Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pastors Who Plagiarize

 “You shall not steal."  Exodus 20:15 

Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work,[1][2] but the notion remains problematic with nebulous boundaries.

I woke up early this morning thinking about the comments yesterday regarding pastors who plagiarize.  Would this be considered abuse?  Is this okay?  Is this one of those "love-overlooks-a-multitude-of-sins" ideas and we just need to ignore it?  Or is this something that should be addressed?  How would we address it?  

It struck me that the anonymous poster asked this question here because I probably would not have put "plagiarism" in the spiritual abuse category.  But at the same time, it rang some bells for me because I recall hearing about plagiarism from our former pastor.  

The story is that the men were at the mens' retreat and one of the men looked up something on the pastor's laptop (with his permission).  One window on the screen showed a site with sermons and this man recognized the sermon  - word for word.  Interestingly, this man left the church for a time around the same time we left, but then returned and as far as I know is still there.  So, he knowingly went back to a pastor who plagiarized.  

That brings up another point.  If you knew that a pastor was plagiarizing sermons, would that be a deal breaker for you?  Would you leave?  

I love what Barb Orlowski's thoughts on this topic:

Agreed with the observations above, re 'willfully borrowing without giving credit.' I would like to add that the preacher is also missing the opportunity to wrestle with the text, experience some sweet direction from the Holy Spirit as they prepare, draw from their own past experiences, and be a part of weaving a word tapestry during the preparation. They are missing how things 'come together' and the other insights that are seen while they work it through.

They are missing the opportunity for preaching their prepared message at that moment in history for those gathered there. They are missing the opportunity of seeing the Ah hah moments in people's eyes and the expressions on their faces from their labor of love. They are missing the opportunity of witnessing how the worship leader and others involved in the service, work with similar and often unspoken worship songs and Scriptures, that so dove-tale with what God has sovereignly put on their heart. 

Yes, everyone gets busy, but taking short cuts when this is your job/calling is missing out on so much and is being less than authentic in the same instant. Their vision is sadly tarnished and their work ethic needs restoration.

To me, it is blatant stealing.  It is stealing someone's hard work, their thoughts, their effort and taking it as your own.  Christians must acknowledge what God says about stealing.  Even the secular world has moral standards on stealing.  An acquaintance I know nearly had her degree revoked because of plagiarism. 

My thoughts are that if a pastor feels that plagiarism is okay, what other areas in his life is he making moral compromises?   This is one bit of rotten fruit that should not be overlooked.  

In closing, let's take a look at what a popular pastor has to say on the subject.
Pastor D.A. Carson did not mince words on plagiarism.  I've quoted a bit from Carson below.  Be sure to check out the whole article:  5 Leaders Examine Plagiarism in Preaching

Question: When has a preacher crossed the line into plagiarism in his sermon? 
D. A. Carson: 
First: Taking over another sermon and preaching it as if it were yours is always and unequivocally wrong, and if you do it you should resign or be fired immediately. The wickedness is along at least three axes: (1) You are stealing. (2) You are deceiving the people to whom you are preaching. (3) Perhaps worst, you are not devoting yourself to the study of the Bible to the end that God’s truth captures you, molds you, makes you a man of God, and equips you to speak for him. If preaching is God’s truth through human personality (so Phillips Brooks), then serving as nothing more than a kind of organic recording device in playback mode does not qualify. Incidentally, changing a few words here and there in someone else’s work does not let you off the hook; re-telling personal experiences as if they were yours when they were not makes the offense all the uglier. That this offense is easy to commit because of the availability of source material in the digital age does not lessen its wickedness, any more than the ready availability of porn in the digital age does not turn pornography into a virtue. (Occasionally preachers have preached a famous sermon from another preacher, carefully noting their source. That should be done, at most, only very occasionally, but there is no evil in it.)

photo credit: jaymiek via photo pin cc


  1. Hmmm? Plagiarism? Pastors In the Pulpit? Puuulllliiieeeezzzzz.

    Hasn’t anyone ever wondered...Why - In the Bible - There is NOT one
    Paid - Professional - Pastor - in a Pulpit - Preaching - to People - in Pews?

    I know what this Persisting Problem is. And the Proverbial answer to the Problem.

    It’s the “Pulpit.” See, Pul... Pit... Puuuullll.... Piiiitttt.... A funny word. Yes? ;-)

    See, The “Pulpit” is really from the “Pit.”
    It’s from Satan, and it’s job is to “Pull” us into the “Pit.”

    Just get rid of the “Pulpit” - and the Problem - of Plagiarism - is solved. ;-)

    And - Today - The whole Sunday Service revolves around the “Pastor - in a Pulpit”

    Jesus calls the scribes and Pharisees “Hypocrites” seven times in just Mat 23 alone.

    Hypocrite - is Strongs - #5273 - hupokrites -
    And - It means - an actor under an assumed character (stage-player)

    Is NOT todays Pastor - reqired by our tradition to be - a Stage Player?
    This Poor Pastor - is Praised - or Pummeled - on their Perfomance - as a Player.

    Here is this Poor guy - with the “Title/Postion” “Pastor/Teacher”
    required by tradition - to Perform - Every Sunday morning - Par excellence...
    And nothing less - by the Patrons - who are Paying him - to Perfect them.

    But - In the Bible - There is NOT one of His Disciples - called - Pastor.
    There is NOT one of His Disciples - with the “Title” - Pastor.
    There is NOT one of His Disciples - Hired - or Fired - as a Pastor.

    And - In Mat 23:8, Jesus says, there is only “ONE” teacher - the Christ.

    Why isn’t what Jesus said - important? ;-)

    Paul says, when you come together - each one - has a Psalm - a Hymn - a teaching...
    When you come together ALL can, and are expected to Particapate. 1 Cor 14:26.

    Why isn’t what Paul said - important? ;-)

    Pastors - in Pulpits - Prevent - People - from Participating...
    Promoting Pew Potatoes.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold - One Shepherd - One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    1. Very very TRUE!!!! Great comment. Maybe Christ's church will learn that this is true.

  2. Plagiarism should be examined in the messages of every pastor that you ever listen to. How do you check for it? Record his sermon on your phone if you need to. Then go home and find some key points to the sermon. Google it, and it might lead you to a site like, where you find a very closely matched sermon.
    Then you can see how much your pastor actually struggled with his message, or if he just copied one off of the internet.
    Every member of any local fellowship should be doing this, because I know for a fact that many pastors do this.

    1. If someone has the desire to check, this is definitely the way to do it. Thanks for mentioning it, Orchard Hill.

  3. So much time, so few comments...

    I really like what Barb had to say on the subject. I had never thought of pastors stealing sermon materials. When I listen to a pastor I want to hear the Word from his own heart with his own feelings about the subject matter.

    I'm not sure this would qualify as spiritual abuse, but it does show something is wrong. Did he cheat in high school? College? Seminary? And as said above, is he also dishonest in other areas of his life?

    I studied a few years ago for my A+ certification on computer repair. I saw what was called "brain dumps" offered on the Internet at attractive prices. I also knew that they were not legal to use! If the certification board (CompTIA) were to find out, they could suspend the certificate forever. I'm old and don't really need a certificate to do this work for friends and family. But I wanted to do it and wanted to do it right. Here's why:

    I love the PC world enough that I chose to learn from the books and classes I took. I wanted to learn everything I could about PC repair. And I can tell you it is never enough. We learn daily. Every time I fix one, it is something new.

    If I were a pastor I would long for those Ah-Ha moments that Barb speaks of.

    If a pastor loves the Lord, his people, and his calling I can't see why he would not want to write his own sermons. Then his heart is in it.

    OK.. Off soapbox...

    1. Adding to my comment at 3:46 PM --

      Just to clarify what I mean by "brain dump". They are answers from the tests that other people have taken and memorized. A company will compile these answers and offer them for a price. They claim that a person can just memorize the answers and pass the test for the certificate, without any study of the subject matter.

      Very dishonest!

  4. Thank You, my sister. I am the guy that asked this question yesterday. I was so excited to see you cover this today. God bless you Julie Anne! Both of the comments above are very good. It is true that there are no "paid staff" in the scriptures. Pulpits are of pagan origins. You can read about this a wickedshepherds website. Julie, I think you have a link to that website posted to the side. Also, if you are still going to a "church building" (there is really no such thing), but if you have a pastor, you need to check up on this. If you catch him plagiarising, stop tithing to him, and leave ASAP. God bless ya church family!

    1. Ok, so now I know which pronoun to use - "him" :)

      I think it is something important to discuss. It's pretty clear that spiritual abusers are going to have other bad fruit from their lives and it dawned on me when I read your question that apparently our own had succumbed to this temptation. I wonder how many others fall in this trap?

      I wonder how this would be addressed in the church - - - if it would necessitate church discipline?

    2. It happened at the church where I was at. Here is a link to a blog about my old congregation: This is one of the biggest in the Georgia Baptist Convention. In fact, the pastor used to be the president of the GBC:

  5. I'll write this here. I was looking through old bookmarks and came across this excellent article on authoritarianism in churches:

    It's titled Imperious Presbyterianism, but it mentions all churches as well. The article touches on many themes you are discussing here. If the article has already been referenced I'm not surprised, but in case it hasn't...

