Updated at the Bottom
As most of you know, Mark Driscoll was caught in the middle of a plagiarism scandal that began with one book and went to other books. Now, he and his publisher (Tyndale House) are in the middle of the scandal of the Christian machine. This post pretty much sums up everything at this point:
As I stated publicly on Twitter Friday night, I disagree with the use of the term “partner” to suggest a formalized business relationship where one entity exerts legal control over other, something Jim posted on. Otherwise, Richard’s post is accurate and I concur with it. Which, of course, causes me great sadness.
When I started blogging, rather, when I first got into reviews, I was able to do so generally because of one publishing house — Tyndale. Further, as I have stated time and time again, the New Living Translation, which I was (and to some lesser extent still am) a very enthusiastic supporter of, helped in no small way to save my bible reading. My coming out of the KJV-Only movement coincided with a chance to review the NLT Study Bible. I devoured the NLT and came to love and share it. I gave several dozen copies away. Not a lot, to be sure, but as many of my blogging contemporaries of the time knew, I was the NLT guy — the only one in the blogosphere, mind you.
Tyndale House is an evangelical publishing house and have published books with a more conservative bent to them than I could ever pretend to be. They even flirted with publishing blatant political books when they published the biography of a former Minnesota governor before the 2008 Presidential race. Further, they have taken on the Affordable Healthcare Act because they would like to deny to their employees birth-control coverage, something not historically associated with Evangelicalism. I have not yet said anything about this. The only time I chose to actively blog against one of their releases was Mark Galli’s “God Wins” book.
I have, admittedly, blogged against Mark Driscoll. I find his theology abhorrent to the Christian faith and his personal style a sin. I will touch on this in a bit because it is important.
My complaint comes with the silencing of Janet Mefferd who was the first to call out Driscoll’s plagiarism. They first commented on the tone of Mefferd’s interview with Driscoll and now refuse to even address the issues, instead saying:
It has come to our attention that a radio talk show host has suggested that author Mark Driscoll has committed plagiarism in his recent Tyndale book, A Call to Resurgence. Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards.
This is a poor statement because anyone who knows anything about plagiarism knows Driscoll did not conform to “market standards.” When you discover a case of plagiarism, you need to take into consideration the author’s style, absent-mindedness, and other factors. When I find a student plagiarizing, I examine the student’s body of work. Does the student know how to properly cite? It would appear Driscoll does. How large is the section copied? In Driscoll’s case, pretty large and larger in some cases. Is this the first time? Mefferd has shown this isn’t. Those three things are often enough what I need to decide how to proceed. Driscoll would fail any class in which he submitted his last book in. Assuming the other books are classes, he would be kicked out of the institution with a black-mark assigned to his name.
Mark Driscoll is a known liar. At the recent Strange Fire dust up, Driscoll stated that Security has confiscated his books. This was an absolute lie. He has lied before. It is not just his shameful behavior as a “pastor” where he loves to mock others, punish those who question him, and otherwise insure women stay on their knees in the kitchen — he is a serial liar. And Tyndale House has chosen to stick behind him, attempting to remain as tight-lipped as possible. This is the work course, Tyndale.
I was 6 or 7, I believe. I say this because my memory of where I was was in the “old trailer” I grew up in. This trailer was old in the early 70′s and older still in the early 80′s. My fundamentalist Christian father had once again skipped child support and my and my sister were going to miss another item of clothing or skimp a little on food. I remember my mother and stepfather fighting about it. Finally, she called him. They got into a heated match. She found the only bible that had mattered to her, the green covered Living Bible paraphrased by Kenneth Taylor in 1974. She flipped to 1 Timothy 5.8 and read it to him:
But anyone who won’t care for his own relatives when they need help, especially those living in his own family, has no right to say he is a Christian. Such a person is worse than the heathen.
I recently got to meet Mark Taylor, Kenneth Taylor’s son, at SBL. I imagined the moment a little differently, but I was rushed and he was speaking with Keith Williams, the energetic editor at Tyndale House. Keith has edited the Mosaic bible, they best devotional bible on the market. The Mosaic bible introduced me to the Church calendar, to a proper appreciation of the Saints and Church History, and sustained my family and I as we moved from fundamentalism to mainline Christianity.
You understand my emotional attachment to Tyndale House. This is one of those odd quirks of my personality often misunderstood. I sincerely appreciate Tyndale House for the quality materials presented to me throughout my life that have helped in no small way to me being the believer I am today. I believe the NLT is a fine translation and a trend-setter even if I do use it less these days. I appreciate Tyndale House and those people I know because of the New Living Translation.
But, don’t misunderstand this. Tyndale House, I am severely disappointed, no — dismayed and disgusted at your protection of Mark Driscoll. I will reserve condemnation of any silencing of Janet Mefferd and hope you are not part of the mafia machine behind Driscoll. There is nothing Christian about institutionalized power and such power used to silence the voice of truth.
I will make no threats. They are silly. I will only ask for your reconsideration of your denial of wrongdoing. I do not believe Tyndale would knowingly allow plagiarism; however, it is clear it did occur and has occurred in other publications. I will further ask that you make it clear you did not silence Janet Mefferd and would not attempt to use any influence in attempting to control negative publicity regarding Driscoll that was fairly leveled. I will ask that you, now, take care of all of your family, as Christians, else we consider you worse than the heathen. If there is no resolution, I will pull down every post praising Tyndale and the NLT and encourage fellow bloggers to refuse to review for them and to reconsider any past reviews.
Perhaps this is nothing but spitting in the wind, but I do not believe we should allow those we love to harm themselves and others, else we would be worse than the heathen.
- Intervarsity Press has responded.
- For those of you wondering, Mefferd had to take down her work, but Google has preserved it for the time through the cache system. It is difficult to read, but you can still figure it out.
- As I said above, below in the comments, and maintained on Twitter, Tyndale is a not a business partner with Salem, the network that silenced Mefferd. A new statement confirms that.
- Mark Driscoll: Plagiarism – Thou Shalt Not Steal! (slaughteringthesheep.wordpress.com)
- Mark Driscoll peeved at Janet Mefferd and hangs up–”you’re rude and unkind” (peterlumpkins.typepad.com)
- Janet Mefferd Apologizes for Mark Driscoll “Plagiarism” Interview (blackchristiannews.com)
- More on the Silencing of Janet Mefferd, the Shamefulness of Tyndale Publishers, and How Mark Driscoll the Plagiarist is Getting Away With It (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Janet Mefferd pulls documentation alleging plagiarism against Mark Driscoll (peterlumpkins.typepad.com)
- Christian Radio Host Accuses Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll of Plagiarism (slog.thestranger.com)
- Tyndale House Publishers Responds to Commenter Regarding Alleged Plagiarism: “Properly Cited” and “Conforms to Market Standards” (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- Parsing the Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Debate: Accuser Apologizes, But Producer Quits (christianitytoday.com)
- Following Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism, it’s time to ask serious questions about Tyndale House’s credibility (liturgical.wordpress.com)