"Plagiarists are always suspicious of being stolen from." Samuel Taylor Coleridge link
I have been startled by the number of people in the Christian world who do not seem to think that plagiarism is a big deal. My husband often says that some Christian leaders seem to have their own set of ethics which overlook child sex abuse, plagiarism, and acquisition minded mega church pastors. A few Christians claim to have "gospel" values which apparently give a pass to pastors who are rich and famous because that means, of course, that God is "blessing" the ministry. He says it would be nice if such church leaders accepted, as a minimum, the law and basic ethics as stated in the rules of secular institutions. Instead in some cases, it appears that certain Christian churches and leaders have the ethics of Bernie Madoff.
We had intended to post this on Wednesday but experienced some technical glitches. We are looking at some interesting aspects of the Driscoll plagiarism scandal.
Could the devil and women be to blame for Driscoll's situation?
In a rather bizarre (and we think significant) post by Mark Driscoll written on 11/23, two days after his ill fated interview with Janet Mefferd, titled We Even Lie About Our Lying , Driscoll discusses deception.
Deception is where we twist the truth into a weapon for harm and destruction. Cheating in school. Half-truths on a resume. Falsifying reports at work. Double-billing clients. And, pastors are notorious for “borrowing” material.
All of us are guilty of deception to some degree. Its prevalence, however, does not change the fact that deception is a demonic, satanic issue. In Genesis 3, God creates our first parents and speaks the truth to them, and then Satan comes and lies to them. They sin against God. Further on the Bible says, on more that one occasion, that Satan deceived them—Eve in particular.
How could Driscoll write this without taking into consideration the growing scandal? Or did he? Is it an admission of sorts? Is he saying that "the devil made him do it?"
Then there is the rather curious allusion to the deception of Eve. Driscoll has long been know for his rather unusual views on women. He harped a great deal about Grace Driscoll's sin prior to their marriage and appears to say she was the problem in their marriage. He seems to present Queen Esther as a trollop who was a willing participant in her sad tale of human slavery link.
When that particular message came out, I wondered how he could blame Esther for the misery to which she was subjected. In the same manner, could he be implying that Janet Mefferd is deceived by Satan? That she is the one to blame for his current misery?
This post is either divorced from the reality of his situation or he is throwing the blame onto others, especially Satan and women. They are the problem, not him. This is a case study for the psychologists
Janet Mefferd exposes what appears to be a word for word lifting by Driscoll from a work by D A Carson
From the 11/26/13 post/show:
..we also revealed that Pastor Driscoll has lifted material from another source — word for word — in another of his books, “Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1&2 Peter.” This was a book published in 2009 by Mars Hill Church. On pages 7 and 8, Driscoll lifts and publishes, under his own name, an entire section from “1 Peter,” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, Ed. D. A. Carson, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), p. 1370.
under the section called “Peter the Author,” Pastor Driscoll again directly lifts and publishes, without attribution or proper footnotes, two more sections from page 1369 of “1 Peter,” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, Ed. D. A. Carson, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).
It is difficult for us to imagine that these are isolated incidents. We predict more revelations to follow.
Is it all about the money?
A. Does Tyndale House, a publishing company which has entered what might be a lucrative contract with Driscoll, seem concerned about Mefferd's assertions? Short answer: nope!
1. They think Mefferd is the problem. Here is a quote from Tyndale which was published by Jonathan Merritt on his blog at Religion News Service.
Tyndale House Publishers was provided a recording of the show by representatives of Pastor Driscoll. A number of people at Tyndale reviewed the tape and were stunned, not only by the accusations, but by the belligerent tone of Ms. Mefferd’s questioning. When Ms. Mefferd asked Pastor Driscoll her first question to accuse him of plagiarism, she did not invoke Peter Jones’s name. The first person that Pastor Driscoll credited in his response was Mr. Jones. Pastor Driscoll also credits Mr. Jones in the section that Janet refers to in Mark’s book, A Call to Resurgence.
