When I started preaching at the age of 16, I’d never heard of exegesis or hermeneutics. I saw a book at the Gospel Advocate Bookstore on expository preaching and thought is was when you wanted to preach a sermon and expose someone for doing something wrong. I bought a sermon outline book, Simple Sermon Outlines, by J. C. Choate and used many of the outlines for my sermons during my last two years of high school. It never occurred to me I was plagiarizing. The book was printed to use for Bible study and presentation.
The issue becomes a problem when a preacher claims borrowed material is his. It becomes a problem when a preacher or teacher does little or no Bible study on his own but only copies someone else’s material and presents it as his own.
I make no claims of originality. I was born ignorant. I didn’t know my A, B, Cs or how to count. Everything I know I learned from someone else.
Most of my sermons and classes came from others’ books, sermons, articles, and commentaries. One series of nine lessons I prepared from an idea in one sentence in one book I heard on cassette tapes. I don’t remember the book. I don’t remember the author.
I may preach one or two sermons from www.sermoncentral.com . I claim no originality.[tweetthis]My definition of originality is: “I forgot where I learned it.”[/tweetthis]
There’ll be times when I’ll give the source. There’ll be times when I don’t remember the source. If you want to know where I got my information, I’ll tell you if I remember.
If I say I read it, I read it. I may not be able to prove it’s true.
When I say something happened to me, it happened to me.[tweetthis]I won’t tell illustrations or jokes as if they happened to someone else if I don’t know it happened to them.[/tweetthis]
When I use the phrase “less than fifty years ago, and less than five hundred miles from here” it means it’s something that happened, but I won’t disclose the people involved.
My commitment to you is I’ll continue to read, study, and listen to present sermons and classes I think will be helpful for us at the time. I learned from someone else. If you want to know my sources, ask. If I know, I’ll tell you.