Richard summarizes things as they presently stand and then adds a couple of points that are new to me:
However, this [i.e., Tyndale Publishing House] is not the only source of pressure on Mefferd: some of Driscoll’s previous books are published by Crossway, and Wartburg Watch observes that Crossway’s VP of Editorial Justin Taylor took to Twitter to warn that “I wouldn’t recommend authors go on @JanetMefferd’s show after she pulled this during an interview with @PastorMark”. What is this, if not the “machine” of which Schlueter writes?
Indeed. Taylor’s remarks are appropriate only for a person who is clearly trying to silence any opposition to Driscoll’s plagiarisms. They are, in fact, nothing but a thinly veiled threat. Taylor might as well come out and honestly say as he implies, ‘… if you go on Mefferd’s show, we won’t publish your stuff’. Taylor is a part of the strong-arming mafiosa mentality which Mefferd evidently heeded. Then Richard writes
Pastor Driscoll has always struck me as a controlling and somewhat sinister figure, so I’m not surprised that he appears to believe that he can use other people’s work unattributed and not expect to be challenged for it.
Indeed. And that, further, he can get silenced anyone who does. In Mefferd’s case it has worked. And that’s a shame. This whole sorry affair, kicked off by Driscoll’s self evident falsehoods and theft of intellectual property is a black eye on authentic Evangelicalism. Those responsible, including publishers calling themselves Evangelically oriented, really ought to be ashamed of themselves. But they aren’t. They’ve money to earn, privileges to protect, and wagons to circle.
Jonathan Merritt has it- Ingrid is quoted as saying
I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.
And then Jonathan writes
The “situation” to which Schlueter refers is the plagiarism allegations made against Mark Driscoll by Janet Mefferd. RNS reported on these allegations here and here. Evidence supporting Mefferd’s claims were posted on the radio show’s website. They were later removed after Mefferd apologized to her audience for making the allegations in public. It seems likely that, at the very least, Schlueter did in fact resign. I say this because I called and spoke with Mefferd moments ago. I asked her to confirm whether Ingrid Schlueter resigned. She responded, “No comment.” I asked a round of six follow-up questions about Schlueter and whether Mefferd still believes the allegations she made were true. Each time, she responded with “no comment.”
That Driscoll and his minions are willing to silence critics says everything that needs to be said about both his putative Christianity and his pseudo-theology.
Read the rest of Jonathan’s essay.
The same Salem Radio that hosts Mefferd’s program. Now isn’t that interesting:
It doesn’t take much imagination to see how things have unfolded with Mefferd as they have. It almost seems reasonable to imagine that she was called on the carpet and informed in no uncertain terms that her company and his company wanted the two of them to play nice or else…
Anyway, can we say ‘conflict of interest’ on the part of Salem which seems unwilling to undermine the sales or potential sales of its ‘partner’ Tyndale.
We need an investigative reporter to check into all this and uncover what actually went on which caused Mefferd to backpedal. If there’s strong-arming going on, everyone deserves to know who’s doing it to whom.
- Evidence of Plagiarism or Swatting at a Hornets Nest (standupforthetruth.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)
- Parsing the Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Debate: Accuser Apologizes, But Producer Quits (christianitytoday.com)
- Mark Driscoll: Plagiarism – Thou Shalt Not Steal! (slaughteringthesheep.wordpress.com)
- Mefferd Caved? Or, the Strange Disappearance of Anti-Plagiarism Posts (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
… it seems that Mefferd faced tremendous pressure and criticism from Tyndale House Publishers and Driscoll’s allies, one of whom called for an interview boycott of her show. One of Mefferd’s producers, Ingrid Schlueter, even resigned in reaction to the criticism. Schleuter used to work for VCY America’s Crosstalk (whose host is her father, Vic Eliason). But she left in 2011, warning that “the mafia crime families have nothing on ‘Christian ministry.’”
