Recently, psychology professor Aaron New wrote yet again about what he called plagiarism in a new book by American Association of Christian Counselors owner Tim Clinton and writer Max Davis. He showed that Clinton and Davis lifted sizable verbatim portions of books by George Foreman without placing them in quotes or indenting them to show that they came directly from the other books. In fact, they wove the exact quotes in with their own prose to make it appear they wrote all of the material. In the sections in question, there were quotes from the original books by Foreman that did have citations but they were included in such a way as to make it appear that the only material cited was a quote from the original. In fact, copious material was directly lifted from the original works.
Dr. New published his findings in a series of tweets which I reproduce here:
Clinton recently released a new book, “Take It Back.” To be fair, Max Davis is mentioned on the cover, too. But his name gets smaller billing on the cover and Clinton is listed as the author inside the book. pic.twitter.com/fKKJaONSTn
I showed this along with the new book’s endnotes to Karen Swallow Prior, Research Professor of English and Christianity & Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and asked if she thought this was plagiarism. Her response is in full below:
In 2018 when the rampant and repeated instances of plagiarism by Tim Clinton were covered by Inside Higher Ed, I emailed Tim about it through his website. Because Tim was a fellow faculty member at Liberty University and is a brother in Christ, I thought it was important to reach out to him directly. I never heard back. When Tim later spoke at my church, I communicated my concerns to one of my pastors.
I am disappointed and grieved to see yet another instance of blatant plagiarism in this new book [Take It Back: Reclaiming Biblical Manhood for the Sake of Marriage, Family, and Culture]. The examples of plagiarism I’ve seen in it are so egregious that if they were committed by a student, I would give that student a failing grade for the class. Christians must do and demand better, especially Christian leaders.
I contacted the publicist and Max Davis but have not received any answer.
Today, Religion News Service published an article about plagiarism among pastors. I wait to see if anyone takes that seriously. I continue to wait to see if anyone in Christian publishing takes any of this seriously. I know academics like Prior, New and me do, but professional Christians apparently do not. Instead, if any questions are asked beyond this blog post, the Christian celebrity culture response will be to trot out a public relations humanoid with excuses and wait for the forgetting to set in.
Driscoll is the former Seattle-based Mars Hill Church pastor who was charged by 21 of his former elders back in 2014 with an abusive style of leadership. There were two groups of leaders at Mars Hill Church who were involved in deciding what to do with Driscoll. The group of elders who investigated the charges found that he should be disqualified from ministry. Another group of overseers loyal to Driscoll did not want to communicate to the church that he was disqualified but wanted to keep him from the pulpit for a break. That group had not been a part of the investigation process and had not heard the evidence. In the middle of the several days these two groups were in disagreement, Driscoll resigned from the church without entering any process of restoration.
In short, a jury of his elder peers found him to be disqualified to be a pastor-elder. Instead of being restored by those elders, he left the scene and eventually started a new church — The Trinity Church — in Scottsdale, AZ.
It should come as little surprise that Mark Driscoll’s new church apparently has solved the elder problem which led to his demise at Mars Hill. Just don’t have any.
During the past couple of weeks, several former members of The Trinity Church in Scottsdale have contacted me to talk about about aspects of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. They contacted me due to my coverage of Mars Hill from late 2013 until 2015. They tell stories remarkably similar to those I heard from former Mars Hill members during that span of time. There is one major difference. In the current church, there are no elders who are putting on any brakes. There are no elders to whom appeals can be made. Several former members and staffers have told me that The Trinity Church does not have elders.
Some things do sound the same. Non-disclosure agreements are again being used. Money is again conditioned on silence. People are describing abrupt decisions about membership without due process. Friends and family who are considered disloyal to the church are being shunned. At some point, these stories may be told. For now, according to former members and staff, the pastors who are there in addition to Driscoll are not elders in the decision making sense of the office. If elders hold you accountable in one place, eliminate them in the next place.
Doctrine: Who Needs It?