  6. I have not dealt professionally with spiritual abuse per se. I have helped when the pastor or another staff has strayed sexually, to protect the church from liability for that event and for future events by the same person. A church needs to recognize that returning a sexually abusive pastor (the position means that sex with a staff person, congregant or counselee counts as abuse) to that position will probably invalidate the insurance and the church may be signing over all of the assets to some victim and her attorneys.

    But, when there has been sexual issues, there is almost always monetary shenanigans as well, such as an unapproved retirement fund paid for by the church, or the church buying the car and then paying the standard rates as if the pastor had bought the car (alternatively, a car is donated and then the church pays the full rate as if the car had been paid for by the pastor.

    Similarly, when one finds financial abuse, there will almost always be suspicious sexual activity.

    So, I suspect this is not merely a two phase problem, but probably a three or four phase problem, with spiritual abuse and possibly spousal/offspring abuse as well.

    It really is all about power, authority, etc., and the abuse because there are no controls, no supervision, no restraints. That is definitely unbiblical. Christians need to be Bereans.

  7. Julie Anne

    You Got Guts Girl. Plagerism Per Pastors. Outrageous.

    Well - Turns out - You can have all the free semons you want - On Line. :-(
    Here’s just one - But - You can google to find more... Oy Vey!!! - Free Sermons, Illustrations, Videos, and ...
    Offers sermons online, sermon illustrations and sermon outlines for use in
    Christian ministry by pastors, ministers and priests.


    Here is something else I find humorous about todays Pastors who write books.

    Christian Ghost Writing - Yup - And that ain’t “the Holy Ghost” doing the writing.

    Who Would have Thunk it. - Seems there are “Famous” “Celebrity”“Pastors”
    Who “Do NOT” write their own books. :-(

    Here is a post from Jared Wilson - Now of “The Gospel Coalition”
    Who calls himself a Pastor, and does Ghost Writing. It’s an interesting post.

    Jared says...
    “What I typically do is turn a pastor's already-written sermon transcripts or extensive notes into a book-quality manuscript.”

    Well - He thinks that’s okay - and admits to “some level of additional writing”
    But says - What he does doesn’t violate “his conscience.” You be the judge.

    Randy Alcorn - an Author - said...
    “I believe Christian ghostwriting is a scandal waiting to explode. If we in the Christian community don’t clean up our act soon, we’re going to face widespread loss of credibility.”


    Maybe some of the wonderful commenters here can figure out how we can know...

    1 - Who the Ghost Writers are?

    2 - Who is having their books written for them?

    3 - Who is having - “already-written sermon transcripts
    or extensive notes into a book-quality manuscript.” ???

    Plagerism - Ghost Writing - What won’t Pastors do - for Celebrity?

    1. Oh my, Amos - you just opened up a new can of worms, didn't you?! Wowwwwwww.

      I've heard that Phil Johnson is John MacArthur's right-hand man and edits his work. Do you suppose he would be considered a ghost-writer for JMac? How much work is John's vs Phil's? I have no idea, but now I'm curious.

      So what if someone objects to something the ghost-writer writes in a book- - - is the labeled "author" going to say, "I didn't write that"? Or does the author take credit for it?

      If they author wants to write a book, why don't they simply write the book? What is the purpose of this ghost writing? To save time? To put out more books? The word that keeps ringing in my mind is integrity. Does this show integrity to have someone else do the work that you have your name on as author?

  8. Hey Jullie Anne

    L QQ K What I found - About Jonny Mac - Phil Johnson - and Jonnys books.

    Phil says...
    “Sometimes I rearrange material or borrow bits and pieces from multiple sermons—which necessitates lots of new transitions.”

    “People often ask about the process. I start with sermon transcripts—verbatim records of what John said in a sermon (or a series of sermons, or a collection of various sermons that are topically cross-linked). I translate that material from spoken English to written English. This involves a rather exhaustive process of rewriting—mainly to shorten sentences, simplify and clarify sermonic expressions, make the logic and readability as smooth as possible, and remove the kind of redundancies that are fine (and even crucial for proper stress) in a sermon but bad form in writing. **Sometimes I rearrange material or borrow bits and pieces from multiple sermons—which necessitates lots of new transitions.**”

  9. And Trinity foundation calls Phil a ghost writer for Jonny Mac at the end of post.

    “On October 31, 2000, Phillip R. Johnson, aide and ghostwriter for John MacArthur, posted this notice to a small discussion group on the Internet:”


    And this reviewer says...
    “ Second, MacArthur graciously acknowledges that he used a ghost writer, Phil Johnson, who "carefully, skillfully pulls my voice out of the air and transforms it into ink" (p.8).”

