to believe that their pastor composed the letter. The apostasy does not stop there. The said pastor takes a group of fellow WELS pastors, some whom are young, to outside of fellowship conferences. Down the dark road of apostasy, comes many scary things. These things include, but are not limited to, taking "Lutheran" off your church name, hiding Communion in something called "Communion Devotion," offering contemporary service(no liturgy), and implementing cell groups. So it is not just plagiarism that is at stake, it is the threat of becomming New age.

In response to Joe, thank you for your words. I spoke in person with a young pastor that you know. The conversation was rather polite, and the sensitivity of the setting did not allow admonishment. Where is the Pastoral Leadership that is supposed to shepherding these young pators? This might be a future topic for Intrepid Lutherans.

In response to neighbor Harvey Dunn, my Synodical Council representative, I appreciate your expertise as a Copywrite Lawyer. Your Christian confession on what a pastor should do was also Scriptural. Mr. Dunn, do you think that Church and Change is to blame for many of these abuses?

In Christ,
Rebecca Quam

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Quam,

I don’t see plagiarism as a problem that is unique to WELS or to any particular group within WELS.

Rather than being ideological, I believe that it occurs most often for two principal reasons (i) bad time management and/or (ii) laziness. And of those two reasons, the latter is in my opinion the more frequent culprit. And, although I would concede that it’s perhaps a bit easier to plagiarize these days due to the internet and the computer (cutting and pasting is so easy), I have no doubt that plagiarism has always been an issue to some degree or other. Why? Simply because laziness has always been an issue for sinful human beings.

Can Lutheran pastors be lazy? Sure. Can they fail to utilize good doctrinal materials? Sure. Can they be both lazy and fail to use good doctrinal materials? Well, yes, again - one need only read Luther’s introduction the Large Catechism:

"And although they [pastors] have now everything that they are to preach and teach placed before them so abundantly, clearly, and easily, in so many [excellent and] helpful books. . . yet they are not so godly and honest as to buy these books, or even when they have them, to look at them or read them. Alas! they are altogether shameful gluttons and servants of their own bellies who ought to be more properly swineherds and dog-tenders than care-takers of souls and pastors." (Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau)

Those are pretty strong words. But they are as applicable today as they were in Luther’s time.

With best regards,
Harvey Dunn

Anonymous said...

Some of this issue boils down to audience expectation. If your audience is likely to expect that you did the translation, then cite. As Christians, we should never want to let a false impression stand.

Further, blogging to the world and speaking to the Lord's Congregation (while less formal than a doctrinal thesis) are certainly more formal than a personal conversation, and therefore should have higher standards. The standards of citation do change from medium to medium, but blogs and sermons are not citation free zones.

Using citations in church is common practice. In fact, most pastors cite chapter and verse when they quote the Bible. Does a pastor have to cite every verse and every chapter and every translation? No, but it shows respect for the congregation. Some Christians would be rightly offended if a pastor routinely said, "It says somewhere in the Bible," and then couldn't or wouldn't say where. Also for example, if a WELS pastor quotes from "The Message" (a controversial translation of the Bible), he should say so because his congregation expects the NIV. (Likewise, since the congregation expects the NIV there is no need to constantly say "NIV" or to name the members of the NIV translating committee).

Since using citations in church is common practice, does the pastor who intentionally passes off someone else's work as his own have an excuse? No. Even worse is the WELS pastor who surreptitiously uses the sermon outlines of our theological enemies.

Those who communicate have an obligation to the Truth. And pastors in the pulpit especially have an obligation to be honest and forthright.

God's blessings.
Rick Techlin

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

"Is it acceptable for a pastor to commit plagiarism?"


Pastor Michael Sullivan said...

What about the use of "canned" sermons from the Synod? Is using them plagarism? For example, Walking Together Sunday, where a sermon is sent out to all pastors. Another example might be midweek Lenten sermons from NPH.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Reading sermons written by orthodox preachers is wise. Gleaning insight from sermons preached by other orthodox preachers is wise. Preaching (or heavily relying on) sermons written by others without attribution is foolish and just as deceptive whether they come from synod or from somewhere else.

I think that, if one is going to use a Lenten series from NPH, then NPH (or the author himself) ought to at least receive the credit for producing it, whether that's done in the bulletin or by word of mouth at the beginning of the series.

Perhaps someone else will comment on the "usefulness" of canned sermons.

AP said...

I think there is some value in, perhaps, having a similar theme preached from all WELS pulpits now and again. But isn't that why we have a lectionary in the first place? I wonder how many of our pastors actually follow the lectionary or use the historic collects.

A canned sermon seems like a potentially bad idea to me. First, it would have to be clearly identified and explained, at least in the church worship folder for that day. Second, what is the purpose of using a canned sermon? Would it not be better to, if they synod wanted a themed sunday across the church, to just have a common texts and common set of hymns? Maybe then pastors could use the internet to pool their sermons on this common theme and produce, hopefully, a rich exposition of scripture. It seems to me that this kind of proceedure would delve much deeper into a given theme or doctrinal issue than any robitic use of a canned sermon across the entire synod ever could.

