Gospel Centered Plagiarism-Further Evidence of the Demise of the T4G – 9Marks – Gospel Coalition Crowd?

By | November 22, 2013

Below you will see Mark Driscoll exposed in a very disturbing light.   An aspect of this which really concerns me is just what kind of fruit is being produced by these neo-Calvinist leaders?  Both John Piper and C.J. Mahaney have forged relationships with Driscoll.  I have recently written on the questionable wisdom of John Piper demonstrating strong support for C.J. Mahaney by speaking at his church and also Al Mohler holding a conference on leadership with C.J. Mahaney.  It appears I am not the only one to have questions about these relationships.

A very interesting blog questioning Piper’s lack of discernment as it relates to his support for Mark Driscoll can be found here.  The author states:

The purpose of this article is to show the close link between Pastor John Piper of Desiring God Ministries and Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, who founded the Acts 29 church planting network.

He then goes on to highlight many questionable actions and sermons by Mark Driscoll, yet John Piper remains true to his friend.

I think Roger Olson, Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, has spoken with wisdom in his article titled T.A.C.O.s Anyone?   (“T.A.C.O.”–”Totalistic, Aberrational, Christian Organization.”) He suggests that people should  “RUN from a congregation EVEN IF it is perfectly orthodox doctrinally and even though its reputation is evangelical” if they display any of the following signs:

1) Condoning (including covering up) sexual abuse or sexual immorality of leaders within itself.
2) Silencing honest and constructive dissent.
3) Treating leaders as above normal ethical standards, above questioning.
4) Implying that “true Christianity” belongs to it alone or churches in its network.

In my opinion many of the neo-Calvinist churches are displaying all 4 of these tendencies. Who are these neo-Calvinist churches?  Well, if your church is closely aligned with 9Marks, Together 4 the Gospel or The Gospel Coalition then you may have reason to be nervous.  Many of the leaders of these organizations have publicly backed C.J. Mahaney and Mark Driscoll.


“Mark Driscoll and I were never close. In the early days of proto-emergent, I was on the fringes and he was an intimidating figure in the inner circle. He made it abundantly clear that he had no respect for a youth pastor like me. By the time I made the inner circle, he’d left. I’ve attempted to correspond with him since — even to get together with him when I was in Seattle — with no success.

I say all that as prelude to the buzz that’s been making the rounds this week. A pastor who was fired by Mark a few years ago, and the pastor’s spouse, have gone public with their story. It is, I think you will agree, a chilling story. It’s full of intrigue, and could easily devolve into a gossipy sin feast.

But that’s not why I’m posting it.

I am posting it because I think it’s a cautionary tale. I think, as my headline indicates, that the particular theology that Mark Driscoll has embraced since he left the emergent posse (n.b., he was not a Calvinist when I met him in 1998) is untenable. John Piper excommunicates his son, C.J. Mahaney is removed from leadership because he is jerk to his colleagues, and now it turns out that Mark Driscoll has fired pastors and elders who had the gall to question his leadership.

When you read this story, make note of this: Paul and Jonna Petry are not liberals. They didn’t go off-message. That’s not why they were fired, excommunicated, and shunned. Their website is rife with the theological language of Calvinism, language that I and some readers won’t find compelling (e.g., spiritual warfare, “biblical eldership”). Paul Petry was not only a pastor, but also a practicing attorney. Petry expressed concern that Driscoll was having the by-laws rewritten to consolidate his power. Petry was fired, and shunned.

Our theologies have consequences. My hope is that Paul and Jonna Petry — and others like them — will reconsider their theological predispositions in light of what’s happened to them at Mars Hill. I hope that they will seek a theology that is more loving, open, and progressive.”

See the blog article in its original format here.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 1.43.21 PM

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 1.55.41 PM

Why the lead in with information on plagiarism?  Well, in a recent Mark Driscoll interview by Janet Mefferd, scheduled at the request of Mark Driscoll’s PR agent, to publicize his new book Janet Mefferd raised the issue of 14 pages of material Mark Driscoll copied from books authored by Peter Jones!

1 peter jones 1 god of sex


Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 2.17.59 PM

I was very happy to hear Janet Mefferd ask Mark Driscoll some tough questions during her interview.  I was even happier to hear her stay the course as Mark Driscoll attempted to use a tactic common to narcissistic, authoritative men in positions of church leadership.  The tactic is to attempt to turn the conversation from the question at hand to one of questioning the questioner’s spiritual condition.  In this case when Mefferd was pressing Driscoll on the plagiarism issue he attempted to change the subject matter by stating “You’re being accusatory and unkind.” And then he implies that all is not lost for the weak Christian sister because she can turn this into an opportunity to grow.  Undoubtedly this technique has worked for Driscoll 98% of the time, but it didn’t work with Janet Mefferd.  Unaccustomed to having someone stand their ground Driscoll did what most narcissistic bullies do, terminated the conversation by hanging up his phone!