Tyndale has taken immediate steps as in the process of reviewing the section of Pastor Driscoll’s book that has been called into question. Pastor Driscoll has also reached out to Mr. Jones and we expect to be able to release some information on his reaction to the interview very soon.
2. They responded a few days later and exonerated Driscoll. Once again this response was sent to Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Service here.
Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards.
Here are two points to consider.
1. Tyndale House has a lot riding on a mega book deal with Driscoll. There is big money here.
2. It appears this response may have been written without taking into consideration Mefferd's newest accusations of a word for word copying of DA Carson's work. The second comment only discusses a singular book. We shall wait to see what they say about the D A Carson material. They should say something.
Here is an excellent assessment of Tyndale House's problem by Trey Medley at WhyTheology link.
The response of Tyndale House sends the message that they are not to be respected by readers, nor to be trusted by authors because rather than investigate plagiarism, they may just side with their superstar author. This is particularly sad given its prior excellent history.
Frankly, TWW believes that Tyndale House has a hot potato on their hands.They are between a rock and a hard place. Hopefully, they will do the right thing.
B. Why did Justin Taylor call for an author's boycott of Janet Mefferd's show? Could it be business related?
Since Taylor has not walked this comment back, we have to assume he is standing by it. Could it have something to do with his position at Crossway? Link
As of August 15,(ed. 2013) Crossway is pleased to announce the appointment of Justin Taylor to the position of Senior Vice President and Publisher for Books, held previously by Allan Fisher. Justin came to Crossway in 2006, serving most recently as Vice President for Book Publishing.
“It is my delight,” Lane Dennis said, “to welcome Justin in his new role as Crossway’s Publisher for Books. Justin has already made a tremendous contribution to our publishing program
Here is a link to books written by Mark Driscoll which were published by Crossway. It is always a messy business when you confuse business advice as theological advice. Taylor would be wise to excuse himself on opinions that have to do with any authors who publish under his company's label. At the very minimum, ethics might suggest that he should admit to the financial ties between the authors and his company. This same situation appears to have happened before.
C. Justin Taylor apparently also supported CJ Mahaney this year. Could it be business related again?
Justin Taylor, along with Kevin DeYoung and Don Carson, supported CJ Mahaney during the awful child sex abuse scandal via this statement posted on May 24, 2013
It appears that they received some pushback even, most likely within The Gospel Coalition, forcing them to add the following statement
This statement reflects the views of the signatories and does not necessarily speak for other Council members, bloggers, and writers for The Gospel Coalition.
Justin Taylor was promoted to his current position at Crossway three months after this *courageous* stand on behalf of a man who presided over one of the messiest church situations of the century. Here is a link to CJ Mahaney books published by Crossway. Once again, a simple statement by Taylor regarding his business ties would have been welcome.
Who believes what about plagiarism?
I am going to build a case for what would seem to be the logical steps to take if it is determined that Driscoll plagiarized.
A. How does Driscoll's alma mater, Washington State University, view plagiarism? (Thanks, Eagle, for this idea.)
Mark Driscoll says he went to a top school for communications. It appears that university take plagiarism quite seriously. Please refer to this lengthy presentation on academic integrity. It looks like he won't be able to blame them for not educating him.
The Academic Integrity Program at WSU has the main goal of graduating students with a strong foundation of knowledge and experiences achieved by fostering personal accountability for their academic work.
B. D.A. Carson is a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. How do they view plagiarism?
It came as a bit of a shock to us that Driscoll appears to have copied, word for word, from one of D A Carson's works in light of of TWW's post from last Friday in which we quoted Carson's view on plagiarism. Here is part of that quote link.
Taking over another sermon and preaching it as if it were yours is always and unequivocally wrong, and if you do it you should resign or be fired immediately
Here is a synopsis of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School's view on plagiarism link.
Like Carson, they take this issue, very, very seriously.
All the individuals, being in the image of God, are to be respected for their intellectual contributions.
Therefore, any form of plagiarism and cheating will not be condoned within the ACTS community. Plagiarism whether intentional or indirect, gives the impression that the words or ideas in one’s writings are one’s own, even when some reference to the original source is made in the footnotes or bibliography. Cheating is an expression of fraud and deception, giving the impression that the person’s performance is better on quizzes or exams than they deserve.
