What is the Best Season for The Problem with Christianity?

About Mark Driscoll’s The Problem with Christianity, Tyndale House said Tuesday:

Finally, while we did delay the publication date of Mark’s latest book, The Problem with Christianity, as we look for the best season in which to publish it, we have not altered our full intention to release it as a Tyndale title. This is a groundbreaking book that we believe will be greatly beneficial to the Church.

According to a March 2013 internal Mars Hill Church document provided to me, The Problem with Christianity was originally slated to be released in February 2014. Apparently, Valentine’s time is not the “best season.”
According to Driscoll, speaking in the November 1, 2013 Christian Post, the book was moved to the fall of 2014.

I will close out the conference with the findings from a massive research project we have undertaken about the most common objections to Christian faith by the unchurched and de-churched ages 18-44 that is the basis for my next book due out next fall that I am currently writing as the follow up to A Call To Resurgence. The tentative working title is My Problem With Christianity. This is the biggest research and writing project I’ve ever been a part of and the findings are surprising and enlightening while also discouraging.

Again, apparently the fall of 2014 is not the “best season.”
To the Christian Post, Driscoll mentions research that is to be the basis of the book. That research was conducted in the Spring of 2013. Given that the surveys were about trends among unchurched people, it seems like it would be good to get the research in front of people while it is still current. However, if this fall is not the “best season” then what season would be best? How much longer should Tyndale wait to bring out research done in the spring of 2013?
The book has been removed from Tyndale’s website after being up for weeks.
Maybe spring of 2015 will be the “best season,” two years after the research was conducted. If Tyndale waits much longer, it will be hard to make a case that the book is “groundbreaking.” Some research is timeless or at least has a longer shelf life, however; it is hard to make a case that trends among the unchurched fall into that category. On reflection, Tyndale’s reason for delaying the book doesn’t seem like much of a reason, certainly not a reason for waiting for another season to pass.
 

Tyndale Gives Inaccurate Information, Blames Messenger

UPDATE: The Christian Post has updated their article on Tyndale’s statement regarding Resurgence by adding my statement and Todd Starowitz’s email to me.

Editor’s Note: Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Warren Throckmorton, author of the cited Daily Beast article concerning Mark Driscoll’s business relationship with Tyndale House Publishers, provided the following statement via email to The Christian Post:
“My reporting regarding Tyndale House and Resurgence Publishing was based on information disclosed to me by Todd Starowitz, senior public relations manager at Tyndale. I reported it accurately as Mr. Starowitz now confirms. Tyndale House had ample opportunity to provide additional information last week in response to multiple questions from me but did not choose to do so. I hope Tyndale House will now fully accept the responsibility for providing incorrect information. …”
Throckmorton has published on his Patheos website reproductions of email exchanges between himself and Starowitz. In one email that Throckmorton said he received from Starowitz Tuesday afternoon, and which the Tyndale senior public relations manager confirmed as accurate with CP, he states: “Warren, your quotes of my emails were accurate. With that said my second email said that we did not have anything further scheduled AT THIS TIME. In no way was that to suggest that the relationship had ended. On the first item, I was simply wrong. I didn’t check with the appropriate people. I take full responsibility and the error was mine and mine alone. I also could not respond to your additional queries because I simply did not have the information I needed to respond.”

I am still waiting for the precise statement from Tyndale but according to this report in Christian Retailing, Tyndale is questioning the Daily Beast article.  I will have more to say about this when I see the statement but I stand by my reporting. I have the emails from Tyndale House’s Todd Starowitz. Also, I asked at least twice for clarification about what the publication delay and lack of reprinting meant with no answer from Tyndale.
Here is the statement from Tyndale. However, note the emails from Todd Starowitz below.
From: Todd Starowitz <toddstarowitz@tyndale.com>
Date: Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM
Subject: Re: Mark Driscoll’s next book
To: Warren Throckmorton <warrenthrockmorton@gmail.com>

Warren, we did not print a paperback version. I don’t expect that we will reprint the hardcover.

Todd Starowitz

Senior Public Relations Manager
Tyndale House Publishers

I received this from Todd Starowitz this afternoon:

Warren, your quotes of my emails were accurate. With that said my second email said that we did not have anything further scheduled AT THIS TIME. In no way was that to suggest that the relationship had ended.
On the first item, I was simply wrong. I didn’t check with the appropriate people. I take full responsibility and the error was mine and mine alone.
I also could not respond to your additional queries because I simply did not have the information I needed to respond.
Regards,
Todd Starowitz
Senior Public Relations Manager
Tyndale House Publishers

I appreciate Todd Starowitz being a stand up guy and issuing this statement to me. Now I hope his employer will retract what they had to say about my reporting. There have been some reports from other news sources that did go too far and I can understand Tyndale wanting to make that right.  However, I did not say the relationship had ended. I regret that people got the wrong idea from the article but I can only report what I am told. I think it is surprising that they were so cavalier about their relationship with Driscoll. I note that Tyndale did not apologize to him for giving a writer inaccurate information.
I have some other issues with their statement but I will take those up later.
———————–
 
I am getting word that Tyndale House may have something else to say about their relationship with Resurgence yet today. In the mean time, I want to post the screen cap of Tyndale’s promotional page for My Problem with Christianity before my recent contacts with Tyndale and what it is now.
Then (Google cache May 9):

And now (same URL):

If you go to any other links for My Problem with Christianity, the book is not listed on the Tyndale website.
 

My Article At The Daily Beast: Is there a future or a funeral at Mark Driscoll's Resurgence imprint? UPDATE: Apparently there is a future…

UPDATE: Before you read anything in this post, please go read this post for an update on Tyndale’s defense of Mark Driscoll and the Resurgence imprint.
………………………..
As I report at the Daily Beast this morning, Mark Driscoll’s book The Problem with Christianity no longer has a page dedicated to it at Tyndale House. Furthermore, the publisher has no plans to reprint A Call to Resurgence after less than a year in circulation.
Tyndale declined to say why any of these steps were being taken but they seem remarkable. The Problem with Christianity had multiple products associated with it (DVD, study guide, etc.) and was slated to be released in the Fall. My understanding is that the book is finished and uses social science research which was contracted out to a polling firm. As I noted in the Daily Beast article, the book has been in the planning stages since March 2013.
Before the page was removed at Tyndale, the publisher described the book as follows:

Are Christians Crazy? A seismic shift has occurred across the cultural landscape. In a world where Christian values once formed the moral bedrock of society, Christians are now considered nothing short of crazy. Today, questions about social issues and “intolerant” Christians hog the headlines, portraying people of faith as angry and irrelevant. This cultural shift has touched just about everything—from conversations in coffeehouses to interactions with coworkers. And more often than not, the conversation begins with someone saying, “My problem with Christianity is . . .” Whether it’s the way Christians treat gays and lesbians or the church’s stance against abortion and premarital sex, people these days just don’t have much use for Christianity. In The Problem with Christianity, Pastor Mark Driscoll presents the findings of two groundbreaking surveys about the way Christians are perceived in today’s world. And with his trademark candor, Driscoll offers timely advice about how to respond to critics.

For more, go on over and read the Daily Beast.

No Date Scheduled for Publication of Mark Driscoll's Book "The Problem with Christianity", Is Resurgence On Hold?

UPDATE (6/18): Today, in response to an email inquiry, Todd Starowitz, senior public relations manager for Tyndale House, told me

At this time we do not have a pub date for The Problem with Christianity.

I also asked if any other books were slated to be published by the Resurgence imprint. I already knew Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book was scheduled for this Fall and Starowitz confirmed that her book was coming out in September. However, he also said:

To my knowledge we do not have any additional Resurgence titles that have release dates scheduled at this time.

