The leadership of Kenwood Baptist Church, which includes Dr. Jim Hamilton and Dr. Denny Burk, called on Ed Litton to resign as SBC President. The call for Litton to resign came in a letter to the congregation delivered via email Thursday.
“We believe that Dr. Litton would do well to resign voluntarily. His credibility as a leader and a preacher has been too compromised for him to continue. He may choose to muddle through the next convention or two, but we believe that would be a mistake. He should resign,” the pastors said in the congregational letter.
The pastors argue that Litton has disqualified himself from leadership because of plagiarism.
“In spite of the fact that Dr. Litton had permission to use Greear’s sermons, what he did still constitutes plagiarism,” according to the email.
The email letter to the church detailed the plagiarism allegations against Ed Litton.
“Over the summer, numerous news outlets reported that the newly elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Ed Litton, had plagiarized a number of sermons from J. D. Greear (NY Times, Newsweek, RNS). Other evidence subsequently came to light suggesting that he had plagiarized at least one other sermon from Tim Keller as well.”
The letter then highlights one of the key elements of the Ed Litton story. Litton and his church hid the evidence before a full examination could be made regarding the extent of Litton’s plagiarism.
“It is difficult to say with precision how many other sermons may be implicated because Litton’s church removed scores of sermons from its website after the plagiarism was exposed,” the pastors said. “From what evidence we do have, it appears that the plagiarism has spanned over many sermons and years.”
This is true. Research presented here at the Capstone Report shows the plagiarism was far more extensive than the Romans series in 2020.
(Here is a timeline of the Sermongate scandal.)
The letter published September 23, 2021, is from a church pastored by Dr. Jim Hamilton, who is also a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Denny Burk, another professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can see the church leadership team listed here.
Earlier this month, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) courageously stated his alarm at Ed Litton’s plagiarism and the epidemic of “manufactured sermons” among evangelical pastors.
These are important developments and showcase the necessity of an SBC President having moral authority. Without it, it is impossible to lead the Southern Baptist Convention.
The letter to the church concluded with a defense of the Southern Baptist Convention and a call to stewardship of the SBC:
“We remain committed to the Southern Baptist Convention. For all of our imperfections in the SBC, we are grateful for the ministry that our cooperation enables to happen—especially the ministries that our church has longstanding ties to, Southern Seminary and the IMB. We wish to remain invested in this work and to do our part to contend for the theological integrity of SBC institutions. There is so much at stake, and we aim for our church to be faithful to the stewardship that has been entrusted to us.
“We have no personal animosity toward Dr. Litton. Indeed, we hope and pray that he will prosper in gospel graces and in every good work. We hope and pray the same for the congregation that he serves. We love our brother and wish the very best for him, his family, and his church. We know that will be your heart as well. Please commit to pray for him and for our convention of churches.”