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Publisher: Mark Driscoll Improperly Copied Paragraphs from Bible Commentary

(UPDATED) Mars Hill Church admits 'citation errors' and discreetly takes down study guide.

Update (Dec. 10): The employer of Driscoll's research assistant tells CT's Andy Crouch that its "records show that [he] provided Mars Hill all the documentation needed to properly cite the IVP commentary" (CT paraphrase). Crouch ...

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Displaying 1–33 of 33 comments

David Lloyd-Jones

March 13, 2014  1:28pm

Michael Worrell, You mildly, and with an apparent reasonableness, ask that the parties concerned address the issue, forgive each other, and move on. 1.) I'm not sure what your "each other" is doing in there: it's transgressors who need forgiveness, not their victims. 2.) Do you have any evidence of Driscoll having addressed the several issues here? -dlj.

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James Cowles

December 29, 2013  10:22am

I wonder if the people who are so eager to defend Mark Driscoll would react the same way if their son or daughter were kicked out of their college for, say, plagiarizing a large swath of their master's thesis or doctoral diss. I'd wager the parents would be outraged at their child for disgracing her/himself & squandering the money spent on an advanced degree. Yet when Mark Driscoll does it, he gets a pass or, at worst, a slap on the wrist. It seems that the first sentence of Mark Noll's book "The Scandal of the Evanglical Mind" still holds true roughly 30 years later.

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audrey ruth

December 11, 2013  8:00pm

Wow, Donna, do you think you can read minds too (a la' Mark Driscoll's claim)? FYI, it has not ever occurred to me to "try to force Mark Driscoll out of ministry" (as if I could). For me this was indeed about plagiarism, plus Mark definitely has some wacky and even unBiblical ideas, so maybe he should resign. But that's someone else's call, not mine, to make. There's no need for you to be so defensive for Mark's sake. As Jesus said, the fruit tells the story, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

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Mark Adams

December 11, 2013  10:15am

I think Pop Seal is pretty accurate in his assessment when he states "I wonder if any thought I now think or phrase I utter is original with me". With a Bible Institute degree, a B.S. degree in Bible, a 60 credit Master of Arts in Theological Studies and years of personal study I would be hard pressed to give credit where some of my ideas have come from. I believe that much of the concern when it comes to plagiarism is due to the desire for money by the "original" source rather than a desire for the truth to be proclaimed and souls to be blessed.

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Lois Tamara

December 10, 2013  10:38pm

I'm with Andy Crouch on this one. It's an idolatry problem. We pray in Jesus name, and quote verses with careful attribution, so why take credit for other things that are not ours to claim? For the glory. And the profit. Christian publishers are equally culpable - they know who the real authors are. Why aren't they held to any account for false marketing practices that feed the idolatry of celebrity pastors?

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Pop Seal

December 10, 2013  10:44am

I've read so much and studied for so long, I wonder if any thought I now think or phrase I utter is original with me. I doubt it. Once I had a 'great revelation' about a Bible verse. Later in the day found the exact lines I underlined years before in a commentary on that passage, betraying my pride once again.

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Doug Hanna

December 10, 2013  9:59am

People like to beat up on Driscoll because he used to make a lot of controversial statements. The fact of the matter is two-fold. 1. Pastor Mark is a sinful and fallen human being. Just like you. I am definitely not ready for my ministry to be under as many microscopes as Driscoll's is, and I would wager that you aren't either. 2. Pastor Mark makes a great contribution to the Kingdom. He works hard, loves people, and teaches the Bible. People need to stop discrediting him because they don't like his style.

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Michael Worrell

December 10, 2013  9:21am

Let's keep stirring the pot on this, folks. The last thing we want is for the parties directly involved to address the issue to one another's satisfaction, forgive one another, and move on.

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Alan Davis

December 10, 2013  9:00am

This whole mess is certainly a result of some issues we in our American Christianity have developed on our own. Something that was brought to my attention in the blog-sphere during this current issue is the lack of trust we seem to have for our elders. I know, I know... some of our church elders have given us reason to have a lowered threshold of trust but we still need to risk trusting until all the evidence is in and we see how the elder deals with the situation and then we need only respond as needed dependent on how we in the larger family of Christ are impacted by that elders actions. There is also an issue with making celebrity Christians out of some elders. They seem to gather many followers who never look objectively at their actions and in one way or another 'shout" down any hard questions. These celebrity elders act as if they have no need to ever answer any questions even honest ones. Much to be learned by all.