    Oh well - Maybe Jesus was correct after all...

    Matthew 24:4
    And Jesus answered and said unto them,
    Take heed that no man deceive you.

    Mark 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say,
    Take heed lest any man deceive you:

    Luke 21:8
    And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived:
    for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; (the anointed)
    and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

    1. Well, there you go. Great detective work, Amos! I guess my thoughts are if Phil is "transforming" (quoting John's word ) John's work, then Phil should be called co-author. I, as a reader, want to know whose work I'm reading. If it's not solely John Mac's work, then I want to know that it is a collective effort of John and Phil. Why is that so difficult?

    2. Hmmm?

      You ask - "Why is that so difficult?"

      Julie Anne - You answer your own question - before you ask it. ;-)

      You write - August 23, 2012 8:15 AM

      "The word that keeps ringing in my mind is integrity."

  10. Julie Anne - HEEELLLLLPPPP!!!

    My brain is starting to hurt - real bad - Wait till you check out this site.

    We have Pagiarism - Ghost Writing - And NOW for your Pastors research service...

    - Is.... Drum roll - Please...

    Docent Research Group
    Providing Excellent Customized Research For Pastors

    Why use Docent? (You need us because of -”the tyranny of the coming Sunday.”)
    Seems - That’s what your “Senior Pastor - your “Spiritual Leader” really thinks
    about the “oh so important” Sunday Morning Worship Service. Oy Vey!!!

    From the Docent site... Why use Docent?
    “The pressure from high expectations, combined with the relentless frequency of weekly services, creates for many pastors "the tyranny of the coming Sunday." Add the countless, diverse demands on a pastor, and too many weeks there simply isn't time to get it all done. Let Docent help.”

    Create a partnership

    You determine how you need Docent to work for you. We don’t tell you what or how to think. Rather, we execute your specific instructions. We enhance what you wish to convey. Whether it is **through weekly sermon briefs,** **book summaries** or **helping you to author your book, **Docent is ready to serve.

    And - Mark Driscoll - Recommends them - go figure...

    Go ahead - listen to that next sermon - read that next book -

    You have NO idea who did the prep - the writing - the research - or anything...

    And we wonder why there is NOT one of His Disciples - called - Pastor.

    Please - Just give me Jesus...

  11. Perhaps because I'm a pastor, I think we need to avoid painting with too broad of a brush. Stealing sermons or stealing from the congregation's support by purchasing sermons, both are just plain wrong. Barb has done a beautiful job of bringing that out. On the other hand if I was asked to convert a sermon series to a book I don't see a problem with turning that task over to someone else. I would still be responsible for the book, to answer Julie Anne's question. My name would be on it. I would also want to be as transparent as possible, perhaps thanking the one who did the conversion. I see no problem with using resources while writing a sermon. For myself, I spend as much time with the text as possible (translation, word studies etc...). Then I want to know what others have found. I make heavy use of commentaries at this point.

    I would be worried about a pastor that didn't enjoy study and preparation for a sermon.

    As far as pastors in the church, I don't want to argue over words, but it seems to me that Paul in Ephesians 4:11 indicates that pastors (or pastor teachers) are one of Christ's gifts to His church. I wholeheartedly agree, however, that the Lord is our only true Pastor. He is my Pastor and calls me to point others to Him.

    1. Craig - You brought up an aspect that I never even considered - using church $$ to purchase sermons. Yea, I don't like that, either.

      I, too, agree with you about pastors being a gift to the church (when they are truly doing what they were called to do). We seem to have a wide variety of readers here and the subject of pastors can be a touchy subject. I hope that others sense that although I sometimes point out negative characteristics to look for (because we who have experienced spiritual abuse are vulnerable), I firmly believe there are wonderful pastor/teachers who direct others to Christ and are so valuable to the Body.

      BTW, Craig Vick is the real deal. My family was blessed to meet Pastor Craig and his lovely wife last weekend. They served us a great meal and we had a wonderful time of fellowship. Craig has the heart of a shepherd and I greatly appreciate his presence here.

    2. I'm not offended by the touchiness. It's good, though humbling, for me as a pastor to hear what damage can be done.

      Kelly and I were blessed as well. It has been the highlight of our week.

  12. No offence to J.A. or Craig Vick, but I need to point out something here for the benifit of everyone. Julie you said:
    "BTW, Craig Vick is the real deal. Craig has the heart of a shepherd and I greatly appreciate his presence here."
    Ok - that may be true. But you did say that " My family was blessed to meet Pastor Craig and his lovely wife last weekend."
    Here is how spiritual abuse happens. See how quickly you are to sing his praises after just meeting the man last week? Now other people that trust you are gonna say, "Well, J.A. says he is a great guy, so it must be true." But if you are wrong...
    I have known pastors for years before the wool fell off and the wolf was exposed. We that believe, are far to trusting, and far less discerning. This quick trust without a great deal of prayerful discernment, is what got William Tyndal killed. Remember he was betrayed by someone that he thought was the real deal too.
    Craig may be a great guy, but some people follow pastors for MANY YEARS before they find out that they were wrong.

    1. And I meant no offence to you Craig Vick, just wanted to encourage J.A. and other people that come to this awesome blog to be a little more discerning, because the wolves is sheep's clothing are sometimes VERY VERY hard to detect.

    2. Thanks Anonymous for the thoughtful comment. I sincerely mean that because I appreciate that you are wanting folks here to be discerning. I do, too.

      Please know that I am not basing my "real deal" comment on one good meal and visit. I am not. You are right that people can pull the wool over our eyes and wolves can creep in unknown. I am basing my comment on the relationship I have had with Craig behind the scenes via e-mail as well as observing his interactions with others here and character traits I see in his responses. (Craig - do you feel you're under my microscope? LOL)

      One clue for me is humility. In all of the cases I have studied on spiritual abuse, and I've lost count now how many, humility is lacking. Craig has shown humility time and again here, in his personal e-mails with me, in person, and here. Another is shepherding. I can see in his responses that he does direct people to Christ and he has with me in e-mail. I appreciate that. Those are a couple biggies.

      Pastors who abuse aren't going to like blogs like mine where we tend to discuss them in a negative light. They would be the ones who come here, cause trouble, etc, because they believe they can do no wrong. He has said he is reading because he has a lot to learn about abuse. Spiritually abusive pastors don't care about abuse. It's all about them.

      There are certain profiles for spiritual abusers and I am just not seeing it. It doesn't mean that he can't change, but . . . . I'm not sure it's a good practice to assume the worst. I'd rather observe, hope for the best in a pastor, but also carefully engage my creepo meter.

    3. Anonymous,
      You raise in my mind a difficult question (and Julie Anne touches on this as well). When is it safe to trust a pastor? I think we make that question almost impossible when we want absolute safety or absolute trust. It's never absolutely safe. We always risk being deceived. On the other hand, absolute trust belongs only to God. Hopefully the creepy meter (Julie Anne's technical term) alerts us when a pastor (or any leader) asks for more trust than is appropriate.

    4. God's word says that we know brothers and sisters by their fruit. The fruit that Craig Vick has shown on this blog has been delightful, comforting, and most of all nourishing. Nobody is perfect, but a person who bears good fruit is deserving of grace when he or she has a minor slip (which will happen). It's the ones who consistently present bad fruit who are the problem children, and Anonymous is right that we need to be ever discerning.

    5. Jess, may I add "hilarious" to your list? :)

  13. Craig

    I do appreciate your willingness to participate and your input.
    And being there for Julie Anne and family through the tough times.

    Just to let you know - I had been flattered- Told I would be a good Pastor/Teacher.
    Pro 29:5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net (Trap) for his feet.

    The trap had been set, I reached for the bait. “Amos can be someone special.” “A gift of God to His Church.” Whammm. I was caught in the trap. I was Ordained, in Leadership, serveing God, and serving His People.

    Then I searched the scriptures for Pastor/Reverend/Leader and what a Pastor/Reverend/Leader is required to do. I had a very rude awakening. And a very real “Spiritual Struggle” over the next couple of years. It took 4 or 5 years but eventually I ripped up my papers, gave up this “Position of Power and Prestige” and desired to become “one of His Disciples.” A servant of Jesus Christ.

    And - To be one of His Disciples - I had to “Forsake All.”Lu 14:33. Forsake ALL Power, Profit, Prestige. And I had to “Deny Myself” and “Follow Jesus.” Lu 9:23. NO longer “my desires” to have a “Title.” NO longer “my desires” to be someone special. A gift of God to His Church. NO longer following “Mere Fallible Humans.” But - Following Jesus.

    And to be a “Disciple of Jesus”- It will cost you - Everything - and often - Everyone.

    I now recommend, for anyone desireing this “Title/Position” “Pastor/Leader” to search the scriptures for themselves.

