Saturday, May 26, 2007

Creation Museum Opens this Weekend

Staff and volunteers at the new Answers in Genesis creation museum have prepared diligently for this weekend--opening weekend--of the new $27 million facility formulated to "uphold the authority of the Bible from the very first verse." The museum is 65,000 square feet, located in Petersburg, Kentucky and features animatronic dinosaurs, state-of-the-art models and graphics, more than 50 educational videos, a model of the Grand Canyon, and a bookstore.

Pundits and naysayers will also turn out in droves as this article contends.

As the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum prepares to open Monday with its message that the Bible's story of creation is literally and scientifically correct, a growing group of scientists, educators, clergy and concerned citizens will be countering the Creation Museum's message with their own "Rally for Reason."

"We're people interested in science over superstition," said Edwin Kagin, a Union lawyer and Kentucky state director of American Atheists.

Even more scathing was Kai Ryssdal's commentary on NPR yesterday, quoting physics professor Lawrence Krauss.
How much money and glitz does it take to institutionalize a scientific lie? In the case of the Creation Museum, about $27 million worth.

The reason for this museum is quite simple: The historical record in Genesis must literally be true. Since this is incompatible with essentially all of modern scientific knowledge, therefore modern scientific knowledge must be incorrect.

But if you want to renounce modern science as flawed, then an intellectually honest approach would be to also renounce technologies such as airplanes, cars and even radios that work using precisely the same scientific principles that tell us the earth is well over 6,000 years old.

But that's not the approach the Creation Museum takes. It renounces knowledge, but has spent lavishly on creating the illusion of science.

So, they've created a museum that appears scientific, but that simply lies about the science instead.

The Creation Museum uses dazzling and expensive animatronic displays made possible by hard-won advances in science to suggest the viability of a literal interpretation of Genesis.

That includes a six-day creation of the Earth, a 6,000-year-old universe, and a world where dinosaurs and humans happily roamed together. All of these are inconsistent with everything science tells us about the natural world.

Alas, such scientific fraud is not subject to legal intervention unless there is a financially injured party.

But what of the intellectual injury to thousands of young children who might visit the museum — built to be within a day's drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population — and who come out confused about science, the very thing that can give them a competitive edge in the modern world.

Religion doesn't have to be bad science. And, similarly, bad science shouldn't be defended simply because it might have a religious basis.

While religious tolerance is important, there should be little tolerance for promoting or consuming such religiously motivated scientific fraud.
A statement of the museum's intentions are in the "about" section of their website.

The Creation Museum will be upfront that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice, and in every area it touches upon.

We’ll begin the Museum experience by showing that “facts” don’t speak for themselves. There aren’t separate sets of “evidences” for evolution and creation—we all deal with the same evidence (we all live on the same earth, have the same fossils, observe the same animals, etc.). The difference lies in how we interpret what we study. We’ll then explore why the Bible—the “history book of the universe”—provides a reliable, eye-witness account of the beginning of all things.

How much of the Bible should we accept as fact and how much should we receive as metaphor? This is the question behind this issue and one that will never be settled. If an extreme metaphorical position is adopted, then where should the line be drawn that certain events, people, etc. cease to be metaphorical? Krauss did not advocate abandoning the Bible altogether, just those parts that do not agree with scientific fact. But the creation museum does not advocate abandoning science altogether, just those parts that do not agree with the Biblical record. Who is right? Who is wrong? What do you think?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Even More Lousy Church Signs

The family and I went letterboxing today in Roxboro, NC and saw these lousy church signs.

OK, so does it matter which "religion"
you are practicing?

____________ BAPTIST CHURCH: A SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH WHO CARES. (Name withheld to protect the, er, innocent; and the, er, emphasis is mine.)

Well, if you have got to put it on the sign...


Yeah, we're superior to you, too. I am so sick of this maxim I could just scream.
Go see some more crummy church signs!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More on Milestones and Maturity

I have been promising myself I would return to this topic, but from the flurry of posts since the first post of my thoughts on this subject, you can see how easily I get distracted.

It won't be long I will be back in the birthing room--the physical one--as my wife and I prepare to welcome the newest addition of our progeny. As overwhelming and exciting as being in the birthing room is, it also compares greatly with being in the spiritual birthing room. Having been there more times than I can count now, I have seen a plethora of people come to know Jesus Christ in repentance and faith.