I am absolutely disgusted by Tyndale. Instead of honestly and properly pulling Driscoll’s plagiarisms they’ve doubled down and are defending his actions AND, evidently, attempting to muzzle anyone who speaks out about it.
Well, Tyndale, muzzle me. Go ahead, try. In the meanwhile, I will be urging people who are actual Christians to abstain from purchasing anything you sell and I myself will NEVER, EVER again buy, use, read, or mention anything you produce.
I cannot, I will not, I refuse to aid and abet a company more interested in profits than truth. ESPECIALLY when that company operates under the esteemed name of one of Christianity’s greatest advocates of truth. Tyndale House Publishers, your actions vis-a-vis plagiarism disgust me.
The only course of action left to you is an apology to consumers and public repentance for your defense of a plagiarist simply so that you could sell his theologically bankrupt rubbish.
With thanks to Joel Watts for the RightWing Watch web story.
Carl Trueman writes
A couple of recent events have highlighted one or two of the peculiarities of the subculture of American Christianity, specifically evangelical Christianity. First, Ergun Caner is suing a couple of pastors in an attempt to keep some material pertaining to his life from being published on the internet. Second, talk show host Janet Mefferd accused megachurch pastor, Mark Driscoll, of plagiarism (as noted by Collin Garbarino on First Thoughts last week). Earlier today, the pertinent material compiled by Ms. Mefferd mysteriously vanished from her website.
I do not wish to comment on the specific details of either case; but it is interesting to note that both touch on the freedom of the press or media. Caner wants to restrict information about him; and we can only speculate at this point as to why Ms. Mefferd has removed the material from her site.
These incidents prompted one friend of mine to ask the ask the obvious questions: Is journalism no longer considered a legitimate Christian calling? Or is the task of the Christian journalist simply to strengthen the hand of the vested interests?
Obsequiousness has no place in faith. So either Mefferd has discovered further facts which undermine her case or she was pressured by someone somewhere to make her posts disappear. If the first, why not present them? Why just remove material without a word? And if the latter, who? And what use is the press if it can be pressured to withdraw the truth?
Here’s the live blog of episode one. The second episode begins momentarily. I’ll update during commercial breaks.
Segment One- The narrator informs us at the very beginning that the program presents a variety of positions and opinions. It didn’t last week so I hope it does this week. The premise of this week’s show is the idea of a promised land and whether or not God gave it to a certain people.
Jerusalem, says our overly dramatic narrator (The Voice of Doom again) ‘is the place where David became King’. Well, not exactly… But the gist is the centrality of Jerusalem and that is appropriate.
James Hoffmeir and Candida Moss take part (briefly), Bart Ehrman too (a bit more). And a Jewish chaplain for the New York police department, (?) as well as someone named Jonathan Kirsch (?) and Peter Lanfer (who does a very good job). But why is Bart Ehrman the specialist consulted on an Old Testament theme when he is a New Testament scholar and WHY is Aslan on AGAIN!? [Come on. It's clear that he is involved only because he's been in the news so much of late for his dreadful book. That's unfortunate.]
The first segment continues with the retelling of the story of the Exodus, and the tales of Numbers. But did the exodus ever happen at all? That question brings segment one to an end.
Segment Two- The narrator describes as ‘a little known fact’ that Moses is not allowed to enter the land. Hardly. Everyone who knows the OT knows that Moses was forbidden to enter the land. So, at any rate, what light can archaeology shed on the subject? There is no physical evidence of the exodus. Cargill appears and points out that fact. James Hoffmeir and Jodi Magness aren’t convinced that physical remains could or would be found anyway. (Very nice to see Jodi!).
But is there evidence of the exodus in the famed ‘ark of the covenant’? If it’s found could it prove the story of the exodus? Aslan discusses the Ark of the Covenant (and I say things in my head that I can’t type on a post). Others ask what happened to it and biblical texts mentioning it are very briefly discussed.
‘Perhaps the Ark is deliberately hidden from those who might wish to exploit its power…’ And other artifacts are as well, since they evoke claims to the land by others besides Jews, including Christians and Muslims. So ends segment two.
