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.

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 Alters Statement on Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (UPDATED)

Within hours of my post on Mars Hill Church’s statement about “citation errors” in Mark Driscoll’s book Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, the church altered the statement and removed a web page which offered the book for sale.

The original statement said that the book was never offered for sale. However, the book is currently being offered for sale by Logos Research Systems (now removed, see Google cache) and was at one time offered for sale in bulk by Mars Hill Church.

Here is what the original statement said yesterday:

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

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

The page is on Google cache now and in addition, I have screen caps here and here. It is puzzling to me why the page would be removed at the same time the church quietly removed the inaccurate phrase. In any case, someone at Mars Hill is following the matter and material is being altered.
UPDATE: As noted above, Logos Research Systems has now removed Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter from their product offerings. The Google cache of the page is here and a screen cap is here.
See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)
Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (12/5/13)
Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)
IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors (12/9/13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I noticed later this evening that Mars Hill removed the page advertising the bulk sales. It is on Google cache now and in addition to the image above, I have screen caps here and here.)

Mars Hill’s statement comes as publisher Intervarsity Press weighs in on the sections of their New Bible Commentary which appeared in the Mars Hill study guide without citation. According to IVP, material from the New Bible Commentary “improperly appeared without quotation or attribution” in Mark Driscoll’s book Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter.  In a statement released to Christianity Today this morning, IVP said:

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

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

and

In this second image, one can see that notes 10 and 11 are drawn from the New Bible Commentary text and presented as if Driscoll researched his information from Against Heresies and Ecclesiastical History.

The Mars Hill statement references “a team of people” who put together the study guide (which isn’t available on the church website now). However, Driscoll is clearly listed as the author. Brad House is listed as an author of the section on “community group resources” but Driscoll is the only other author listed. See below:

Thus, a reader would certainly assume Driscoll authored the section in question. If the statement can be taken at face value then it appears that Driscoll took credit for authorship of a book authored by a team of people and a research assistant.

See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)
Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (12/5/13)
Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)

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)