Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience

Just a few minutes ago, in a stunning about face, Janet Mefferd disclosed that she removed from her website the interview with Mark Driscoll that prompted charges of plagiarism. 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.

In her brief announcement, Mefferd did not indicate what triggered the change of mind.

It strikes me that the horse is already out of the barn on this.

Ironically, her 4pm guest is slated to discuss Christian celebrity culture.

Ms. Mefferd’s full statement as heard on her December 4 broadcast (2nd hour from 5:29-6:28) is as follows:

Before we go to break, I just want to say something really, really quickly to you. A few weeks ago, as many people know, I conducted an interview with pastor Mark Driscoll. And I received lots of feedback on that interview, both positive and negative, but I feel now that in retrospect, I should have conducted myself in a better way. I now realize the interview should not have occurred at all. I should have contacted Tyndale House directly to alert them to the plagiarism issue. And I never should have brought it to the attention of listeners publicly. So I would like to apologize to all of you and to Mark Driscoll for how I behaved. I am sorry.

Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate that the story would go viral online the way it did and creating such dissension with the Christian community was never my aim. And so in an effort to right things as best as I can, I have now removed all of the materials related to the interview off my website, and also off my social media.

See also:

On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)

Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)

Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)

Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)

More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)

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  • Please, friends…stop feeding John Carpenter.

    • TigandTag

      In an article that addresses the alleged silencing of a journalist you want to silence John Carpenter. Interesting.

      • there’s a lot of what can most charitably be called “irony” around this issue. 🙂

    • melekish

      Can’t agree more, it’s useless talking to him, let us save some time for our precious one than the self righteous Pharisee

  • Huskersuck
    • Guest

      the “evangelical industrial complex” is an absurdity! Really laughable and the kind of phrase not used by a serious person. Apparently she got fired because she was pushing this issue and now Mefferd knows better.

      • Mike Stephan

        For someone who has said repeatedly here that we shouldn’t judge someone’s motives, you sure seem to be doing a lot of that.

        • Guest

          When someone makes a major moral issue out of two brief paragraphs lacking proper citation in what is little more than an internal Bible-study guide and assumes that proves intentional plagiarism and thus lying and stealing, there really isn’t any doubt that such people are wrong.

          When they talk conspiracy theory nonsense of a “evangelical industrial complex”, simply because their silly accusations aren’t getting the traction that they hoped, there is no benefit of the doubt to be given.

    • MWorrell

      Love how these discernment and expose sites feel free to remove comments/content whenever they like, but always assign the worst possible motives to ministries/pastors when they do the same.

  • Does anyone know how to unsubscribe from these comments?

  • Guest

    The furor over Driscoll’s citation-shortage seems symptomatic of broader, more systemic, ecclesiastical issues — not just the character of a single individual. Perhaps Mefford recognizes this and is refocusing. At any rate, she appears to deals with tons of other topics and doesn’t strike me as obsessed with a single issue or personality.

    When Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Tim 5:19) about replacing defective leaders in Ephesus with better ones, he assumes Timothy has authority to weigh accusations and recommendation and administer judicial decisions in overseeing local leaders. He isn’t giving that instruction to every believer in Ephesus, except perhaps for them to know how Timothy should conduct business.. Paul tells the Timothy not to bother promoting or demoting unless he has at least two or three corroborating witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19 isn’t censoring bringing forth relevant evidence, it is encouraging it).

    Who is the Timothy that oversees today’s church leaders city-wide — celebrity or otherwise? In our setting, institutions like Mars Hill can organize their 501c3 pretty much however they want, but the only special authority they have is over those who sign their covenant or otherwise choose to follow their leaders — apart of course, from the continual debt to love one another.

    The vast majority of Christians (including blog commentators) looking in are more like Jesus, an outsider to the religious powers of his day, identifying with the weak, and who nonetheless call leaders to account in terms of both their strengths and weakness (e.g. Mt. 23) — the role of prophet. When hypocrisy gets called out, if the sandal fits, wear it. If it doesn’t fit, just give thanks and take it as a word to the wise.

    Personally, I’m reminded to take care with giving credit where credit is due, not out of intimidation, but respect.

    • A fine comment. Thanks for it.