    And ask a few questions as they search...
    In the Bible - How many of His Disciples - Are “Called” - Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible - How many of His Disciples - “Call themself” - Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible - How many of His Disciples - Have the “Title” - Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible - How many of His Disciples - Hired or Fired - as a - Pastor/Leader?

    Craig - much agreement when you say...
    “the Lord is our only true Pastor.
    He is my Pastor and calls me to point others to Him.”

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold - One Shepherd - One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  14. A. Amos Love,
    I appreciate you too and I love your comments (especially the creative use of words beginning with the same letter). You ask good questions. One of the limitations of blogging is that we're restricted to a conversation of short blurbs. I would much prefer to sit down with you and talk.

  15. And Craig - Thanks for continuing the conversation.
    I hope this explanation helps - To see why I adhere to another possibility.

    I now have a different take on Eph 4:11, and pastor/teacher being a so-called “Gift”
    Since escaping the bondage of “the Abusive Religious System” I was a part of.

    You write...
    “it seems to me that Paul in Ephesians 4:11 indicates that pastors
    (or pastor teachers) are one of Christ's gifts to His church.”

    I was taught that - and believed that - Once upon a time - BUT...

    Eph 4:1-2 starts out...
    I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy
    of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness,
    with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

    Seems Paul is stressing “lowliness and meekness” with “longsuffering,” forbearing one another in love.” But - Today - In my experience - Most who believe - They are called - To be this “Gift” to His church - Stress “Obey your leaders” “Honor your leaders,” “Submit to your leaders” - . And eventually wind up - “lording it over God’s heritage.” A No, No. 1 Pet 5:3.

    In Eph 4:7, it says to me - This “Gift” is grace, this “Gift” is Christ.

    Just think - Is God’s “Gift” to us...
    A “Mere Fallible Human?” Who “Exercises Authority” like the Gentiles?”Mk 10:42
    Or is God’s “Gift” to us - Jesus Christ? Who shed His Blood for us?
    Jesus Christ - the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls? Jesus, who is Eternal life?

    Eph 4:7
    But unto every one of us is “given grace”
    according to the measure of “the gift of Christ.”

    Eph 4:8
    Wherefore he saith, When he “ascended up on high”, he led captivity captive,
    “and gave gifts unto men.”

    Now my Pastors told me, Eph 4:8 was speaking about them. Pastors are this “gift,”
    And when Paul said - Jesus ascended - “and gave gifts unto men.” He meant...
    The gifts were - Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers of Eph 4:11.

    Eph 4:11
    And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
    and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    And I believed them. Oy Vey!!! :-( Beause I wanted to be like them. :-(
    How wonderful for me to be considered - A Gift of God to His Church.

    BUT - Now I see other possibilities for “and gave gifts unto men” from Eph 4:8.

    How about - “gifts unto men” - refering to...
    Jesus - the Holy Spirit - Eternal Life - Spiritual Gifts - Saved by Grace.

    John 4:10 - Jesus is the Gift of God.

    Acts 2:38 - You can receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Rom 6:3 - the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    1 Cor 12:1-9 - Talks about “spiritual gifts,” - word of wisdom - word of knowledge - faith - healing - working of miracles - prophecy - discerning of spirits - divers kinds of tongues - interpretation of tongues.

    Eph 2:8 - Our being saved by grace through faith - is “the gift of God.”

    So - which one do I choose...
    As a “Gift” from God - for me - His Body - His Ekklesia - His Church?

    Jesus - the Holy Spirit - Eternal Life - Spiritual Gifts - Saved by Grace?

    Or - “A Mere Fallible Human?"

    So Craig, What do you think?
    Is it possible “and gave gifts unto men” does NOT refer to Pastor-teacher?

    Jesus loves us this I know...

    1. Lowliness, meekness, long-suffering and bearing with one another in love are key. Pastor teachers have nothing to boast about as Paul makes clear in I Cor. 4:7. I agree that the gift of our Lord and the gift of the Holy Spirit are far more significant gifts than human leaders. So the gifts in Ephesians 4:8 are greater than the gifts in 4:11. Still, 4:11 does speak of gifts ("He gave..."). Perhaps the key is Ephesians 4:12. Here Paul gives the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor teachers. They are to equip the saints. Leaders are, as Jesus says, servants.

