World Magazine: Mars Hill Church Bought Mark Driscoll a Spot on NYT Best Seller's List

Now this is a blockbuster.
Warren Cole Smith at World Magazine is reporting today that Mars Hill Church helped their controversial pastor get a spot for his book Real Marriage on the New York Time best sellers list in 2012. According to a document obtained by World, Driscoll and Mars Hill used Result Source to get the job done. Result Source was the subject of a 2013 WSJ story with a focus on getting authors on best seller lists.
The process used to game the system is complex and is the subject of much of the World article.
The book was #1 on the list for one week, Jan. 22, 2012. Around Valentine’s Day it was #12 for two weeks in a row.
The book has received mixed reviews and contains numerous citation errors which I have documented here. The publisher acknowledged the issues and is in process of correcting them. A couple of issues have already been addressed.
Let’s put two and two together. Yesterday, World reported that Mars Hill Church requires employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement, meaning they cannot discuss information gained during their employment at MHC.  Today, we learn that Mars Hill Church entered an agreement to arrange sales in such a way to secure spots on various best seller lists for Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage. I imagine those who thought gaming the system was a good idea would not want such information widely known. Regarding my supposition, I can say that many people I have talked to have expressed a fear to talk, citing their non-disclosure agreement.
See all article relating the Mark Driscoll controversy here.
 
 
 

Mars Hill Church to Former Employees: Don't Talk

According to a brief report at WorldMag.com last night, Mars Hill Church and Elevation Church (NC) require staff to sign non-disclosure agreements. Warren Cole Smith has seen one and indicates that it even covers the employee’s spouse. Former elder Dave Kraft said the agreement was like “a gag order.”
I have heard former MHC people talk about these agreements but they were afraid to talk on the record because they feared being sued by their former church. Mars Hill watchers: Has anyone ever been sued over a perceived violation? It seems hard to believe that a Christian church would actually sue someone over discussing factual matters during employment.

How to Revise History the Mark Driscoll Way.

“Thanks to Lief Moi and Mike Gunn for helping me plant Mars Hill Church.” (Mark Driscoll, 2004. The Radical Reformission, page 9).
Last Friday, I posted an article by Becky Garrison on Driscoll’s exclusion of two of the founders from the history of Mars Hill Church in his recent materials.
However, in 2004, Mark Driscoll gave credit where credit was due. Now, on the Mars Hill website, one would not be able to discern Moi’s or Gunn’s role.  I can find no mention of Moi or Gunn as founders.  Before Moi and Gunn left the church, they had prominent profiles on the church website (Moi, Gunn). In 2001, Moi’s said:

How you became with Mars Hill: Joined with Mark (Driscoll) and Mike (Gunn) to plant a church

Now, a site search turns up a couple of references but nothing about them as founders.
Wenatchee the Hatchet (colorful image, yes?) has chronicled much of Mars Hill Church’s history. For more on the departure of Moi and Gunn and others, see that blog (e.g., this post). As far back as 2008, Wenatchee asked this question:

Here’s the question, given that Driscoll’s 2005 book Confessions of a Reformission Rev (Zondervan) established that Leif Moi was one of the three founding pastors, why has Leif Moi’s name all but vanished from Mars Hill websites?

If you search for Moi and Gunn on WtH’s blog, you can read for a long time about them. What I want to do with this post is to illustrate how far Mars Hill and Driscoll have gone to obscure the co-founders of the church.
First, in Driscoll’s MHC bio*, he is listed as “the founding pastor.” No mention of Moi and Gunn. Then near the end of the bio, MHC claims:

In 1996, at the age of 25, Pastor Mark and Grace started a small Bible study at their home in Seattle, the least churched city in the US at the time. By God’s grace, Mars Hill Church grew beyond all expectations to 13,000 people (and counting), gathered weekly across 15 locations in five states: Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Again, no mention of Moi and Gunn.
On the Mars Hill documentary, God’s Work, Our Witness (transcript), you won’t find them by name. Moi’s theatre, The Paradox is mentioned as a vital part of MHC’s ministry in the early days but Moi is not mentioned by name as the owner or visionary. He is referred to unceremoniously as “an elder.” This is quite an oversight given that Moi was a co-founder and, according to the documentary, Moi’s theatre was a large part of MHC’s outreach and conversion growth.
A very deliberate effort to purge the website of Moi can be illustrated by the elimination of Moi’s name from transcripts of sermons where Mark Driscoll mentions Moi’s name. For instance, in 2006, Driscoll preached a sermon on Corinthians in which he discussed the history of the church. On the Mars Hill website, the transcript reads:

