Dead Links…

Most mysterious!  I’ve just learned (via Carl Trueman’s post on freedom of the Christian press over at First Thoughts), that the ‘evidence’ on Janet Mefferd’s site (to which I linked on my previous post) regarding the alleged plagiarism by Mark Driscoll has mysteriously disappeared.  Rev. Trueman makes an interesting connection, even if it’s only in passing, between this debacle and The Great Evangelical Cover-up.  Namely, Ergun Caner’s suit against a minister for having posted a video of Caner speaking (as one with authority) to a group of marines…  At any rate, his article is well worth the read (the word ‘sinister’ features, and I believe it apt).  And (H/T once again Carl Trueman), here you may find the RNS article from 27 November, with updates, as well as images of the scans originally provided by Janet Mefferd, but of course, now removed from her site.  This should be frightening to anyone who cares about accountability.

On the Caner cover-up, after all these years, anything that happens now is blood under the bridge, but it is interesting to note his new appointment was supposedly ‘because of the controversy’ which has been chasing him (or rather, which he’s shackled to himself).  “Strange,” as Gordon Ramsay would say.  At any rate, both of James White’s last two podcasts have featured updates on the ongoing scandal; Tuesday’s program opens with comments on Caner’s election to the presidency of a Baptist college in Georgia, and Wednesday’s is devoted solely to the ‘saga’.

Closing with a quote from Trueman’s ‘mini-post‘ on Ref21: “Is there anybody left so naive as to believe that the Ubermenschen don’t run the evangelical show?”

Cheers!  20 days ’til Christmas…




‘Reaching out’ and the Driscoll Plagiarism Squall

Why are people using the phrase ‘reach out’ in place of ‘contact’?  I would use ‘reach out’ in contexts of empathy or support: ‘I reached out to my newly widowed neighbor’, for example.  Why, suddenly, are journalists using ‘reach out’ when simply contacting colleagues or the subject of news stories for comment?  Of course, there is that standard clause, ‘could not be reached for comment’, but I think most would agree that there’s a significant semantic difference when that little ‘out’ is added after ‘reach’.  Is this just part of the (d)evolution of language, whereby ‘substantial’, for some bizarre reason, has come to be replaced by ‘substantive’, even amongst the ‘quite’ literate?  Odd.

In other news, I thought it might be an interesting blog exercise to compile links to articles and posts about the most recent Driscoll hullaballoo.  (Moment of distraction–the postal worker is wearing a Santa hat!)

Firstly, for the full audio of the now infamous Mefferd/Driscoll exchange on Janet Mefferd’s program, here is the recording of that show available on her blog.  The interview can also be heard, with Chris Rosebrough’s commentary, on his Fighting for the Faith website (segment starts around the 13:00 mark, but if you want to hear the signature ‘Mark Driscoll update music’, ‘Another One’s Off the Bus’, start listening at the 10:00 mark).  The next few posts come from Frank Turk of TeamPyro, and the first two provide a bit of backdrop to Mark Driscoll’s exchange with Janet Mefferd.  The first is a post including a video of Driscoll’s ‘dropping in’ at the Strange Fire Conference, with Turk’s comments in this next post on the video and how it ‘gels’ with Driscoll’s own report of how Strange Fire security confiscated his books and bullied him.  Finally, there are Turk’s remarks on the interview, and the ‘alternate ending’ to the interview released by Mars Hill.  You’ll have to listen and judge for yourself.

While Frank Turk links to both of these next posts, I thought I would link to them here as well.  The first is by Carl Trueman over at Ref21, who makes some helpful general observations about the celebrity culture in (American) evangelicalism (on which I myself have written, less articulately), and the problem of accountability.  The second,by Wade Burleson, discusses whether and to what extent there was plagiarism (to put it elliptically), the circumstantial possibilities (was Janet Mefferd in touch with Dr. Jones before the interview? Was Driscoll ‘truthing’ when he claimed he heard Jones’ ideas [which were used and expanded upon in A Call to Resurgence] around the dinner table, as opposed to in one or more of Jones’ books?), the ‘tribal’ fall-out post-interview, and some comments on the transcript and what may be deduced from it.   It’s interesting to look at disparate comments together; for instance, while Burleson notes that Driscoll is a pastor, not a scholar, Turk commends Driscoll’s capabilities as a ‘fantastic historian.’  Of course, the two are not synonymous, but I would not call someone a ‘fantastic historian’ if that person did not know the basics of scholarly citation, as Burleson indicates may be Driscoll’s best excuse.  If you don’t know by college that you need to cite sources, you should certainly know (and know how) before you graduate from any type of post-secondary institution, and especially if you’re an ‘historian’, as opposed to a pastor who’s a ‘history buff’ (while pastors, who typically have post-secondary, if not Master’s, degrees, should know for their own discipline how to give proper credit).

Moving on.  For an interesting use of the word ‘prove’, you can read the RNS article by Jonathan Merritt (read the updates for how the Mars Hill audio ‘proves’ Driscoll didn’t hang up; I think this verdict ‘proves’ its author is a bit credulous).  The article provides a run-down of the interview, while also printing Tyndale’s remarks–they didn’t like Mefferd’s ‘belligerent tone’.  Which is just another example of ‘the person willing to draw attention to a problem shall be labeled the problem’.  Okay, Tyndale–I don’t think anyone thinking critically is going to be impressed that kind of deflection.  Bit of a shame.  Forgive the intrusion of my own comments.

