In my last post, I gave some general questions regarding pastoral plagiarism (link to post). People provided a variety of responses, but let me add a few more constraints to the question.
Suppose that one came across two sermons from Pastor X, an experienced "senior pastor" type person, which appear to consist to a large extent of the same thoughts and expressions in the same order as two corresponding sermons from Pastor Y, who is geographically remote (i.e. not in the same town).
In other words, in this imaginary situation, there are two sermons from Pastor X that look as though they are essentially just a slightly altered edition of the sermons from Pastor Y.
Let's assume that the differences in terms of rewording things, omitting things, and adding a few new thoughts are enough to avoid any charges of copyright infringement.
Let's assume, however, that the level of similarity is enough that if Pastor Y turned in these sermons as part of a seminary assignment, and Pastor X turned in his sermons to the same professor, the professor would be inclined to view the situation as "cheating."
Let's further assume that the sermon, in its edited form, was really good and greatly blessed the congregation of Pastor X.
Is this sort of behavior acceptable? Does that final stipulation that the sermon was a great blessing make a difference? Does the fact that the number of "plagiarized" sermons is 2 not 1 make a difference? Does the fact that the number of "plagiarized" sermons is 2 not 5 or 20 make a difference?
What if it turned out that Pastor Y had told Pastor X, "it's ok to use my sermons, and don't worry about crediting me"? Would that change matters?
Alternatively, what if Pastor X's rationale was this: "I'm busy - it's a good sermon - and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel." Would that be a sufficient rationale? If not, why not?