After defending the controversial Seattle pastor from charges of plagiarism, his publisher has shelved his next book and his church’s designated imprint.
After defending Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll against charges of plagiarism last year, Christian publisher Tyndale House has placed Driscoll’s next book on hold and revealed that it will not reprint his previous title. In a stunning reversal of earlier plans, Tyndale has only one other book scheduled through their partnership with Driscoll’s “Resurgence” imprint.
Tyndale House confirmed to The Daily Beast that it does not plan to reprint Driscoll’s 2013 book, A Call to Resurgence, and have put his forthcoming book, The Problem with Christianity, on hold. Once slated to be released this fall, The Problem with Christianity now has no publication date scheduled.
The news seems to represent Tyndale’s reckoning with a series of controversies around Driscoll’s work, most notably allegations last year that he used another author’s ideas extensively without adequate citation. After an investigation, the publisher stood behind Driscoll—at least in public.
Driscoll is one of the founders of Mars Hill Church, a Seattle-based megachurch that boasts 12,000 in average Sunday attendance at 15 locations in five states in the Pacific Northwest. Driscoll’s sermons are heard by millions of evangelicals online, and the Mars Hill podcast is ranked regularly in the top 10 in the iTunes Religion and Spirituality category in the U.S. and several other countries. According to the Mars Hill website, Driscoll was ranked one of the top 25 most influential preachers over the past 25 years by Preaching magazine.
Driscoll’s success has in part been fueled by controversy; his appeal among some evangelicals stems from his brash persona and hyper-masculine presentation of Christianity. He has amassed an enormous back catalog of inflammatory comments on matters ranging from women to the “demonic” movie Avatar.
Until recently, Driscoll had “New York Times bestselling author” on his resume. In January 2012, Real Marriage, a book on marriage and sex he co-authored with his wife, went to No. 1 on the NYT Advice bestseller list. But a few months later, the evangelical magazine World revealed that Mars Hill had hired a firm called Result Source to game the numbers. The contract with Mars Hill called for the church to pay Result Source a $25,000 fee to arrange purchase of at least 11,000 books valued at around $210,000 from a variety of online sources using multiple payment methods. After World revealed the scheme, Mars Hill Church and Driscoll initially defended the arrangement, calling it a “marketing investment.” Amid social media outrage, Driscoll eventually declared the contract was wrong and retracted his bestseller status.
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