Just as newborn people are called babies, so newborn Christians are rightly called "baby" Christians. In so many ways, newly birthed Christians are like newborn babies. They need constant attention, constant care, and constant love. To not receive those things can spell certain disaster.

In my developmental psychology class in college, there was a study about several newborn babies that, after they were born, were withheld attention, love, and nurture. They were only given the bare necessities to live--diaper changes, milk, and baths. They were not held, talked to, rocked, cuddled, or snuggled. What happened to these babies? They failed to thrive. Unfortunately, to prove many of the points of the study, the babies were allowed to linger for several months at this horrid level of care, and many of the milestones that would characterize normal development were not there. Even so, many of these babies were near death before they were cared for in such a way that they would thrive again.

In the same way, the church must cultivate such an environment that "baby" Christians will thrive. However, the church so often expects adult behavior out of spiritual youngsters. Children are a flurry of emotions; one moment they are up, happy, excited about what is next to come, anxious, and motivated. The next moment, they are down, depressed, sad, frustrated, and amotivated.

The church should more closely match its treatment of "baby" Christians as those spiritual youngsters and adjust expectations accordingly. What a joy it is in those first few days after conversion to know for certain that God is your Father and Christ is your Savior and brother! The joy inexplicable of knowing your sins are forgiven! The delight of knowing prayers are received warmly and expectantly!

However, knowing the new believer has experienced the goodness of the Father and wants to behave as an obedient child, he has little experience in doing so. The new convert has much love in his heart and a tender conscience for God, but he does not understand the warfare of daily sanctification, the necessity of mortification, the intense battles of holy living, nor the necessity of Christ's sustaining power.

When he falls, he falls hard. As a child he depends too much on his feelings and too little on the internal realities of the faith. Children are prone to temper tantrums as are new converts, in a sense. The simplicity of newfound strength and the brightness of joy in the initial expression of grace and forgiveness are quickly robbed by low times of disobedience and the easy feeling of separation anxiety. Encouragement comes as quickly as discouragement, yet knowing little, he thirsts to know more, just as a child, asking a million questions in one sitting.

Babies are difficult to care for, but in our homes we cultivate a loving atmosphere that they might thrive. We would not think for one moment to abandon one of our own children, cause them to fend for themselves, or expect them to behave as adults. Yet this is often what the church does. Instead of helping them to reach milestones in accord with their level of faith, rather we force feed, making them "grow up" faster than intended.

Dan Edelen, in a recent post that spurred my thinking again on this topic, sums up this problem well:
How hard then to look at someone who appears to be an adult on the outside, yet is a child in the Faith. We don’t look hard enough for the spiritual child in them. We assume because they’re an adult on the outside that their faith matches that external appearance.
More thoughts later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

That's Some Pig

At least this time she isn't in the cage.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Lousy Church Signs

Out tooling around with the family over the past several days and came across some lousy church signs.

What? You there?


Actually, they are much better in marmalades.


Who knew God was a Michael Bolton fan?


Or a Waylon and Willie fan?

And one of my favorites:


No comment necessary.

Feel free to lambaste any as you see fit.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rod Parsley: Dr. Falwell's Successor?

Speculation about Dr. Falwell's "successor" abounds in the blogosphere and across the Internet. It seems that Rod Parsley, Pentecostal megachurch pastor in Columbus, Ohio, may be positioning himself to do just that.

In a recent statement on his website, Moral Majority clone Center for Moral Clarity, he stated his profound admiration for Dr. Falwell and claimed that Dr. Falwell was a mentor of his in the early years of his ministry, having grown up Southern Baptist. Parsley has been given nicknames like the "raging prophet," the "patriot pastor," and a "talibangelist" by severe leftists. This past Friday evening, an honorary doctorate of humanities degree was conferred upon Parsley at commencement exercises at Liberty University. Parsley was saddened that Dr. Falwell would not be able to hood him himself, because Falwell was a "gracious friend and patient teacher."

What saddens me is the parroting of the religious right rhetoric.

Like Falwell, Parsley believes Christians must be the moral watchmen for their nation. "The liberal left media continue to pound away and tell the church to get back within the confines of its sanctuary walls," he asserts, "and if there's anything Dr. Falwell taught us, it's that we, having an experience with Christ, must be salt and light and infuse ourselves into every strata of society. And it is not only our privilege but it is our God-given right in
this Judeo-Christian worldview nation to vote -- to vote our values."

