Becky Garrison: Mark Driscoll’s Revisionist History

The following is a guest post by Becky Garrison. Garrison is the author of seven books, including Roger Williams’ Little Book of Virtues, and Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church. She has contributed to a range of outlets including The GuardianReligion DispatchesKilling the Buddha, and The Humanist.
Mark Driscoll’s Revisionist History
by Becky Garrison
Who founded Mars Hill Church? Seems like a simple question and one which Mark Driscoll should be able to answer. However, recently, it appears that Driscoll has crafted a narrative which eliminates at least two early figures from view. In his current sermon campaign titled “James: Jesus’ Bold Little Brother” (January 16, 2014), Driscoll used the illustration of the Apostle Paul submitting to the authority of James, Peter and John to exemplify Driscoll’s role in founding MHC:

When I felt called to plant, I went through a full assessment. Pastors oversaw me, a team interviewed me, a church sent me. An overseer had authority over me.

To Christianity Today in January, Driscoll said he planted Mars Hill and that he was the only pastor until there was 800 people in the church. Nowhere in these retellings does Driscoll reference the late Rev. Ken Hutcherson who pastored Antioch Church, the entity largely responsible for shepherding Mars Hill Church into existence. Also, by presenting himself as the founder of Mars Hill Church, Driscoll fails to mention Lief Moi or Mike Gunn, who were the other two co-founders of Mars Hill. These names have all but disappeared from Mars Hill’s website. Christian publishers continue to play into Driscoll’s myth-making by allowing Driscoll’s bio to now list him as the sole founder of Mars Hill Church (e.g., his bio at Harper Collins Christian).
This is not the first instance where Driscoll presented a revisionist history. The author of the Wenatchee the Hatchet blog points out how Driscoll incorrectly takes credit for founding The Paradox Theatre, an all-ages club in Seattle. On her blog, Wendy Alsup along with her husband cite numerous examples in Real Marriage where Driscoll presented a detailed history of his wife’s sexual sins while obscuring his own sexual history.
More recently, during the Malachi sermon series which ended on January 5, 2014, Driscoll claimed there was no children’s ministry when he started Mars Hill Church 17 years ago because they had no children present. This contradicts earlier commentary in his book Confessions of a Reformission Rev (Zondervan, 2006) were Driscoll said his co-founders were good fathers, and that the way they parented their children was a reason why he shared the idea of planting Mars Hill Church with them (page 54).
Also, as Mars Hill Church grew from a home church to a megachurch model with multiple campuses, their governance structure moved from Alexander Strauch’s model presented in Biblical Eldership (Lewis and Roth Publishers, 1995) that advocates for a plurality of shared leadership to Driscoll’s current  “prophet, priest and king” model. Executive elders Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas assume these respective roles as though by divine appointment. Executive Pastor Turner expounds on Driscoll’s metaphor of kingly gifts in Invest (Resurgence Publishing, 2013), Turner’s first book written to aid other executive pastors serving as administrators of megachurches. Nowhere in this conversation will one find references to the work of theologians John Frame or Cornelius Van Til, the men scholars credit with what is called “Tri-perspectivalism”, which in theory is a way of analyzing the effectiveness of church ministry in comparison to the attributes of “prophet, priest, and, king” embodied in Jesus Christ. Although using some of the same words and comparisons, a reader of Driscoll’s and Mars Hill’s materials would never get the idea that the terminology is not originally Driscoll’s. Nevertheless, his application is a deviation from and an extreme application of Frame’s theories.
Driscoll’s problems with rewriting have become well known. As documented in earlier postings, Driscoll’s books contain numerous acts of plagiarism and other citation errors. At Patheos, Warren Throckmorton provides a chart highlighting all instances of Driscolls’ use others’ work without proper attribution that has been documented so far.
According to an email statement issued by Harper Collins Christian, the parent company of Thomas Nelson, “We are aware of the issues that have been raised about Mark and Grace Driscoll’s Real Marriage, and we are working with the authors to address them as efficiently and effectively as possible in all formats.” However, they refuse to discuss what steps, if any, they will take to compensate those authors whose work was used without their permission or even proper sourcing. Nav Press will not comment publicly about this issue any further while Crossway has yet to respond to email inquiries.
The Shrinking Best Seller
The one event scheduled in 2014 to promote Real Marriage, a #1 New York Times bestselling book for one week, generated almost no publicity outside of the Mars Hill Church PR machine. But not even their Valentine’s Day giveaway seemed to generate any significant social media buzz.
Despite over 12,000 average attendance at Mars Hill churches, the February 21-22 event to promote Real Marriage (which drew an overflow crowd of  2,000 people to the live event), only saw 180 individuals, groups and churches tap in nationwide through the simulcast, according to The Hub Bible Study Solutions, the group who hosted the event. At a cost of $40 for an individual ticket and reasonably priced simulcast fees, this conference is easily within many people’s budgets. So ticket prices did not appear to be a consideration in keeping people from coming to this event.
Along those lines, there’s been no response from Harper Collins Christian (was Thomas Nelson) regarding why they are no longer promoting one of their bestselling authors. Perhaps their time is being taken up having to revise the revisions.

