Plagiarism is wrong, because it takes what belongs to another – a violation of the eighth commandment – and it does not give full credit to my neighbor’s reputation – violating the ninth. There’s also the tackiness.
So I was deeply disappointed to learn that I had recently engaged in plagiarism of the most unfortunate kind. At our recent Faith & Work seminar, I had been unpacking I Corinthians 15:10 with regard to our subject, which says in part, “on the contrary, I worked harder than them all, though it was not I, but God’s grace that is within me.” Building off that truth to our topic, I made the following point:
Grace is opposed to earning,
but grace catalyzes effort.
Apparently, this point was first made by Dallas Willard, in his book The Great Ommission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship (and also this article, which seems to have been incorporated in the book). The full quote reads, “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning. Effort is action. Earning is attitude. You have never seen people more active than those who have been set on fire by the grace of God.” To make matters worse, he even goes on to cite I Cor 15:10.
So, mea culpa. I sincerely apologize for this plagiarism, seeking to never do so again. The point as made still stands: grace in Jesus Christ is powerful in what it does, especially in the sanctification of the believer. Yet credit must be given to whom it is due.
So what makes this plagiarism so unfortunate? First, I genuinely thought this was something of my own creation, based on this Twitter interaction here:
So not only is plagiarism a violation of the eighth and ninth commandments, but there was no small bursting of pride bubbles, that I had come up with a theologically sensitive catch phrase (I’ve worried about catch phrases and slogans before). I still maintain that I get credit for introducing “catalyzing” into the discussion, but… well… that isn’t much to hang your hat on, either.
But the second unfortunate aspect of this plagiarism? Did it have to be Dallas Willard?