John Blake, an excellent journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has written an article entitled, Pastor Inspiration: Divine or Online. He begins the article with an indictment of one of the most well-known pulpit personalities in the country, namely Eddie Long of New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Apparently, Mr. Long recently acquired a sermon online concerning the Virginia Tech shootings and preached a good portion of it on the following Sunday morning at New Birth. This form of plagiarism, as many of us know, is not new. Preachers have been stealing sermons from other preachers for as long as anyone can remember. However, with the advent of the internet, this form of plagiarism has been taken to another level. Also, with such personalities as Eddie Long, this incident adds another dimension because Mr. Long claims to speak prophetically so often. When Mr. Long speaks from now on, or at least until he clears us these accusations of plagiarism and repents of it, it would seem that reasonable people would be suspect of any of his so-called, Holy Spirit-inspired words. But then again, who said that New Birth was filled with reasonable people.
According to the article, there are those at New Birth who find nothing wrong with Mr. Long's apparent plagiarism. According to Blake:
Yet some New Birth members weren't bothered that Bishop Long preached without attribution. Ben Jakes, a New Birth elder, said Long's Virginia Tech sermon revealed that God can orchestrate circumstances so that preachers deliver the same message across the nation. "I really believe it's an act that shows honor and respect for [God]," Jakes said. "You're basically communicating a unified message."
It would appear, once again, that Mr. Long can do no wrong. I am saddened that men in the predominantly African-American church can get away with so much without anyone bringing them into account for their actions. And yet, I am not surprised because we have moved away from the glory of God and have settled comfortably upon the glory of men. Too many so called churches are personality driven and not Glory of God driven. And sadly, Mr. Long is one of the largest personalities around. Many people would prefer to lose the glory of God rather than lose the glory of their so-called bishop or pastor. In fact sadly many of them have.
If God was not sovereign and thus I was not a Calvinist, I might be tempted to find some shaded tree and hide myself from the foolishness that is often the church and wait until God had finished His judgment. But since I am a Calvinist and do trust in the absolute Sovereignty of God, I thank Him for his judgment even as he is shaking the trees and exposing the fruitless works of those who would dupe and deceive in His name. And I thank God for the reminder for me to be all the more diligent in spending time with Him and in His word.
Also, I commend John Blake for his efforts. I pray he will continue to write with boldness in a city that is strong on Eddie Long and filled with Eddie Long wannabes.