Seattle Times Reports on the Troubles of Mark Driscoll's Doctor John Catanzaro

Seattle Times health reporter Carol Ostrom filed a report today regarding suspended Seattle naturopath John Catanzaro. Regular readers here will recognize similar themes in this report but see some important new information as well.
The article leads with his suspension and notes that he has until March 14th to appeal. Originally, Catanzaro had 20 days to appeal but he filed a motion for an extension of time to prepare his appeal which was granted by a Seattle judge last week. According to Department of Health spokeswoman, Kelly Stowe, Catanzaro is not supposed to engage in the practice of naturopathic medicine while his license is suspended. However, according to his website, he appears to be continuing his practice.
The article also confirmed the reporting here and at Wartburg Watch that Catanzaro once claimed a relationship with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but in fact, has no relationship with the clinic and that DFCI has asked Catanzaro to stop using the name in his materials.
According to Ostrom’s reporting, Mark Driscoll praised Catanzaro’s treatments which led to others in the church to seek out his services. Some former MHC members have related to me that Driscoll has stated publicly that the IV vitamin treatments cost over $1,000 each.
The Times article also delves into Catanzaro’s fundraising methods a bit. As the Times notes, patients have set up accounts to solicit funds for their individual care. While this is permitted, the donations may not be tax deductible as IRS rules (see page 6) appear to disallow donations which are earmarked for one person’s care.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute Issues Warning To John Catanzaro

As is also being reported at Wartburg Watch, Dana Farber Cancer Institute issued a strong warning regarding Seattle naturopath John Catanzaro.

Warren and Dee:
We have investigated the matter and taken steps to request that Dr. Catanzaro cease all unauthorized use of our name.
Sincerely, Teresa Herbert
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Communications Department

Previously, DFCI disclosed that oncologist Ken Anderson was not collaborating with Catanzaro to develop cancer vaccines.
There are other open questions that I hope DFCI will address next week but for now, this seems to be an indication that claims such as made on the HWIFC website will need to be removed:

We are developing individual treatment strategies that will enhance each patient’s ability to fight and win the cancer battle; effectively blending medical science and integrative treatment to reach the cure. To accomplish this we are collaborating with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard as well as University of Washington in the development of personalized cancer defense vaccines.