In early 2013, Resurgence seemed poised to publish several titles with Tyndale House. Now, the flagship author does not have a publication date and no other titles are on the schedule.
———————————–
After Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage shot to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list for self-help books for one week in January of 2012, he secured a publication deal with Tyndale House for his Resurgence imprint. Now we know that Real Marriage was assisted in the climb to #1 status by a contract with Result Source, a firm which pursues bestseller status by gaming system of book sales counting. Driscoll’s next book from Tyndale has the working title, The Problem with Christianity, and was once slated to be published this fall. However, according to Tyndale House, the book will not be published in the fall after all.
In late May, Tyndale sent a tweet in response to my question about the book:


Tyndale House did not reply to a follow up question asking when the book would be published. The book description is still on the Tyndale website:

Are Christians Crazy? A seismic shift has occurred across the cultural landscape. In a world where Christian values once formed the moral bedrock of society, Christians are now considered nothing short of crazy. Today, questions about social issues and “intolerant” Christians hog the headlines, portraying people of faith as angry and irrelevant. This cultural shift has touched just about everything—from conversations in coffeehouses to interactions with coworkers. And more often than not, the conversation begins with someone saying, “My problem with Christianity is . . .” Whether it’s the way Christians treat gays and lesbians or the church’s stance against abortion and premarital sex, people these days just don’t have much use for Christianity. In The Problem with Christianity, Pastor Mark Driscoll presents the findings of two groundbreaking surveys about the way Christians are perceived in today’s world. And with his trademark candor, Driscoll offers timely advice about how to respond to critics.

A companion DVD is also advertised.
Amazon has the release date as January 1, 2015.
My question to Tyndale was “When do you plan to release Mark Driscoll’s new book?” The answer “not this fall as originally scheduled” told me when it wasn’t going to be released but nothing about the planned date. Perhaps the book’s publication is on hold indefinitely.
Also of interest in the aftermath of the Result Source deal is the absence of Driscoll from his agent’s list of clients. As first reported by Wenatchee the Hatchet, Yates and Yates currently does not list Driscoll as a client. I left Yates and Yates a couple of questions on their website which have gone unanswered.

Anti-Plagiarism Campaigner Says Mark Driscoll Did Not Adequately Cite The Work Of Peter Jones

Yesterday, I highlighted the work of the American Copy Editors Society against plagiarism. I learned about their work from Neil Holdway, treasurer of ACES and editor of Chicago area paper Daily Herald (incidentally, where Janet Mefferd once worked. Holdway was her boss there). I asked Holdway about the Mark Driscoll controversy and specifically about the initial allegations of his old colleague regarding Mark Driscoll’s use of Peter Jones’ work. In his response, Holdway took issue with the results of Tyndale House’s investigation, saying

I disagree with Tyndale’s assertion that Peter Jones was adequately cited in the 14 pages called into in question in “A Call To Resurgence.” As written in our task force’s e-book on fighting plagiarism in journalism, “Telling the Truth and Nothing But“:

“We broadened our definition of plagiarism to cover the realm of ideas, encouraging practitioners throughout the industry to more generously and forthrightly cite the seminal, distinctive work of others from whom they draw inspiration in creating their own original works.”

Specifically, Holdway disagrees with the following claim in the Tyndale statement:

Pertaining to his Tyndale book, A Call to Resurgence, Tyndale believes that Mark Driscoll did indeed adequately cite the work of Peter Jones.

On page 320 of A Call To Resurgence, Driscoll includes this footnote:

See, for example, truthexchange.com or Peter Jones, One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference (Escondido, CA: Main Entry Editions, 2010).

According to Holdway, this one citation wasn’t adequate to give credit for the 14 pages of material which relied heavily on Jones’ writing and ideas.
Holdway also addressed Tyndale’s findings regarding Driscoll’s intent by citing the following passage in the ACES ebook:

“An unavoidable complication in any discussion of plagiarism is intent. Was the plagiarism deliberate? Was it inadvertent? Any effort to define journalistic standards must, in our view, consider the recipients of the journalism, not just the producers. Plagiarism harms the creator of the original material, our craft, our industry — but just as crucially, it is a violation of the audience’s trust. Whatever the motivation, the outcome is the same: Everyone suffers.”

