Mark Driscoll’s Death By Love And Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart: Is This Plagiarism?

When Janet Mefferd first accused Mark Driscoll of plagiarism, she focused on Driscoll’s use of Peter Jones signature concepts of “oneism” and “twoism.” Houston Baptist University professor Collin Garbarino looked at the matter and said he would have been “concerned about the lack of citation” but may have regarded it as “ineptitude.”

Then Mefferd claimed plagiarism in three other books (one of which I have examined in depth here and here). Specifically, she claimed that Mark and Grace Driscoll’s recent book Real Marriage improperly used some work from Dan Allender’s 1990 book The Wounded Heart.  That material was gone from Mefferd’s site soon after she posted it but can still be viewed here (and here).

In Allender’s book, he identifies various “styles of relating” often used by abused women. The terms “good girl, tough girl, and party girl” are used by Allender to describe various compensations that some women make in response to psychological pain associated with being victims of abuse. The terms are fully described on pages 160-169 of his book and can be previewed at Amazon and seen here.

In addition to the Real Marriage book, the terms are also used in Driscoll’s 2008 book with Gerry Breshears, Death by Love. In this book on pages 150-152, Driscoll and Breshears describe “fig leafs” used by abused women to protect themselves.

Tragically, this pattern of sin-defilement-shame-hiding continues through four possible roles that defiled people can assume. These roles are the fig leaves they and their secret hide behind, according to some experts I know in the field of sexual abuse. As I explain these, Mary, I need you to be honest about which fig leaf you are wearing—the role you are playing, the person you are pretending to be—so that you can repent of not only your sin but, as Romans 1:18 says, your efforts to suppress the truth of what you have done and what has been done to you, which contribute to your ongoing additional sin.

In this letter to a woman he calls “Mary,” Driscoll refers to “experts I know in the field of sexual abuse.” Allender could be one of those experts but I can’t find his name in the book. Because they cite unnamed experts, it appears to me that they are not claiming these designations as their own exclusive work. Any discussion of plagiarism would need to move to “unintentional plagiarism” such as described here on the University of Washington website.

What follows are brief excerpts of the section from pages 150-152 of Death by Love. When compared with Allender’s book it is clear to me that Driscoll and Breshears are describing the same styles of relating.

The first fig leaf is worn by the good girl. The good girl is successful, pleasant, and dependable…The good girl is essentially dead, devoid of passion, and consumed with trying to smile, be good, and do the right thing, hoping to convince everyone that she is fine when she is really broken and devastated.

The second fig leaf is worn by the tough girl. The tough girl has been hurt, and she projects to the world her confidence, anger, and toughness so that no one has the courage to hurt her again. The tough girl is respected by many but known and loved by few.

The third fig leaf is worn by the party girl. The party girl is the life of the party, the center of attention, fun to be with, and prone to self-medicate with drugs, food, and alcohol.

Driscoll and Breshears add a fourth fig leaf — the church lady. She sounds a lot like the good girl but churchier.

In short, I believe the authors of Death by Love (and Real Marriage as well) should have included a simple footnote giving credit to Allender for the conceptualization of these styles of relating with reference to The Wounded Heart.

Some might point out that, in this book, Driscoll is writing a letter to a woman and it would be awkward to include footnotes. I agree that one might not include them in a personal letter, but it would have been proper to include a citation in the book. The book was not written to one person, but for sale to many. Thus, including a note in the book but not the letter would have properly discharged their duty as authors.

I should add that I reached out to Gerry Breshears, Mars Hill Church, and Dan Allender for comment with no reply as yet. I welcome any information relevant to fact checking this claim.

I am surprised that no comment has yet come from those involved. Others, when charged with such things, are quick to comment (e.g., Shia LeBeouf”s recent apology for his mistake of not citing the inspiration and source for a recent movie). Mars Hill has acknowledged some “citation errors” but appeared to lay the blame at the feet of research helpers. Even though Rev. Driscoll’s name is on the cover of the various books in question, he has yet to comment.

The deflection and silence makes me wonder if evangelicals will get around to important conversations about ghostwriting and Christian celebrities.

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)

Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)

Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (12/5/13)

Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)

IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors (12/9/13)

Mars Hill Church Alters Statement on Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (UPDATED) (12/10/13)

Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Battle Plan Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter (12/10/13)

Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Document Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter, Part Two (12/12/13)

Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the Case of the Disappearing Links (12/16/13)

See all posts on this topic here.

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