Plagiarizer Derek W.H. Thomas Offers Opening Prayer in U.S. House of Representatives

By | October 29, 2019

“Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”

“Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other.”
-Jeremiah 23:29-30 NASB

Derek W.H. Thomas and Mark Driscoll have proven that plagiarism matters little in the American Evangelical subculture.

Fresh off a slap on the wrist from the Catawba Presbytery for what the nameless group of men classified as “unintentional plagiarism,” The distinguished Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas had the honor of offering the Opening Prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.

According to Wikipedia, Dr. Thomas, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, SC and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, has yet to make a public statement about his plagiarism. It appears likely he never will, choosing instead to let his good friend, Dr. Ligon Duncan speak for him.

Duncan, Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary, appears to be a man of poor discernment, first defending C.J. Mahaney and now Derek W.H. Thomas.

Quoting from Wikepedia: “Reformed Theological Seminary, which he [Thomas] works for as a professor, also cleared his name, saying, “an RTS committee reviewing the Acts incident had cleared Thomas of ‘any knowing and intentional plagiarism.’ He [Ligon Duncan] added that Thomas will continue to teach. ‘From the standpoint of RTS,’ Duncan wrote, ‘the case is now closed.'”

Of course, it is. Who would dare argue with the influential Chancellor?

Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas is next scheduled to be a participant in the Together for the Gospel Conference in April 2020. Undoubtedly Chancellor Duncan was responsible for securing Dr. Thomas that slot.

This incident is just another example of the bankruptcy of American Evangelicalism. In my opinion, Dr. Thomas should have been removed from his position at RTS. He has also disqualified himself from the ministry. Students at RTS who committed plagiarism to the extent Dr. Thomas has would be expelled.  I submit that any RTS student who has been expelled for plagiarism from RTS under the reign of Chancellor Duncan should receive a full apology from him and be reinstated. To not do so is not only hypocritical, it violates the scriptural principle laid out in James 2:9:

“But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

Yet we know this will never happen. The pompous evangelical Christian celebrity leaders cover for each other, much to the disgust of those of us in pews. They take us for fools, and to the extent we continue to attend their conferences, sit in their churches and donate our hard-earned money to them, they are correct.

We will hear nothing from the Evangelical Christian Celebrities on the travesty of having a plagiarizer offer the Opening Prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead, I would venture to guess that the distinguished Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas’ inbox was filled with congratulatory emails from his distinguished colleagues in Evangelical Christianity yesterday.

Contrast that with the concern many of these same Christian Celebrities publicly voiced over Josh Harris, their former colleague, announcing he was walking away from the Faith.

What is worse, sin in the camp, or a man being honest enough to say he no longer can call himself a Christian? The differing reactions by the Christian Celebrities will, in my opinion, serve only to drive more of us pew-sitters from evangelicalism.

The Emporer has no clothes. There, I said it.

“I am grateful to two editors, Richard “Rick” D. Phillips and Iain M. Duguid, who greatly improved and corrected elements of this manuscript. In addition, I am indebted to the staff at P&R Publishing for their labors in bringing this manuscript to fruition. On both occasions when these sermons were preached, I colabored (as the “evening preacher”) with two redoubtable giants and dear friends, J. Ligon Duncan (then the senior minister at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson) and Sinclair B. Ferguson (then the senior minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia). Like Ezra and Nehemiah, they were (and are) very different men. But both, in the Lord’s kind providence, were enthusiastic and supportive, believing that an exposition of these two Old Testament books would prove valuable for the church at the present time. And both encouraged me as I attempted to do that work.” Thomas, Derek W. H.. Ezra & Nehemiah (Reformed Expository Commentaries). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.



For further reading:

Derek W.H. Thomas & Plagiarism – “The Brand is Fundamentally Corrupt”

Derek W.H. Thomas and the Ongoing Saga of Plagiarism

Presbyterian “Good Ole Boys Club” Allows Derek W.H. Thomas to Skate on Plagiarism Charges

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Ed Dantes

Thomas claims that the plagiarism stems from an assignment he gave in Jackson in a preaching class. The assignment was to listen to one of Sinclair Ferguson’s sermons and… bizarrely, to copy the sermon word for word. From that, the sermons made their way into a file that somehow became his manuscript. Here’s one of the many issues with that reasoning: how does that end up being preached in Jackson at the same time? Did the same student assignment simply get picked up and preached from the pulpit? Sadly, those unwilling to think about this issue with any sense of clarity believed this…
Furthermore, if you want to find out if this is true, just go to the archived syllabi at RTS. There are no such assignments given…

Thanks so much for the extra information.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


I will quote from Erik Raymond in a depiction of a story told by Martin Lloyd-Jones in an article on plagiarism, quoted as I could not find a copy of Lloyd-Jones’ own telling. (found at

“Lloyd-Jones describes the case of a young man, a student in Spurgeon’s college, whose preaching was drawing praises from some, but a criticism from others that he “was repeatedly preaching a sermon of Mr. Spurgeon’s.” When this was brought to the attention of the school principal, it was decided to take the young man to Spurgeon himself. After considerable questioning, Spurgeon became somewhat impatient.

Lloyd-Jones describes the conversation between CHS and the student.

Spurgeon asks: “Well, are you saying, then, that it is your sermon?”

“Oh, no, sir,” said the young man.

“Well, then whose sermon is it?”

“It is a sermon of William Jay of Bath, sir,” said the student …

“Wait a minute,” said Spurgeon, and turning to his library, he pulled out one of two volumes [Jay’s sermons had been printed in two volumes], and there was the sermon, the exact sermon—the same text, the same headings, the same everything!” . . .


. . . Lloyd-Jones used this illustration to suggest that ‘anyone can plagiarize’ unintentionally. I had a completely different reaction to the story. I could not help but wonder if it was possible that the ‘Prince of Preachers’ was so phenomenal because he culled the work of other great preachers and passed it off as his own? This is not an accusation, but a sincere question, based on this alleged incident .

The chances of Spurgeon unintentionally reproducing a sermon with the exact same text and headings are slim to none – such things are impossible. Preachers are likely to come up with common thoughts and concepts, but no one is going to accidentally produce the word for word sermon of another.

Do pastors cover for others due to their own guilt? Just wondering.

Mr. Jesperson

To me this looks appropriate when considering the corrupt nature of our government and the many scandals in the House that they would have a corrupt white-washed septic tank offer up a fake prayer to a god that does not actually exist. This god loves stealing, narcissism and lording ones authority over others. It is political in nature and refuses personal responsibility while blaming everything bad that happens on any that complain about the very obvious corruption.
The nature of all the people in that room are identical and there are no true representatives of the living God there for they would simply tell everyone in the room that they are headed straight to hell which is the truth! We are living in the same times as the Israelites did shortly before the Assyrians invaded and carried most of them away as slaves. We are in the twilight shortly before a very dark time, though very few want to believe it and, of course, neither did they until it actually happened.

Headless Unicorn Guy

Was he praying to Donald Trump?
(These days, it wouldn’t surprise me.)