Holdway added:

The controversy could have been avoided so easily with more, well-placed, what I would consider proper attribution — saying the outline was “inspired by Peter Jones” or “presented by Peter Jones,” for example, or of course in a footnote as he had done elsewhere. Again, as the e-book on plagiarism says:

“Journalists might understandably start the conversation with a question: How much information — a word, a phrase, a sentence — can be copied without committing plagiarism? That’s the wrong approach. It is more productive to look for reasons to attribute information more often, more clearly, more generously.”

In my opinion, Tyndale’s statement is inadequate in at least three other ways.
The extent of the problem was not addressed adequately by Tyndale or Mark Driscoll. Neither Driscoll nor Tyndale addressed the many other instances of plagiarism and recycling which have come to light. The closest the statement came to such an acknowledgment was a vague reference to a review of other books.
Driscoll did not take direct responsibility for his books (“mistakes were made” – see also). According to the statement still up on the Mars Hill website (click Downloads), responsibility for the “citation errors” in the book on the Apostle Peter was assigned to a research assistant and a team of people. However, Driscoll’s name is on the label as the author. Furthermore the Tyndale statement refers to a review of Driscoll’s books that involve others:

We are also making changes to our content development process to avoid these mistakes in the future. In addition, we are working with all of our past publishers to review other books we have published. If other mistakes were made, we want to correct them as soon as possible.

What is a “content development process?” Is that the same thing as authoring a book? How many people are involved and what are they doing? If anything, this statement leaves unanswered many questions about ghostwriting and authorship by committee.
In my opinion, Tyndale’s investigation should have involved independent scholars/experts. When Jonah Lehrer was being investigated by Wired magazine, an independent scholar reviewed the allegations as well as other columns written by Lehrer. The independent investigation turned up many instances of plagiarism and recycling of previous material. For understandable reasons, Tyndale House had an interest in cleaning up the situation as soon as possible. They have financial interests in A Call to Resurgence and future books by Driscoll. Even with the best of intentions, these factors make objectivity difficult to achieve.
From a public relations standpoint, Tyndale House’s December statement may have helped quell media interest in the story, it did not adequately address the scope of the matter. It seems to me that there are still important questions to explore.
Next week, I intend to provide additional instances of inadequate citation and recycling without disclosure in the Driscolls’ book Real Marriage.
To see the material in A Call To Resurgence compared to Peter Jones’ work, click here.
For all posts on this topic, click here.

Mark Driscoll and Tyndale House Release Statement of Apology to Christian Post

Read the article here.
Driscoll told CP:

“Mistakes were made that I am grieved by and apologize for,” stated the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church pastor. “As a Bible teacher, I know that Jesus loves us and uses everything for good. I know he cares very much that we do things in a way that reflects his glory. As a result, I have been praying that he would help me learn through all of this to become more like him and more effective for him.”

Tyndale House then released a defense of Driscoll which includes an admission by Driscoll that he is responsible for the errors in the Peter study guide. Driscoll also indicated that other books would be reviewed. He could start here.
Here is the full statement:

Tyndale House Publishers Regarding Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Call to Resurgence
Dec 18, 2013

