A celebrity pastor gives the church a black eye - Mark Driscoll, plagiarist

13 minute read

The fall of any pastor gives the church a black eye. But the fall of a celebrity pastor does tremendous damage. To the world at large these pastors represent Evangelicalism. When they’re shown to be corrupt, non-Christians are confirmed in their beliefs about Christian hypocrisy. Is it any wonder public opinion of Christians continues to drop?

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. -Jesus, Matthew 5:13

As this is being written a little more than a year after Mark Driscoll’s misfortune hit, his fellow Church Growth leaders scurry to distance themselves from the fallout. They seem less troubled by Mark Driscoll’s un-Biblical and un-pastor-like actions than by the effect it all has on their public reputations. Their reactions are all so predictable: deny knowledge, distance, and bury all proof. Then just move on and pretend nothing ever happened.

But you know it did happen. Pastors at Mars Hill who tried to help Mark Driscoll were thrown under the bus. That means they were excommunicated and lost their jobs for telling the truth to Mark. How exactly is that the behavior of a Christian pastor? Where were the Church Growth leaders when Mark’s un-Christian and un-gentlemanly behavior was made public years ago?

It may take another generation to see the full character of Church Growth’s ugly fruit. But there’s enough evidence now to see how corrupt it really is. And this destructive weed is now entwined all through the evangelical churches. Probably even yours. Even if you’re not ready to house-clean brethren, you need to learn, remember, and be vigilant.

The Church Growth Movement is not Christian

Church Growth pastors use evangelical language and proclaim more or less orthodox Christian theology. But their eccelsiology - what the church is, how it works and what it’s for - is all wrong.

Church Growth is rigidly top-down. It grew in the anti-Christian mind of the mysterious Peter Drucker. Drucker’s first effort to recreate American society through redefining the role of Big Business didn’t go as far as he planned. His second effort to change America through her churches has been much more successful.1

Why good conduct in a pastor matters

if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, **Thou shalt not steal**, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 19.17-19

Plagiarism is the stealing of another person’s work and presenting it as one’s own. In the Janet Mefferd interview where Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism was first revealed publicly, Ms Mefferd made this statement:

We can have sound doctrine all day long, but if we don't act in a godly way who's going to listen?

In the interview, Mr. Driscoll claimed ignorance of any theft. It’s possible he didn’t know, though with all of his legal support, that’s hard to imagine. Nevertheless, people do make mistakes. What’s more concerning is what happened after the interview. Pressure from somewhere was put on Janet Mefferd. She quickly removed all proof of the plagiarism from her website. Luckily many copies were made and propogated across the web. You can download copies further down in this post.

Mark Driscoll’s reaction to the public exposure

The Church Growth Movement makes a great deal of the fact that the church leader (in old-speak, pastor) is the CEO. All power rests with him.

But Mark Driscoll refused to come clean. He had his editor take the fall. What ever happened to taking responsibility for the actions of your team? I guess that only applies to to real business CEO’s. Church Growth Movement Christians have lower standards.

Now, you may think I am being too hard on Mark Driscoll. I just don’t like bullies. I don’t like people who use power to silence. And I don’t like people who would make the church of our Lord Jesus Christ into Halliburton.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight...but now is my kingdom not from hence. -John 18.36

Let’s pretend that Janet Mefferd was completely wrong about the plagiarism. How ought a Christian - Biblical - pastor to respond?

For a bishop (pastor) must be blameless, as the steward of God; _not selfwilled, not soon angry_...For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers -Titus 7,10a

How Mark Driscoll’s Plagiarism was revealed

The following summary by Crystal appeared at Slaughter of the Sheep:

Recently, Janet Mefferd, host of the syndicated radio show, The Janet Mefferd Show, interviewed Mark Driscoll on her broadcast. On the November 21st show, she expressed deep concern that parts of Driscoll’s new book, _A Call to Resurgence _(14 pages to be exact), were _lifted _from a book written by Dr. Peter Jones, author and professor at Westminster Seminary California. The problem? They weren’t cited. That makes it plagiarism.

Shortly afterwards, due to her fantastic research skills, Mefferd found three other books written by Driscoll where material was plagiarized from other author’s works. That’s four, if you’re keeping count.

As you might imagine, Mefferd became the target of numerous attacks. Rather than Tyndale House taking these issues seriously, they began to defend Driscoll (their cash cow) and instead, attacked Mefferd. “_But, this is a Christian publishing house!” _you may be thinking. Wrong. This is a publishing house with a bottom line… money. Driscoll brings it in, and they aren’t going to mess with a good thing. We would expect Tyndale to take something like plagiarism seriously, but what’s plagiarism in a commerce-driven society?

Due to what appears to be obvious pressure, the hard evidence of Driscoll’s plagiarism was removed from the show’s website. But, never fear… I happen to have all of the evidence, and I’ll post them here for all to see. We can’t let all of Janet Mefferd’s hard work go to waste just because the station she works for caved and compromised, can we?

