Marc Driscoll Loses Publishing Deal

Posted by Jonathan Bailey on Jul 10, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Controversial Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll, who was embroiled in a plagiarism scandal late last year, has now lost his prominent publishing contract.

iStock_000018862214SmallAccording to Warren Throckmorton at The Daily Beast, Tyndale House, which was Driscoll’s publisher through Driscoll’s “Resurgence” imprint, has announced it will not reprint Driscoll’s 2013 book, A Call to Resurgence, and has shelved Driscoll’s next planned book The Problem with Christianity. Tyndale has also said it doesn’t plan to publish any additional titles under the Resurgence imprint after September.

The move represents something of an about face for Tyndale House. In 2013, when Driscoll was accused of plagiarism by radio host Janet Mefferd, Tyndale supported Driscoll and said that his citations in A Call to Resurgence were up to standards for the industry.

Driscoll is no stranger to controversy. A founding pastor at the Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in the Seattle area, Driscoll has drawn criticism for his conservative views on Christianity.

Controversy has also followed him since the plagiarism scandal. In March a 2011 contract between Mars Hill Church and ResultSource came to light. That contract called for ResultSource to buy thousands of copies of Driscoll’s then-upcoming book Real Marriage to land it on the bestseller list.

Driscoll initially defended the arrangement as a “marketing investment” but has since backed down and retracted his bestseller status.

Still, the renewed controversy around Driscoll’s publishing history almost certainly didn’t help his embattled reputation. Though Tyndale has not responded to comment and it’s unclear exactly why they chose to back away from Driscoll, the timing indicates the latest controversy likely played a role.

If that is the case, Driscoll would be the second author in recent memory to survive a high-profile plagiarism scandal with their publishing contract intact. In April of 2013, primatologist Jane Goodall was accused of plagiarism in her new book, Seeds of Hope, after a reviewer noticed several suspicious passages.

Rather than axing the book, Goodall’s publisher pushed the released date and gave Goodall time to fix/cite the passages involved. The book was released earlier this year.

Even Jonah Lehrer, whose journalism career was brought to a halt after a scandal involving plagiarism and fabrication, has signed a new book deal.

What this shows is that plagiarism is no longer an automatic death sentence for the career of an author, especially a popular one that is lucrative for a publisher. However, these scandals can and do still have drastic impacts on the authors and publishers behind the works, making it crucial to check works before publication to avoid any issues.

This is equally, or perhaps even more true, for established authors. While a plagiarism scandal may not end careers reliably, they do still tarnish reputations and attract unwanted attention. If publishers can preemptively avoid plagiarism issues, they and the authors they work with are better off.

Update: After this story was written and before publication, Tyndale House released a statement refuting The Daily Beast article cited below. According to the statement, the rumors of Driscoll losing his contract are untrue and based on bad information given by a Tyndale employee. The upcoming Driscoll book has been postponed to find “the best season in which to publish it” and the publisher is planning a reprint of Resurgence, a decision that is based on sales figures.

The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of iThenticate.