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December 10, 2013  7:53am

Just wondering about 3 books - Matthew, Mark and Luke. Has anyone resolved all the plagerism there? Give me a break. Ministry is hard enough without Christians beating up on one another. I like what Rick Warren says, first time you use his material say "Rick Warren says..." The 2nd time, "It has been said..." And the third time, "I have always believed..." This isn't exact but it gets the point across. Seems I've read somewhere, that there's nothing new under the sun. Wouldn't our energy be better used building the body and winning the lost and not giving the world ammo to beat on Christians. Plagerism is serious if intentionally stealing material but sometimes material and notes just blend together and you might not even know it. I'm sure there is enough out there that we all need to take the logs out of our own eyes... (best stop there, lest I get accuse of plagerism.

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audrey ruth

December 09, 2013  11:19pm

Much ado about nothing? Only if it can be proven he has not committed plagiarism. This definitely warrants a full investigation. Plagiarism should not be overlooked for anyone, including celebrity pastors. ITA with Tim Fall that it seems that anyone questioning some in American church leadership are immediately attacked rather than letting everyone have a fair chance to be heard - and the cult of pastor personality is hurting sheep.

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K. Smith

December 09, 2013  3:23pm

Wow. I applaud CT for having the courage to report of this. It wasn't so long ago that they were censoring criticism about Al Mohler in the comments. Apparently Mars Hill Seattle does have a team of attorneys at bay because not too long ago, a blog for theologians posted a list of characteristics that make a church spiritually abusive. Some people wrote in saying that the list sounded just like Mars Hill Seattle. The comments were quickly deleted. As for the legalese on the Mars Hill Seattle website, my minister has also written well-received books and would never, ever post legal warnings on our church's website.

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December 09, 2013  1:17pm

There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes plagiarism. For that reason I published an article, originally on what was then the revolutionary email academic discussion group "The Humanist Forum" in which I defined plagiarism in an academic context. Since then I have published a revised and expanded version on my website which has been used by various universities and professional organizations. Folk interested in this discussion may find it useful. Here it is: http://people.ucalgary.ca/~hexham/content/articles/plague-of-plagiar ism.html The title is "The Plague of Plagiarism: Academic Plagiarism Defined" I hope someone finds this helpful Irving Hexham

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Tim Fall

December 09, 2013  11:55am

Apparently some people think copying is a problem and others don't. That's not the real issue, though, The real issue is that anyone questioning some in American church leadership are immediately attacked rather than letting everyone have a fair chance to be heard. The cult of pastor personality is hurting sheep: http://timfall.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/the-game-is-rigged-christian-leader ship-and-worship-of-the-almighty-dollar/

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Rob Bradshaw

December 09, 2013  4:05am

There are distinct parallels here with the case of Tony Anthony and Avanti Ministries in the UK - http://crosswire.org.uk/2013/09/01/lawyer-releases-details-of-taming-the-ti ger-investigation/

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audrey ruth

December 07, 2013  11:42pm

Alan Davis, I read an article which quoted Driscoll talking about the "super mental ability" you mentioned. I actually got the impression that he thinks he has super SPIRITUAL abilities, because he said he could "read other people's minds" (not his exact words, but very close), that their thoughts played out like a movie reel in his mind. Yikes! If he were my pastor and I heard him say that, I'd run the other way as fast as I could. That, and another issue I'll not mention here, are huge red flags to me. Plagiarism "almost" pales in comparison to those things, but I do think it should not be overlooked for anyone, including celebrity pastors.

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Crab Grass

December 07, 2013  3:23pm

@ Donna Carlaw. Mefferd has absolutely nothing to apologize for, not for how she conducted the interview, not for mentioning a public figure in public based on a public work where he stole material. And Driscoll LOVES publicity but wants it on his own terms - he will invade other people's conferences to create controversy to hype his books. Driscoll was insufferably condescending to Mefferd in the initial interview. Perhaps even more sickening than Driscoll himself are his little fans who flame anyone online who dares criticize the man or anything he says or does. That, and the fact that apparently the publisher -or someone- put pressure on Mefferd to back down.

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alan davis

December 07, 2013  11:36am

And one other thing...everybody should go to Mars Hill web page, check out their legal page and see what they say about copying ANY of Marks works....he would immediately find himself guilty if he used his own criteria...