Over the years, Driscoll has taught often about elders. On The Trinity Church website, Driscoll has his book with Gerry Breshears — Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe — available for download. In that book, he discusses the biblical role of elders in a local church:
“The church is organized under qualified and competent leadership. The senior human leaders are men called elders (pastors).” (p. 309)
“The Bible describes the office of elder-pastor or overseer as the highest office in a local church, a position charged with the responsibility of overseeing the doctrinal soundness and spiritual health of the church. There is no end of confusion over the title pastor. It is often used for leaders of the church who get paid for their ministry, or specifically for the preacher. Negatively, this false understanding separates pastors from elders, the biblical term for senior leaders.” (p. 319)
“The duties of elders revolve around two major areas of responsibility: pastoral care (including equipping Christians for ministry and oversight of the church) and guiding and guarding the teaching of the church (including the preaching of God’s Word when the church assembles). The elders are the senior leadership team in a church and as such they bear primary responsibility for the well-being of the church’s people, resources, and doctrine.” (p. 319)
“It is important to note that the Bible always speaks of elders in the plural. This follows the New Testament pattern that ministry is to be done by teams so that everyone is under authority, including those in authority. While there will almost always be one man on the team of elders who is the leader of the elders, a “first among equals” elder, he does not hold a categorically different office from the other elders.” (p. 320)
There is more, but it should be clear that a local church as envisioned once upon a time by Driscoll and Breshears should have more than one elder. The Trinity Church does have pastors – in fact, the church lists five pastors: Brandon Anderson, Eden Fine, Darien Bennett, Carl Steele, and Landon Chase. However, as noted, nowhere are they referred to as elders. I wrote The Trinity Church asking about this without answer and the church bylaws are not available online. The former members and staff I spoke to said the bylaws are not available to members. Naturally, if the church has an alternative perspective, I will add it to the post.
So what is The Trinity Church? One former member I spoke to said it appears to be more like a family business. And indeed it may be. As I documentedin prior years, the religion business can be quite lucrative for some. And if that is what a person wants in their Sunday morning activities, it is a free country. However, others would like to know if what went around before is coming around again.
Yohannan and company have launched a business in Rwanda and plan more in other African nations:
Our work in Africa begins with GFA World Child Sponsorship in the slums of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, one of the most densely populated African nations. This will be the first of many projects, each with the same vision we started with, to meet tangible needs of precious people and show God’s love to those who need it most.
With over 40 years of experience, GFA is equipped to meet the expanding needs of Africa. We’ll soon start training national missionaries, clean water projects, medical ministry, education for the underprivileged, women’s empowerment, and community development projects. Our aim is to help empower the poor to break the cycle of poverty and show God’s love.
And Rwanda is just the beginning of an exciting new missions frontier. We plan to expand ministry to six other nations in Africa during the next few years.
And why not? In 2015, GFA lost their membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Yohannan’s organization settled a U.S. class action fraud lawsuit for $37-million in 2019. In 2020, GFA became the defendant in a fraud lawsuit brought in Canada. Also in 2020, this time in India, GFA affiliated organizations (including Yohannan’s homes) were raided as a part of a government investigation into how the organization used their foreign contributions. This investigation is ongoing and Yohannan is being sought for questioning by the Indian government. No wonder Yohannan and GFA World want to get out of North America and Asia and on to a new continent.
In 2017, the Indian government removed GFA’s charity status and ability to receive foreign contributions. However, GFA never told donors about the government action and continued to send funds to shadow organizations in India. With the recent government raids and investigation, GFA’s status in India may be in doubt.
With problems in North America and Asia, it appears that Africa is Yohannan’s next act.
Over the past four years, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has become a reliable defender of Donald Trump and Trumpism. He recently aroused the ire of Beth Moore and hundreds of other Twitter users with a trademark bad dad joke tweet implying that Chinese people get special privilege from corporate America. The tone of the tweet appears to minimize the recent wave of anti-Asian attacks.
Mike, I’ve shared a meal with you at your beautiful table. I’ve heard you profess Christ as Lord. This is entirely antithetical to the gospel.
Breaking wind from CNN! Coke will announce name change today to “Woke-A-Cola” which has been approved by the Chinese Communist Party & by the leftist loons who the company bows to more than their actual customers. #CancelCulture
Actually, totured reasoning isn’t anything new to Huckabee. The same guy who once half-joked that he wished he could force people at gun point to listen to David Barton’s lectures, once defended the police for shooting two black youth for stealing beer.
