Classical Christian Education and Doug Wilson

One of the largest and best-known movements within Christian education is Classical Christian Education (CCE). CCE is popular with both private schools and homeschoolers. There are several publishing houses that produce CCE curricula, whole networks of CCE schools, and a number of CCE programs available for interested parents.

As a homeschooler, I have many friends who use CCE materials or programs. I also have a number of friends whose children attend CCE schools. So while I do not use CCE myself, I have had a good bit of exposure to the programs. Personally, I prefer other educational models, and generally, I take a “live-and-let-live” approach to educational choices. However, after doing some research into Christian Classical Education, I find it necessary to say something.

What concerns me the most about CCE is not a difference of educational model. Many educators, schools, and parents favor a “classics” approach to education. They generally teach Latin and Greek. They probably read Cicero, Virgil, and Plato. They may have a list of “great books” that they believe the well-educated student should read.

While Christian Classical Education includes all of these aspects, my argument is not about these things. My concern is that CCE as a movement has very close ties to Doug Wilson and has been and continues to be influenced by him and his views. Because of his connections to the movement and because of his influence over what is taught, my concern is that CCE is not a good option for parents and educators, especially those in Reformed denominations.

In 1947, Dorothy Sayers wrote an essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” in which she lamented the state of education and proposed some changes that she thought would improve the future. The heart of the essay is her recommendations which are based on a combination of the Medieval Trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and Sayers’ three stages of child development. This is the framework that CCE uses. There are also secular classical programs that incorporate ideas from Sayers’ essay.

Dorothy Sayers explains her theory of child development as it relates to education:

My views about child psychology are, I admit, neither orthodox nor enlightened. Looking back upon myself (since I am the child I know best and the only child I can pretend to know from inside) I recognize three states of development. These, in a rough-and- ready fashion, I will call the Poll-Parrot, the Pert,and the Poetic–the latter coinciding, approximately, with the onset of puberty. The Poll-Parrot stage is the one in which learning by heart is easy and, on the whole, pleasurable; whereas reasoning is difficult and, on the whole, little relished. At this age, one readily memorizes the shapes and appearances of things; one likes to recite the number-plates of cars; one rejoices in the chanting of rhymes and the rumble and thunder of unintelligible polysyllables; one enjoys the mere accumulation of things. The Pert age, which follows upon this (and, naturally,overlaps it to some extent), is characterized by contradicting, answering back, liking to “catch people out” (especially one’s elders); and by the propounding of conundrums. Its nuisance-value is extremely high. It usually sets in about the Fourth Form.The Poetic age is popularly known as the “difficult” age. It is self-centered; it yearns to express itself; it rather specializes in being misunderstood; it is restless and tries to achieve independence; and, with good luck and good guidance, it should show the beginnings of creativeness; a reaching out towards a synthesis of what it already knows, and a deliberate eagerness to know and do some one thing in preference to all others. Now it seems to me that the layout of the Trivium adapts itself with a singular appropriateness to these three ages: Grammar to the Poll-Parrot, Dialectic to the Pert, and Rhetoric to the Poetic age.

Sayers’ essay became the catalyst for Doug Wilson to start a private school implementing her ideas in the late 1980s. He went on to write a book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, about the school and his application of Sayers’ theory of education. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (RLTL) was published in 1991, and it marks the beginning of the CCE movement. Nearly every CCE school, publishing house, educational program, etc point to Wilson’s book as the foundation of Classical Christian Education.

In RLTL, Wilson writes about the importance of Christian education. According to him, public schools are not to be trusted in educating Christian children.

Error is pervasive. It can come from TV, from library books, or from peers, as well as from school. A Christian parent has two options. The first is to neutralize the false teaching, which means the parents have to spend at least a few hours every night countering what the children learned in school. This is difficult because the parents don’t know exactly what the children learned that day. The children are not yet trained to come back and report on what was unbiblical in what they heard. Responsible oversight sight is extremely difficult. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 495-498). Kindle Edition.)

Interestingly enough, in RLTL, Wilson is also against homeschooling as a viable option. I have read more recent material where he moderates that position, but at the beginning of the CCE movement, he was not supportive of homeschooling because he didn’t believe it was possible for parents to keep up.

If parents instruct their children at home for several years and then place them in a Christian school to continue their education, there is no fundamental difference in principle. But if a home schooling family maintains that children can be given a complete education in the average home (say, K-12), then frankly there is an important difference in educational philosophy. The difference mostly concerns the importance of division of labor in a rigorous, comprehensive education. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 1430-1433). Kindle Edition.)

