Presbyterian “Good Ole Boys Club” Allows Derek W.H. Thomas to Skate on Plagiarism Charges

By | October 11, 2019

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
-Winston Churchill

Note: As background to this story, I suggest the reader review earlier stories found on my blog on Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas’ plagiarism:

Derek W.H. Thomas & Plagiarism – “The Brand is Fundamentally Corrupt”

“Derek W.H. Thomas and the Ongoing Saga of Plagiarism.”

And also see this story from World Magazine:

“A matter of attribution” World Magazine, March 14, 2019


“The “good ol’ boys club” mentality pretty much turns our place of work into high school. The popular kids do what they want and push people around, all because they have nothing to fear disciplinary wise.”
-Charles Morgan, “How the ‘good ol’ boys club’ mentality hurts us”

Who is Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas? Although Dr. Thomas no longer works for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, below is a good biography of him I found on their website.

In December 2018 the Daily Genevan blog published an article by an anonymous author on Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas, specifically his rampant plagiarism of Sinclair Ferguson in a commentary on Acts authored (more or less) by Dr. Thomas.

I completely understand why the author of the article on Dr. Thomas chose to remain anonymous. In my opinion, Dr. Thomas is a high-brow knock-off of the low-brow, potty-mouthed Mark Driscoll. Driscoll had a lot of friends in high places, as does Dr. Thomas. When Janet Mefferd called out Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism on her radio show Driscoll’s supporters unsheathed their daggers and attacked Mefferd. The frenzied attacks reminded me of sharks moving in on chummed waters. The Daily Genevan soon removed the article on Thomas due to similar actions by his supporters.

Troubling to me is the support Dr. Thomas has received from many scholarly “Christian” friends. Included in this list is Dr. Ligon Duncan. (I documented Duncan’s support in an earlier blog.) Duncan has, in my opinion, placed friendship above ethics on at least two occasions now. He has strongly backed both C.J. Mahaney and Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas.

Derek W.H. Thomas and Ligon Duncan

I have also been on the receiving end of attacks from a cadre of supporters of Dr. Thomas. Were I to publish a few of the emails I have received the readers would be shocked by the content, as well as the prestige of some of the authors. One author, in particular, should write a note of thanks to his friend, a peacemaking former elder in a Presbyterian church, for persuading me to not publish his letter.

The emails I receive do not threaten me. I am not beholden to these men for a job, career progression or any other monetary benefit. I only desire the truth to be admitted. While I am actually amused by attacks aimed at silencing me, I am saddened by the length so-called godly leaders will sink in an effort to obfuscate the truth; choosing instead to support their corrupt colleagues.  Pastors, it ought not be so with you.

On March 10, 2019, the Commission on Minister & His Work recommended to the Catawba Presbytery that a special committee be formed to “investigate allegations of plagiarism directed towards our brother Derek Thomas” and report back to the Commission.

The Commission on Minister & His Work met with the special committee on August 15, 2019, to review their report.

Below are the findings of the special committee as recorded in the minutes from September 3, 2019,  of the Catawba Presbytery.

Special Committee Report on… by Todd Wilhelm on Scribd

The Presbytery Commission report was then distributed to Presbytery delegates in preparation for the upcoming October 8 Presbytery meeting. Not surprisingly, the Catawba Presbytery adopted the written report from the special commission without change.
Please read the following paragraph from the report closely:

“The Committee has verified that there are instances where the Committee’s accepted definition of “Plagiarism” would apply to some of the older published sermons delivered by Derek Thomas. Derek Thomas had acknowledged these instances even prior to the involvement of this Committee. However, none of the interviews and investigations of this Committee have revealed any credible evidence that Derek Thomas intentionally engaged in the practice of plagiarism.”

Do you recognize what the special committee has cleverly avoided mentioning? It’s the “elephant in the room.”

You will recall that the special committee was to “investigate allegations of plagiarism directed towards our brother Derek Thomas.” They never mentioned the commentary on Acts authored by Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas!  If memory serves me correct, that book was the main allegation of plagiarism, it was easily proved and very tough to dismiss.

I contend that Thomas’ sermon plagiarism is also blatant and not easily dismissed, in spite of what the special committee would have us believe. But more on that below.

Allow me to refresh our collective memory on what has been said about Dr. Thomas’ book on Acts. It appears the P&R Publishing investigative team was at least partially comprised of Dr. Thomas’ cronies. They were exceedingly generous when they termed his plagiarism “un-clear notetaking.” Nonetheless, they had no choice but to remove the book from circulation.

