The plagiarism controversy involving Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ed Litton has trickled down to state-level denominational gatherings. At this week’s annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC), voters known as messengers overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning plagiarism in church preaching and teaching.
According to The Tennessean, the passage represents “the first successful state-level effort of its kind,” further stoking a “heated political battle within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.”
Ed Litton Plagiarism Controversy Hasn’t Subsided
After Ed Litton, an Alabama pastor, edged out Mike Stone, a Georgia pastor, in a runoff election at the SBC annual meeting in June, video came to light of a January 2020 sermon by Litton. The content was very similar to an earlier sermon by J.D. Greear, the North Carolina pastor who preceded Litton as SBC president.
Litton has said he received Greear’s permission to use the material but should have given proper credit from the pulpit. Litton also indicated that he apologized to congregants and takes the matter of plagiarism “very seriously.”
But supporters of Stone, who’s active in the Conservative Baptist Network (CBN), have been using the controversy to try to oust Litton from his leadership role. In July, the CBN called for Litton’s resignation, saying, “The testimony of Southern Baptists and of the gospel is at stake.”
Resolution Doesn’t Mention Ed Litton by Name
Lane Self, chair of the TBC’s resolutions committee, says the plagiarism resolution did indeed originate from the Ed Litton incident but “is not in any way targeting any individual.”
Shawn Allred, the pastor who submitted the resolution, denies submitting it for the CBN. Speaking during Wednesday’s session, in Brentwood, he said the resolution’s goal is “to affirm the importance of the fidelity of those who handle God’s Word each week.” Congregants, he said, expect “that those who stand before them handling God’s Word have received a fresh word from the Lord through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” Allred added, “Those who choose to use the words and ideas of others and pass them off as their own without attribution undermine the spiritual work of the Holy Spirit for themselves and the congregants.”