While I cannot say how this came to me, I here reproduce a column Huckabee wrote in 1975 which justifies the police shooting of two black young men who were caught stealing beer. One of the young men, 17, was killed. Huckabee actually says the shooting was the fault of the boys. Because they stole beer, they deserved to be shot, he reasoned. In the real world, it is hard to imagine white boys being shot dead for stealing beer.
Huckabee’s insensitivity to race as an issue in this shooting sounds sadly contemporary. White boys stealing some beer — or abusing an animal as Huckabee’s son was once accused of doing — might be slapped on the hands or given probation, but deadly force was used with these black young men.
Huckabee’s defense of the officers was that they couldn’t tell if the young men were black or white. This seems to be a ridiculous assertion. According to Huckabee, the boys were ordered to stop but ran. The officers surely saw them when they ordered them to stop. They were close enough to shoot them.
Stealing beer shouldn’t trigger a death sentence. Instead of calling for an investigation, Huckabee used his influence as a white minister to defend deadly force for a minor crime, quite possibly with racial bias. I realize this is long time ago, but apparently Huckabee hasn’t changed much.
In May 2020, Metaxas had Kent Heckenlively on his radio show and gave him a 36 minute commercial for the anti-vax movement. Heckenlively was allowed to provide a full recitation of the anti-vax catalog of false claims and half-truths. Now it seems Metaxas has fully sided with the fringe and may push some people over the anti-vax edge.
He just keeps finding the edge of the fringe and jumping off.
The article that Metaxas links to is not by a scientist or virologist but by a conspiracy writer. In it, he writes:
It [the vaccine] is not a vaccine. Vaccines are actually a legally defined term. And they’re a legally defined term under public health law. They’re a legally defined term under CDC and FDA standards, and a vaccine specifically has to stimulate, both an immunity within the person receiving it but it also has to disrupt transmission. And that’s not what this is.
Here is the CDC definition of a vaccine: “A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease.”
While there is a question about transmission with these vaccines, these questions don’t render the vaccine not a vaccine. Past vaccination efforts have had inconsistent results when it comes to transmission immunity. See this Scientific American article for more on that topic.
The benefits of reducing person-to-person transmission in the context of either an epidemic or a pandemic are clear. It is therefore appropriate that one of the main aims of vaccination is to limit transmission. Nevertheless, the efficacy of vaccines in blocking viral spread, either to or from the vaccinated individual, is not traditionally assessed in preclinical or clinical trials.
Beneficial? Yes. Required or “traditionally assessed?” No.
David Dark asks Simon & Schuster a very good question.
.@simonschuster, could y'all rethink the decision to print Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship with Eric's foreword? I don't like the righteous witness of that book being tied to his. https://t.co/dOrcOrwY3X
Every time I argue that uninformed voters should be weeded out with testing, I’m accused of racism. But if you call that racist, what you’re saying is that you think minorities are uninformed. That’s not my view, it’s yours, you bigot. My focus isn’t race, it’s competency.
Well, Matt, who will decide who is competent and informed? Judging by your tweets, I don’t think you are informed so, sorry, no vote for you.
Conservative gadfly Walsh is accused of racism because his suggestion has been used before for racist intent. Literacy and competency tests were used beginning after the Civil War to exclude blacks from voting. Whites judged the answers to ridiculous questions (see some examples here) with the transparent purpose to keep blacks from voting. Walsh deserves all the ridicule he gets.
There is a kerfuffle going around about empathy being a sin. Some theodudes think it is and most people know it isn’t. I am not going to get into it too much, but here are a couple of links to the empathy is sin crowd.
Reformed pastor and apoligist James White says empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” and is sin:
When you start with man as image-bearing creature of God, you can understand why sympathy is good, but empathy is sinful.
Do not surrender our mind to the sinful emotional responses of others.
Minnesota pastor Joe Rigney sat down with Doug Wilson to declare empathy a sin in this odd exchange.