We had all the meetings in my house. Gospel class was in my house. Premarital class was in my house. Everything was in my house except for Sunday church. And we had it there for two years and it was really hard, and what happened then, we bought the Paradox – a theater in the University District on the Ave. It had rat poop all over it. It was destroyed, homeless kids living in it. We finally cleaned it up, opened it up as a all-ages venue, and started evening service with 40 people. Within a year it went to two services.

Actually, Lief Moi bought The Paradox Theatre but it is true that Mars Hill ran it as an all-ages venue. The audio of the sermon is also on the website and if you listen to this segment at 43:54, you will hear a truer version of the story because he mentions Moi:

We had all the meetings in my house. Gospel class was in my house. Premarital class was in my house. Everything was in my house except for Sunday church. And we had it there for two years and it was really hard, and what happened then, we bought the Paradox – a theater in the University District on the Ave., Pastor Lief did. It had rat poop all over it. It was destroyed, homeless kids living in it. We finally cleaned it up, opened it up as a all-ages venue, and started evening service with 40 people. Within a year it went to two services.

Although Driscoll barely mentions him, he does acknowledge two things. One, Moi bought The Paradox, and two, Moi was addressed as pastor. Driscoll told Christianity Today in January that he was the only pastor until the church had 800 people. However, Moi and Gunn were both considered pastors at that time.
One more example. I wrote about this one in an earlier post on Driscoll’s visions. In 2005, Driscoll preached a sermon on Christ as an example to believers. He spoke about a time when he said God revealed something to him about a radio show caller. The transcript on the Mars Hill website reads:

The first time it happened it freaked me out. I was guest hosting a national radio show. . This guy calls in, I think it was from Cleveland, complaining about his church. His church stinks. Christianity stinks. Everything stinks, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah. And I told him, I said, “Look you’ve got a wife and a girlfriend. You’re committing adultery. The reason you don’t like going to church is because you feel under conviction because you’re unrepentant. It’s your hard heart, not your church, that’s the problem. Confess your sin to your wife, dump your girlfriend, or God’s gonna deal severely with you.”

The radio show was Lief Moi’s Street Talk show but you would have to listen the audio to know that. At 34:37 into the sermon, Driscoll says:

The first time it happened it freaked me out. Pastor Lief had a national radio show. I was hosting it for him because he was out of town. This guy calls in, I think it was from Cleveland, complaining about his church. His church stinks. Christianity stinks. Everything stinks, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah. And I told him, I said, “Look you’ve got a wife and a girlfriend. You’re committing adultery. The reason you don’t like going to church is because you feel under conviction because you’re unrepentant. It’s your hard heart, not your church, that’s the problem. Confess your sin to your wife, dump your girlfriend, or God’s gonna deal severely with you.”

The same story is told in a 2006 sermon where he mentions Moi (at 37:00) and says he took over the show because Moi was on vacation. In the transcript, Moi’s name is omitted and he is called the “usual host.”
This seems like an extensive effort to purge Moi’s existence from the written part of the website. Why do that?
*As an aside, the bio also claims: “his online audience accesses about 15 million of his sermons each year.” He has 15 million sermons? I suspect they mean something else by that statement.

Mark Driscoll's Tim Keller Remix: Is This Plagiarism?

