HarperCollins: Monica Crowley's Book Will No Longer Be Offered for Purchase

HarperCollins just told CNN’s Andrew Kazcynski that they are pulling Monica Crowley’s 2012 book, What the Bleep Just Happened Here?
After taking a little time to study the matter, the publisher decided to stop selling the book “until such time as the author has the opportunity to source and revise the material.” (HC statement from the CNN article)
In the past when confronted with plagiarism charges against Mark Driscoll, HarperCollins acknowledged the “citation errors” and then quietly corrected them. Plagiarism was much more extensive in this instance.
Monica Crowley joins David Barton as a conservative with a book pulled by HarperCollins. In Barton’s case, it was because the book was filled with historical errors.  Maybe Crowley will pull a Barton and claim her book was the victim of liberal political correctness.

Ecclesia College President Denies Wrongdoing in Kickback Scheme

Earlier today, I wrote about Micah Neal, an Arkansas state legislator who admitted taking kickbacks from two unnamed non-profits in Arkansas in exchange for donations from Arkansas’ General Improvement Fund. Neal made a plea agreement and is awaiting his fate.
According to the plea agreement, money was given to Neal in exchange for $200,000 in government grants. From the plea agreement:

aa. A check dated January 5, 2015 and drawn on Entity B’s Centennial Bank account ending in 0681 in the amount of $65,000 was issued to Person C’s company and deposited that same day into Person C’s company’s Arvest Bank account ending in 7761. The check was issued at the direction of Person B. Over the following three days, Person C made three cash withdrawals per day totaling $53,700 from his company’s Arvest Bank account ending in 7761.

Entity B is almost certainly Ecclesia College and Person B is Oren Paris III, president of the College.
This afternoon, I called Ecclesia for comment and was told that the College board was meeting about the plea agreement. Tonight, on the Ecclesia Facebook page, Oren Paris III issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

To Students, Faculty, Staff and Friends,
As a result of what was widely reported yesterday, I am aware of statements made in a plea agreement entered into by Representative Micah Neal. Suggested by those news reports was that Ecclesia College was somehow involved in criminal activity with Mr. Neal. While it is certainly true that Ecclesia College, like NWACC and the University of Arkansas, has received General Improvement Funds as reported, I can assure you that neither I nor anyone associated with Ecclesia College has ever participated or engaged in any activity to provide money to Mr. Neal or any other legislator in exchange for the receipt of those funds.
The search for funding sources is an important part of the life of any non-profit organization. As a Christian work-college, we are not eligible for the same level of government funding as public colleges and institutions, and have from time to time engaged consultants in those efforts. While Ecclesia College did receive GIF funds from the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development Corporation, every dollar of those funds have been used for the purposes for which they were requested. Every effort was made to comply with every aspect of the law as we understood it.
After reading the statements contained in Mr. Neal’s plea agreement, I can unequivocally state that neither I nor Ecclesia College have been party to illegal activity. We have never been a party to any agreements to funnel money to any state legislator.
At the end of the day, I am secure in the knowledge that there has been no wrongdoing either on my part or the school’s part, and any rumors, innuendo, or any future news reports that say otherwise are simply untruthful.
In His service,
Dr. Oren Paris III
President, Ecclesia College

This statement sets up what appears to be a conflict between Neal and Paris. The plea agreement is very specific about bank withdrawals and payments directed by Person B (i.e., Paris). If Senator A (as described in the plea agreement) is indicted, then we may get more information about Person B and those bank activities.
 

Top Ten Posts of 2016

Here I list the ten most visited posts of 2016. As you will see, this list doesn’t correspond to the top stories of the year.

  1. The American College of Pediatricians versus the American Academy of Pediatrics: Who leads and who follows? – This 2011 post became popular again as a means of demonstrating that the ACP is a fringe group compared to the AAP. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I wrote this post to debunk a David Barton claim.

