Carl W. Kenney II is an award winning columnist and novelist. He is committed to engaging readers into a meaningful discussion related to matters that impact faith and society. He grapples with pondering the impact faith has on public space while seeking to understand how public space both hinders and enhances the walk of faith.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Who owns the preaching of the Gospel?
has decided not to fight the Bishop.
removed “Holy Ghost Remix” from SoundCloud and YouTube after T.D. Jakes
threatened to sue for the use of part of his sermon on the track.
Jeezy used Jakes
sermon titled “Don’t Let the Chatter Stop you” as the song’s hook.
under attack, but I'm still on fire
I got some chatter, but I'm still on fire I got some threat, but I'm still on fire I got some liabilities, but I'm still on fire If it's not amazing that I'm on fire I've been to hell and back, but I'm still on
responded on Facebook shortly after the song, also featuring Kendrick Lamar,
NOTICE: The 'Holy Ghost' remix by Jeezy featuring Kendrick Lamar was produced
without the knowledge or consent of T.D. Jakes, TDJ Enterprises, Dexterity
Music or its associated companies," the Facebook message from T.D. Jakes
Ministries reads. "We are taking the necessary legal actions to stop the
unauthorized use of T.D. Jakes' intellectual property."
lawsuit against Jeezy raises a set of theological issues related to the usage
of the intellectual property of a preacher.Do assumptions regarding the source of preaching press us into
considering potential contradictions in the way we communicate those views in
law is on Jeezy’s side.Using parts of
Jakes sermon, even without permission, is considered “fair use” and not an
infringement or theft, because Jeezy gave Jakes credit.
Jakes may be
offended by the way his work was used in the song.Or, it could be that Jakes is upset about not
receiving a share of the profit.Each
possibility presents a unique set of issues regarding how the words and
thoughts of ministers are presented in public space.
There is a
price that comes with being the poster Bishop of the Church.The glamor that comes with being the leader
of a mega-Church movement comes with being staged in public space in ways that may
conflict with the image one wishes to present.
Lord forgive him, you know he got that thug in him, we lust for alcohol and we
love women. ... Got the seats reclined and I be doin' the most in the back of
this Holy Ghost," Jeezy rhymes on the record.
Jakes didn’t like that.
Taking this matter
to court exposes a deeper theological issue that deserves consideration. Who owns
the Word? When preaching and teaching, can we claim that the message is the
intellectual property of the one delivering the message?
ministers promote preaching as the inspired Word of God.The message and movement of worship are ordered
by the Holy Spirit.Preachers and
teachers are vessels of God’s work.Jakes,
and most evangelical ministers, contend the Word of God is God’s word.God is speaking to and through preachers to
promote her will.
So, if the message
comes from God, how can it be the intellectual property of those who preach?
This lawsuit shifts the conversation from preaching as the instrument of God’s
work, to preaching as the property of the preacher.This asserts ownership and recompense for all
profits earned from that intellectual property.
This alters the
work and message of the Church. Rather than celebrate parts of a sermon being
used to impact those who listen to Jeezy and Lamar, Jakes, and his team, fight
to preserve their personal brand.Isn’t
the purpose of preaching and teaching to reach those beyond the idiomatic
expression of one’s own claims? Shouldn’t Jakes rejoice in the masses of young
people glued to his words and impacted in a way that could lead to change?Isn’t that the purpose of his work?
Or, is it
about the profit?Is it about
controlling the brand?Is it about more
than the calling he claims – to teach and preach to all God’s children?
Yes, God owns
our preaching. That is unless your name is Bishop T.D. Jakes.