John Piper Calls Out Famous Guys (Like Mark Driscoll) On Ghostwriting

It is getting serious up in here.
Last night on Twitter, John Piper posted a series of tweets apparently in response to an op-ed by Andy Crouch at Christianity Today on the Mark Driscoll plagiarism (now ghostwriting) controversy.  Crouch’s op-ed builds to this crescendo:

The real danger here is not plagiarism—it is idolatry.

I think both are a problem and as it turns out another related problem appears to be ghostwriting.
Piper doesn’t think highly of taking credit for the work of others. To wit:


As Crouch and Piper suggest, this controversy is turning toward ghostwriting and less than honest assignment of credit for scholarly work. In the last tweet posted above, Piper links to an audio where he addresses ghostwriting. In it he says, “I think to put your name on a book you didn’t write is a lie.” Piper leaves no doubt as to his dim view of misrepresenting one’s work to the public.

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)
 

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)

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)

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)