And,

The alternative is for the home school parents to keep pace generally with the curricula of the more traditional Christian school. Some parents are quite capable of doing this; many are not. As a rule, the average parent who attempts to keep pace with the education that goes on in a good school will have increasing difficulty as the years go by. … For starters, you have to know Latin to teach it. … The reason home schooling works so well at the early years is that the parents are teaching literacy, and they are all literate. This is not true of subjects later in the curriculum. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 1500-1503, 1507-1508). Kindle Edition.)

Wilson’s answer to the question of how to school Christian children is Classical Christian Education. He likes the format that Sayers developed in her essay, and he expands on it. He believes that education must conform to the Bible:

We should hold all forms of education up against the same Biblical standard and then make our decision.(Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 534-535). Kindle Edition.)

And that it’s not possible to have a theologically neutral education:

Neutrality is impossible; worldviews in education are unavoidable. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Location 573). Kindle Edition.)

At these points, I have to agree with him. We should recognize that all education is going to be influenced by the worldview of the educators or authors of the curricula, and all our educational decisions should be made using the Bible as our standard. And this is why I’m concerned with Wilson’s continued influence over the CCE movement. Doug Wilson is often referred to as the founder and one of the most influential leaders of the Christian Classical Education movement.

Doug Wilson founded Logos School in Moscow. Logos School is a model for CCE and holds teacher training seminars every summer for CCE teachers. In 1994, Doug Wilson founded the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) “to promote, establish, and equip schools committed to a classical approach to education in light of a Christian worldview.”

ACCS, which is headquartered in Moscow, holds an annual conference and regional teacher training conferences. The speakers at  this summer’s conference will include Doug Wilson, his son, N.D. Wilson, and Matt Whitling, who is a principal at Logos School. ACCS also provides accreditation for CCE schools. There are around 200 schools listed as member schools accredited by ACCS. This accreditation allows Wilson oversight of the CCE schools implementing his model of education. Accreditation can mean control.

As Wilson points out in RLTL:

An accredited private school may or may not be a high-quality school, but one thing is certain-it is a school on a leash. An accredited school is a controlled school. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 1324-1326). Kindle Edition.)

Canon Press, a publishing house founded by Wilson’s Christ Church in Moscow, has a CCE curricula branch called Logos School Press. Logos School Press offers curricula, resources, and online classes for Christian Classical Education schools and homeschoolers.

While there are a number of other publishing houses and CCE programs that provide resources and books for CCE, many of them either publish books by Wilson, promote materials by Wilson, or use Wilson’s books in their programs. Even Susan Wise Bauer’s book, Well Trained Mind,  quotes Wilson to explain aspects of CCE.

To recap, Wilson literally wrote the book on CCE. He founded one of the first schools. He founded the association that trains and accredits many CCE teachers and schools. His books and the curricula he helped develop are used by many CCE schools, programs, and homeschoolers.

While I intend to write more about this in my next post, Wilson’s views on theology, history, slavery, patriarchy, marriage, and sex are present in various materials and curricula used by many CCE schools and programs. Here are some small examples from the RLTL book.

Wilson’s Federal Vision theology, which includes baptismal regeneration, paedocommunion, and a denial of justification by faith alone, shows up in a passage discussing the importance of parents educating their children in the faith.

God has given parents a profound authority over children. If they use that authority correctly, with much love and affection, the children will wholeheartedly follow the God of their parents. … In Titus, the elders are required to have children who are believers-which implies that fathers can bring their children to belief. … He put children in their parents’ charge, and then He instructed the parents to teach their children in a certain way. A child should come to belief on the authority of the parents. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 477-480, 487-488). Kindle Edition.)

Wilson also has views on various aspects of history that many find troubling. This is particularly true of his views on slavery, more on this is the next post, but it’s also true of his views on the American Revolutionary War. Wilson does not believe it is accurate to call it a “revolution” and prefers to call it a “War for Independence.” He apparently believes that revolutions are sinful and not an appropriate description of the Revolutionary War (more on this in the next post).

In RLTL, Wilson uses this distinction to illustrate the importance of the worldview of educators:

The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Surely that is a bald historical fact, whether or not the teacher is a Christian. Yes, but did that action by the colonists begin a revolution, or a war for independence? A revolution occurs when the government established by God is toppled, there are mobs in the streets, and lawful authority is rejected. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 710-712). Kindle Edition.)