Above written by Crystal at Slaughter of the Sheep and included here for posterity.

Janet Mefford’s original radio program has been scrubbed from the internet.

Final words

Dear Lord, please bless Mark Driscoll and his family with all spiritual blessings. May they be cleansed of all sin and justified through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And may all these things be used for the good of your kingdom. In Jesus name, Amen.

Exhibits

The following evidence is mirrored here from Janet Mefferd’s page, which has been removed from the web.

Download PDF evidence:

1. Evidence of plagiarism in Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage

Plagiarism in Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage

Plagiarism in Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage

2. Evidence of Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism in 7 Things Forgiveness is

Mark Driscoll's 7 Things Forgiveness Is

Mark Driscoll’s 7 Things Forgiveness Is

3. Evidence of Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism in 7 Things Forgiveness is not

Mark Driscoll's 7 Things Forgiveness Is Not

Mark Driscoll’s 7 Things Forgiveness Is Not

Janet Mefferd’s interview with Mark Driscoll

Partial transcript

JM = Janet Mefferd MD = Mark Driscoll

JM: “I was a little interested to note that you didn’t quote him (Dr Jones), nor did you footnote him. Why?”

MD: “Peter Jones is a friend of mine. I’ve had dinner with him. His wife is really great…In this book I took his big idea and worked it out through the cultural implications, but I wasn’t working specifically from his text. Peter would tell you, ‘I love him a lot’ and we’re good friends.

JM: “Right, except don’t you think it’s important when you’re using somebody else’s material that you should footnote the person?”

MD: “Yeah I did mention Peter Jones. Go see these two books. This is where it’s all at…If I’ve made a mistake, then I apologize to Peter Jones my friend. I appreciate him and that was not my intent to be sure.

JM: “This is his intellectual property and you don’t give him any credit for it.

MD: “What I would say is, you’re being accusatory, unkind and I would say ask Dr Jones what he thinks…Man. I thought we’d have a better interview than this. It’s like you’re sort of having a grumpy day.

JM: “I’m not having a grumpy day. The problem that I’m seeing here, I was actually really excited to talk with you, I have the same concerns you do about cultural Christianity going away and real Christianity needing a revival.

MD: “Well lets talk about that and not a footnote.

JM: “Let me just say one thing then…And I’m not trying to be unkind to you. There’s another section from page 185 to 189 where you go back to ‘oneism’. There’s no footnote at all to Peter Jones. And at the end you talk about sex as the pagan sacrament of oneism. That’s directly from his book. He has a God of Sex book where he has a chapter entitled ‘Homosexuality the sexual sacrament of religious paganism’. This is not your intellectual property. This is not just unethical. I think this is something you could be sued under copyright law for intellectual property. I’m really concerned for the legal aspect for Tyndale House. I don’t know why you wouldn’t footnote him if he’s a good friend.

MD: “Maybe I made a mistake. I would have to go back. To be honest with ya’ I’m here with a head cold and the flu trying to do you a favor and I don’t remember footnote on page 183. We were going to talk about the decline of Christianity and the need for the gospel and I think you’re illustrating the big need for the book. Tribes tend to fight over secondary issues instead of primary issues and the result is infighting rather than evangelising…

MD: “I love ya’, you’re my sister, and you want to ask what happened in the editing process, did an editor miss a footnote? I don’t know. What I would say is thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’ll go double check. You probably’ve written and know that when you write a book there’s 27 edits and going back and forth and something accidently got deleted or a mistake was made, and if so, I apologize for that. I have in print, in multiple of my books, quoted, cited Peter Jones…

JM: “And all the more reason why you should have given him credit in those 14 pages. It’s not unkind or Tribal to point out that you should be honest. You were recently preaching a sermon, ‘Do not steal,’ The 8th commandment. And I’m thinking of Romans 2.21. If you teach others, do you not teach yourself. If you preach against stealing, do you steal?’ Now you are saying it was inadvertent. You’re going to go back to Tyndale House.

MD: “See, what I think you’re missing is there is a difference between making a mistake and committing a sin. If I made a mistake I want to make it right. But, you’re going to take the entire interview and find what you are critical of and the nail you are going to hammer. So that your audience can see you hammer Mark Driscoll. Mark Driscoll loves Jesus. Mark Driscoll loves you. Mark Driscoll is in one of the least churched cities in the US preaching Jesus for 17 years tryin’ to see people get saved. And I was hoping we could help others talk about man, their kids are now going gay, their kids are walking away from Christ, Church is not doing very well, things are not trending in our direction, and people are concerned and how can we help them, how can we equip them, how can we love them, how can we serve them. I would rather talk about Jesus than Mark Driscoll.

JM: “Well, I know. And I would, too. I think it’s an important thing. If we are going to talk about Christianity having a future, I think we have to not only be sound in our doctrine, but I think we also have to be sound in our holiness.

