Dear Pastor Mark,
You have blocked me on Twitter and that seems odd. In fact, you have blocked scores of my former students who just wanted to ask questions.
That’s your right, though in years I have basically only blocked Russian bots and alt-Right racists. I have had hard dialog with anti-Fa on Facebook and atheists on Twitter. Why can’t you do the same?
I don’t blame you for not taking comments on a blog. Most commentators I see are anonymous and you are out there with your real name and reputation. However, you will not interact with critics on Facebook and Twitter, two platforms ideal for that conversation. I do not understand this and hope it is not intellectual cowardice. I will assume it is not. Since I do not have to deal with the numbers of followers you have, perhaps I do not understand the pressures. Still, we are now colleagues here on Patheos and so instead of just listing all the ways I think you unfit for this platform, I owe you a debate.
Let’s discuss this issue: What should the limits of ghostwriting and outside research be in the life of a public intellectual or pastor?
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with a research assistant, but your frequent citation errors, including on this blog in your first week, are disturbing. I am open to equal critical scrutiny having written hundreds of posts here.
Why discuss this topic with me? First, I have been the founder of an honors program, mentoring hundreds of tier one students, including in this area. Second, I am a conservative Christian, as you are. We can discuss these issues without your fear that I am sandbagging you from the left. Third, I have been the chief academic officer of a university and the founder of a college program. I have had to work through issues of citation errors, plagiarism, and academic integrity.
You are widely viewed as having breached all reasonable standards. Let’s discuss this issue.
Some of my friends from the Pacific Northwest would prefer that I focus on areas of spiritual harm they feel you have done. That is more important, but easier to fudge and defend. Plagiarism and intellectual fraud is less serious, but cleaner. It is easier to know what should and should not have been done and whether you did it.
You have plausibly been charged with being a poseur, a plagiarist, and a cheat. Let’s discuss. I am happy to use your rules, a mediator of your choosing, and any site (including mine) you wish. All I ask is that my pieces remain unedited. Since you are most famous as a speaker, I would also be happy to debate you live in any video venue of your choice. You speak for a living. . . . I am just a teacher, surely this would be fair to you?
This is your chance to answer questions in a venue of your choosing against a less experienced opponent! Joab told his army to “play the man.” We should lest we play at being men and ignore the hard dialog that makes us better men than any bully-boy posturing.
We both know we serve a God of grace, but grace does not just come to the leader. Grace comes to the sheep before the shepherd. God help us and have grace on us!
I would appreciate a response to this challenge.
Under the Mercy,
John Mark N. Reynolds