The radio host Janet Mefferd, who confronted Mark Driscoll on the accusation that he has repeatedly committed plagiarism, has backed down. As you can see from the dead links in my initial post, Mefferd has taken down the selections of Driscoll’s books juxtaposed with the works he allegedly plagiarized.
According to Warren Throckmorton:
She also removed all of the visual evidence of plagiarism and apologized to her audience for her conduct during the interview. Saying she should have gone to Tyndale House first, she expressed regret that the matter had become a controversy among Christians.
For most of the morning, observers on social media had noted that her blog was down and her twitter feed had been purged of references to the controversy.
Exactly what caused the sudden shift is not clear. My guess is that Mefferd was facing a fair amount of pressure from Driscoll’s fans. You can see just from the comments on Throckmorton’s post that many Christians feel that Mefferd “ambushed” Driscoll. Frankly, I call such ambushes “journalism,” but many Christians are uncomfortable with airing such allegations in public.
Throckmorton correctly notes that the horse is out of the barn. Not only because the accusations will always be available through Google Cache, but because the charges were self explanatory and easy to see when pointed out. You can argue that Mefferd should have been more deferential, but can you really argue that Driscoll’s sentences weren’t taken from the New Bible Commentary?
I’ve read much speculation online, which is understandable given the confusing situation, most of it dead wrong. Being limited in what I can share, let me just say that truth tellers face multiple pressure sources these days. I hosted a radio show for 23 years and know from experience how Big Publishing protects its celebrities. Anything but fawning adulation for those who come on your show (a gift of free air time for the author/publisher by the way) is not taken well. Like Dr. Carl Trueman so aptly asked yesterday in his column at Reformation 21, does honest journalism have any role to play in evangelicalism now? (It was rhetorical.) My own take on that question is, no, it does not. The moment hard questions are asked, the negative focus goes on the questioner, not the celebrity, when there is something that needs scrutiny. Those who have the temerity to call out a celebrity have tremendous courage. The easiest thing in the world is to do fluffy interviews with fluffy guests on fluffy books. So hats off to those like Janet who have the courage to ask at all. And my own opinion on Mr. Driscoll is that despite the bravado, despite the near silence of his Reformed peers and enablers, his brand is damaged, and damaged by his own hand.
Yikes. Driscoll and Co. play for keeps. And that’s a pretty clear indictment of the celebrity culture in the Evangelical sub-culture.