The new, woke, President of the Southern Baptist Convention is having a rough start to his term. It started out with the discovery of partialism on his church’s faith statement. From there, his previous egalitarian tendencies of having his wife copreach with him were became more well-known. And then a sermon in which he minimized homosexuality was exposed, in which he claims that the Bible whispers about sexual sin.
However, the sermon which he gave drew even more scrutiny when a viral video cut back and forth between JD Greear’s infamous sermon and Ed Litton’s sermon given one year later. The video makes it clear that Ed Litton copied JD Greear’s sermon.
Ed Litton’s response to increased scrutiny has been to hide his archive of sermons. At least 143 sermons on YouTube were made private and unavailable, especially the aforementioned sermon on Romans 1. Yet in an ironic pairing of actions, Ed Litton posted a press release on Redemption Church’s website claiming that he had permission to use Greear’s sermon:
Yesterday, some questions arose about a sermon I delivered in January 2020 on Romans 1, addressing the sin of homosexuality. Specifically, there were concerns about similarities with a sermon delivered by J.D. Greear a year earlier.
Like thousands of other Southern Baptist pastors, I labor every week, preparing to stand in front of the congregation God has called me to serve. In preparation for our series on Romans, I used several resources to help me think through how to structure the series and how best to communicate the profound truths we encounter in these passages.
We employ a preaching team approach at Redemption Church that is comprised of eight men from our staff/congregation who meet weekly to discuss study insights, outlines, and approaches to the text. This sermon prep process includes working in the languages, consulting commentaries and books, and listening to strong communicators. In that process, I learned about my friend J.D. Greear’s messages on Romans and discovered what he had recently preached resonated with the direction God was leading me and our preaching team. We often consulted his manuscripts along with other resources as we prepared.
I found that J.D. Greear’s message on Romans 1 was insightful, particularly his three points of application. With his permission, I borrowed some of his insights and those three closing points. The story of Paul David Tripp was from his devotional New Morning Mercies on January 22nd. His story took place in India.
Our team also, with his permission, used The Summit Church’s chapter and verse breakdown of Romans as we mapped out our entire series. Out of a commitment to full transparency, I have gone back through all the 46 sermons in this series. I have located in some places similar illustrations, quotes or points of application. One shares the same title, and one has a similar outline.
I hold to the same study process on each sermon. As any pastor who preaches regularly knows, we often rely on scholars and fellow pastors to help us think and communicate more clearly with the goal of faithfully preaching the truths of Scripture to our congregations. But I am sorry for not mentioning J.D.’s generosity and ownership of these points. I should have given him credit as I shared these insights.
I felt it important to address this in order to provide the truth and to take responsibility for places where I should have been more careful.
I am committed to being a man of integrity and humility. I will not waver from that as I lead Redemption Church to be Christ followers and the SBC to unite around her mission.
Because Litton did not give credit, he still plagiarized even if he had permission. Ed Litton was forced to address his issue but he is covering up before other discrepancies are discovered or more instances of Woke Preacher Clips contain his preaching. It also is not normal to have a sermon collaboration team.
This is an odd scandal. Quite honestly, Ed Litton is coming off like a Southern Baptist Joe Biden with his clumsiness. He basically got caught doing a Disney live action remake on JD Greear’s infamous sermon on Romans 1. And then after admitting to using Greear’s material, he scrubbed his YouTube. This invites further questions. Why did he privatize his Romans 1 sermon? He already admitted to the plagiarism. I would argue it’s because he knows that this sermon will torpedo his legitimacy among the uninformed Southern Baptist who didn’t know Litton is a liberal. Furthermore, what is in the massive archive that he does not want expose? This goes far beyond the Romans series he did. It seems as though Ed Litton is a habitually lazy pastor who uses other people’s sermons, which is a niche industry.