MD: “And we need love, too”

JM: “Yes, we do. I’m looking at your website here, and you have an ask questions section. ‘If I use material from Pastor Mark’s sermons, do I have to cite him as the source of that material?’ And the answer on your site is, ‘Yes, if you do not cite him you are plagiarising. If you use content from one of pastor Mark’s sermons or one of his books, you need to attribute the content whether it is a quote or a paraphrase to Pastor Mark.’…Now you’re telling me 14 pages of someone else’s intellectual property was inadvertent. I have to take you at your word. Will you go back to the publisher and have them fix it?

MD: “What I will do is double check with Peter Jones. See, you’re not an intellectual property attorney (appeal to authority) or an intellectual property judge. Your rendering a verdict and trying to enforce a sentence. And what I would tell you is, I will check. I appreciate your bringing it to my attention. But in terms of taking your legal advice, I probably wouldn’t do that.

JM: “Oh no. I’m not giving you legal advice.

MD: “Well you’re giving me orders in front of an audience.

JM: “No. I asked you are you going to go to Tyndale House and have the book fixed?…It’s a public book. An awful lot of people are going to read it. You have a lot of people who follow you. And I think it’s a fair question.

MD: “I don’t. I don’t! I think it’s rude and I think the intent behind it is not very Christ-like. I’ll receive it. And I’ll try to receive it graciously and humbly. But I won’t allow you to pretend to take a generous, gracious, moral, gospel high ground. I would not give you a pass on that. Out of love for you. For I want you to grow as well. And I think it’s a good opportunity for you to grow as well.

JM: “Well I fail to see how I’ve been unbiblical in asking you a straightforward question about the content of your book. I don’t think we need to go ad-hominem (attack on the person to deflect a subject) on me about it. You’re the one who’s going to have to answer for this. It’s not right what you did, Mark.

MD: “We started with John McArthur and WENT TO A FOOTNOTE.”

JM: “14 Pages. 14 Pages of no footnote and no page citation…This is my point, Mark. We can have sound doctrine all day long, but if we don’t act in a godly way who’s going to listen? That applies to me as a regular sheep, and it applies to you as a pastor.

MD: “But you’re more than a regular sheep. You’ve got a large audience. The Bible says many should not presume to be teachers, and you’ve got a LOT OF PEOPLE listening to you who are learning from you.

JM: “Well, I’m not teaching. I tend to interview people and take calls, but fair point, you’re certainly entitled to think that.

Originally published at: Comfort for Christians

Comments

Comments

Perhaps if shed brought up the whole thing at the beginning and let him respond that he knew Dr Jones and, if hed been negligent in citing him, hed check into that, it wouldnt have started to sound exactly what Christians are sounding like these days “going for the jugular and making points for themselves” than covering a very worthwhile subject? Also, most interviewers tell a guest what theyll cover and it sounded like this hit him broadside. Frankly, Im surprised at Mefferd. It doesnt sound like the Pastor has a history of plagiarizing and his editors should have caught this stuff. How big a story in the Christian world is this getting? Im not that plugged in in that way.??

Since Mefferds interview, more proof of plagiarism over multiple books came forward. It was a huge story, which eventually led to Mark Driscolls resignation. Dr ES Williams writes:

The evidence quoted above leaves little doubt that Mark Driscoll, the name of many ‘Christian’ books, is a serial plagiarizer. The significance of Driscoll’s plagiarism is that it reveals much about his character. It seems he is prepared to use other people’s intellectual work and writings, and pass them off as his own.

Warren Throckmorton of Patheos writes:

After reviewing the material, I don’t think the concerns being raised can be accurately represented as a witch hunt. Efforts to characterize those who raise inconvenient facts as engaging in a smear campaign or witch hunt are misplaced and unhelpful ...However, in my view, these new concerns are not frivolous and should be taken seriously.

The attacks on Mefferd are actually a common response from Church Growth Pastors when questioned. The first response is usually along the lines of, “Aw shucks, were all friends here.” If this doesnt work to deflect the criticism, then it becomes, “You are being mean” or “That is a violation of the seventh/eighth commandment”. If these dont work, then it becomes character assassination behind the scenes and ad hominem attack to the person directly. Its understandable that people in the Church would like to ignore this and push it under the rug. However, these things never go away. People who are motivated by power are almost always more determined to hold on to it than other people are ready to question them. The longer institutional problems are ignored, the harder they are to face and correct. Sure appreciate your thoughts, Z. Thanks for your comment! Alec

Thank YOU, Alec…I REALLY appreciate your insight above…youve changed my mind. It just sounded like shed lassod him and your background information shows me she was RIGHT. Im a kind of hard nosed on this stuff so I even surprised myself by sticking up for the pastor, but I do agree with you now..and with the others whove found hes plagiarized. Particularly if he used a kind of defense thats typical these days…not good. I still dont look at it as the end of the world as far as faith; heres a pastor who might or might not have meant to do this, but if hes done this on a serial type of basis and used that hackneyed defense thing, Im on her side. Also, it seems silly if his books are good, beneficial books to read, not to quote …whats the downside? Sad..he tumbled for nothing. All he had to do was be honest. Thanks.