Parsley says one way conservative, Bible-believing Christians can carry on the legacy of Dr. Jerry Falwell is by staying active in the public square [emphasis mine].

Have God and conservatism merged into one? I agree that Christians should make their presence known in the public square, but if Christians are only making their political views known, then of what benefit is it? Being involved in politics as the sole source of transformation is to hack the Gospel off at the knees. To "vote our values" makes Christians nothing less than proselytizers, not witnesses. Too often Christians have substituted voting values for testifying to God's work of grace in their lives. It cannot be the only thing you do for Christ! This is not the only voice conservative Christians should have.

I also must remind everyone that Parsley is the same man that not too long ago, called for the imprisonment of adulterers. Never mind that Jesus actually released an adulteress, and if Parsley is consistent in his application of this belief, then three of the top contenders for Republican nomination for 2008 would therefore be in jail, the party he has historically endorsed.

Christians should be salt and light, but in my opinion, this misuse of Jesus' command has become code and has been divested of its true Scriptural meaning. We are failing in what it means to be salt and light. What was it that turned the world upside down in the first century church? It certainly wasn't Paul's and Silas' engagement of the Roman Empire in diplomatic and political discourse. It was by the faithful proclamation of the Gospel, both individually and corporately. That alone will bring the transforming power of God into our midst, not proselytization into
religious clones.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Even in His Death...

...he still polarizes. Dr. Jerry Falwell is one of the most polarizing firgures to have ever called himself an evangelical.In reading many blogs about Dr. Falwell as a man, a visionary, a leader, a pastor, and a preacher of the Gospel, the opinions have ranged from "glad he is dead" to "bold man of God."

I have had a decided opinion of Dr. Falwell, and as a conservative living in Virginia, one cannot listen to Virginia Baptist news without the names Dr. Falwell, Liberty University, or Thomas Road Baptist Church eventually coming up. As a preacher of the Gospel, few could rival Dr. Falwell for his bold proclamation, his tender invitation, his compassionate identification even with the poorest of sinners. As a pastor, the Thomas Road Baptist Church family loved him; he was willing to get his hands dirty with ministry, reaching out to the lowliest of drug addicts and alcoholics, condemning abortion yet doing all in his evangelical sway to open another shelter for unwed mothers.

One thing I can say about Dr. Falwell, as some have already noted on their blogs, Dr. Falwell made some onerous statements. I will not rehearse those. Regardless of the sharpness of his tongue, no one would have ever caught Dr. Falwell in an adult book store. His integrity in witness and committment to his family, immediate, church, and to the larger Body of Christ, rose above every other character flaw he may have had, and if anything, I respect his boldness and courage. Greatness as a man of God is not precluded by any personal bias one may have for any man, whether conservative or moderate in their theology.

I disagreed with Dr. Falwell on politics. He was too close to too many politicians, nor were his political affiliations consistent, and his galvanization of a "values voters" block was too single-issue and too polarized for my tastes. His legalistic and fundamentalist bents made political favor part of a personal relationship with Christ and with that I take issue. Christ is part of no political party. But all that is personal bias.

Dr. Falwell was radical. He was extreme. He made people mad. However, having met Dr. Falwell, shook his hand, attended services at Thomas Road, heard him preach in person and on radio, he was a sweet man. But when he became political, he morphed into something entirely different. Here is where I diverge with the man, for better or worse.

I appreciate, admire, and respect the contributions of Dr. Jerry Falwell to evangelical Christianity, culture at large, and even to us as Baptists. May God bless his family, watch over them during this time of crisis, and may a man of God be raised to fill his enormous shoes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dan Edelen's Comments on Falwell

Dan Edelen, well-respected God-blogger, had this to say about the sorrowful passing of Dr. Jerry Falwell. A great quote, I will let it stand on its own merit.

No matter what any Christian thinks of Jerry Falwell, he decisively answered a most important question that all Christians must consider: Does a sacred/secular divide exist?

For most of Christian history, the answer has been yes. Jerry Falwell said no. And I believe he was right.