A Narcissist’s Characteristics.

A narcissist exhibits pervasive grandiosity — sometimes through behavior, sometimes in fantasy. A narcissist needs to be admired and shows little or no empathy or concern for the problems, difficulties, or even the interests, of other people.

Narcissists hold (perhaps “embrace” would be a better term) an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They overrate the significance of their achievements and talents. And they expect to receive accolades for what they believe are outstanding personal attributes and accomplishments. They tend to be totally absorbed in fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, and other achievements and qualities. They believe they are special; as a result, they believe they can only be understood and appreciated by people who are — or organizations that are — also special.

Consequently, narcissists have unreasonable expectations of people and situations. They feel they are entitled to favorable treatment and unquestioning compliance with their hopes and expectations. Other people are supposed to acquiesce to their wishes.

Further, they exploit friends, acquaintances, and associates, taking advantage of others to secure their own desires. They tend to be haughty and arrogant, convinced that others are, or should be, envious of them.

While every narcissist does not display each and every one of these characteristics, every narcissist exhibits enough of them to be difficult to deal with.


Submit Comment

newest oldest
Notify of

Todd, if you click on my gravatar, you’ll notice an email in contact me. I would like to run my analysis of covenant membership by a kindred spirit prior to giving to my home group leader. He has asked my to explain in more detail, partly because he’s having doubts as well. I don’t want to use the comment space here because it’s off topic, so if you don’t mind sending me an email, I would be appreciative.

Apology accepted and I apparently owe one to you for misunderstanding your conclusions. I have been attending one of these “neo-Calvinist” churches for the last 30 months or so, I have come to the same conclusion about some of these folks, It just appeared to me that you were indicting Reformed theology as a whole. I was obviously mistaken. The biggest hurdle for me at the church here in Dallas came with the signing of a 5 page contract to fully fellowship with the local congregation. I had almost resigned myself to signing it when they changed the requirement from a one time event to an annual event. Yes, the “Church Covenant” for “Covenant Membership” has to be renewed annually. I thank God regularly that this happened prior to following through on my decision to violate my strongly held conviction. I also noticed that this same church was restructuring their government to a similar structure as Mars Hill. The very sad part of this is that my wife and I are in a wonderful home group of loving brothers and sisters that we are very sad about leaving. I’m heartbroken over this, but this is the kind of fruit that is born of controlling, domineering leadership that lords their position over the sheep.

Jerry – It sounds as if you and I may be kindred souls! If you are ever in Dubai let me know and I will take you out for dinner! I naively signed a membership agreement at UCCD. When I quit because of a longstanding disagreement over supporting C.J. Mahaney and promoting his books from the pulpit my pastor, in what I consider to be a childish act, refused to take me off the membership rolls for 6 months. I have witnessed similar behavior with others. These membership agreements are becoming more prevalent. I will never sign another one. I know what you are going through leaving your church, but the Lord will honor you for sticking to your convictions. If you want to read a good overview of my story see this link:

May God bless you and your wife.

I’m not a fan of Driscoll, in fact I’ve written a multi-page document for my son-in-law (at his request) as to why Driscoll is not a leader to emulate and not a good teacher. I do, however, think that to indict all or most Calvinist as unloving is absurd. There are plenty of wonderful examples of incredible men who sacrifice their lives for the sheep that are calvinist. Since most of these neo-Calvinists as you call them are also Baptist, one could use the same criteria to indict all Baptist. That would be absurd, of course, just like your analysis. Using your criteria, we would have to accuse, Spurgeon, William Carey and Jonathon Edwards as unloving and men to avoid. Oh, and don’t forget Hodge & Berkhof, Stott and Lloyd-Jones. (I almost forgot W. A. Criswell) To be more modern, let’s just throw in Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul & Erwin Lutzer to name just a few. I also noticed Chris Rosebrough is mentioned in a comment, who I’m sure could be thrown into that camp as well (from the Lutheran perspective). I could name many Arminians as unloving with horrific actions while in leadership, but I realize that the reasoning is unsound, so I don’t go there.