Segment Three- The segment opens with a telling of the discovery in 2012 of a piece of wood which some think part of the ‘true cross’. This leads to a wider discussion of relics. Jodi asserts that none of these relics can ever be shown to have any connection with Jesus. ’We may have a cup Jesus drank out of but we would never know it’ she rightly says. Gary Burge talks briefly about the importance of Jerusalem and then Aslan has to put his two cents worth in [because not being a scholar of the Bible he has every reason in the world to be involved here].
Other locales around Jerusalem which have a connection to the life of Jesus are then discussed, like the Mount of Olives. [Let me insert here that there is a wider distribution of scholarly perspectives in this episode than the last. And that I appreciate].
From talk of the sites connected to Jesus we leap forward centuries to a discussion of the Crusades and the attempts to reclaim for Christianity the Holy Land from Islam. Why is the land important to Islam? That is the question which concludes segment three.
Segment Four- Whilst discussing Jerusalem and the Temple Mount the program describes the importance of the place for Muslims (and of course Aslan chimes in). The Qur’an includes many of the same tales as the Bible and the unifying figure for Islam and Judaism and Christianity is Abraham.
Candida reappears to tell us why Hagar is important and naturally this leads to further discussions of Ishmael and Hagar and their descendants and their connection to Muhammed. Accordingly, Jerusalem is held in esteem by all three religions which harken back to Abraham. The segment ends with a question- can the land actually become a promised land of peace?
Segment Five- Various wars and political upheavals are the focus and the ‘final war’ which precedes the coming of peace to the land the main thrust (with Megiddo front and center and Israel Finkelstein making an appearance). Candida explains, at the end, why competition for the Holy Land is ironic. Others too try to illuminate the spiritual and emotional meaning of a holy land.
Assessment- In all this episode was an improvement over the last (save for the appearance of Reza Aslan and he simply has no business being involved at all. Joe the Plumber would do equally well and possesses the same qualifications). Jodi was superb (as one would expect), Cargill was Cargill (and that means exceptional) and Moss was well spoken (unsurprisingly). Israel Finkelstein’s very brief (one sentence) appearance was very much appreciated as it lends credibility to the archaeological discussion. The story told cohered much more closely than last weeks and there were fewer segue oddities (disjointed transitions abounded last week). In short- well enough done, though it remains to be seen why Ehrman and Aslan took part- given that Ehrman is not an Old Testament scholar and Aslan isn’t a biblical scholar at all.
Next week Mary Magdalene takes center stage. I may have to skip it for my own sanity’s sake (though I will probably watch anyway).
I am uniquely unqualified to discuss the newest History Channel documentary “Bible Secrets Revealed.” Not only do I possess no expertise in film production, I haven’t even watched this particular production. Moreover, I have a handful of friends and colleagues in Bible Secrets, so it would take special consideration to say anything tactfully less than entirely true.
Why not? You review books written by friends don’t you? Do you always agree? But, anyway, more to the present point:
I would reiterate another point that I’ve made in other contexts: the divide between scholarship and the general public is still too wide. We need more scholars willing to interview, not less.
I agree- as long as scholars insist on seeing the product before it airs and sign off on it. Otherwise, it’s just too easy for ignorant producers and tv channels more interested in sensationalistic sound bites than scholarship to misrepresent the facts.
Scholars owe it to the public to speak up. I firmly believe that and no one has offered a cogent or persuasive argument to the contrary.
I have to confess that when Bob Cargill made mention of this listing of the credits for ‘Bible Secrets Revealed’ I was glad that it failed to list Little Honey Tee Tee, Simcha Jacobivici, Hershel Shanks, and Wet Toad and the Sprockets as participants in the special. Whew.
I’ll be watching tomorrow night, and once more live blogging it. I just hope Emil Brunner doesn’t do to me what he’s done to the ETS inerrancy discussion…