  16. I haven't been here in awhile, but Julie and everyone else I just want to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what you all are doing regarding questioning and discussing problems and authoritarianism and harm being done in churches. I though just always want to add (and I don't know anyone here, so I am not saying anyone is falling short with what I am about to say) that we, as Christians, are called to be prophets, priests, and kings (men and women, regenerated by the word and the Spirit). It's the authoritarian types who want to keep us all as helpless children or solely feeding on the milk of the Bible rather than the meat, to use the biblical analogy. So I'm saying that rightfully holding pastors and other church leaders to biblical standards has to be balanced by our own effort to develop real understanding of the Bible and biblical doctrine (this is really the whole Berean approach). Biblical doctrine is armor of God and itself plays a role vis-a-vis anything to do with coming up against false teaching or wolves in sheep's clothing and all the rest.

    1. Thank you, c.t. I absolutely agree with what your comment.

  17. Craig

    You write - August 24, 2012 3:32 PM...
    “Leaders are, as Jesus says, servants.”

    I was also taught that - and also believed that - Once upon a time - And...
    I thought I was called to be a “Leader.” That’s what I was told by my “Elders.”
    I was reading all the books on “Christian Leadership” - There are lots of them. :-(
    NOT many books on - How to be a “Servant.”

    And - Once I left “the Abusive Religious System” - I started to ask Jesus different questions and those “Traditions of men” that “make Void” the Word of God (Mk 7:13.) began to fall away.

    Mark 7:13
    KJV - Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition...
    ASV - Making “void” the word of God by your tradition...
    NIV - Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition...

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on “Leaders” - He says there is “ONE”“Leader.”

    What I found was Jesus teaching His Disciples - NOT to be called “Leader.”
    For “ONE” is your “Leader” - that is - Christ.

    New American Standard Bible - Mat 23:10-12.
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “servant.”
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message - Mat 23:10-12.
    And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? - Then step down. - Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Jesus instructed **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “Servant-Leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders”
    and someone calls them self a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader;”
    or allows others to think they are a “leader.”

    Are they a "Disciple of Christ?"
    Or - Just a dis-obediant "Disciple of Christ?" ;-)

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? ;-)

    1. Amos - - - what if I want to call Craig, "Pastor Craig"? When I e-mail Craig, most of the time, I call him "Craig", the same way in which I would address a friend, by the first name. Craig is not my pastor. But . . . . there may have been a couple times where I have e-mailed and addressed him as "Pastor Craig". And those times, I am acknowledging him as a pastor and giving him respect because I'm asking him something in that capacity - as a pastor (and he has always responded as I would hope a pastor would - - - guiding/leading me to Christ).

      BTW, Craig, I don't think we have discussed this, but have you noticed that I do this?

      I'm using Craig as an example because he's in this conversation, but I have done the same thing with Ken and we've discussed this, too. Neither of these pastors have asked me to call them pastor, but I will call them pastor when I am asking a pastoral-type question and I feel perfectly fine about adding the title in front of their name because I do respect them, that they have spent years of studying God's word, are gifted with teaching, etc. So I am doing it on my own, not that they expect it of me.

      Now, on the other hand, I remember a pastor we had who would correct you if you did not include the title "Pastor" in front of his first name. Interestingly, he has softened his ways, gone to the Emergent camp and now only goes by his first name.

  18. Julie Anne

    You asked - TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2012 - @ - I Like the Red Sox and I Like Your Hat
    “We, probably more than others, have a keener sense of abuse and legalism. Do you suppose we can someday regard this sensitivity a gift? Maybe it is.”

    I would say - That’ a very accurate statement - God has given you much wisdom.
    IMO - ALL of the “Spiritual Abuse” had a benefit - And “Sensitivity” is one.

    I didn’t come to these understandings quickly. I was questioning “Titles” and the modern day “Position” of “Pastor” for 4 or 5 years before ripping up my papers. And for the next 2 or 3 years I called anyone who was known as a pastor - Pastor. That’s just what I always did. That was what my “Pastors” always “Taught” me to do. And wanting to be a good little sheepie - I obeyed. :-)

    Even after leaving “The Abusive Religious system” - I would volunteer at food pantrys and street ministries - working with the homeless and the needy - And there were lots of Pastors around - And I said nothing about what I believed - I just wanted to “Serve” - And NOT be known - And see what Jesus would do - If all I desired was to be "His Servant" - with NO "Titles."

    But - Alas - One day - A women Pastor - Who had started one of these ministries - Before calling herself Pastor - And we had become good friends - While “Volunteering” for over three years - 4-5 days a week - Asked me - Why I do NOT belong to a Church - In the past I would answer her - Well, I’m just in the wilderness for now and avoided her questions - BUT - this time I said - in Amos 3:3 - It says “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” - She agreed - Then I asked her - And - How many people are called pastor in the Bible - She thought for a moment lifting her eyes - Then said - There is NO one called pastor in the Bible - I said - Well, If I went to a Church that had someone called Pastor - I would NOT be in agreement with them.