          On November 21, 2013 Pastor Mark Driscoll participated in a radio interview via phone to promote his new book, A Call to Resurgence. The interview was arranged by his book publisher, Tyndale House. During that interview, the talk show host accused Pastor Driscoll of plagiarism in his new book, claiming that he had not properly cited ideas that originally came from Peter Jones, Director of truthXchange and Adjunct Professor at Westminster Seminary in California. In the days following the interview, the talk show host posted on her blog further allegations of plagiarism against Pastor Driscoll, complete with screenshots of other books where she alleged he had committed plagiarism. She later removed all of those posts and issued a public apology.
Since that time, both Mark Driscoll and Tyndale House have been asked to make statements addressing this issue. While Tyndale has made two brief statements, it has spent much of the past three weeks looking carefully into these claims, as has Pastor Driscoll. Tyndale House and Mark Driscoll take any claims of plagiarism seriously. Tyndale does not condone it in any of its works, and if discovered, the company takes action to correct it immediately.  Driscoll has consistently spoken out against plagiarism in his writing and publishing.  If any mistakes are ever made in that regard, he is equally committed to correcting such errors as soon as they are discovered. Pastor Driscoll has fully cooperated with Tyndale and both have worked together to carefully investigate the issue with respect to A Call to Resurgence. 
After taking the necessary and important time needed to investigate all aspects of this issue, Tyndale House Publishers has concluded the following:
1.   Pertaining to his Tyndale book, A Call to Resurgence, Tyndale believes that Mark Driscoll did indeed adequately cite the work of Peter Jones. While there are many nuanced definitions of plagiarism, most definitions agree that plagiarism is a writer’s deliberate use of someone’s words or ideas, and claiming them as their own with no intent to provide credit to the original source. Both Mark Driscoll and Tyndale completely agree that the above definition describes an ethical breach and therefore work hard to provide proper citation and to give credit where credit is due in all their works.  Tyndale rejects the claims that Mark Driscoll tried to take Peter Jones’s ideas and claim them as his own. Moreover, at Pastor Driscoll’s invitation, Peter Jones has written on the Resurgence website, and spoken at a Resurgence event, as well as a Mars Hill workshop. Quite the opposite of trying to take Peter Jones’s ideas, Mark Driscoll has provided several opportunities for Peter Jones to publicly express his ideas to a large audience.
2.   In a separate issue unrelated to any Tyndale title, the radio host also made an allegation with regard to a study guide that was published in-house at Mars Hill. In this instance, Pastor Driscoll agrees that errors were made. He says:
In recent weeks, it was brought to my attention that our 2009 Trial study guide on 1&2 Peter contained passages from an existing work for which no proper citation to the original work was provided. The error was unintentional, but serious nonetheless.  I take responsibility for all of this. In order to make things right, we’ve contacted the publisher of the works used in the study guide, offered an apology, and agreed to work with them to resolve any issues they had. Also, I personally contacted one of the editors of the work that was not rightly attributed. Thankfully, he and I have a longstanding relationship, which includes him teaching at Mars Hill and publishing a book with us through Resurgence. He’s a godly man who has been very gracious through all of this. I am deeply thankful for his acceptance of my apology, as I deeply grieve this mistake with a brother in Christ whom I appreciate very much.
Our Full Council of Elders and Board of Advisors and Accountability have all been thoroughly informed, as I am gladly under authority both internally at Mars Hill to a team of Elders, and to a formal leadership team from outside of Mars Hill.
We’ve removed the free PDF version of Trial from our website, and we are reviewing the rest of our self-published materials to ensure that no similar mistakes have been made elsewhere. We are also making changes to our content development process to avoid these mistakes in the future. In addition, we are working with all of our past publishers to review other books we have published. If other mistakes were made, we want to correct them as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, when we removed the Trial PDF from the Mars Hill website, we replaced it with a statement that claimed the book was never sold. That study guide was originally created for in-house small group use at Mars Hill so we gave it away at our church. We first believed we did not receive any revenue from this, but we later discovered that Trial was in fact previously sold on the Resurgence website and by Logos Software. To the best of our knowledge, total profits to Mars Hill from these sales are $236.35. We have corrected the previous statement on our website, and apologize for this error as well.
Mistakes were made that I am grieved by and apologize for. As a Bible teacher, I know that Jesus loves us and uses everything for good. I know he cares very much that we do things in a way that reflects his glory. As a result, I have been praying that he would help me learn through all of this to become more like him and more effective for him.”
“To his credit, Mark Driscoll has moved quickly to make all necessary changes where mistakes were made in the study guide” said Ron Beers, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher for Tyndale. “Moreover, he has assured us that he has personally spoken with the primary editor of a commentary that was inadvertently used in the study guide without adequate citation, and all parties spoken to have told Pastor Driscoll that they are satisfied with the steps he has taken to correct the errors. Because of the biblical manner in which Pastor Driscoll has handled this situation, Tyndale strongly stands behind him and looks forward to publishing many additional books with him. Tyndale believes that Mark Driscoll has provided a significant call to Christians to unite together in translating the message of Jesus faithfully to a post-Christian culture, to proclaim clearly, loudly, and unashamedly the Good News of Jesus.”

A good beginning but there are other issues which were not addressed by this statement.

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)