Note: This post contains two articles in one. First, I am posting another guest contribution from Becky Garrison, this time highlighting a February 5, 2009 chapel speech at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC where Mark Driscoll presented nine distinctions between the gospel and religion. Those who know Tim Keller’s work will recognize in Driscoll’s sermon a central theme of Keller’s preaching and ministry going back many years. Garrison again raises the issue of plagiarism using Mars Hill’s and Driscoll’s own standards.
Curious about the matter, I listened to the speech and compared Driscoll and Keller. My comparison is presented after Garrison’s article and leads me to believe that Driscoll should have alerted his audience that he was preaching Keller’s themes and in some cases specific points from Keller’s work.
…………………….
Mark Driscoll’s Citation Errors Show Up in Preaching Tim Keller’s Material
By Becky Garrison
Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism in his books is by now well documented. However, the spotlight should now come to his sermons. Case in point: during a speech delivered at Southeastern Seminary on February 5, 2009, Driscoll apparently based the bulk of his talk on the work of fellow megachurch pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Manhattan. An analysis of Driscoll’s and Keller’s nine points expounding on the theme of why the gospel is incompatible with religion reveals that Driscoll’s list contains at least four points that are very similar to Keller’s points. At no time in Driscoll’s talk is Tim Keller mentioned as the originator of this gospel versus religion comparison.
Even though Keller’s book Gospel in Life study guide (Zondervan) summarizing his bullet points did not come out until 2010, Keller has preached on these concepts since at least 2003. Also, in a 2007 letter to Mars Hill Church members, Driscoll discussed seeking counsel with Keller about the difficulties of running an urban church and cited Keller’s work as a resource. Clearly Driscoll followed Keller’s work prior to delivering this 2009 sermon. Three years later, Mars Hill Church’s Resurgence blog posted a downloadable poster of Keller’s work, though they failed to acknowledge Driscoll’s earlier appropriation of this material without proper credit.
To date, neither Redeemer Presbyterian nor Zondervan have responded to emails asking for their response to these latest questions about the authenticity of Driscoll’s sermons. However, in a 2010 interview with The Gospel Coalition, Keller spoke about the problems of preachers who plagiarize in their sermons. “If he takes some preaching theme word for word from someone else, or if all the headings almost in the same words are taken from someone else’s sermon, or if he reproduces an illustration almost phrase by phrase—then he should give attribution.”
Here at Patheos, Warren Throckmorton points to the FAQ posted on the Mars Hill Church’s website which concurs with Keller’s assessment.

IF I USE MATERIAL FROM ONE OF PASTOR MARK’S SERMON’S DO I NEED TO CITE HIM AS THE SOURCE OF THAT MATERIAL?
Yes. If you don’t cite him, you are plagiarizing. If you use content from one of Pastor Mark’s sermons or HERE from one of his books, you need to attribute the content (whether it is a quote or paraphrase) to Pastor Mark. Also, even though we make transcripts available of our sermons, this does not mean you can take the transcript and deliver the sermon as though it is your own. This too is plagiarism.
The same answer applies to your use of sermon content from any other pastors and any of our blog posts.

Then on page 105 in his book with Gerry Breshears, Vintage Church, Driscoll said

Do not speak anyone else’s messages. Doing so amounts to plagiarism, unless you get permission…If you use the work of others, you are not a teacher, and you should quit your job and do anything but speak.