    I had just signed my own death warrant - It’s a much longer story - BUT...
    A few months later I was asked to leave - I was excommunicated - Ouch

    My friends had a good laugh - I was fired from a job where I worked for free. ;-)

    As to your question about addressing - Vick as Pastor Vick - That’s totally up to you and where you’re relationship is at with Vick. You’ll have to go to Jesus - And ask Him - What you should do.

    John 14:26
    But the Comforter, which is] the Holy Ghost,
    whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things...

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL taught of God.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to *hear His voice,*
    that *He might instruct thee:*

    Psalms 32:8
    I will instruct thee and teach thee
    in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

    Jesus will show you - what and when - He expects of you...

    1. You got fired at your volunteer job for not addressing someone the way in which they expected to be addressed. Wow! Shame on you, Amos!! What were you thinking? :)

      I always appreciate the thoughts and experiences you have expressed here, Amos. And I appreciate the tone you use - that it does not feel divisive. Thank you! That is so important to me. The big issue here is spiritual abuse and recovery and we are all at different places, having opinions. We are a work in progress. I am not where you are, Amos, as far as titles is concerned. I agree with a lot of what you say, but feel very comfortable calling Craig, "Pastor Craig". Who knows, that may change, but that's where I am right now :)

  19. I'm struck at the contrasting comments from readers commenting on the Edwin Young story and this post. On the earlier Edwin Young thread, a reader is saying that we need preachers in order to be saved. And A. Amos Love on this post is not convinced that we need pastors at all. Well, that's enough to make my head spin!

  20. Julie Anne

    Thank you for your kind comments -
    If and when - I do sound divisive - harsh - You have permission to “Admonish me.”
    I can get a little snarky at times - I do enjoy a robust debate - Iron sharpens Iron.
    Seems Conflict does have a benefit - It causes us to go a little deeper to explain.

    And Yes - We are all in different places in our recovery - And our walk with the Lord.
    Yes - We can get “Revelation” - for us - from the Lord - for today - But...
    That “Revelation” might NOT be for others - at this time - today.

    Keep trusting in the Lord - Humans will fail you - time and time again.

    Psalm 118:8-9
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

    Proverbs 3:5-6
    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
    and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge him,
    and he shall direct thy paths.

  21. Julie Anne

    Ah Yes - Head spinning - A favorite past time for me too. :-)

    One of the wonderful things about the Bible is...
    We can ALL use the bible “our” way to validate “our” lifestyle, “our” beliefs.
    It’s a real challenge - to NOT focus on only those scriptures - that agree with me. lol.

    I can’t wait for the real “Unity of Believers” - When everyone agrees with me. :-)

    Some days it is a real challenge. Some topics are a real struggle - to know the Truth.
    That’s why I believe - Eventually - You have to get it from Jesus - for yourself.

    If Jesus created this entire Universe - by Speaking ...
    Then Jesus - Speaking to Julie Anne - Speaking to ALL His Sheep - Will be easy.

    Jesus said..

    John 10:27
    My Sheep - Hear My Voice - I know them - They Follow Me.

    John 18:37.
    ...Every one that is of the truth “heareth My voice.”

  22. Julie Anne

    You write...
    “A. Amos Love on this post is not convinced that we need pastors at all.”

    Well - Maybe NOT the pastors “we see” today - Who want folks to follow them.

    But - The Bible does use the word “Pastors.” The Greek word is - poimen = shepherd.
    Poimen is 18 times in the new testament - But - Never as a “Title” for a human.
    Seems to me - Only Jesus has that “Title.” “The Shepherd and Bishop of my soul.”

    Now elders are asked to feed, to shepherd, to tend, the flock that is among you.
    But - Is this “Elder” an office? - Or just someone a little more mature?

    There seems to be a lot of feeding, shepherding, of hurt sheep - here - on this Blog.
    Dare I say - Julie Anne - And the commenters - are feeding, shepherding - Sheep?

    And NO one has to have an official “Title” -
    They just do what is comes natural for a son of God. They give of themselves.

    Seems our understanding of pastor and elder is skewed - Because of what “we see.”

    Are there those who “feed” and “shepherd/pastor” in the Bible - Yes
    Isn’t that what we ALL do from time to time - For one another - without a “Title.”
    One day you’re feeding me - Then one day I’m feeding you.
    We can ALL learn, grow, with each other. One Body - With Jesus as the head.

    And then - Jesus says - there is only “ONE” shepherd.

    Why isn’t what Jesus says important?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold - One Shepherd - One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


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