Rigney: That’s right. And the, and I think that actually is the most relevant difference between them because, so empathy is the sort of thing that you’ve got someone drowning, or they’re in quicksand, and they’re sinking. And what empathy wants to do it jump into the quicksand with them, both feet, and-and it feels like that’s going to be more loving, because they’re going to feel like, I’m glad that you’re here with me in the quicksand. Problem is you’re both now sinking.
Rigney: Right. Whereas, if you do, I’m going to keep one foot on the shore, and I’m actually gonna grab onto this big branch, and then I’ll step one foot in there with you and try to pull you out. That’s sympathy, and that’s-that’s actually helpful. But to the person who’s in there, it can feel like you’re judging me.
Wilson: So sympathy’s clearly hierarchical.
Rigney: Right. It implies that one person is the hurting, and one person is the helper.
Rigney: And, and no, and that’s part of the problem is no one wants to feel like they’re the hurting. We want to equalize everything. And so, and so empathy demands, get in here with me, otherwise you don’t love me.
Wilson: But what do you lose— when you get in there with them, and you’re all in, they’re drowning, they’re in the quicksand, they’re in the trouble, and you identify with them completely.
Rigney went around a little with Karen Prior here.
What the theodudes seem upset about is that they seem to believe empathy puts the person who understands another’s feelings and experience on the same level as the person who is being understood. They want to be in authority.
Equality. What a concept.
Furthermore, they seem to think empathy means accepting everything anyone else does without moral evaluation. Or at least James White seems to think that. White goes out on the porch of his blog and yells at all of the empaths on his lawn, screaming:
We are not to weep with the bank robber who botches the job and ends up in the slammer. We are, plainly, to exercise control even in our sympathy. We are not to sympathize with sin, nor are we to sympathize with rebellion, or evil.
But the new cultural (and it has flown into the church as well) orthodoxy is: you shall empathize. You shall enter into the emotions of others AND YOU SHALL NOT MAKE JUDGMENTS ABOUT SAID EMOTIONS. By so doing YOU SHALL VALIDATE ALL HUMAN EXPERIENCES AS SUPREME. The greatest sin of all today is to say, “The emotions that person is experiencing are the result of sinful rebellion against God, and hence do not require my validation, support, or celebration.” HOW DARE YOU! That is the great rule I stepped upon, and must now pay the price.
I’d like to say I know how you feel, James, but I don’t.
Empathy is Not Sin
Empathy isn’t acceptance of things you don’t agree with. Empathy doesn’t require you to give up any position you might otherwise have. For instance, parents can empathize with their wayward children (“when I was your age…”) and still adminster correction and direction. When parents communicate their understanding with care, it helps build relationship even when restrictions need to be imposed.
Empathy is simply understanding the inner world of other people. It is all about being able to relate to them and understand what they are going through. It quite important in human functioning and when absent is associated with cruelty and antisocial behavior.
When Joe Rigney and Doug Wilson talk about someone jumping into quicksand with both feet, they are not describing empathy; they instead describe impulsivity. Sympathy or empathy might move a person to prosocial behavior, but strategy to conduct the behavior is another matter. A thoughtful person would perform the rescue safely; an impulsive person might just jump in. Both would be empathic, but only one would live to tell about it.
Understand this; empathy is good.
Here are some articles on empathy and related topics.
According to news reports out of India this morning, government Income Tax Department has confiscated the Cheruvally Estate and another 2,000 acres of land belonging to Believers’ Church in the state of Kerala. This action, according to reports, is tied to the governments ongoing investigation of a money laudering scheme involving allegedly $821-million in foreign donations. Believers’ Church is run by K.P. Yohannan who is the founder and CEO of Gospel for Asia, headquartered in Wills Point, TX.
In November 2020, the Income Tax Department raided Believers’ Church and Yohannan’s homes and due to suspicion of a money laundering operation. According to this recent report, Yohannan was supposed to return to India for questioning in December 2020 but failed to do so. According to this report, he is at the Wills Point headquarters.
The allegations are similar to those at issue in the RICO lawsuit settled in 2019 with GFA. In that case Garland and Phyliss Murphy accused the mission giant of failing to spend donations as promised and diverting money to other projects in India. The $37-million settlement was followed by a similar suit in Canada which is ongoing.