Iain Duguid appears to be an honest, principled man. (I imagine he was on the receiving end of some sharp daggers after his summation of Dr. Thomas’ book was published on social media.) I would disagree with Duguid’s sentence stating, “Derek himself has accepted that he is at serious fault, which is greatly to his credit.

Is it greatly to my credit when I get caught with my hand in the cookie jar that I admit that yes, I was copping a cookie?

I have yet to see an honest confession from Dr. Thomas stating that he blatantly plagiarized Ferguson. Rather, he holds to the story of unclear note-taking. In my opinion, Dr. Thomas knows, as do his colleagues, that he is a serial plagiarizer. Students are expelled from the seminaries he instructs at for much lesser instances of plagiarism. Dr. Thomas knows that if he comes clean, ceasing to minimize his plagiarism, he would rightly be removed from both the pastorate and his professorships.


Below is just one of many examples of what the Catawba Presbytery labeled  “unintentional plagiarism.” 

Am I the only individual who finds it beyond belief that Dr. Thomas “unintentionally” retold a factual story Sinclair Ferguson shared from his youth?  And then Dr. Thomas further embellishes the story by stating he still rewraps his presents to this day! I wonder if the Catawba Presbytery Special Committee ever interviewed Dr. Thomas’ wife, Rosemary? It would be a simple thing to ask her if, every year,  her husband indeed has rewrapped all his Christmas presents only to re-open them on December 26th.

Dr. Thomas reminds me of Aaron, although on a much smaller scale.  You may recall Aaron was Moses’ mouthpiece. Moses had been up on a mountain receiving the Ten Commandments from God for a lengthy period of time and the Israelites grew impatient. They asked Aaron to make them gods they could worship. Aaron did so. He collected all their gold and made the infamous golden calf.  But, as you can read below, Aaron would have us believe the crafting of the golden calf was “unintentional!”

“Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?”

“I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

Then the LORD smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.”
-Exodus 32:21, 24, 35 NASB

So it would appear the “good ole boys club” has successfully extricated Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas from his web of plagiarism and deceit. He is allowed to walk away with a slap on the wrist, an admonishment from the report of the special committee. His pal, Ligon Duncan has already obtained a slot for him in the upcoming “Together for the Go$pel” conference. All is well in the Celebrity Gospelly Boys Club; or is it?
Go back and reread Exodus 32:35.
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M Lucanius

You are aware that Derek Thomas and Sinclair Ferguson were co-pastors in the same church and are good friends, right?

Who cares?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

To me, there’s no question that Derek Thomas is responsible for the egregious and unbelievably sloppy plagiarism of someone else’s entire book.

And of course his supposed friendship with that person is irrelevant to the legal and ethical ramifications of doing so.

Wouldn’t it be laughable to suggest otherwise?

However, Derek Thomas may not have written the plagiarized book directly.

Is it possible that Derek Thomas hired a ghostwriter who cut corners by ripping of Ferguson’s material?

I think that any responsible secular academic institution would investigate that idea.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Todd “good ole boys club” and “While I am actually amused by attacks aimed at silencing me, I am saddened by the length so-called godly leaders will sink in an effort to obfuscate the truth; choosing instead to support their corrupt colleagues. Pastors, it ought not be so with you.” both really hit the head on the nails.

Sadly these leaders choose to overlook Derek Thomas’s sin since he is popular and one of them. They think that all the supposed good he has done means that it isn’t possible for Thomas to do something wrong or they want to overlook it. How sad.

The whole defense is way over the top, Steve. One of Derek Thomas’ prominent supporters implied that I thought the death penalty would be an appropriate punishment for plagiarism.

What can you say at some point?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Jesperson

I think that you are simply being to nice here. I would just call them white-washed septic tanks making excuses for theft like their father Satan. If Jesus can say “Woe to the religious elite” than so can His followers when and where appropriate. Defending someone clearly breaking one of the ten commandments is clearly inappropriate. Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.

Like Todd, I received a couple of less than pleasant e-mails from a prominent supporter of Derek Thomas, who is a leader in Thomas’ presbytery. I don’t wish to publish those e-mails or this person’s identity unless absolutely necessary. I try to keep even vicious hate mail private.

However, I will say that I entreated this person, who boasted about sending e-mails under his real name, to post his opinions about this blog’s supposedly unfair treatment of Derek Thomas publicly.