      1 Timothy 5:19 by extension tells us how to deal with accusations toward elders. (Surely we’re not to believe that Timothy couldn’t entertain an uncorroborated accusation but today now we can.) We give them the benefit of the doubt. In this case, that means NOT assuming intentional plagiarism but assuming it was a mistake, until there is corroborated evidence otherwise.

      Ignoring the principle in 1 Timothy 5:19 is, in my opinion, the really significant spiritual and moral issue in this debacle. It’s those who are quickest to condemn Driscoll for a lack of citation of two brief paragraphs in what is little more than an internal study-guide — they are the problem that is destroying the evangelical church in America (not a lack of a footnote).

      • Guest

        The idea of “the evangelical church in America” strikes me as more someone else’s mental construct than reality, so I’m not clear on what would destroy or build it, ‘cuz I’m not clear on what it is. Forgive me if I’m being “tribal.” I do connect with believers outside of my weekly “fold.”

        If MD reported to me, which he does not (nor I to him!), he would have some ‘splainin’ to do, since evidence has been produced. But yes, he would have opportunity to give his side of the story in weighing the texts, including presumption of innocence.

        Two or more witnesses to reach verdict is biblical justice for EVERYBODY — even elders. In everyday life, outside the celebrity world, few people get hired or fired without it.

  • Trace Batton

    “As John Milton said regarding truth: “Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.” I am with Milton here: The freer the press, the less the innocent have to fear and the more the guilty need to be worried.” -Carl Trueman here: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/12/04/areopagitica/

    • Warren Throckmorton

      Trace – I agree. This has become a bigger issue than Driscoll and Mefferd by now. Can Christians do investigative journalism and have a forum for it? Or must they go outside Christian run media to do so?

      I think this is why RNS is very important, as well as Patheos and independent bloggers.

  • Salvatore Mazzotta

    This is heart-breaking. The state of the church in America at this time is worse than many of us thought. The wolves occupy the highest, most-visible, most-influential places. Church-goers fawn after them. Lord Jesus help us!

  • J. Dean

    The impression I got was that she apologized for HOW she did it, not what she did. And whether she is right about that or not, that still doesn’t let Driscoll off the hook.

    • Fernando Villegas

      Well, she did say that the interview should not have occurred at all. So, “what she did” (the interview) was included in the apology. But you’re right, the apology does not let Mr. Driscoll “off the hook,” and do I think it was Ms. Mefferd’s intention to do so. I think she was taking responsibility for her own errors, which was admirable.

  • Fernando Villegas

    My own two cents worth on this:

    As has been said, the evidence is out there in public, and people can look at it for themselves and draw their own conclusions (which they certainly have been doing!).

    Mr. Driscoll may be held accountable for any plagiarism that he may be guilty of. Or he may not. Either way, I imagine most of us really have no say in that. Those who are vested in this are primarily Mr. Driscoll himself, his publisher, and those whom he allegedly plagiarized. Of course, those who are readers of his published works also have a vested interest, and they have their say simply by choosing not to continue to read his books if they believe he is guilty. That is how they hold him accountable.

    Regardless, I would not worry about him “getting away” with anything:
    “The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”

    I respect Ms. Mefferd’s apology. Unless there is evidence that her apology was pressured from an outside force, there is no reason to assume so. We must take her at her word that she “should have conducted [herself] in a better way.” And she is right. It would have been a wiser decision to have contacted Tyndale House directly, and to inform Mr. Driscoll that she was doing so, and see where it went from there. Having done so would’ve given her more credibility had she eventually decided to go public with the charge, and it certainly would’ve given less credibility to the idea that she was only looking to ambush Mr. Driscoll for the purpose of ratings.

    I’ve been a pastor for fourteen years now, and one of the things I’ve learned is that in most every dispute between two or more people (although there are exceptions, of course), rarely is one side completely wrong and the other side completely right. Usually, both sides have acted in ways that have not been right. The sins of the other should never be used to excuse my own.

  • johnharmstrong

    I would not be so quick to judge why Janet did what she did. I have taken down material simply because I realized it was not in the best interest of the church to broadcast it in the manner that I did. Why conclude she did otherwise until or unless she chooses to tell us her reasons? How about some charity on every side in this heated debate? The body of Christ could stand for us all to “slow down” on such matters. If the publisher is rightly involved I have every confidence in Tyndale House personally.

  • Guest

    The comment section makes me sad. Please, let’s all do some self-examination.