2. Open Letter to Gateway Pastor Robert Morris From a Former Member of Mars Hill Church – This 2014 post has been popular since it was published. When Robert Morris downplayed Mark Driscoll’s offenses at Mars Hill Church, he offended many former attenders of the church including the articulate author of this post.
3. NewSpring Church Won’t Deny Departure of Perry Noble (UPDATED – Noble Dismissed July 1) – After days of speculation, megachurch New Spring Church announced the departure of founding pastor Perry Noble during their regular Sunday morning worship service. Noble acknowledged alcohol abuse and said he would go into a counseling program.
4. Tullian Tchividjian Out at Willow Creek Presbyterian; Majority of Liberate Network Board Members Quit (UPDATED) – Tchividjian’s fall has continued to reverberate. Most recently, he was accused of multiple extramarital relationships and censured by an organization that has his brother and uncle as board members. His publisher David C. Cook is sticking with him.
5. Glenn Beck on Why Ted Cruz Will Win: We Have Almighty God on Our Side – Election 2016 overshadowed everything – real news, sanity, theology, etc. Although Beck is singing a different tune now, he was all in for Ted Cruz during the primaries, saying that God was on his side. Apparently, even God had to acquiesce to the Trump train.
6. Darrin Patrick Has Been Relieved of Pastoral Duties at The Journey – It was a hard year for megachurch pastors.
7. Former Chief Financial Officer at Turning Point Claims David Jeremiah Used Questionable Methods to Secure a Spot on Best Seller Lists – David Jeremiah largely dodged the scrutiny Mark Driscoll received over using deception to prop up their books. However, this post continues to attract reader attention. Jeremiah’s last couple of books haven’t made the best seller lists so he may have quietly put aside the schemes.
8. Mark Driscoll Announces Launch of The Trinity Church (UPDATED) – Rumored since early 2015, Driscoll finally started a church in Phoenix. Displaying his flair for the dramatic, Driscoll’s congregation went on the hook for a mid-century modern building which once housed a drive in church.
9. RICO Lawsuit Filed Against Former Leaders of Mars Hill Church; ECFA Named As Co-Conspirator – Although later dismissed, this lawsuit alleged mishandling of funds at Mars Hill Church, specifically naming Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll.
10. A Major Study of Child Abuse and Homosexuality Revisited – This 2009 post has appeared before in my top ten lists. This study is often used by those who want to stigmatize LGB people. However, an error in the study report renders it nearly useless for scientific purposes.
Thanks for reading and I hope 2017 is full of blessings. After 2016, we need a breather.
 

Rejoice! Messiah, Thy Name is Trump!

We all knew that Donald Trump thought highly of himself.
Now on the day after Christmas, we learn that Trump is responsible for dispelling the gloom and bringing hope to the World.


Made me think of the old hymn: The Father’s Sole Begotten Son
Redeemer, come with power benign,
Dwell in the souls that look for Thee;
O let Thy light within us shine
That we may Thy salvation see.
Abide with us, O Lord, we pray,
Dispel the gloom of doubt and woe;
Wash every stain of guilt away,
Thy tender healing grace bestow.
-Dykes and Pollock, 1889
That perhaps is the most frightening tweet yet.

Donald Trump Now Says He Won the Popular Vote — If All the Illegal Votes Are Deducted

Truly astounding.


New first 100 days task – Deduct Millions of Illegal Voters.

Live Blogging Election 2016

Bookmark this page and come back for election night when we’ll be live!
Join Grove City College professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter for observations and discussion of election night 2016.
As of Monday morning (11/7/16), Nate Silver’s group has Clinton with a strong probability to win.

Eric Metaxas Continues to Misattribute Quote to Bonhoeffer

A casualty of this election season is Eric Metaxas’ reputation as a scholar. He acknowledges this in an interview published yesterday on NPR. In addition to his political statements, Metaxas again hurt himself by continuing to misattribute a quote to Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the service of support for Donald Trump.

Metaxas said he has been misunderstood and that he was only quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As we now know, Metaxas wasn’t quoting Bonhoeffer but using a quote he has misattributed to Bonhoeffer.