We can’t underestimate the profundity of pulling down the curtain between the sacred and the secular. Many of us today fail to realize how much we’ve gained by understanding that all of life is sacred, and it loses none of its sacredness when it intersects with everyday living. Eliminating that divide better frames the Kingdom of God in its proper context. The Kingdom penetrates everything it touches when Christians advance.

Jerry Falwell believed that Christians should not be ashamed to enter secular realms with the Gospel. Before he came on the scene, too many of us lived a double life. He didn’t found the idea, but he made it popular for Christians to go into the highways and byways of the world confident in Christ.

We forget what it was like before Falwell, don’t we?

Sadly, while the idea reflects God’s heart, the execution of that mandate doomed itself by going too far. Instead of letting the light of Christ speak, we decided to make something happen. Like Moses striking the rock, we overstepped our bounds and made a laughingstock of Evangelicalism. We equated expanding the Kingdom into secular realms with attempting to rule it with a not-so-subtle iron fist. In effect, the mishandling of the elimination of the sacred/secular divide led to power grabs from overly smug Evangelicals, rather than a humble glowing of light from within the traditionally dark areas of life long ago abandoned by believers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dr. Falwell Dead

From CNN:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television minister whose 1979 founding of the
Moral Majority galvanized American religious conservatives into a political
force, died Tuesday at age 73. Falwell was found unconscious and without a pulse in his office at Liberty University, the college he founded in Lynchburg, Virginia, said Ron Godwin, the school's executive vice president.

I disagreed with Dr. Falwell on many things, primarrily his political method. However, I also held many things in common with him, mainly a great love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Our prayers are with the Falwell family during this difficult time.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Is Church Good for Kids?

That is the conclusion of a recent study by a team of sociologists at Mississippi State University. The study claims that it is "quite clear" that religious attendance has various positive effects on children and that children who attend church of some description fare better emotionally, behaviorally, and cognitively. The study also found a direct correlation between positive childhood development and regular attendance as opposed to sporadic attendance.

The study's definition of religion is one significant drawback in that they only examined generalized data; denomination or affiliation was not included in the study parameters. Therefore, it cannot be concluded (from this study) if attendance at a Baptist church would have a significant difference over attendance at a church of another denominational stripe or even religious affiliation.

A significant finding from this study is that parental disagreement about faith does impact a child's development and his views on faith later in life.
But Bartkowski's study did determine that while church attendance is good for children, parental debate over religion is not. In fact, the study found that when parents argue about religion, it can "significantly undermine" a young child's development. However, when they are in agreement, it can be very beneficial. The study also said parent-child discussions about religion "often yield positive affects on child development."

Regularity in attendance can make a difference, too.

"In many of the developmental domains featured here, the children who are doing the best are in households where both parents attend worship services frequently," the authors wrote.
Though regular church attendance does indeed have a positive impact on children, a more significant conclusion of this study, one overlooked or drawn unwittingly, is that how faith is modeled at home has a much more significant impact on the child's development as well as how he views faith later in life. Parents who are unequally yoked serves, as Scripture testifies, to confuse childhood faith development.

In such home settings, any work done in church to disciple children is typically undone at home or is not being reinforced and does indeed confuse the child. The study does draw this point, that church should reinforce what is taught at home and not vice versa. This draws the more general point that faith is best taught at home and the church setting serves to best act as a conduit for working faith out, being edified and encouraged, and enjoying fellowship with other believers.

What is more significant is whether or not the child knows Jesus Christ and is being led to love Him, serve Him, and follow Him. So while church attendance is indeed good, parental discipleship is still best.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dr. Frank Page: A Strong Voice of Reason in the Education Debate

Dr. Page has sought to clarify his stance on the proposed education resolution authored by Voddie Baucham and Bruce Shortt. Dr. Page's name is mentioned six times in the resolution and today he issued a statement clarifying his position on schooling issues.
"I am pastor of a church that has strong support for home schoolers and their families," Page said. "Many in my church go to Christian schools. Two of my three daughters graduated from Christian schools. However, I also support those who feel led to continue their children in public school education. I strongly support those Christian men and women who teach in our public schools and our young people who are seriously considering the teaching profession as a possible calling of God. Basically, I support a parent's right to decide where their children should be educated. There are many crucial issues involved. Parents must be very careful about where they place their children. They must carefully seek the leadership of the Lord in this important matter. I am also deeply concerned about those in our society who cannot afford to either home school (because of work schedules) or place their children in Christian education because of the costs. This is a serious issue to me.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Education Resolution Redux

My post on the education resolution to be brought to the SBC in San Antonio this June stimulated a great response and my friend Les and I discussed the "do-ability" of this resolution. I suspect I came off as a dreamer, anticipating that churches could work together, pool resources, and make such a proposal work over the course of several, even many years. Les took the opposite tact and remains a bit skeptical. He said in the comment thread, "Unfortunately, it would take some very unselfish churches to accomplish it. It grieves my heart to say this but I don't see that many unselfish SBC churches around."

