One Year Ago Today Janet Mefferd Interviewed Mark Driscoll

In conversations about Mars Hill Church, many people peg the beginning of the Year of Mars Hill’s Discontent as being Janet Mefferd’s radio interview with Mark Driscoll. In that interview, Mefferd accused Driscoll of plagiarism and he accused her of having “sort of a grumpy day.”

In hindsight, perhaps one could view the Strange Fire conference deception as the beginning of the end and indeed Mefferd began her interview by asking Driscoll about the conference. In fact, he never really answered her question about whether or not the books were confiscated. He said they were going to confiscate them but didn’t say they did. Please see Darren Wiebe’s eye witness account for more on the Strange Fire confiscation controversy.

In any case, the Fall of 2013 was the start of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year for Rev. Driscoll and his fellow executives at Mars Hill. Mefferd later apologized for her approach but did not retract her claims of plagiarism.

Mefferd’s interview seemed to break open the flood gates and eventually brought me and others into the situation. I wasn’t sure at first that Mefferd was correct in her claims, but I quickly came to believe she was right. Eventually I discovered problems in more of his books and created a chart to map it all. From there, problems with church finances, leadership, scamming the New York Times best-seller list, bullying personnel, and more snowballed. Time will tell what the enduring significance will be.

If you want to listen again, here it is:

Mark Driscoll's Citation Errors At A Glance

Since November 2013, Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll has been at the center of a controversy surrounding “citation errors” in his books. In addition to other bloggers (e.g. Janet Mefferd, Wenatchee the Hatchet), I have examined various claims and located several problems which involve multiple books and publishers.  Publishers Crossway, NavPress and Thomas Nelson have announced that they are in various stages of examining and/or correcting these problems.
Click the image below to go to an identical table with live links to my posts on the subject. Just click on the cells with letters in them to read the relevant post. Note the key below which explains the four types of problems found. Following the table is a listing of the books involved. I should note that this chart might need to be updated if new material surfaces.
 

R= Recycled Material (using material from a previous work without citation)
P= Plagiarism (as defined in the MLA Style Manual)
FE= Factual Error
G = Ghostwriting

Source material:

Allender, D. (2008). The wounded heart: Hope for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. Carol Stream, IL:NavPress.
Chapman, G. (2003). Covenant marriage: Building communication & intimacy. Nashville: B & H Publishing.
David, D., & Brannon, R. (1976). The male sex role: Our culture’s blueprint of manhood, and what it’s done for us lately. In D.David & R. Brannon (Eds.),The forty nine percent majority. New York: Random House.
Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., Reid, D. R. (Eds.). (1993). Dictionary of Paul and his letters: A compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship. Wheaton, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Holcomb, J., & Holcomb, L. (2011). Rid of my disgrace: Hope and healing for victims of sexual assault. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Jones, P. (1999). Gospel truth/pagan lies: Can you tell the difference? Enumclaw, WA: Winepress Publishing.
Jones, P. (2010). One or two: Seeing a world of difference. Escondido, CA: Main Entry Editions.
Ryken, L. (1990). Worldly saints: The puritans as they really were. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Wenham, G., Motyer, J. A., Caron, D., France, R. T. (Eds.) (1994). New bible dictionary: 21st century edition. Wheaton, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Driscoll’s works:
Driscoll, M., & Chamberlain, M. (2013). Call to resurgence: Will Christianity have a funeral or a future? Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Driscoll, M. (2013). Who do you think you are? Finding your true identity in Christ. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Driscoll, M., & Driscoll, G. (2012). Real marriage: The truth about sex, friendship, and life together. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Driscoll, M., & Breshears, G. (2011). Doctrine: What Christians should believe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Driscoll, M. (2009). Trial: 8 witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter. Seattle, WA: Mars Hill Church.
Driscoll, M. (2009). Religion saves: And nine other misconceptions. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Driscoll, M., & Breshears, G. (2008). Death by love: Letters from the cross. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Additional posts on the topic:
Would Mark Driscoll Fail A Course In His Own School?
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism
Spokesperson: Thomas Nelson Working With Driscolls to Address Real Marriage Citation Issues
Publisher Thomas Nelson Alters Mark Driscoll’s Book Real Marriage To Correct Citation Problems
Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy Rated #3 Plagiarism Scandal of 2013
Janet Mefferd Breaks Silence in Slate Article on Driscoll Controversy
Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the Case of the Disappearing Links
Mars Hill Church Alters Statement on Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (UPDATED)
IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors
Mark Driscoll and Tyndale House Release Statement of Apology to Christian Post
I want to thank Megan Hurst for her assistance in preparing the table.

Janet Mefferd Breaks Silence in Slate Article on Driscoll Controversy

Janet Mefferd has drifted into the background since her apology for her on-air actions with Mark Driscoll on her November 21 broadcast.  Today, in an article on Slate by Ruth Graham, Mefferd breaks her silence on the Driscoll controversy.
Mefferd is clear that she continues to believe Driscoll’s books inappropriately used material from other sources and that he needs to make it right. Go on over to Slate and read the article.

Who's Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy?

Three days ago, Relevant Magazine published a brief article with the headline: Basically, Nobody’s Talking About the Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Accusations.
What a difference a couple of days make. Now, lots of people are talking about the controversy swirling around Pastor Driscoll.
Religion News Service, World MagazineChristianity TodayChristian Post, CrosswalkRight Wing Watch, Orlando Sentinel, Opposing Views, First Things, Examiner, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, Religion Dispatches, and the Urban Christian News all have new articles up about the matter, some just posted this morning.
One person not talking is Mark Driscoll which is unfortunate because he could quiet the matter with appropriate action and comment. One organization that probably would not like to talk any more about the issue is Tyndale House. According to a statement given to Christianity Today, Driscoll’s publisher, Tyndale House, said his book A Call to Resurgence “conforms to market standards” in the citation of Peter Jones material.
That judgment of Tyndale House might be influenced by a recent publishing deal between the publishing house and Driscoll. Tyndale advertises on the Salem Radio Network which also carries Mefferd’s show.  Certainly seems possible that Tyndale put some pressure on Ms. Mefferd to make a statement of apology. Let me hasten to add that I believe Mefferd was sincere in her statement in that she did not alter her assessment of the evidence regarding citation of sources.
I doubt this story goes away quietly.
I have some additional links below and will add them as I find them. Readers, if you see other articles on this topic, please add them in the comments section.
See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)
Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (12/5/13)
Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)
More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)
Flunking Mark Driscoll for Plagiarism (11/29 – First Things)
Mark Driscoll and Janet Mefferd: Plagiarism, Tribalism and Paganism (Istoria Ministries)
Ongoing Drama Ensues After Radio Host Accuses Mark Driscoll of Plagiarism (Charisma News – 12/9/13)

Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy

Coming from Julie Anne at Spiritual Sounding Board:

Schlueter’s comment is as follows:

I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.

She added later in the thread:

I’ve read much speculation online, which is understandable given the confusing situation, most of it dead wrong. Being limited in what I can share, let me just say that truth tellers face multiple pressure sources these days. I hosted a radio show for 23 years and know from experience how Big Publishing protects its celebrities. Anything but fawning adulation for those who come on your show (a gift of free air time for the author/publisher by the way) is not taken well. Like Dr. Carl Trueman so aptly asked yesterday in his column at Reformation 21, does honest journalism have any role to play in evangelicalism now? (It was rhetorical.) My own take on that question is, no, it does not. The moment hard questions are asked, the negative focus goes on the questioner, not the celebrity, when there is something that needs scrutiny. Those who have the temerity to call out a celebrity have tremendous courage. The easiest thing in the world is to do fluffy interviews with fluffy guests on fluffy books. So hats off to those like Janet who have the courage to ask at all. And my own opinion on Mr. Driscoll is that despite the bravado, despite the near silence of his Reformed peers and enablers, his brand is damaged, and damaged by his own hand.

To follow the conversation, go on over to Spiritual Sounding Board.
Earlier today, I asked Janet Mefferd for an interview regarding her statement yesterday. In an email, she declined to comment.
UPDATE: The comments have now been removed with comment from Julie Ann at Spiritual Sounding Board.
Here is another side-by-side comparison of material from Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1&2 Peter and New Bible Commentary. This image contains different material from what I posted earlier this week.
See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)
Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)
More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)

Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience

Just a few minutes ago, in a stunning about face, Janet Mefferd disclosed that she removed from her website the interview with Mark Driscoll that prompted charges of plagiarism. She also removed all of the visual evidence of plagiarism and apologized to her audience for her conduct during the interview. Saying she should have gone to Tyndale House first, she expressed regret that the matter had become a controversy among Christians.
For most of the morning, observers on social media had noted that her blog was down and her twitter feed had been purged of references to the controversy.
In her brief announcement, Mefferd did not indicate what triggered the change of mind.
It strikes me that the horse is already out of the barn on this.
Ironically, her 4pm guest is slated to discuss Christian celebrity culture.
Ms. Mefferd’s full statement as heard on her December 4 broadcast (2nd hour from 5:29-6:28) is as follows:

Before we go to break, I just want to say something really, really quickly to you. A few weeks ago, as many people know, I conducted an interview with pastor Mark Driscoll. And I received lots of feedback on that interview, both positive and negative, but I feel now that in retrospect, I should have conducted myself in a better way. I now realize the interview should not have occurred at all. I should have contacted Tyndale House directly to alert them to the plagiarism issue. And I never should have brought it to the attention of listeners publicly. So I would like to apologize to all of you and to Mark Driscoll for how I behaved. I am sorry.
Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate that the story would go viral online the way it did and creating such dissension with the Christian community was never my aim. And so in an effort to right things as best as I can, I have now removed all of the materials related to the interview off my website, and also off my social media.

See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)
More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)

Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post

First, let me thank Mark Driscoll for his help writing this blog post and give him full credit for inspiring the title.
With all of the allegations of plagiarism and controversy swirling around Mark Driscoll on social media, it is nice that Driscoll can take time to teach us all how to write better blog posts.
I am referring to his article yesterday titled “6 Simple Ways To Write Better Blog Posts.” You’ll have to read it to understand why my title was inspired by Driscoll. I want to give credit where credit is due.
(Did my lead get your attention? See point #3 – “Grab attention with your lead”)
On the same day Janet Mefferd revealed two more books by Driscoll which appear to include content without credit to the original author, Driscoll offers bloggers advice on how to get their message out. Since I am a blogger and I want to write better blog posts, I thought I should check it out.
Have A Tasty Bite Of Blog
After a juicy title, Driscoll suggests that bloggers write in “bite-sized chunks.” Ok, good thought.
I have to say that I lolled (laughed out loud) when I saw Driscoll’s blog post. Even if adventitious, the article still comes across as a clever rejoinder to the controversy over plagiarism, in an in-your-face sort of way. In the post, he touts his writing background and education at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. His reference to his education made me wonder if WSU had any guidelines about citation of sources. And you know, they do. Intentional plagiarism is described as:

  • copying entire documents and presenting them as your own;
  • cutting and pasting from the work of others without properly citing the authors;
  • stringing together the quotes and ideas of others without connecting their work to your own original work;
  • asserting ideas without acknowledging their sources, reproducing sentences written verbatim by others without properly quoting and attributing the work to them;
  • making only minor changes to the words or phrasing of another’s work, without properly citing the authors.

According to the university website, one may also engage in “accidental appropriation of the ideas and materials of others due to a lack of understanding of the conventions of citation and documentation.”  Let’s review. Driscoll included entire passages from the New Bible Commentary in his book on 1 & 2 Peter without citation (see point #6, Show and Tell below). There are uses of other author’s ideas without proper citation which have surfaced. By the standards of his own school, the situation doesn’t look so good.
Social Media Calls People To Action!
In his blog post, Driscoll suggests using social media to get the post exposure (ok, will do) and to call people to action. I am struggling with the call to action. On social media, many have called on Driscoll to acknowledge the issues and correct them. That sounds like a good call to action.
Show and Tell Shows and Tells
And then finally, Driscoll suggests using pictures to get across the message. Here’s one with a side by side comparison of the New Bible Commentary and Driscoll’s book on 1 & 2 Peter.

As Rev. Driscoll says, “You cannot just tell; you have to show whenever you can.”*
*From Driscoll, M. (2013, December 2). 6 Simple Ways To Write Better Blog Posts. The Resurgence.com.
See also:
On The Allegations of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)

On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (UPDATED)

As first reported by Religion News Service, Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll was accused of plagiarism by Janet Mefferd during a November 21 interview with Driscoll about his new book A Call to Resurgence. Originally, the charges related to the new book and material from the work of Peter Jones. Then several days later Mefferd produced more material from another Driscoll book which added to her claims.
Since then, professor Colin Garbarino weighed in at First Things by flunking Driscoll on grounds of plagiarism. For his part, Driscoll has yet to respond to the newest claims. Some have come to his defense. Fellow Patheos blogger, Christian Piatt, likened the response of critics to a “witch hunt” and says Driscoll “deserves better.”
My interest in this has nothing to do with the people involved. In my recollection, I have never heard Driscoll speak and haven’t, until now, read anything he has written. Mefferd has favorably interviewed some people I have criticized on this blog and so my opinions here are not influenced by any desire to defend her against Driscoll’s advocates. When I heard about the claims, I became curious and wanted to check them out for myself.
After looking into it, I think Mr. Driscoll has some explaining to do. Mefferd put together two pdf files of material which I examined. The material which triggered the original allegations is, to me, less convincing than the material she then located. In the case of Peter Jones and Driscoll’s new book, I believe Driscoll should have cited Jones more than he did. He should have made it clearer that his use of terms was derived from Jones as the source. However, the second wave of claims raise more direct concerns of using material, word-for-word, without citation. You can see Mefferd’s evidence here (A Call to Resurgence and one section of Trial) and here (another section from Trial).
To help compare one of the passages from Trial: 8 Witness from 1 & 2 Peter, I have reproduced the relevant section of New Bible Commentary on I Peter from Mefferd’s materials. Then I looked up the web copy of Trial on Driscoll’s website. The side by side comparison is below. The bold print highlights the words that have been changed or altered in some manner from the original.

This is clearly a problem. While I might not immediately fail a student who turned in such work, I would have a conference to determine what happened. I can imagine how a student might inadvertently leave out the source or reference. Some beginning students don’t know that quotes are to be set off in some manner to signal that the material is being lifted directly from the source. I like to measure twice and cut once, so I would check out the situation. However, in academic work, this is a serious problem and should be treated as such.
Given his many books, it seems unlikely that Driscoll is unaware of the rules regarding citations so the burden is on him to offer an explanation for how this passage (and others – see Mefferd’s sources) from the New Bible Commentary appears in his book without citation. It seems clear that he or someone interacted with the material since a few words have been changed. Perhaps he used a ghostwriter or research assistant and simply left that person’s work in the book as his own. Even if this is true, he is still responsible for the work and appropriate acknowledgement and repairs should be made.
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 (I have some experience with this). At the same time, if Driscoll addresses the legitimate concerns and questions properly, then the situation can probably be repaired in a manner that honors his Christian faith.
UPDATE: Mefferd says she has more evidence of plagiarism which she will disclose on her program this afternoon. They are now on her blog. The first claim relates to copying the terms “good girl,” “tough girl,” and “party girl” without citation in his book Real Marriage from Dan Allender’s book The Wounded Heart. Driscoll also uses these terms with similar descriptions in his book Death by LoveThe second concern relates to Driscoll’s book Who Do You Think You Are? in comparison to a blog post by Ron Edmondson on forgiveness. These instances are not as blatant as the material first published in the New Bible Commentary, but they do raise important questions about the lack of citation. In the Death by Love book, Driscoll cites unnamed “experts” as the source but does not name Allender. He should have.
It is certainly possible that Driscoll heard the Allender terms at a workshop or from a friend and did not know who used them first. The issue may be sloppiness.  However, in my view, these new concerns are not frivolous and should be taken seriously.
See also:
More allegations of plagiarism surface against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)
 

Janet Mefferd: David Barton Has Too Much Baggage On Historian Credentials To Run For Senate

Janet Mefferd is a conservative radio talk show host who believes Texas Senator John Cornyn needs an opponent in the upcoming GOP primary. However, despite the buzz building to draft David Barton, she doesn’t think he is the guy for the job. On her Facebook page, Mefferd declared:

I heartily agree that Texas Sen. John Cornyn needs to be primaried, but not by David Barton. He has way too much baggage on his “historian” credentials.

She then links to MSNBC’s article on the subject (which in turn links to a review of Getting Jefferson Right).
One of her readers then takes her to task for referring to MSNBC, as if left leaning folks are Barton’s only critics. Mefferd could have (and could still) link to Gregg Frazier’s World magazine piece on Barton’s view of Jefferson’s religion.