See also this report for a pretty good summary of Gospel for Asia and K.P. Yohannan’s legal troubles.
March 1, 2021. Special Update From the TMUS Board of Directors:
On Friday, February 26, the Board of Directors received a letter of resignation from our TMUS president, Dr. Sam Horn. The board is grateful for the several important institutional milestones that were reached this past year, including the school’s reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reaffirmation of accreditation by WSCUC. This past year has been one of the most challenging years in higher education and we are grateful for our entire leadership team during this unprecedented time. In the coming days, the Board of Directors will appoint an interim president and begin the process of looking for the next president. Pray for us as we seek what is best for the future of both TMU and TMS.
Recently, Grace to You Executive Director Phil Johnson publicly questioned John MacArthur’s account of his whereabouts and activities on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. In the past, Johnson has sharply criticized others, including me, for doing this. Since at least 2007, John MacArthur has claimed that he traveled to Memphis, TN with Charles Evers and John Perkins on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He said he stood where James Earl Ray shot the fatal bullet.
In a recent interview with Justin Peters, Johnson was asked about MacArthur’s story. I have a transcript of what he said beginning at 51:40 and will comment below.
I think it’s possible that John has compressed the timeline of those events in his mind but he absolutely did go with John Perkins and his team to Memphis and stand on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel. He says within hours, I think it might have actually been within 48 hours or 72 hours after the assassination, it was right afterwards, and John describes how the blood stains were still on the balcony and that’s a matter of historical fact.
In fact, I read one story that I’m eager to find the facts on this one. But that in order to preserve some of the stuff people in the area had actually cut that piece of concrete with the blood stain out and moved it, removed it, and it’s been replaced where it originally was at the Lorraine Hotel and covered up with plexiglas so you can see the blood stain, apparently even until today.
There’s an article online titled something like, ‘the blood stain that won’t go away’ or something like that so can read about the facts of that.
But anyway, he, John describes how he was in the room where, uh, James Earl Ray shot the fatal bullet. Here’s how I know John’s memory on it isn’t exactly precise in every detail. ‘Cause he said he stood on the toilet where – he he he was in the room where the toilet was that James Earl Ray stood on when he shot MLK. The fact is he [Ray] was standing in the bathtub, There is a toilet right next to I, but he was, he was standing in the bathtub.
Little facts like that, that I think John misremembers, but the fact is, he was there, and there are other eyewitnesses who will verify that.
One of them is the president of Shasta, I think it’s called Shasta Bible College. Okay so, let me read this. The president of Shasta Bible College, his name is David Nicholas. He was part of that team that John was with when he was when all of that happened, and he has written a fairly thorough account of that summer with John Perkins. I say fairly thorough, it’s a letter. He wrote a lengthy letter to his constituents and described some of the same events that John described. And when I saw this letter. I took it to John and I said, “Do you remember this guy?” and John goes, “Oh yeah, I remember, we went to college together.” Uh so, And he mentions that he was there. John was there. They went to the assassination site and all that. So he tells the same story John does.
This is confirming eyewitness testimony which I have sent to some of these people who are insistent on you know calling John a liar and all that.
There is this Detwiler guy who puts stuff out all the time. And uh you know, they simply ignore any testimony that would corroborate John MacArthur’s account, and cite the testimony of people who say they don’t remember John being there, as if that’s somehow proof that John MacArthur’s lying about this.
It’s not a lie. He may have some incidental details wrong, but I think we all have fuzzy – uh the details of our memories from 50 years ago are, tend to be a little bit fuzzy. That’s more than 50 years ago, isn’t it. That’s 53 years ago…So if you wanted to pick apart John’s story say it couldn’t have been hours later, well, it depends on what you count as hours. If it was 72 hours later, it actually, it’s credible. And in fact there are photographs of the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, within days after the assassination, loaded with people looking and seeing and wanting to visit…
The other eyewitness Johnson mentioned here is David Nicholas, who was then the Director of Admissions at Los Angeles Baptist College. Nicholas, who is now president of Shasta Bible College, said he accompanied MacArthur on some of his preaching trips to MS and claimed in a June 2020 letter to Shasta constituents that he was along with Perkins and MacArthur on this trip to Memphis.