Finally, were I a pastor, I would have to very carefully investigate the origins of any canned sermon. My decision as to delivering it would stem from that sermon' authorship, doctrinal soundness, effective exposition of God's word, and proper law and gospel balance. To just take a canned sermon from WELS, NPH, or any source and read it uncritically to the congregation would be foolish in the extreme.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Intrepid Lutherans said...

Pastor Spencer here.

I just have to put my two-cents in on the discussion of "canned" anything. Simply put, I'm against it! I don't care whether its a sermon, a Bible study, a Stewardship program, and Outreach program, or whatever. Pastors were - or at least were supposed to be - trained to do all these things themselves and to think for themselves and do their own work. This plagiarism has had a terrible effect on the entire life and work of our churches. Pastors congregations pay them for their work, not someone else's. In my view, each and every time a Pastor uses someone else's work - whether he admits it or not - whether it came from the publishing house or synod headquarters or not - he should give back a chunk of his salary!!!

One of the reasons why the WELS has gotten herself into such a financial mess over the past 20 years or so, is the hue and cry from lazy Pastors for more and more "helps" from mommy synod. When the synod administration was exploding, I kept asking the leaders why, and they kept telling me - "This is what the men in the field keep asking for." Guys were demanding "help" for youth groups, senior groups, couples groups, Bible classes, evangelism Sundays, stewardship plans, worship ideas, and so on and so on and so on ad nauseum! So, one after another after another "Board," "Committee," or "Administrator" was created, given an office, big fat salary, staffed, and then became "essential" to the work of the synod. Poppycock! All because guys refused to do their own work. And their congregations let them get away with it all. I bet we could fix 75% of our financial problems if we would just close down 2929 completely, get rid of most of the "administrators," and force every single Pastor in the synod to "sink or swim" on his own. Make them do their own work or go find a different job!

And that's my take. Thank you!

Pastor Spencer

Pastor Michael Sullivan said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the comments about "canned" sermons. First of all a confession: I have used "canned" sermons before in the following circumstances.

1) I was asked to preach a German sermon for a Christmas festival in another congregation only a month before the event. Funerals came up. I used one of my Dad's German sermons (since I was holding his sermon file) with his knowledge after carefully reading it through.

2) I was preparing for a Reformation service. A synodical sermon was sent out for that year (I can't remember which year, all I know is that Prof. Tiefel wrote it) and after studying it, I found the sermon most excellent. Since it was sent out to all pastors (like the Walking Together Sunday stuff) I used it - not wholesale, but after reading and studying it. There is not a lot I changed because it proclaimed the Gospel very well.

3) I used another Walking Together Sunday Sermon (I think last year). I did it after editing it quite a bit and, when I posted it on the internet for my out-of towners, I only put my name after the original authors.

4) Having moved from an area where I had lots of neighbors to help out for midweek Lent to an area where I am alone (the nearest pastor is over 100 miles away), I used older NPH Lenten Series the last two year. Again, every sermon I check over thoroughly - some I edited so heavily that they probably would not be recognized, others I edited lightly (although I edited all of them). My reasoning was to free up time for mission work and yet still serve the two people who came, who were intested in having these Lenten services. I think I told them that I was using a Synodical series, but I can't remember for sure.

If any sermon had a "personal experience" illustration, either I changed it, attributed it to the person who had the experience, or left it indefinite ("a person once experienced. . .").

This was the extent of my "plagiarism". I must admit that this discussion has opened my eyes to see that even in these cases, I may have been in the wrong for doing it.

One thing regarding "plagarism" of sermons though: based on the Large Catechism quote above, I do think that there are times when using someone elses work is not wrong. I just read Walther's Law and Gospel. He mentions that if a pastor labors long and hard on a sermon, and in the final review he finds that he did not properly divide Law and Gospel, Walther suggests that the pastor throws out the sermon and, if he does not have time to compose a new one, preaches from the heart. Rather than doing that (since an ex corde sermon would certinly lose the "review" process) I would rather the pastor use: a) an old sermon where he kept the proper distinction between law and gospel or b) someone elses sermon where law and gospel are distinquished properly and the Gospel is clearly proclaimed.

For me, the Gospel is everything. Yes, a pastor most certainly should do the work of studying and writing hisown sermons. If he ever uses one of his previously written sermons again, he should still study it over to make sure all is applicable and correct.

On another note: with the exception of my Dad's German sermon and Tiefel's reformation sermon, I have almost always regretted the use of synodical "canned" sermons. The Walking together sermon mentioned in #3 of my confession didn't really connect. Regarding #4 I have had to rework some Lenten sermons so much, that I wonder the value of using them. And finally even when I use an old sermon that I wrote: thinking it would be really good, they still usually do not have the same "umpf" as well as a freshly studied and written sermon.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Pastor Spencer! Well said.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

Good original speech, Pastor Spencer!

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