He declined to do so. This presbytery leader also stated that I was ignorant in not knowing that a woman like myself has no business pronouncing judgment upon Derek Thomas.

Only the men (presumably) in Derek Thomas’ presbytery have a right to an opinion regarding whether or not Derek Thomas has engaged in plagarism.

I’m not making that up.

It also appears to me that the relevant leader’s presbytery knows about his immature antics and sent an elder out to babysit him and do damage control, regarding his behind the scenes attacks against Todd and me.

If so, this entire presbytery’s behavior leaves much to be desired, in my view.

As does Derek Thomas’ apparent unwillingness to seriously, publicly defend himself regarding a very important matter regarding his integrity.

Those are just my opinions. Others can disagree of course.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

P.S. – I now reserve the right to publish any hate e-mail received pertaining to Derek Thomas, if people send it under their real names.

Anonymous hate mail I will likely just trash.


Good ol’ boys club is exactly right. These are the very same men who will pounce upon any member of the church who dare dissent from their interpretations of scripture, or disagree on a matter of doctrine. Such will be publicly chastised and disciplined (a.k.a. bullied) into seeing their error (a.k.a. submission). But when it comes to the anointed ones, there is no accountability. A little carelessness, a little moral lapse, but never would one dare suggest the vaunted ones had sin in need of discipline!

How dare you have a thoughtful opinion, Jana? Just trust the men in the know. They have so much more information than you, and are, of course, entirely objective. Safety in the plurality of elders and all that. How can you, from a distance, judge that pages upon pages of text, closely mirroring another’s, could not have happened by accident? And, of course since this only happened once; oh, wait, how many times was it now? That’s how the game is played in Reformedland.

Thanks, I think you’d be shocked at the full content of the e-mails that Todd and I received from a major leader in Derek Thomas’ presbytery.

Suggesting that a presbytery, in 2019, has any temporal authority is bizarre.

Especially when the person you’re berating is not a Presbyterian.

Derek Thomas is poorly served by his enablers, in my view. He even financially profited from plagiarism. That fact is conveniently never discussed.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Jesperson

I personally would not be shocked by anything that these brood of vipers would say. We must understand that nothing has changed in two millennia. The religious elite are just as prone to corruption as ever. Their is a spirit from Satan himself that is behind this. That spirit we must understand and fight.

We must also understand that this is the UK we are talking about. There is an established upper class there for centuries. We do not have that in the US, but they do. These are the people who can go to Cambridge or Oxford, the lower classes cannot get in. They have learned arrogance and pride that is passed down through many generations. They have a stranglehold on all institutions there, including the religious ones that proclaim Christ but practice anti-Christ. These are the types of people whom you are dealing with and writing about. They are true Sons of the Devil destined for hell! They are not Christians, nor were there forefathers. They are working for a false church, one without Jesus as the head. To talk to them like they are brothers is to not follow in the footsteps of John the Baptist or Jesus Himself. Jesus had nothing good to say about these types of men. To be like Jesus is not to be nice and polite at all times. Thomas and his cronies are just wicked men leveraging the authority of God over others to lie, cheat, abuse and steal. They stand condemned both by their words and actions. They care not about the 10 commandments nor do they obviously have any scruples or ethics. It is all about the Mammon and the ability to wield influence for personal advantage and pride. That is the truth, plain and straight-forward.

Thanks, my understanding is that Derek Thomas was educated in the United Kingdom, but is presently a pastor in the United States.

The supporters of Derek Thomas, who have shown up on this blog, do not seem well educated or intelligent to me.

For the most part they don’t deny that Derek Thomas is guilty of plagarism. Instead, their argument appears to be that pastors should be held to lower moral standards than the serfs who support them.

It’s difficult to argue with logic like that.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Jesperson

That is the specific attitude of the upper-class Lords that I am talking about. This is the same attitude in Jesus day that kept the rich young ruler from giving up his money, status, and influence and following Jesus and it is the same attitude that drove the Pharisees to have Jesus murdered. Beyond that I understand that this attitude is universal there among all the Lords and Sirs regardless of their religious beliefs and practices. Welcome to the same language but a very different culture. None of these people are Jesus’ disciples. If they were they would give up their status and perks and follow Him in humility. This goes right up to their queen who is quite literally above all laws as everyone from the police to the army serve her. She could literally kill someone in cold blood in front of running cameras and there is nothing anyone could do to legally bring justice against her.