If you’re looking for an attempt at a ‘balanced’ analysis, Aaron Armstrong’s post may prove helpful.  I have not read the Facebook debate he mentions, wherein Joe Carter said that Mefferd made people ‘feel sorry’ for Driscoll, but as I have my own opinion on how she conducted herself (I think, as James White put it, that she could have done better, but more on that in a minute), I don’t think I want to sift through all the threads of such a conversation, especially after having read all the material I mention here.  I’ve taken issue with more than one point Joe Carter has made in the past, in other unrelated written pieces, so it doesn’t surprise me that I would possibly disagree with him here, were I to have the context of the FB debate.  At any rate, Armstrong’s point about giving people (including Driscoll) the benefit of the doubt is well-taken, but (as Burleson mentions in his post linked above), this isn’t the first time Driscoll’s been the subject of controversy.  A pastor should be above reproach, and his behavior following the Strange Fire conference, bizarre comments about his spiritual gift of ‘seeing’ his congregants’ adulterous sexcapades, and his (I would argue) bullying behavior toward sheep at Mars Hill who disagree with him [for testimony on this, simply Google “Mars Hill spiritual abuse blog”, and you’ll find several very troubling results]) offer a dark context for this plagiarism allegation.  And yes, while Driscoll said he ‘would check it out’, that concession came amidst a slew of self-centred (oddly) protestations of love (of Janet, of Jesus, of everybody), which I believe were intended to disarm as well as redirect the conversation.  Also, the way in which he reminded Janet that he was ‘doing her a favor’ (not to mention ‘concern’ over her ‘growth’) should also be considered, if we’re going to criticize her for her ‘belligerent tone.’  Indeed, it seemed almost a reflex for him, that not far into the ‘cross-examination’, Mark turned the focus of scrutiny back on Janet and accused her of being accusatory.  It was this, I believe, that offended her, and she reacted by pressing harder, which is regrettable, and if that’s the case, she should confess that she lost control.

Admitting that, though, does not change or diminish the very real issue here, and that, more than plagiarism, is whether Mark Driscoll, like Steven Furtick (think financial cloudiness;  lack of accountability; extravagant house), James MacDonald (also financial cloudiness, bordering on scandal; forced elder resignation, etc.), and other rock-star pastors, believes he is above people’s ‘recriminations’, and that accusations or even tough questions are motivated by a desire to ‘bring him down’ and prevent him from  continuing to help ‘build the kingdom’ and share Jesus.

And now, after all h*ll broke loose over the single allegation, more evidence has come to light and been shared.  Though Tyndale have declared they will not change anything in Resurgence, will these new allegations (especially the one concerning the 1&2 Peter commentary) compel Mark’s (ironic, no?) tribe to step back from ‘boycotting’ Mefferd’s show and assuming un-Christian envy and unkindness as the source of all criticism of Driscoll?  (I still would like to know what the tech experts have to say about the alternate ending–is Mars Hill’s version ‘proof’, as Merritt’s article asserts?  Also, how do we reconcile any proven plagiarism by Mark Driscoll with his own words on the subject in Vintage Church (H/T Chris Rosebrough, F4F podcast 2 December 2013) and Mars Hill’s shockingly exhaustive [for a church] Terms & Conditions of Use page?  Hint: WE CAN’T.)

At any rate, final thoughts–are these celebrity church ‘leaders’ above the system of ethics by which ‘everyone else’ must abide?  Carl Trueman discusses.  Finally, three latest blog posts by Janet Mefferd (with appropriate H/Ts to her sources) here, here, and here, all which provide scans and pdfs of more evidence of Driscoll’s plagiarism.  This is really getting ugly.

Time lapse here*

Interestingly enough, as I was copying the links to the plagiarism posts, I noticed, then read, two pieces Mefferd wrote in response to (one as a critique of) an article by, surprise, surprise, Joe Carter.  I’d read the first when she wrote it, some weeks back.  I’ve now read the second.  This puts Carter’s comment about Mefferd ‘making people feel sorry for Driscoll’ in context, and in a very interesting one.  This public online debate between Carter and Mefferd looks heated, and I have to confess that I agree with Mefferd–it’s embarrassing that the prominent and intellectual-heavy Gospel Coalition chose not to speak about the Sovereign Grace abuse scandal, and if it’s true (though we can’t know, of course) that Carter had the issue in mind when he penned (typed) his ‘Slandering Christ’s Bride’ article, well, ouch.  So, I wonder if this is an explanation for Carter’s sentiment, one to which I find it impossible to relate.  I’ll admit that I know I need to have more love for this pastor whom I believe has lost his way, by simply becoming too big for his britches, as we all are wont to do.  But back to the main point, Carter feels sorry for Driscoll?   Perhaps that’s because, when it comes to Janet Mefferd, Joe Carter feels sorry for himself…  All speculation, but after almost two months of back and forth between them, and Janet’s hard-hitting, straight-up criticism and challenging questions, it’s hard to see Carter’s remarks about the interview as ‘happening’ in isolation from this larger ‘dialogue’.  The plot thickens!

Finally, Chris Rosebrough’s F4F podcast from yesterday (to which I have not yet listened in its entirety) includes a segment (starting at 15:10) on the latest allegations.  ‘Til next time.

Dreaming of Christmas Pudding,