Catanzaro’s Linked In page has been changed to remove reference to DFCI but this reference remains.
The folks behind Wartburg Watch have reported that they have been threatened since writing about Mr. Catanzaro’s cancer operation. I have as well. I do think Mr. Catanzaro should publicly condemn threats made with regard to coverage of his situation. I have emailed him and asked him several questions with no response.
I have also asked Mars Hill Church what prompted them to remove John Catanzaro’s articles from the Resurgence website with no reply.
Catanzaro is medical director of the HWIFC Cancer Research Group.  It is in this setting that the State of Washington’s naturopath board found the unauthorized use of cancer vaccines. The research group is registered with the IRS as a non-profit. You can review the 2011 990 form here. The form does not indicate that Catanzaro is medical director but it does show a substantial transaction of just over $344,000 between the non-profit and Catanzaro’s naturopath business.
Regarding the State of Washington complaint against Catanzaro, it appears that the board of naturopathy has already interviewed Catanzaro who, according to the board, was unable to verify Institutional Review Board approval or a Federalwide Assurance number. It is important to note that former patients brought the complaints which were then investigated by fellow naturopaths.
Prior posts on this topic:
Claims Of Resurgence Ex-Author And Naturopath Questioned By Esteemed Cancer Institute
John Catanzaro Speaks Out About His Cancer Vaccines; Mars Hill Church Is Silent
Naturopathic Doctor Touted By Mark Driscoll Suspended Over Experimental Cancer Vaccine

Dreamweaver: The Visions of Mark Driscoll

Although cooling off some, the controversy surrounding Mark Driscoll’s publications is not over. Over the last 10 days, two more publishers disclosed that reviews of Driscoll’s books are in progress. I’ll have more to say about another Driscoll book soon.
Late last week, Driscoll was briefly in the news for another reason. The New York Times ran a story identifying him as one of a new breed of megachurch leaders who embrace the teachings of John Calvin.  While I understand that Driscoll’s teachings on redemption appear to be consistent with Calvinist doctrine, I was surprised to see him in the list of exemplars for two reasons. One, the Gospel Coalition seemed to declare him to be outside their camp via Jared Wilson’s December call to repentance. And two, Driscoll’s teaching on demons and spiritual gifts seems outside the Calvinism mainstream (and as I will show below, his stories don’t always match up).  I think he could be called a Calvismatic.
I should mention that I don’t consider myself a student of religious movements and don’t know that much about who is on what Christian team. I am not making a scholarly statement here. Rather, as an evangelical for just over 40 years, I speak from my experience with those who proudly wear the label Calvinist. I can’t think of anyone, other than Driscoll, that embraces both Calvinism and what appear to me to be apostolic spiritual warfare teachings at the same time. There may be many, but in my narrow experience, I can’t think of others. I feel sure my readers will educate me if I am incorrect.
With that said, I will introduce a video that really bothered me when I first saw it last week. Still bothers me. This is Driscoll teaching on spiritual warfare (you can review the transcript at this link):
This video was posted to You Tube by Phillip Johnson in August, 2011. The teaching was originally recorded at Mars Hill in early 2008 as a part of a series on spiritual warfare and as far as I can tell first discussed critically at Here I Blog on August 4, 2011.
In the video, Driscoll says he tells people that they have been abused. The people may have no memory of any such event but Driscoll says he can see it happening. Furthermore, he says that, at times, he sees the sins, specifically sins involving sex and aggression, of his congregation and others who cross his path. In this clip and elsewhere, Driscoll doesn’t claim to always be correct but is clear about his belief that his visions are from God and therefore true.  He said he sees the actual acts of others as if on a screen in front of him that others can’t see.
On many levels, I find this problematic and more troubling than the plagiarism controversy. The potential for error, trauma and false reports of assault is great. He even tells his audience that some of them can do the same things he can do. As a psychology prof, I cringe at this video as well as the other similar material I have found on the Mars Hill website.
In my experience, intuitive people do seem to have insight into feelings of others. However, when making interpretations, they respond to non-verbal cues and make inferences from little bits of material presented by clients. It is a natural process, even if not well understood. When pressed, intuitive therapists can tell you what they saw and heard which led to amazing guesses about the actions and feelings of another person. Such experiences happen with Christians and non-Christians alike; one does not need to invoke angels or demons as explanation.
The skeptic in me really wants to meet some of the people Driscoll describes.  In his sermons, there are several other illustrations of what Driscoll sometimes calls the gift of discernment, sometimes the gift of prophetic dreams. In November 2013, the blogger Wenatchee the Hatchet described two of Driscoll’s prophetic dreams,  both involving worship leaders at Mars Hill. The post raises questions about how both dreams could be true.
Sometimes the accounts differ significantly. For instance, in 2005, Driscoll said that in the early days of Mars Hill, an Asian family drove all night to visit Mars Hill Church because God told them to ask Driscoll what they should do about their current church. Here is the account from the 2005 sermon:

I had one occasion where I actually did interpret a guy’s dream. It was the strangest dream. It was at the old building. We had six services, and I was between services. And this guy drove – he came into the church. And he was an Asian guy from Canada. He had his wife and a few kids. They all looked very, very tired. He came up to me. He said, “I really need to meet with you right now.” I said, “Man, I just preached three. I gotta get a bite to eat. I gotta preach three more. I really can’t leave right now.” He said, “No, we just drove all the way from northern Canada. We haven’t slept all night.” Apparently God’s not in Canada. God has to come down.
So, I tell this guy. I’m like, “All right, cool. We’ll do that. Now tell me your story.” So, he tells me his dream. And his wife’s literally falling asleep. His kids are exhausted. They’ve been up all night driving. It was the weirdest thing cause I don’t know how or why. I just told him. “Well, here’s what it means, and here’s what God’s gonna do. And you need to quit working at this church. God’s gonna have you hired at this church. And these people are hard hearted. And God doesn’t want you to serve them anymore because he’s gonna judge them, but he wants to take care of you and your family. So he wants to move you on before he judges.”
And I just talked for about 10, 15 minutes. And he’s like, “How do you know that?” I was like, “I have no idea.” I never met this guy. I don’t know this guy. I don’t know anything about him. And he says, “Well, then that’s the interpretation.” His wife gave me a big hug. She’s crying. She says, “You know, that’s what we needed to hear.” They get in the car and leave. They go back to Canada. I never heard from them again.

In a 2006 sermon, Driscoll tells the story again, but this time he knows how things turned out.

I had another one, when we were over at the old building. The church was just starting to grow. We had a couple services and I remember I did one of the morning services and I was getting ready to do the other one and this Asian family walks in and they all look exhausted and they’re all tired and the kids are kinda falling asleep on mom and she looks tired and dad’s there and he says, “I – we need to meet with you right now.” I said, “I can’t meet right now, dude. I just got done with one service. I’m doing another service. I don’t do meetings right now. I just got, like, a little bit of time between the services.” He says, “God told us to come to you. We need the word from a prophet.” I was like, “Well, if you find one, you know, tell him I said ‘Hi!’ and send him over. I got stuff I wanna ask him, too. I don’t got anything for you, man. I’m not the prophet.” He says, “No, God said you’re the prophet and you have the word for us.” I said, “Well, where are you from?” He said, “We drove all night from Canada.” Apparently there are no prophets in Canada, so they had to come down. I said, “Okay.” I said, “You drove all night?” He said, “We drove all night,” from somewhere up in central Canada. I said, “Okay, so that explains why you all look so tired. You’ve been in the car all night.” So I didn’t know anything about this guy. I said, “Well, I’ll meet with you for a few minutes, pray for you. I mean, least I could do, you drove all night with your family.
Sat them on the couch. Prayed. Looked at them. Then went off on this whole rant. I said, “Look, the church you’re in is a Godless church. They have a hard heart. Some of the leaders have hidden, unconfessed, unrepentant sin. They are just not participating with God. God needs to judge those leaders, remove them, cleanse and purify the church, then if they are repentant, he will grow it. If not, he will shut it down. You’re in the same situation as Revelation 2 and 3. You, however, keep holding on to the church, trying to salvage it and save it and make it work because you’re being proud and you think that it’s a reflection of you. It’s not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of Jesus. You need to get out of the way. Quit your job. Jesus has another job for you at this other church. You take that job. He’ll bless you there. Get out of the way. Let him deal with this church. That’s what his word is to you. You’re a pastor, right?” I mean, I didn’t know. I gave him this whole thing and I’m like, “Are you a pastor?” He’s like, “Yeah.” I was like, “Then that’s what it is.” So – and he gives me a big hug. He says, “Okay. That’s what we’ve been wrestling with. We didn’t – I want to leave but I didn’t know if it was me or the Lord that was moving me on and I needed confirmation.” His wife’s crying. Gives me a big hug. She says, “In my heart, I knew that’s what God had for us, but I didn’t wanna tell my husband because I wanted him to hear from God. Thank you so much.” I pray for them.
They go home and I see them a few years later at a conference. He said, “Everything happened just like you said. I’m at the other church. We’re happy. It’s growing. God’s blessing it. Massive sin came out in the leadership of the other church. They now are in the process of either repenting or not and the church is gonna live or die. It’s teetering on the edge, just like you said.” I’m like, “Okey dokie. Okay.” You know, I don’t understand this all the time.