Despite what Johnson says here, Nicholas’ account is at odds with MacArthur’s. MacArthur makes it sound as if the group went to Memphis the night King, Jr. was murdered, whereas Nicholas (see the full letter here), said they went “later” (no closer to the murder than the next day after the 10am meeting with the sheriff). The whole account of how they heard of the murder is different than MacArthur’s. The account of the arrest is also different. Here is the relevant information from the letter:
One night after our team ministered at Voice of Calvary Church, we walked in the darkness to our car (there were no street lights in the black quarter of Mendenhall) and started to leave. Almost immediately, bright red lights came on behind us. It was the local Sheriff. He pulled us over and asked for John MacArthur’s driver license. This was a problem because John had unintentionally left his license back at our motel. The Sheriff then demanded that we show up at his office the following day at 10:00 a.m. Our entire team arrived on time and as we walked in, the officeradio was blaring out the news that Rev. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis. We were shocked by this news but astounded by the jubilant reaction of the law enforcement officers in the Sheriff’s office. Why? Because when we failed to join their jubilation, the Sheriff was not happy. He informed us that he knew why we were there in Mendenhall (assuming we were civil rights workers helping John Perkins). I’ll never forget the name tag on his uniform. It said, “Sheriff Willis.” He continued by telling us, “I’ve been Sheriff of this town for 25 years and my daddy before me and my granddaddy before him. You step out of line one time and we’ll take care of you and do it all legal-like.” He then threatened to beat us, mentioning the use of a belt, which was probably an idle threat since there were five of us; and after John MacArthur produced his license, we breathed a sigh of relief as we left his office. All we wanted to do was to assist John Perkins in reaching the black community for Christ, and being from CA where attitudes were far different, we were shocked by the Sheriff’s reaction both toward the assassination of MLK and us!
Following our encounter with the Sheriff, John Perkins suggested we visit his friend, Charles Evers, Mayor of Fayette, MS, brother of American civil rights activist, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated July 2, 1963 in Jackson, MS. He drove all five of us through the barricades erected to control the crowds of black folk protesting the death of Dr. King. There we were, five white guys being driven by a black man, something that in those days was certain to raise suspicion. As we drove through they yelled out, “Are you guys “soul?” We quickly answered, “Yeah, we’re “soul.” When we finally made it to Mayor Evers’ office, John Perkins introduced us and as we sat before him sharing why we were there, a red phone rang on his desk. It was President Lyndon Baines Johnson, begging Mayor Evers to come to Wash., D.C. and help quell the protests there. Mayor Evers replied, “I’m sorry Mr. President, I can’t come. I have my hands full here.” Later we traveled to Memphis and stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was shot and looked out the window of the bathroom of the rooming house where James Earl Ray aimed his .30-06 at Rev. King. But as a result of that meeting with Mayor Evers, our team, including John MacArthur, myself, and three other musically talented men from BIOLA University, were asked to speak and minister in music at public school assemblies all around Jackson, Fayette and Mendenhall.
These details are the kind that can easily become altered by time. My issue here is not that small details may have been rearranged by time. I write to update my previous posts on the subject with these acknowledgements by Johnson and the new information from Nicholas.
I also note that Johnson is free to question MacArthur, but the motives of others are insulted when they do. Unknown to me, Johnson told blogger Brent Detwiler that I made “evil insinuations” in my article on this topic when I reported what John Perkin’s daughter Deborah said she was authorized by John Perkins to say about the subject. Johnson also told Detwiler that I made no effort to get John Perkins to answer the question: “Is it true that you went with John MacArthur to the Lorraine Motel in the wake of the MLK assassination?” That statement was false when he made it, and it remains so.
John Perkins’ Puzzling Silence
One of the aspects of this story that remains puzzling to me is why John Perkins has refused to comment directly. If his experience corroborates MacArthur and Nicholas, then what does he gain by remaining silent? When I asked Deborah Perkins about this, she said John MacArthur was a friend of Dr. Perkins and that was all they wanted to say. However, this line of responding implies that Dr. Perkins’ candid response would not be favorable to their friendship. If Perkins’ reply would support MacArthur’s account, why wouldn’t a friend say so?