If you’ve been following the scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention regarding Ed Litton’s plagiarism of JD Greear’s sermons on the book of Romans–dubbed the Sermongate Scandal–you’re probably aware that the newly-elected president has been facing calls from a number of people in the denomination to resign his post. Today, Litton joined the SBC This Week podcast, a podcast put on by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, to discuss this scandal.
After the story broke that Litton’s Romans 1 sermon was nearly identical in content to–down to the illustrations and points–both Litton and Greear released a statement claiming that Ed had permission to do so. What neither of these men stated at the time, however, was that Ed had “borrowed” the entire sermon series from Greear.
Since these men released this statement, several more videos have surfaced–including several that Reformation Charlotte released–demonstrating the nearly word-for-word plagiarism of almost all of the sermons in the series. After facing increasing pressure to resign, Litton doubled down on the podcast today insisting he had done nothing wrong.
“It was a part of our study,” Litton says, “and it wasn’t just one sermon–I mean, you can hear illustrations and different statements throughout several of those sermons–and I had JD’s permission and encouragement.”
The host asks Litton if Greear’s sermons were just a type of commentary for him. Litton responded, “a lot of them I didn’t even listen to, I just went straight to the notes he provided. So, yes, very much like a commentary in that sense.”
This statement is astounding; one must ask if Litton really thinks people are that stupid. Reformation Charlotte has looked at all of the sermon outlines that were provided with these sermons, and the illustrations–which were a large part of what Litton stole from Greear–were not in these notes. For example, In the Romans 8 sermon, Greear told a story of his drivers’ ed teacher “showing him who’s boss” because he had control of the brake. Litton told the exact same story as though it were his own. In Romans 14 sermon, Litton copied nearly word-for-word a story about his youth pastor having an aversion to dancing, so they would have “non-dancing” proms for the teenagers instead. And in the Romans 13 sermon, they both gave identical illustrations–including a joke about the Roman emperor Caligula’s horse voting and saying “neighhhhhhh.” In all of these illustrations, Litton not only copied the words but attempted to copy the mannerisms as well.
Nonetheless, Litton downplays the gravity of this sin and continues to lie and cover up his sins. Sadly, the hosts of the podcast enabled him rather than holding him accountable.
“I was asked by good people,” he continued, “why didn’t you just credit JD?”
“I want you to hear my heart, this is not just an excuse or justification. I am sorry I did not.”
He then went on to blame his preaching professor for telling his class that he shouldn’t cite other people when they preach their sermons. According to Litton his professor responded to another student who cited people during a sermon with “when a diamond miner goes looking for diamonds, he doesn’t hold up the pick and the shovel, he holds up the diamond.”
Now that he’s been caught, he says he’s sorry, it opened his eyes, and he promises he won’t do it again.
You see, Ed Litton didn’t just borrow some points and use JD’s sermons as a resource, he preached these sermons–the entire series–completely point-by-point and almost word-for-word. He lied to his congregation and passed these sermons off as his own. Now he says he’s sorry. If he’s truly sorry, repentant, the godliest thing he could do is step down from his position and submit himself to the eldership of his local church for restoration.