The president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the highest office in the denomination, has been embroiled for several months now in a scandal of epic proportions. Ed Litton, who also pastors Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, has been exposed as a serial plagiarist of whom even Al Mohler, president of the denomination’s most prestigious seminary, has referred to as a poor example for his students.
After Litton was elected the president in June it soon became common public knowledge that he had parroted his presidential predecessor, JD Greear, in many of his sermons at his church. The similarities between the vast majority of Litton’s and Greear’s sermons on the book of Romans were so obvious that to deny that this was blatant plagiarism would be more difficult than denying that the sky is blue.
Yet, this is what Litton has done and continues to do to this day.
Since the original exposure, Litton has taken to several media outlets–both secular and Christian–to attempt to absolve himself of any wrongdoing. It began with a Southern Baptist podcast called SBC This Week where Litton claimed that he had only borrowed a small amount of materials from JD Greear and simply used them as a “commentary.” 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.”
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Of course, this began his ever-weaving tangle of lies of which he is so caught up in now, to try to undo this mess would be a massive undertaking. Since this appearance, dozens of videos have been released of Litton outright plagiarizing not only Greear’s sermons, but others, including Tim Keller, and dating as far back as 2015.
Ed Litton has also repeatedly taken to various news outlets and Evangelical and Southern Baptist podcasts to downplay the scandal and deny any actual wrongdoing. Litton outright lied to a local news outlet in Alabama where he claimed that the people accusing him of plagiarism are “unnamed sources,” and therefore should be ignored.
Then, just last week, Ed Litton took to another podcast to tell us that God had “forgiven” him, so it was time to move on, while still downplaying the fact that he plagiarized JD Greear’s entire sermon outlines, presented JD Greear’s personal experiences and stories as his own, and deceived his congregation for at least an entire year into believing that he was studying Scripture to teach his congregation.
And most recently, he visited Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) where he continued his charade and essentially “repented” of everything except plagiarism. He continued to deny that what he did was plagiarism–as he has done multiple times.
One of the lies and contradictions he was caught in at Southwestern was him stating that he did in fact listen to Greear’s sermons and he did in fact repeat things, and even though it wasn’t plagiarism (according to him), he’s currently “fasting” from listening to other people’s sermons. Yet, previously, in his podcast at SBC This Week, he denied that he listened to Greear’s sermons and said that he only used his outlines as commentaries. Listen to the short clip below:
Of course, that is just a small portion of his great scandal. And by “great scandal” I don’t mean his plagiarism scandal. His plagiarism scandal has now been completely dwarfed by his unrepentant and habitual lying scandal. The fact that Ed Litton continues to lie and deny any wrongdoing places him at odds with a biblical call to repentance. He says he has repented–but denies he has sinned by plagiarizing JD Greear.
In fact, he says that where he did sin, which he says is only failing to credit Greear for the use of his outlines, he has repented to his church and they have forgiven him. Yet, he has not repented of lying to them, deceiving them, and demonstrating a complete lack of regard for the office of the pastorate. He has not repented for being unprepared to rightly handle the Word of Truth and shepherd his flock. He still lies to them, to the denomination, and to the world, and refuses to acknowledge that he has sinned–which is now the even greater sin.
Joel Ascol put it best:
This is so true; Ed Litton has presented himself to the Church as an adulterous woman who refuses to acknowledge her sin. And this, in and of itself, is an even greater scandal than the original.
What a web he has woven for himself.
To listen to my commentary on Ed Litton’s appearance at SWBTS, watch the video below: