Mars Hill's Sermon Series Battle Plan Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll's Book on Peter

After Mars Hill Church released a statement regarding Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter, questions were raised about the authorship of the guide. In the book, Driscoll is listed as author, along with former Mars Hill staffer Brad House. However, the statement issued by the church says that a “team of people, including a research assistant” were involved.
According to a document (surprise, it is now missing – for the document click here) on the Mars Hill website, The Resurgence, Docent Research Group consultant Justin Holcomb might better get the credit for the sections discussing the background of the books of 1 & 2 Peter. On page 143 (try here because Mars Hill removed the pdf) of the sermon series “battle plan,” this research note appears.

From pages 143-166, Holcomb presents what appears to be the basis for the text of the book that eventually became Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter. Thus, it appears that the original Mars Hill statement is mostly accurate but not revealing. Certain sections of the book are taken directly from this memo from Holcomb to Driscoll.
For instance, the sections which were identified by IVP as having been copied by Driscoll were themselves copied from the notes provided by Holcomb (see page 147 for example). The following information comes from page 147 of the memo from Holcomb to Driscoll:

First, Peter is described in Acts 4:13 as “unschooled”, and the style of Greek in which the letter is written is said to be too good for a Galilean fisherman to have used. Also, quotations are taken from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek rather than the Hebrew version of the OT.
The style is, however, not so ‘educated‘ as some would like to make out and in places it is much more the language of ordinary people. There is evidence that in Peter‘s time Greek, as well as Aramaic, was spoken in Galilee, and as a fisherman living in Capernaum on one of the great trade routes he would have had to speak Greek regularly. The fact that his own brother‘s name, Andrew, is a Greek one suggests that from boyhood Peter would have grown up with this language. Some thirty years‘ work of evangelism and teaching in a church that contained an increasing proportion of Gentiles would have made him more fluent in Greek and prepared to quote the LXX as his Authorized Version‘.

Compare this to the text of Driscoll’s guide and the New Bible Commentary.

It appears the Holcomb borrowed quoted* the material from the New Bible Commentary and then Driscoll changed a few words and included it under his authorship. There are multiple instances of this practice throughout the memo. If one goes to the Docent Group’s website, the first video of endorsement one will see is of Mark Driscoll.
What started in late November with Janet Mefferd’s accusations of plagiarism against Mark Driscoll has morphed into broader concerns over authorship and use of research materials. This finding raises interesting questions about ghostwriting and the use of research in writing for publication. I am not aware of how wide spread this practice is but perhaps this story allows us a view behind a door not often opened.
UPDATE: This document and the Mars Hill statement about the plagiarism controversy make it appear that documentation is pretty lean in the research notes. However, a statement that Glenn Lucke, founder of the Docent Group, made to Andy Crouch at Christianity Today contradicts this impression. According to Crouch, Lucke told him that Docent’s “records show that Holcomb provided Mars Hill all the documentation needed to properly cite the IVP commentary.”
UPDATE (12/11/13) – After reading Lucke’s statement in the Christianity Today article, I went back to review again the material provided by Holcomb and Docent Group. I missed something the first time that I believe is significant. See the note below for an explanation.
*I changed this word from “borrowed” to “quoted” in the section above because there are quotes around the material starting just under the heading Who Wrote 1 Peter? also on page 147. Then the quote closes on page 148 with a footnote. However, the footnote is not to the New Bible Commentary but to a book by Peter Achtemeier. It is possible that the confusion is a matter of a mistake in this footnote which Driscoll just carried over to his book. In any case, with this new information, the focus seems to be more on Driscoll’s adopting this research report as his own work in the Trial book.
Note the quotes (in red circle) which begin this section:

This section runs through the next page until quotes close the passage on page 148. It appears that the researcher including material in quotes with a footnote at the end of the passage. However, the citation was inaccurate, referring to Achtemeier’s book rather then the New Bible Commentary. Quite possibly this was a mistake. However, Driscoll (or someone on his behalf) then took that information, removed the quotes and placed the material in the book on Peter.
In a future post, I intend to compare the other selection from the NBC with the work of the researcher and Driscoll’s book.
Part two of this post is here.
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)
Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)
IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors (12/9/13)
Mars Hill Church Alters Statement on Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy
 

Mars Hill Church Alters Statement on Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (UPDATED)

Within hours of my post on Mars Hill Church’s statement about “citation errors” in Mark Driscoll’s book Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, the church altered the statement and removed a web page which offered the book for sale.
The original statement said that the book was never offered for sale. However, the book is currently being offered for sale by Logos Research Systems (now removed, see Google cache) and was at one time offered for sale in bulk by Mars Hill Church.
Here is what the original statement said yesterday:

Now here is what it says (click Downloads to see statement):

The phrase “and was never sold” has been deleted from the second sentence. As noted, it is being sold now so the deletion makes the paragraph more accurate. However, for some reason, someone deleted the page on The Resurgence website where the book was offered for sale by Mars Hill Church. If you go to the original link now, you get this page:

The page is on Google cache now and in addition, I have screen caps here and here. It is puzzling to me why the page would be removed at the same time the church quietly removed the inaccurate phrase. In any case, someone at Mars Hill is following the matter and material is being altered.
UPDATE: As noted above, Logos Research Systems has now removed Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter from their product offerings. The Google cache of the page is here and a screen cap is here.
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)
Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)
IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors (12/9/13)
 

IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors

On the church website (click Downloads), Mars Hill Church has responded to the controversy over plagiarism. In a statement about the book Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter, Mars Hill blames researcher mistakes:

In 2009, Pastor Mark preached through 1 & 2 Peter in a sermon series called Trial. To help our small groups, a team of people including a research assistant, put together a free study guide that was produced in-house and was never sold. About 5 years later it was brought to our attention that it contained some citation errors. We have discovered that during the editing process, content from other published sources were mistaken for research notes. These sentences were adapted instead of quoted directly. We are grateful this was brought to our attention, and we have removed that document from our website to correct the mistake. Additionally, we are examining all of our similar content as a precautionary measure.