In the first account, the man has a dream which Driscoll interprets. In second, Driscoll doesn’t mention the dream but instead provides a prophetic word. More significantly, in the first account, Driscoll says he never heard from them again. In the second, he says he saw them “a few years later” and got confirmation that his prophecy was correct. Which account is true?
Perhaps there is an innocent explanation for the differences. Perhaps, Driscoll’s memory failed him in 2005 but he remembered more of the details when he retold the story the second time. It seems unlikely that one would forget such a thing but I can’t take any position on motive or accuracy. However, I can point out that memory is subject to bias and misinformation and Driscoll’s differing stories provides a caution about relying on the dreams and visions of others. How does one know when he is getting it right or not?
During the controversy over repressed memories during the 1990s, many therapists told clients that the depression, anxiety or other symptoms were probably related to and could be explained by experiences of child abuse. Even though clients had no memory of such events, therapists pressed on confidently with the narrative. Some clients “remembered” horrible abuse and some had great confidence in their “memories.” Some, like the woman in the video below, lost families over faulty narratives derived from a therapist’s efforts to read their minds.
Even though bloggers and others have raised these concerns previously, I can’t see where they were ever addressed by Driscoll or Mars Hill Church. The sermon material remains live on the Mars Hill website so it seems fair to believe Driscoll and the church still approves it. It is hard for me to see how this teaching can be considered mainstream.
For all posts on Driscoll and Mars Hill, click here.

More IVP Reference Material Shows Up Without Citation in a Book by Mark Driscoll

Last week, I noted that a study guide on 1 & 2 Peter with Mark Driscoll’s name on it as the author improperly copied material from a publication by InterVarsity Press (see IVP’s statement to Christianity Today). Driscoll (or someone) took the material from a report by the Docent Group. The Docent researcher provided footnotes and references but these were not carried over into the study guide titled Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter. See here and here for more on that matter.
Now, I have found a similar pattern within Driscoll’s recent book, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. Prior to the publication of the Ephesians book, Docent Research Group produced a 290 page research report for Mars Hill Church which contains a “best hits” of materials relating to the New Testament book of Ephesians. Many sources are cited verbatim with footnotes and reference material provided, although as I point out, some of the sections are quite lengthy. I have found several sections in Driscoll’s book which borrow directly from the research report. Although I have not done a complete analysis, I can report that the same problems acknowledged by Mars Hill regarding the 1 & 2 Peter book show up in this book as well. Below are just two examples.
First, note in the left column a section from 1993 InterVarsity Press reference book, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. The material in the red box shows up first in the Docent Research report and then is reproduced without citation in Driscoll’s book (on right) via a sentence in the body of the book and then in a footnote. The flow of ideas is similar and then beginning with “Egyptian colonists,” the material is essentially the same as in the Dictionary. The footnote does not cite the IVP reference book.

Below is another instance from earlier in the Dictionary entry on Ephesus. In this case, the verbatim uses are spread throughout the section of Driscoll’s book (see the image below). As in the 1 & 2 Peter book, a citation used by the original source author (Strabo) is used as a footnote in Driscoll’s book but without mentioning where he found Strabo (the Dictionary). 

Also of concern is the fact that much of the entries for Ephesians and the city of Ephesus from the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters is reproduced verbatim in the research report from the Docent Research Group. For instance, pages 249-250 of the Dictionary are copied verbatim directly into the Docent report.

