Today a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to an article by Joseph Rodriguez on the 9Marks blog. I should have known better, but I clicked on the link to the blog and read the rather short article. At the end of the article was a “read more here” link. Figuring there was more of the article to read I clicked on the link. Instead of a continuation of the article I was connected to a page promoting Mike McKinley’s book “Am I Really A Christian.” At the bottom of the page was an order form for the book. I was a bit peeved at this novel way of attempting to get me to purchase Mr. McKinley’s book. Do you remember the feeling you had when you realized the “great business opportunity” your friend wanted to share with you was actually an Amway recruiting meeting ? That’s the feeling I had when I clicked on the “read more here” link.
Below is a screen shot of the article I read. If you want to read it on the 9Marks website go here.
The following screenshot is what I saw when I clicked “read more here.”
I had never heard of Joseph Rodriguez, the author of the above blog article, so I searched the 9Marks website to see what else he has written. I found a total of 3 blog articles, all written within the last two weeks. The two additional articles written by Joseph Rodriguez are shown in the screen shots below. They both preceded the one above containing the tricky link to McKinley’s book, but you will notice that they both contain more obvious links to McKinley’s book.
Mike McKinley I know. He accompanied Mark Dever to Dubai a few years back for a conference UCCD held. I met him and talked with him briefly. He seemed to be a bright and articulate guy. He served on Mark Dever’s staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and went from there to revitalize a dead church in the D.C. suburbs. He has authored several books. His book “Am I Really a Christian” was published in June, 2011.
So who is this Joseph Rodriguez and why has he suddenly earned a spot on the 9Marks blog team? Additionally, why is he promoting McKinley’s book now, nearly 2 years after it was released? Perhaps Rodriguez idolizes Mike McKinley in the same manner C.J. Mahaney idolizes Al Mohler? I haven’t a clue. But it seems a bit strange to me that a guy would come out of nowhere to write 3 short blog articles for 9Marks all promoting McKinley’s book. Seriously? Does Rodriguez get commission on sales of McKinley’s books?
I could find no bio on the blog site about Rodriguez, but when I dug a little deeper I found this on the 9Marks staff page:
So now the picture becomes a little clearer. Joe Rodriguez runs the 9Marks office! Could Mark Dever, Rodriguez’s boss, have asked him to write a few blog articles pumping Mike McKinley’s book? Pure conjecture on my part, but it makes sense. I can only guess what the underlying reasons are. “Am I Really a Christian” is published by Crossway Publishers, as are most of 9Marks books.
I am not breaking any new ground, but it is interesting to note how intertwined Crossway Publishers is with the Neo-Calvinistas.
You may recall that back in May, 2013 an office of Crossway Publishers was severely damaged by floodwaters. Crossway Publishers then sent out emails and featured a passionate appeal on their website for donations to help them get their office cleaned up and operational once again. This screen shot may be read easier at the original site. It can be found here. Based on what I have highlighted in the rest of this article I would have to say that Crossway’s appeal must have been hugely successful. Crossway has recently forged partnerships and/or sponsorships with all of the heavy-hitting neo-calvinist para-church organizations and they have a dubious relationship with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, flagship seminary of the SBC.
As you can see from the screen shot taken today Crossway has no problem utilizing an endorsement from C.J. Mahaney to promote their newest bible. This alone demonstrates an appalling lack of conscience by the Crossway organization.
I first realized Crossway was quoting Mahaney to promote their bible in early September, 2013. I came across a promotional piece on their Facebook page and replied with a negative comment about having Mahaney as one of those endorsing the bible. While I thanked them for allowing my post to stand in the email copied below, I just recently searched back through the Crossway Facebook page to locate the exchange and the whole post has now been removed. Below is a short email exchange I had with Crossway, but, not surprisingly, my opinion mattered little to them.
Dear Crossway Staff,
Perhaps you are not aware of the controversy surrounding C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. I don’t feel it’s appropriate to have him endorsing bibles. I would hope you would agree. I like the ESV translation and would probably purchase your newest study bible, but this is a matter of principle with me. I take it so seriously that I quit my 9Marks church this past March because they would not cease from pushing Mahaney’s books, at times from the pulpit.
Thanks for writing back to me and not censoring my comment. That speaks volumes for your integrity. Not many have it these days.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” -Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT
Thank you for taking the time to write us to express your concerns. I respect the brevity and charity with which you brought your perspective and will pass your note along.
Crossway :: Executive Director, Marketing
1300 Crescent Street + Wheaton, IL 60187 + 630.682.4300 (o) + 630.682.4785 (f)
crossway.org + esv.org + twitter: @crosswaybooks + twitter: @jameskinnard
Here is the page to register for the T4G conference. Two things I would like to draw your attention to. First, the cost of the conference and second, the prominent add Crossway has on the page.
Here is the web page for Cross Conference, John Piper’s newly formed baby. Notice who is sponsoring the conference??
And then we have the announced partnership between the Gospel Coalition and Crossway.
Here we have an announcement from Crossway that they have appointed Justin Taylor to the position of Senior Vice President and Publisher for books. Prior to the job with Crossway Justin Taylor worked for Desiring God, John Piper’s organization. He is also working on his PhD at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
And then we have Geoffrey Dennis, formerly having worked for Crossway Publishing, he is now going to work for The Souther Baptist Theological Seminary!
Are you beginning to see that all these individuals and organizations have formed relationships with Crossway Publishers? I imagine it is a mutually beneficial arrangement but I must admit I personally see it as a bit threatening. We see in the case of C.J. Mahaney a situation where Christian leaders seemed to place loyalty to Mahaney above caring for the damaged sheep. I have no evidence of an actual conspiracy to do this, but the path to becoming a celebrity preacher, with all its supposed fame and fortune, lies, at least partially, with publishing a good book. Getting Crossway to publish your book is probably a lot easier when powerful men such as Dever, Piper and Mohler are in your corner. Upset them and you could have a hard time getting your book published, or getting named as a speaker at one of their conferences. Your climb to celebrity status is dependent on remaining in these guys good graces.
Yet Tim Challies seems to think all this is great. He says we are in the “golden age” of Christian publishing. Indeed we are Tim, indeed we are!