After mulling it over for a day, Les is probably right. There are not very many unselfish churches around; a sad indictment but one that is nonetheless true. After a thread's worth of discussion, I also became doubtful and I tend to be fairly optimistic. However, E. Ray Moore, outspoken proponent of pulling out of public schools, also dreams of a day when such a proposal may work. He is quoted in a recent World Net Daily article,

Moore told WND that for the most part, there would be nothing simpler than Christians creating a parallel school system.

"The resources are there," he said. "Church buildings lie fallow five days a week, so the buildings are there. The people are there. The children are there. Budgets are in place in churches. In many cases there are Christian public school teachers who could come over. Everything is there, in place, available, right now as I speak."

Add to that the availability of Internet, satellite and other course options, and there you have a school, he said.

"But they do not have a biblical theology and the will to do it," he said.

Well, there you have it.

As far as declaring that the current problem is a theological one, he may be hermeneutically off-base. He quotes Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." He then claims that many Christians are disobedient to Scripture because this command includes education. He goes on to say,
"This should be part of their witness, along with Bible study, faithful attendance, and tithing [Oh my!]," Moore said. "That's what we're teaching. That's sort of made us a little different. We're teaching this as part of biblical obedience."
That "Oh my!" was from me. I won't argue that he is probably right about churches possessing the wherewithal to accomplish such a monumental task, but here is where I would like to open this up for discussion. Where do you see flaws in Moore's reasonings, if any?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Children are Bad for the Planet

I normally criticize the right on this blog, but this comes from the decidedly left and all I can say is, no.




Having large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.

The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.

John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.

"The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."

In his latest comments, the academic says that when couples are planning a family they should be encouraged to think about the environmental consequences.

"The decision to have children should be seen as a very big one and one that should take the environment into account," he added.

Professor Guillebaud says that, as a general guideline, couples should produce no more than two offspring.

Thank you professor for that keen insight. Let me offer my commentary:

"Bwahhhhaahhhaaahhhahhhhhhaaaa!!!!" And just in time for Mother's Day.

(H/T: Vision Forum Blog)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Finally-An Education Resolution that Makes Sense

From Christian Newswire:
As the controversy over public schooling among Southern Baptists and other Christians continues to gather force, for the first time a president of the Southern Baptist Convention has publicly called upon churches to start more Christian schools and to make sure that provision is made for the children of families that would not otherwise be able to afford to attend.
Anyone that reads this blog knows that I am an avid homeschooler. However, I could not get behind the 2004 SBC education resolution. I am not certain it represented a large block of the SBC's membership's feelings on schooling issues, being utopian, unrealistic and radically extreme. You can read the entire text of the failed resolution here, but I excerpt it to show how radical it was.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all officers and members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the churches associated with it to remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God, the good of Christ's church, and the strength of their own commitment to Jesus, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to work energetically to counsel parents regarding their obligation to provide their children with a Christian education, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to provide all of their children with Christian alternatives to government school education, either through home schooling or thoroughly Christian private schools. [All emphases are mine.]
The resolution failed to take into account the number of families simply unable to afford Christian education, which was one of my primary concerns when the resolution was first made public, the gravity of urging all parents in every SBC church to just "remove" their children from the school system, the fundamentalist bent driving the resolution, as well as the number of members of SBC churches employed by school systems. Moreover, it just sets a goal that cannot and will not be reached.

Granted, all radical movements are driven by some extreme personalities. However, the 2007 resolution to be brought to San Antonio is one that I can fully support and makes a lot more sense than the 2004 resolution. You can read the entire (proposed) resolution here, but I excerpt a portion that outshines the first resolution.