Any person, who breaks the standard of academic integrity by cheating or plagiarism, will be dealt with seriously by the professor involved and will be reported to the Academic Probation Committee of ACTS. This may result in a failure of the course, expulsion from the Seminary of registration in ACTS or a revocation of a degree already granted by one of the Seminaries of ACTS.
(Copied and adapted from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Handbook for Participants, Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies, 1997 Edition, p.29-30)
C. What does Justin Taylor believe about plagiarism
Well, he is against it, which is a good start. In this post, he reviews the opinions of some theologians (including D A Carson), ending with this statement. Referring to their stand against plagiarism he says:
If this is true in the classroom, how much more so behind the pulpit in the house of the Lord?
D. What does The Gospel Coalition believe about plagiarism
In fact, The Gospel Coalition did an entire series on plagiarism back in 2010. See this post by Collin Hansen which also includes links to the other theologians and pastors who wrote in response to how to deal with plagiarism in the pulpit. This will also include a link to D.A. Carson's statement which we have already covered. Here is an excerpt from Hansen's post.
I learned, though, that evangelicals tend to hold a different view about plagiarism. I was told that pastors live by a different set of rules from the media and the academy. Whether preaching a sermon or even writing a book, I was told, pastors shouldn't be expected to cite all their references or feel the need to rework someone else's material in their own words. Apparently this sort of thing happens all the time among pastors. In this case, it wasn't worth even writing the pastor a note to caution him against such actions in the future.
E. What does Mark Driscoll himself say about plagiarism? He says you must quit your job!
In his book, Vintage Church, Driscoll spoke out against preaching other pastor’s material. Link
Do not speak anyone else’s messages. Doing so amounts to plagiarism, unless you get permission. Worse, it subverts God’s work in and through you… If you use the work of others, you are not a teacher, and you should quit your job and do anything but speak. (p. 105)
It appears that some theologians and pastors, including Driscoll himself, believe that plagiarism should lead to a pastor's resignation. I am quoting them, not me. Assuming their own stated standards, what should happen if it is proven that Driscoll plagiarized?
Driscoll should resign his pastorate if he believes in, and follows, his own rules. His friend, D A Carson, should encourage him to do so since he also believes the same thing.
This will be a fascinating situation to watch. Do the rules, set by the big boys themselves, apply to them or just the rest of us? D.A. Carson and Mark Driscoll have both said that pastors who plagiarize should step down from the pastorate. We shall be watching this situation very carefully. It appears that there is a "word by word" copying of Carson's work. If it is true, and if Driscoll does not resign, it will be evident that the rules apply only to those outside of the megapastor celebrity crowd. This will be damaging to the *gospel truthiness* that they claim to possess.
But wait! Maybe he had a ghostwrite and can blame him?
Not according to First Thoughts which featured an article by Carlo Garbarino.
Of course, perhaps Driscoll isn’t a plagiarist. Maybe he employed a ghostwriter who is a plagiarist. It’d be convenient to have a scapegoat right now. But even if it was his ghostwriter, I’ll still fail him because we university professors don’t actually approve of ghostwriting. I know it’s typical in Christian publishing, but it’s still lying. Ghostwriting is lying, and plagiarism is stealing, and there seems to be a lot of it going around.
My final thoughts
TWW sincerely believes that, for some of these pastors and church leaders, the mission of the church is being diluted by the big business of publishing and selling books, audios, tiny books, etc. Take a good, hard look at the lifestyles of men like Driscoll, Furtick, Young and others. Million dollar homes are now the norm. Private jet transport and first class seating is now an expectation. Designer clothes make the man.
We have written about pastors who do not pastor and, instead, have become *talking heads.* Even the talking head part is being called into question. On Monday, we shall present some rather startling information. Well, at least it was surprising to us. If we didn't know about it, we bet many others have not heard about it as well.
Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 6:1-7:25 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 Psalm 54:1-7 Proverbs 23:1-3