Given that this was apparently intended to be a private report for Driscoll’s use, one might wonder why the wholesale copying is of concern. One reason is that Mars Hill Church sent this report to churches free of charge if the church signed up to be in a Mars Hill campaign promoting the Ephesians series and the book Who Do You Think You Are? The general guideline for fair use (using copyrighted materials without permission but with citation) is about 500 words. The portion of the entry on the city of Ephesus from IVP’s Dictionary is over 1700 words and that is not all of the Dictionary that was copied (substantial portions of the Dictionary entry on the book of Ephesians was also copied into the research report and then used in Driscoll’s book). While I can understand that Mars Hill would want to share the research, I question the distribution of that much of IVP’s reference book without permission (none was noted).

Although Mars Hill and Driscoll clearly sing the praises of Docent, there is no mention of Docent research in the acknowledgment section of the book.

In a related development, Jared Wilson at the Gospel Coalition issued a public call for Rev. Driscoll to account for issues raised by recent controversies, including the one surrounding allegations of plagiarism.

Stay tuned…

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 (UPDATED) (12/10/13)
Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Battle Plan Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter (12/10/13)
Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Document Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter, Part Two (12/12/13)
Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the Case of the Disappearing Links (12/16/13)
Mark Driscoll’s Death By Love And Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart: Is This Plagiarism? (12/17/13)
See all other posts on this topic here.

Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the Case of the Disappearing Links

Mysterious. I post links to pages on Mars Hill Church’s websites and then they disappear. Where is Chief Inspector Clouseau when you need him?
I posted a link to Mars Hill’s battle plan for their series on 1 & 2 Peter and it disappeared. Then it returned for a few hours only to disappear again.  This document (which you can read here) contained the Docent research report used by someone at Mars Hill to construct the study guide on 1 & 2 Peter which contains copied material from the New Bible Commentary. Mark Driscoll’s name is listed as the author but much of the guide was taken from the Docent research report. The entire story is here and here.
Mars Hill acknowledged “citation errors” in a statement on their website but then changed the statement within hours of my post on the subject. The initial statement said the book on 1 & 2 Peter had never been sold. However, Logos Research Systems was selling it at the time and Mars Hill had sold the book when the series was taking place. Now those web pages (Mars Hill) are gone (Logos). Click these live links to see the Logos page and part of the Mars Hill page. The altered statement removed the phrase which claimed the book had never been sold. Those running websites at MHC not only removed the claim but the evidence for the original claim.
In addition to these missing links, Religion News Service posted a link to the MHC website which is now gone. Jonathan Merritt’s article on the MHC statement regarding “citation errors” provided a link to a MHC page where Mark Driscoll praised Docent Research and Justin Holcomb. Now that page is gone. For now, the Google cache tells the tale as does the Wayback Machine.
It appears that MHC would like to scrub information about the book on 1 & 2 Peter. This seems like an odd response to the set of facts that have been assembled and only serves to make it appear that there must be fire in the vicinity of the smoke.
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 (UPDATED) (12/10/13)
Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Battle Plan Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter (12/10/13)
Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Document Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter, Part Two (12/12/13)
See all posts on this topic here.

Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Document Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter, Part Two

On Tuesday, I discussed a document found on The Resurgence website which contained the research notes behind Mark Driscoll’s book on the apostle Peter. That document was missing for awhile but now has been returned to the website (seems to be gone from the website again, here it is). In that post, I examined paragraphs from the NBC, Driscoll’s book and Justin Holcomb’s research notes. In this post, I want to review three additional paragraphs in a similar manner. From both of these efforts, it appears to me that Holcomb’s work was adequately documented. One problem I found was that one of the endnotes cited the wrong source which is an easy mistake to make. However, it seems clear to me from the use of quotes and citations that Holcomb was not presenting the information as his own work.
Furthermore, it appears to me that Rev. Driscoll (or someone on his behalf) took Dr. Holcomb’s research notes and included them nearly verbatim into Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter. As a result, the material originally from the New Bible Commentaryas stated by Intervarsity Press — “improperly appeared without quotation or attribution” in Driscoll’s finished product. As I see it, the material may have ended up in the Driscoll book via mistake by Driscoll or his staff. However, if I am accurate in my analysis, another question arises: Was is proper for Driscoll to take material from a research assistant, remove the quotations and citations provided by that research assistant and then portray that work and research as his own work? While I may be wrong in my analysis, until Driscoll explains how the material from Holcomb’s research appeared in his book, one is left to speculate based on the available evidence.
First, examine paragraphs from Holcomb’s notes on page 149:

Where and when was the letter written?
“In 5:13 the writer sends greetings from ‘she who is in Babylon, chosen together with you‘. This seems like a reference to the local church in Babylon, but it is unlikely that Peter would have gone to the former capital of Nebuchadnezzar‘s empire. By Peter‘s time it was a sparsely inhabited ruin (fulfilling Is. 14:23). In Rev. 16:19 and 17:5 ‘Babylon‘ is used as a cryptic name for Rome, and Col. 4:10 and Phm. 24 (most likely written in Rome) show that Mark was there with Paul. In 2 Tim. 4:11, Mark is in Asia Minor, and Paul sends for him to come, most probably to Rome. The fact that neither Peter nor Paul mentions the other in the list of those sending greetings from Rome merely suggests that they were not together at the time of writing their letters. All this points to the theory that Peter was writing from Rome, which is supported by the evidence of Tertullian (Against Heresies, 36) and Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 2.25.8; 2.15.2 and 3.1.2–3).
In view of what was said above about Christians being persecuted, a date in the reign of Nero (AD 54–68) would seem best. Since Peter makes no reference to Paul‘s martyrdom, which is thought to have taken place during the out-burst of persecution in Rome in 64, the letter was probably written before then (see also 2:13). Links with other writings are thought to suggest a date after 60. So far as we can draw any conclusions from the evidence, the letter was probably written c. 63–64.

Note the quotes at the beginning of this section. Immediately below is a screen capture of the beginning (p. 149) and end of the section in question (p. 150) from Holcomb’s research notes. The quotes are enclosed in red.
At the end of the passage, along with the closing of the quote, the superscript “xxi” is provided and leads to this correct reference information:

David Wheaton, ―1 Peter in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, Ed. D. A. Carson, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).

In the book Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter, Driscoll did not use all of what Holcomb provided but did incorporate some of it nearly verbatim. Also, note that the research notes do not paraphrase the Bible commentary but include the passage verbatim within the quotations. At this link you can see the entire section uncut, thus demonstrating that the section was set off by quotes with correct citation to the chapter on Peter in the NBC.
Now compare the passage above with the original chapter in the NBC and as included in the book by Driscoll.

In this section, Driscoll (or someone) removed the quotes from the research notes, changed a few words and included the material in his book without the citation. He did, however, include the references to Against Heresies and Ecclesiastical History as footnotes. The appearance is that Rev. Driscoll consulted those sources directly.
I am not going to speculate much more about what happened. I simply don’t know what was behind the decision to include this material as it is. However, I don’t believe Holcomb as research assistant should be the focus of this matter as was implied in the statement made by Mars Hill Church on their website. The ball is in Driscoll’s court to address the questions about proper use of a research assistants’ work when there is no credit given.
For me, the issue of ghostwriting and use of research assistance is a prime topic we should be talking about. I am with John Piper on this. Putting one’s name on material one did not write is misleading and corrosive to trust among consumers of published materials. It seems to me that the Christian publishing industry, authors, ministers and other stakeholders should engage in reflection about this practice. One good thing that I hope emerges from this controversy is a new standard that discourages ghostwriting and provides guidelines for the proper and honest attribution of authorship.
Another issue of concern relates to the statement from Mars Hill Church about “citation errors” in the book on 1 & 2 Peter. Their altered statement (you can read the original and altered statements here) suggests that the problems with the book on Peter were due to a “team of people, including a research assistant.” However, now it appears from this information on their own website that the issue was not the Docent researcher but whoever took the researcher’s work and put Mark Driscoll’s name on it.

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)

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:


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)