To his dismay, Metaxas’ suggestion that Christians who do not support Trump will have to answer to God for their vote quickly got him in trouble with other Christian leaders.
“I have been horribly misunderstood, and it’s really damaged my reputation,” Metaxas told NPR. “When I put that out there, I didn’t realize most people aren’t going to get the joke, so to speak.”
Metaxas explained that when he said “God will not hold us guiltless,” he was simply quoting the German theologian and anti-Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the subject of one of Metaxas’ numerous books. Bonhoeffer famously said God would not hold Germans guiltless for appeasing Hitler, because “silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”
“The point of the quote,” Metaxas said, “Is that you can’t say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to vote.’ You have to make a sober, difficult choice, because people are depending on you.”

I don’t understand what keeps Metaxas and his publisher Thomas Nelson from issuing a correction. His continued misuse of quote now seems to be willful and fraudulent. Ethical scholars make mistakes but they don’t keep on making them when evidence is presented. I have reached out to him and his publisher. I know he has received messages from mutual friends and his twitter followers. He has offered no source for the quote nor an explanation for why he keeps using it. Even a cursory review of academic ethics demonstrates that he should correct and is damaging his reputation by not doing so. For instance, read what Des Moines University says about proper citation:

Locating scholarly resources and then citing these references accurately should be the foundation of your own academic and professional writing.
Why is this an ethical issue? Correct documentation

  1. Provides attribution or credit to the original author or creator.
  2. Allows someone to find the documents you cited on their own.
  3. Enables the reader to follow the continuum of research. What important contributions were made before your work and where does your body of research contribute to or add to current knowledge?
  4. Enables others to verify the accuracy and completeness your work. A thorough reference list demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about your field of inquiry.
  5. Communicates transparency, trust and integrity and helps you to avoid plagiarism.

Incorrect Documentation
Ethical research and writing means giving proper attribution and credit to the work of others. In the academic community the ideas, words, and formal or informal publications of others is considered intellectual property. Failing to provide the correct citation may not always be plagiarism. However, if another scholar cannot easily find the research you claim to have consulted, one may reasonably conclude that you either “raided” the reference list of someone else, or that you made up the reference(s) on your own. In either case, you did not actually do the work of reading and analyzing the source material yourself. Citing sources without reading them is considered fraudulent because you are lying about the work you have done.  Finally, you should not blindly trust the conclusions of others.  Always track down and read the original research yourself to make sure that the data is accurate.
Finally, sometimes the expression of someone’s creative work is copyrighted. You may see official copyright or creative commons licensing information on a website or publication indicating that the work is protected. Regardless of whether or not you see an official notice, you should always consider any written, visual, multimedia, or auditory work as protected under copyright law whether or not you see an official trademark or warning.

I have repeatedly asked Metaxas for a source for the quote. He has not answered. A review of ethics standards for scholars is clear that being able to provide sources for one’s work is foundational.

Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush on Electing God's Man

Yesterday, Eric Metaxas referred his dwindling Twitter followers to read an article comparing Donald Trump with Samson. Roughly, the narrative casts imperfect Trump as a modern day imperfect Samson from the Old Testament. According to the article, we should accept Trump as an imperfect man God can use in the same way God used Samson.
I submit that casting a vote in terms of God’s will is misguided both religiously and politically. I was reminded of Benjamin Rush’s exchange with Thomas Jefferson on a similar point just after Jefferson was first elected president. Below is an segment from my book with Michael Coulter on Jefferson which features Benjamin Rush.
From Getting Jefferson Right:

On August 22, 1800, Jefferson’s friend and fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, wrote to Jefferson asking for a clarification of his religious views. At their last meeting, Rush had extracted a promise from Jefferson to read William Paley’s book, A View of the Evidences of Christianity. In addition, Jefferson apparently promised to explain his “religious Creed.” As of that writing, Jefferson had not complied with the request.
Rush wrote:

You promised me when we parted, to read Paley’s last work, and to send me your religious Creed.–I have always considered Christianity as the strong ground of Republicanism. Its Spirit is opposed, not only to the Splendor, but even to the very forms of monarchy, and many” of its precepts have for their Objects, republican liberty and equality, as well as simplicity , integrity and Economy in government. It is only necessary for Republicanism to ally itself to the christian Religion, to overturn all the corrupted political and religious institutions in the world. I have lately heard that Lord Kaims became so firm a Beleiver in Christianity some years before he died, as to dispute with his former disciples in its favor. Such a mind as Kaims’ could only yeild to the strongest evidence, especially as his prejudices were on the other Side of the Question. Sir John Pringle had lived near 60 years in a State of indifference to the truth of the Christian Religion.–He devoted himself to the Study of the Scriptures in the evening of his life, and became a christian. It was remarkable that he became a decided Republican” at the same time. It is said this change in his political principles exposed him to the neglect of the Royal family, to whom he was Physician, and drove him from London, to end his days in his native Country (p 318) [144]

Apparently, by telling him of those who converted to Christianity later in life, Rush hoped to convince Jefferson that it was not too late for Jefferson to turn to orthodox Christianity. Jefferson wrote back on September 23, 1800 saying that time constraints had prevented him from honoring his pledge. Jefferson had been thinking about it and wanted to have adequate time to write a complete answer. To Rush, Jefferson wrote:

I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary , it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Diests, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum( 2) who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot showed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the Constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion , had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, and they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.– But enough of this. It is more than I have before committed to paper on the subject of all the lies which have been preached or printed against me. [145]

Jefferson does not address Rush’s proselytizing but instead described his frustration with his critics and his opposition to establishment of Christianity “through the United States.” Rush then wrote back on October 6, 1800 in order to clarify his views on religion and the state.

I [Rush] agree with you [Jefferson] likewise in your wishes to keep religion and government independant of each Other. Were it possible for St. Paul to rise from his grave at the present juncture, he would say to the Clergy who are now so active in settling the political Affairs of the World: “Cease from your political labors-your kingdom is not of this World. Read my Epistles. In no part of them will you perceive me aiming to depose a pagan Emperor, or to place a Christian upon a throne. Christianity disdains to receive Support from human Governments.” From this, it derives its preeminence over all the religions that ever have, or ever shall exist in the World. [146] (emphasis added)

Throckmorton, Warren; Coulter, Michael (2012-05-01). Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President (Kindle Locations 2267-2328). Kindle Edition.

Rush told Jefferson that St. Paul did not aim “to depose a pagan Emperor, or to place a Christian upon a throne.” What this suggests to me is that these two founders did not believe Christianity needed help from a human leader. In the case of Bonhoeffer, he was trying to save lives and I believe he was right in that. However, to equate stopping Hitler with stopping Hillary, as Eric Metaxas regularly does, diminishes (unintentionally I believe) the Holocaust.
 

World Magazine Calls on Donald Trump to Withdraw from the Campaign

This is a bold move and one I admire. In an editorial just out, World magazine’s editor Marvin Olasky called on Donald Trump to withdraw from the campaign.
Calling Trump “unfit for power,” Olasky said, “Our journalistic task is to call powerful people to account, regardless of their party, regardless of the politics of the moment.”
While there was concern before the 2005 tape was disclosed by the Washington Post, clearly the revelation was key. Olasky wrote:

The new video pushed theologian Wayne Grudem to withdraw his endorsement of Trump and urge him to drop out of the presidential race. The videotape, in the words of Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “revealed a sexual predator, not merely a playboy.”
In suggesting that Trump drop out and let someone else carry the campaign for the remaining weeks, we at WORLD are not endorsing any other Republican and certainly not Hillary Clinton. We also realize Trump is unlikely to heed our call. We’re aware of the practical difficulties in making a change at this point.

This kind of principled response is what I have been hoping for from evangelicals. On top of Christianity Today’s column by Andy Crouch, this is a powerful call to Trump, but probably more practically and importantly to evangelicals on the fence.