All these problems may not seem to be nefarious when viewed in isolation. After all, a quick skim of the vast majority of books and speeches penned by hipster Christian author/speaker/pastors reveals they frequently quote their peers (though unlike Driscoll they tend to at least cross reference each other). However, given the pattern of publishing and preaching misbehavior, a fair question is: when will the Christian publishing industry begin to hold Driscoll accountable for his actions?
Becky Garrison is the author of seven books, including Roger Williams’ Little Book of Virtues, and Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church. She has contributed to a range of outlets including The Guardian, Religion Dispatches, Killing the Buddha, and The Humanist. 
Driscoll’s speech can be viewed here:
[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/20327379[/vimeo]
Below I compare Tim Keller’s material with Driscoll’s 2009 speech. Primarily, I provide the main points of distinction presented by Driscoll. He used personal illustrations but the essence of the points appears to come from Keller’s distinction between gospel and religion as demonstrated by the material from three of Keller’s books. Those familiar with Keller’s work may see other ways that the video is similar to Keller’s speaking and writing. At about 9:55, Driscoll introduces his nine ways:
Driscoll: What I want to do is share with you nine ways the gospel and religion are an antithesis and the ways in which they are contradictory and not complementary…
The first is this: Religion tells you in its various forms if you obey then God will love you, if you obey then God will love you. The gospel says, because God loves you, you want to obey Him. See religion says if you try hard enough, if you do better, if you do a good job, then God will love you.
Keller: RELIGION: I obey, therefore I’m accepted. THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted, therefore I obey. (Gospel in Life Study Guide, 16; Gospel Christianity Leader’s Guide, 2-3)
Driscoll: Number two, religion is prone to see good people and bad people…the gospel sees bad people and Jesus.
Keller: Jesus does not divide the world into the moral “good guys” and the immoral “bad guys.”… The gospel is distinct from the other two approaches: In its view, everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, everyone is called to recognize this and change. By contrast, elder brothers divide the world in two: “The good people (like us) are in and the bad people, who are the real problem with the world, are out.” (Prodigal God, 44-45)
Driscoll: Number three, religion is about getting from God. It’s ultimately idolatry. The gospel is about getting God.
Keller: RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God. THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God, to delight and resemble him. (GILSG, 16)
In religion, we go to God because he is useful for getting the things our heart most wants….In the gospel, we go to God because he is beautiful. We go simply to get God himself. We want to sense his presence and we know that living a life imitating him is the way to do that. (GCLG, 4)
Driscoll: Number four, religion sees hardship as punishment…The gospel doesn’t see hardship as punishment, it sees it as loving correction from a good dad.
Keller: RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life. THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his fatherly love within my trial. (GILSG, 16)
Driscoll: Number five, religion is very aware of other people’s sins, the gospel is very aware of my own sin.
Religious people like to confess the sins of others. Gospel people are willing to confess their own sin. Religious people love that plank-speck game. Look, I see in your eyes sawdust. Two by four, out of your head, totally oblivious. Jesus makes fun of religious people, their inconsistency and hypocrisy. That’s why they kill him.
Keller: RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to “the other.” THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for his enemies and who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. It is only by grace that I am what I am. I have no inner need to win arguments. (GILSG, 16)
It is important to consider how the gospel affects and transforms the very act of repentance. In religion, the purpose of repentance is basically to keep God happy so he will continue to bless you and answer your prayers. This means that “religious repentance” is selfish, self-righteous, and bitter all the way to the bottom. (GCLG, 4)
Driscoll: Number 6, religion is focused on the external and the visible, how do you look…the gospel is concerned with the heart.
(To me, this seems like an extension of the point before it )
Driscoll: Number seven, with religion, you’re not certain about your salvation…the gospel is about certainty.
Keller: RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity. THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy. (GILSG, 16)
Driscoll: Number eight, religion is about self-righteousness. This is the root of all religion. The gospel is about gift-righteousness; this leads to humility…Religion is about me, and how good I am, and how much I do and I do more than you and I give more than you and I’m better than you.
Keller: Religious repentance is self-righteous. The repentance easily becomes a form of atoning for the sin. Religious repentance often becomes a form of self-flagellation in which we convince God (and ourselves) that we are so truly miserable and regretful that we deserve to be forgiven.  (GCLG, 4)
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to “the other.” THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for his enemies and who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. It is only by grace that I am what I am. I have no inner need to win arguments. (GILSG, 16)
Driscoll: Number nine, religion results in pride or despair…the gospel leads to holy happiness.
Keller: RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles: If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure, inadequate, and not confident. I feel like a failure. THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of myself as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time, neither swaggering nor sniveling.
RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, regardless of what I say I believe about God. THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life: family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things is an ultimate end for me. None of them is something I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency such things can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost. (GILSG, 16)
Keller’s works:
GCLG = Keller, T. (2003). Gospel Christianity Leader’s Guide. New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Keller, T. (2008). The prodigal God: Recovering the heart of the Christian faith. New York: Dutton.
GILSG = Keller, T. (2010). Gospel in Life Study GuideGrand Rapids: Zondervan.
Unless Driscoll claims he originated this distinction and Keller took it from him, it is hard to see how this is not plagiarism. Perhaps this is the only sermon like this. I don’t know. However, there does appear to be a pattern which should be acknowledged and corrected.
Here is another sermon segment that remixes Keller.