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alan davis

December 07, 2013  11:32am

I saw the parts in question. Some of it is paragraph after paragraph exactly alike. It is blatant plagerism unless the "new christianity" of pur day wants to redefine what plagiarism is. Mark claims to have this super metal ability to memorize and remember things, except now of course and he "just don't know how this happened...BULL... I like Mark, what I have known of him, but I , unlike some in this twisted world, do not WORSHIP Mark. He plazerized, that is plain, accept it Mark worshippers. You can not make anything else out of it unless you now want to lie and be deceptive on top of all things. It is time we hold EVERYONE accountable to the same rules. mark should not get a pass because he is too big for his britches. 1Ti 5:19-21 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (20) Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. (21) I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these"

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Carl Senna

December 07, 2013  9:23am

Put the shoe on the other foot! If one of the subalterns working for Driscoll left his organization to start a rival ministry using Driscoll's copyrighted sermons and writings verbatim without authorization under his own name as author I strongly suspect that Driscoll might just be a little upset, and for good reason!

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james dauer

December 07, 2013  7:29am

We all have a "religious man" inside of us where we try to serve Christ as a branch separate from the vine. He seeks his own glory behind the microphone, publications, and in his heresy hunting expeditions. Be alert and be in Christ lest you and I go the way of religious mann too!

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Teresa Benson

December 07, 2013  3:58am

We Protestants should learn from the Catholics' experience of glossing over crimes by our ministers. Regardless of whether the thought was original, if it was expressed in exactly the same words (and too lengthy of a passage to be a coincidence), then it's clearly plagiarism and needs to be addressed as such. Period.

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audrey ruth

December 07, 2013  2:45am

ITA with Jeff CT Parkes: "It would really be a shame if the evangelical Christian community handled this potential dishonesty with less integrity and seriousness than would the secular academic world." And with Paul McCain: "So how did entire sections of a copyrighted book appear without citation in Driscoll's book? Isn't that the real point here?" Yes, it SHOULD be the real point here. Excellence should be expected and dishonesty should not be ignored and/or justified, not "even" in evangelical circles but especially in evangelical circles.

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Robert Herron

December 06, 2013  8:09pm

This is a joke. I have read commentaries where one author said the same thing as one other commentary word for word. But I don't think the author did it on purpose. I respect his opinion and knowledge so maybe he had read from this author before and wrote it down without realizing it. Everything has been said before there is not a pure thought left unless it is spoken by Christ himself. Get over it and stop trying to make yourself look good and Mark bad. What have you accomplished but made a fool out of yourself.

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Carl Senna

December 06, 2013  7:11pm

Originality has little to do with theft, whether it's stolen apples, stolen land, or stolen words. In a case of theft there is but one determination: does the accused have the owner of the text's permission to use it as his own.

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Leo Lenschow

December 06, 2013  6:06pm

I understand the concern for Plagiarism; find there is a fine line when it comes to biblical thought. I have not read A Call to Resurgence but I must say how one can state their understanding of scripture is unique or original. If a concept or understanding hasn’t been thought through before by someone else it could border heresy. The French mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal considered one of the great minds in Western intellectual history, said that it is presumptuous for an author to call his words “mine,” since there is usually in those words much more of other people’s thoughts than the author’s own. Bill Hybels senior pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church said, “I haven’t had an original thought in my life.”

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December 06, 2013  5:00pm

It would really be a shame if the evangelical Christian community handled this potential dishonesty with less integrity and seriousness than would the secular academic world.

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December 06, 2013  4:57pm

Plagiarism is a joke. No one today has said anything that hasn't been said in the past, as if you said something that is unique that bel0ongs to you. Ha ha ha….

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Douglas Quenzer

December 06, 2013  4:14pm

The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement. The ancient writers never cited sources. And do you really think that with Biblical thought there is any original thinking?

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Brendt Waters

December 06, 2013  4:08pm

Ingrid Schlueter's martyr's complex is the stuff legends are made of.

Nathan Williams

December 06, 2013  3:14pm

I've never seen Mark Driscoll in a suit before

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Paul McCain

December 06, 2013  2:54pm

So how did entire sections of a copyrighted book appear without citation in Driscoll's book? Isn't that the real point here?

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Kamilla Ludwig

December 06, 2013  2:53pm

"The comments have been taken down." That's Ingrid Schlueter for you. If its not Ingrid deleting her own Twitter account, it's someone deleting comments for her elsewhere.