I examine this statement below, but one claim in it appears not to be accurate. The statement says the study guide was never sold. It is being sold presently by Logos Research Systems as a download. Product details are listed as:

  • Title: Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter
  • Authors: Mark Driscoll and Brad House
  • Publisher: Mars Hill Church
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 198

Furthermore, at one point Driscoll’s The Resurgence website advertised printed copies in bulk.

 
(I noticed later this evening that Mars Hill removed the page advertising the bulk sales. It is on Google cache now and in addition to the image above, I have screen caps here and here.)
Mars Hill’s statement comes as publisher Intervarsity Press weighs in on the sections of their New Bible Commentary which appeared in the Mars Hill study guide without citation. According to IVP, material from the New Bible Commentary “improperly appeared without quotation or attribution” in Mark Driscoll’s book Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter.  In a statement released to Christianity Today this morning, IVP said:

Several paragraphs from the New Bible Commentary edited by G. J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson and R. T. France published by InterVarsity Press appear in Mark Driscoll’s now out of print book Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter. These improperly appeared without quotation or attribution. With proper citation the material would have been a case of fair use.
InterVarsity Press believes all writers should use great care as they do research and prepare texts for any use to make sure that proper acknowledgement is given to source material.

One can see the side-by-comparisons of Driscoll’s book with the New Bible Commentary below:

and

In this second image, one can see that notes 10 and 11 are drawn from the New Bible Commentary text and presented as if Driscoll researched his information from Against Heresies and Ecclesiastical History.
The Mars Hill statement references “a team of people” who put together the study guide (which isn’t available on the church website now). However, Driscoll is clearly listed as the author. Brad House is listed as an author of the section on “community group resources” but Driscoll is the only other author listed. See below:

Thus, a reader would certainly assume Driscoll authored the section in question. If the statement can be taken at face value then it appears that Driscoll took credit for authorship of a book authored by a team of people and a research assistant.
 
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)
Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)
 

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)

Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism

Mark Driscoll and his church have spoken out on plagiarism.
On the Mars Hill website on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, the church forcefully addresses plagiarism. Here is what they say:

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 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.

Perhaps you wondered if Driscoll or his church have commented on the current allegations of plagiarism. To my knowledge, he has not addressed the issues raised by the image below:

Compare the Mars Hill description of plagiarism and the manner of use of New Bible Commentary material by Driscoll and draw your own conclusions.
Driscoll reproduced this quote about plagiarism on his Facebook page. (ht: WtH)
Yesterday, Jonathan Merritt posted what as essentially a “no comment” (scroll to the end of the article) from one of the authors of the New Bible Commentary, D.A. Carson.  I suspect there will be few or no comments from anyone involved until Mr. Driscoll addresses the matter.
UPDATE: Janet Mefferd’s blog is no longer showing up on her website. The video of her interview with Driscoll has been removed from YouTube and the photocopies of material she posted on her blog about the allegations is also gone.
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 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)

Weekend Roundup: Mark Driscoll's Plagiarism Woes, Barton And The Homeless Pastor Legend, Neo-Confederate Leader In FL High School, Knockout Game A Myth, Pastor's Housing Disallowed

Mark Driscoll and plagiarism – Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll was accused of plagiarism by Janet Mefferd on her November 21 broadcast. Initially, she questioned Driscoll about using concepts and terms without proper citation. Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Service covered the story the next day. Given the nature of the evidence, I thought the matter might drop at that point. However, Mefferd dug deeper and found instances where it appears Driscoll took passages nearly verbatim from a commentary written by D. A. Carson. Merritt also has that story.
Driscoll has his defenders but he also has some pretty persuasive critics, particularly this professor writing at First Things. I plan to look at this issue in more detail next week, but my initial thought is that the newer charges are more convincing and require some kind of response from Driscoll and his publisher.
David Barton’s Facebook Page – I already posted on this but either due to Thanksgiving or the lack of novelty, David Barton’s reposting of a urban myth as though it was a true story has gone without much comment.  It still remains on his Facebook page, having been shared over 1,000 times, even though many commenters pointed out that the story is false. It is encouraging that some commenters expressed negative reactions. For instance, this one:

I’m surprised to see this known-to-be-false story posted here. It would be one thing to post it for the moral lesson aspect and say so in your comments, but it’s another to pass it along as if it were a true story without any such commentary. If you don’t realize that this story is just social media rumor, then how many other stories have you passed along that were also false? Consider this my goodbye notice.

The response to the allegations against Driscoll remind me a bit of the uproar over Thomas Nelson pulling Barton’s book in August of 2012. Barton’s defenders came out in force to attack those who raised concerns. Some of that has happened already with Meffferd being the focus of attacks from those who support Driscoll.
Michael Peroutka in Spanish River High School – I think this matter may get some attention next week. Michael Peroutka is a board member of the League of the South who spoke at a FL public high school on Tuesday. When his dba name Institute on the Constitution came to a school district in Springboro, OH, there was a major negative reaction among parents. I wonder if the same will occur in Boca Raton.
Is the knockout game a myth? – Alan Noble at Christ and Pop Culture makes a pretty compelling case that the hysteria over an upsurge in racially motivated attacks by black mobs is unwarranted.
In other news, ministers may not be able to take a housing allowance if a new court ruling holds up.