Sorry if I gave you the impression that I am indicting all Calvinist’s. I am not. If you read the “about me” bit you will see that I also hold to Reformed doctrines. I do believe there are a large group of these leaders, to be found in the groups I mentioned above, that care more for promoting their fiefdoms, conferences and books than they care for the sheep. If you read my “Hall of Shame” post you will see the field narrowed, but that is not an all-inclusive list. Having formerly been a member of a Sovereign Grace Church and a 9Makrs knock-off of Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist church (United Christian Church of Dubai pastored by John Folmar, previously an assistant pastor at CHBC) I believe I know whereof I speak.

Perhaps my quoting Roger Olson set you off; I know many in the Reformed camp find him annoying, but I think what he said in the quote was right on and am happy to reprint it even if he and I don’t agree doctrinally.

As for all the historical figures you mentioned, many of them are my heroes. I have visited the churches Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones preached in, and have many of their books, so I surely do not condemn them. They are models of what a Christian leader should be like, I doubt any of them placed fortune and fame ahead of caring for the bruised and battered sheep under their charge.

[…] Gospel-Centered Plagiarism: Further Evidence of the Demise of the T4G- 9Marks-Gospel Coalition Crowd… […]


btw it was Chris Rosebrough that suggested rightly that if technical difficulties happen and a misunderstanding occurs, or someone thinks they got hung up on, a very simple solution would be to CALL BACK — which Driscoll did not.

Chris had some good insights into the developments on his Fighting for the Faith podcast last night
starting at 19:25 to about 41 minutes.


The audio is likely authentic on both sides. Even so, Driscoll’s audio STILL has him sitting there petulantly silent for 9 seconds, which if you are recording for radio, is an eternity. He knows this. He didn’t hang up, but gave her the silent treatment. What else was she supposed to think? He could easily have called back and said no he didn’t hang up, but he didn’t… because…? He wanted OUT of that interview. Same difference.

Janet has now provided snapshots of the particular portions she knows of that have been lifted from others’ works.
Tyndale and Crossway and Justin Taylor are behaving abominably to her. But, no one ever appreciates a whistle blower. People have been trying to blow the whistle on Driscoll’s ridiculous behavior for a long time and they always get the same treatment. “Don’t touch the golden boy!” Driscoll himself ousts anyone who would try to rein in his narcissism. TBN and their strong-arm, coercive tactics have nothing on the Driscoll empire.

The audio is likely authentic on both sides. Even so, Driscoll’s audio STILL has him sitting there petulantly silent …

Good point terrier gal.

[…] PR people offered Mefferd the considerable "opportunity" to interview Driscoll link about his new book A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? As […]


I’m not defending him, but you might want to go out and listen to the raw audio…it’s pretty clear he didn’t hang up…

Thanks for the information Jason. I did just find out about the raw audio a short time ago. It can be found here: http://audiour.com/playlist/3lewj0or

I am not sure what to think of that. I would like to see what Janet Mefferd says about it. Personally I am skeptical. Clearly Driscoll’s PR machine is working overtime in an attempt to salvage his image after the crisis created from the Mefferd interview. Would they be so bold as to manufacture this evidence? I would hope not, but there is much at stake financially here. I know if it comes down to a trust issue between Mefferd and Driscoll I stand with Mefferd. If I concede the point that Driscoll did not hang up and was still was on the phone, that helps his image somewhat, but he still comes across as an arrogant, narcissistic bully in the interview. I certainly would have no interest in attending his church, reading his books or attending any conference he was speaking at.

Hey, just wanted to mention that I know the Tyndale folks personally (though not Mark) and have had two books published through them. There’s no way they would manufacture the evidence. That’s not to say that Janet was necessarily aware he was there, but I believe the audio is authentic.

Hi Matt,
Thanks very much for your comment. It is good to get a word like this from somebody with inside knowledge. I checked your books out on Amazon. Here is a shameless link to one of them:

I will have to purchase a copy now that I know the author!

I have a question for you. I was researching plagiarism yesterday in “The Chicago Manual of Style” and they made it sound like an author will have to sign a document with the publisher stating that the material is his own or has been properly footnoted. Did you sign some document like this with Tyndale? It would seem that such a document would provide legal protection for the publisher from situations like that which Driscoll now finds himself in the midst of.

Yes, it’s standard practice to include a clause like that in book contracts. Every publisher I’ve worked with has had that clause somewhere.

Hey Matt,
I wanted to let you know that I am half way through your book “Imaginary Jesus” and I love it! Truly outstanding. I will recommend it to everyone I come in contact with. I had a book years ago, I think the title was “How Silently, How Silently” and he used allegory to bring home truth. I really like that and find your manner of writing similar, only you are much more humorous! Eli, Eli lambda sabacthani killed me, as did many other items.

Boy, he is getting defensive over a ‘mistake’ isn’t he? (Driscoll)

Is his response ‘high ground’? MY goodness!