Whereas, event and personality driven methods of evangelism are ineffective, unscriptural, and fail to overcome our failure to disciple our children;

Whereas, Christian educational alternatives to government schools are an effective means for evangelistic outreach and discipling, and, as Dr. Page recognizes, such alternatives are desperately needed immediately by orphans, children of single parents, and the disadvantaged;


Whereas, churches can collaborate in providing alternatives to the government school system; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention urges that the agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention to heed Dr. Page’s call to expand Christian education by assisting churches in the development of Christian schools and help coordinate efforts, including partnerships with churches in low income areas, to provide a Christian educational alternative to orphans, single parents, and the disadvantaged;


BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention applauds the many adult members of our congregations who teach in government schools, and this resolution should be construed to encourage adult believers who are truly called to labor as missionaries to unbelieving colleagues and students to continue their missionary work in the dark and decaying government school system. [All emphases are mine.]
This is an education resolution that makes sense--and seems doable. Plus, churches working together to accomplish a perceived end is much more plausible than just "pull out," workable over the course of several years. I know many parents who want a Christian education for their children, but because of aforementioned reasons, cannot provide that for their kids. I have always been an advocate of our churches helping those who cannot provide for themselves and this is a step in the right direction, not just chastising the single mother who works two jobs whose ex-husband doesn't pay child support, that she is failing in adequately having her children educated.

Too often our churches exact a standard on those who cannot reach it and then respond with fury when they do not reach it. (I think that might be called legalism.) Yet this resolution actually offers a plausible standard and then offers ways and means to assist parents in reaching it. This seems to be a bit more in accords with New Testament Christianity. Now, if our churches will just hear and respond.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pulpit Plagiarism: Still a Problem

I know a handful of preachers read this blog and I came across this article from the Christian Century which troubles me. I spend a great deal of time preparing messages and Bible studies. I set aside several hours of study time to ensure that the congregation I serve is fed the Word of God, as limited as I am.

It continues to surprise me that preachers are not above plagiarism and that a preacher would be guilty of such, but I guess I am a bit idyllic. I see no harm in reading other preachers' sermons, finding illustrations (as long as they are not shared as original), or to hone theology. However, preaching an entire sermon, or even parts, is still "homiletical petty larceny."
Pulpit plagiarism may not be new, but there is plenty of evidence that the practice is spreading and that the kerosene on the fire is the Internet. Not only are thousands of sermons available for the snatching on church Web pages, but scores of commercial sites hawk complete sermons, illustrations, outlines, images and PowerPoint accompaniments for a fee.
I know that there are seasons when time is scarce and valuable study time is at a minimum. It is easy to log on, easier to find a sermon posted, and woefully simple then to pass it off as your own. Many sermon websites are now carrying ridiculous disclaimers to soothe the conscience.
"We know you may be worried about plagiarism," they essentially warble, "but the authors of these sermons want you to use them. And besides, these sermons are designed to stimulate your imagination as you create your own sermons. You'll still be doing the work."
Rick Warren added his invaluable two cents worth: "If it fits in your gun, shoot it." His website states, "When I was planting Saddleback Church, other pastors’ sermons fed my soul – and eased my preparation!" So if Rick Warren offers you full access to his sermons, what is the harm in using them?

Plenty. Our folks come to church looking for a fresh word from God, not warmed-over table scraps. Moreover, how does this nourish the preacher's soul? I find my study time fresh engagements with God, opportunities not just to prepare to feed the congregation God has given me to serve, but soul nourishment of my own. Who do you think the congregation would rather hear, a pastor who spent eight to ten hours of study time alone with God or Rick Warren? What is the point of preaching if the preacher does not prepare to deliver God's message? It will be as Randy Cohen, publisher of The Ethicist, writes,
"Perhaps sermon writing should not be a job requirement." Being a pastor, Cohen said, requires many different gifts, and no one can possess them all in abundance. "If an otherwise excellent pastor is clumsy with his pen," he mused, "his parish would be better served by hearing him deliver the profound and stirring words of a more talented author."
I just recently began preaching without the aid of notes. Not only is this liberating and allows much more freedom for the Spirit to work, it also guards against passing another's material off as one's own. The primary issue is, I believe, one of truthfulness. It isn't about giving credit where credit is due, keeping one's ethical nose clean, or even about making best use of one's time. It is about honoring God in all that you do, giving Him the glory, and allowing Him to work through His inspired Word to do His business.

(H/T: Michael Duduit)