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‘Lazy and incompetent’: John MacArthur hits out at pastors who plagiarise

by Kelly Valencia

US church leader John MacArthur has described pastors who plagiarise sermons as “lazy, incompetent and unsanctified”.

The leader of the Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, made the remarks while doing an interview at The Master’s Seminary, a Bible college where he serves as chancellor emeritus.

MacArthur was responding to a question posed by the college pastor, Austin Duncan.

"Why does a pastor plagiarise - why does he use someone else's sermon - why does that happen?” Duncan asked.

“Because he's lazy and incompetent - and, I’ve got a third point, unsanctified," MacArthur replied.

“The thing that expository preaching does that is apart from the congregation is it sanctifies the pastor…the relentless study of the Word of God is how God sanctifies and protects the pastor. When you're just opening your iPad and reading somebody else's sermon, you've never been exposed to the sanctifying work of the Word."

The issue of plagiarism among church leaders has been making headlines during the last months. In March, US pastor Zachary Stewart from Twin Oaks Christian Church was found to have plagiarised hundreds of sermons, many written by Mark Driscoll and in June Southern Baptist Convention president, Ed Litton was also found to have plagiarised a sermon from pastor JD Greear.

Addressing hundreds of seminary students attending the conference, MacArthur continued: “When a pastor steals or over-borrows someone else’s work, that pastor is not only playing a role like an actor but isn’t a true messenger from the Lord.”

"That's not to say you can't preach the same doctrine. There's only one accurate interpretation of the text…It's when a pastor's sentences are 'exactly verbatim' of another pastor that they've bypassed the spiritual impact of God's Word, and what the divine work the Lord would be doing in their heart because the truth wasn't studied like it should have been."

Talking about the way he approaches his sermons, MacArthur explained that roughly 80 per cent of his preaching doesn´t come from his notes.

"Because you're an expositor of the Scripture doesn't mean you preach in a vacuum. You still have to connect with the world around you," MacArthur added.

"You may be dealing with the same passage [that you've preached before], but the circumstances [and] people you're speaking to may alter, so the emphasis of the passage shifts in a different direction,” he concluded.


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