Even Wilson’s patriarchal views are evident in RLTL when he expresses concern about mothers being the primary educators in homeschools:

In many home schools, the responsibility for lesson preparation, curriculum research, attendance at home school association meetings, and actual teaching falls on the mother. There is obviously no problem Biblically with the mother working with these things, so long as the father is truly exercising his responsibility as the head of the household. But in how many home schools is the father a passive onlooker? In how many situations has the father simply allowed the mother to run the program? If one were to attend a typical home school association meeting, how many fathers would he see there? (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 1465-1468). Kindle Edition.)

It’s also worth noting that in 2003, the board of Logos School voted to restrict membership to men. From the Logos School newsletter explaining the board’s decision:

“First, we are not considering this amendment because we believe that the scriptural requirement of men only in the eldership of a church applies to the board of the school,” the newsletter noted. “Thus, it is our view, it is not a question of whether it is a ‘sin’ to have a woman on the board, but rather a question of wisdom and prudence in our cultural circumstances.”

“Second, in regard to those circumstances, we believe that it is necessary to resist egalitarian feminism, which has spread throughout our culture and has even affected many parts of the church. As a classical Christian school committed to the Scriptures as our ultimate rule of faith and practice, we believe we have an obligation to set a positive example. Sad to say, frequently in the current climate, women seeking positions of authority (e.g. on a school board) subscribe to some form of feminist philosophy. Rather than vetoing a nomination of this sort (which would appear personal instead of principled), we would rather address the issue this way, without involving personalities.”

The danger that I see in this is that many people who do not share Doug Wilson’s views on theology, history, slavery, patriarchy, marriage, sex, etc. may be allowing him to teach his views to their children without being aware of it. You may think that the danger is small, that his views on these topics are only a small portion of what your children are being taught. But as Scripture says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:9, ESV). In my next post, I will be going through some of the popular CCE curricula to show how Wilson’s views on these topics are being taught and promoted.  For now, I’d like to note that Wilson advises in RLTL that even a small amount of unbiblical teaching is too much:

It is a mistake to assume that the unbiblical nature of the curriculum must be overt before Christians oppose it. If we come to understand that a man’s life is unified in his theology, whatever that theology is, then we will not be surprised to see what he affirms in one area surface in another. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 662-664). Kindle Edition.)

It’s not often that I agree with Wilson, but I do here again. Wilson’s theology shows up in many places in the material I researched in ways that I didn’t expect.

My conclusion is that if you want to teach, or have your children taught, the classics, if you want to study Latin, Greek, and Socrates, that’s great. But if you currently support the Christian Classical Education movement, maybe it’s time to take the good out and start over on the system. As Wilson noted in RLTL, a reform of CCE may be necessary:

There are potential dangers-this is one reform that is necessary, but it might result in a system needing a different type of reform later. (Douglas Wilson. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) (Kindle Locations 261-263). Kindle Edition.)

I think the time has come to stop funding Doug Wilson and his various endeavors and to protect our children from being indoctrinated by his heterodox views. May God bless those who seek to develop a new and better way.

It’s Just the Way I Am …

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. (Proverbs 25:11-12, ESV)

I’m re-reading one of my favorite books, Anne of Avonlea. It’s such a sweet story. I’ve always believed that the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, had great insight into people and human nature. It’s more apparent to me now reading it as an adult.

One passage I read stood out to me this week. Anne is talking with Mr. Harrison, a grumpy, cranky sort of man. The kind of man who offends others and doesn’t care. Here he makes excuses for his behavior:

“It was the truth and I believe in telling the truth to everybody.”

“But you don’t tell the whole truth,” objected Anne. “You only tell the disagreeable part of the truth.” …

“You must excuse me, Anne. I’ve got a habit of being outspoken and folks mustn’t mind it.”

“But they can’t help minding it. And I don’t think it’s any help that it’s your habit. What would you think of a person who went about sticking pins and needles into people and saying, ‘Excuse me, you mustn’t mind it . . . it’s just a habit I’ve got.’ You’d think he was crazy, wouldn’t you?” (Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, pg. 63)

How many times recently have we heard certain pastors or politicians praised for their “honesty.” There seems to be a lot of praise for offensive “honesty” lately. But being offensive is not a virtue.

As believers, there will be times that we have to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), and it may very well offend. When we confront others for their sin, we can do it gently and lovingly and with kindness towards them. They may be offended by what we say, but let it be the message that offends, not the method.

Let’s put off seeking to offend and rejoicing in offending others. It doesn’t speak well of us or commend us or our message of grace and forgiveness. Let’s put aside the world’s ways of communicating with others and build each other up out of love for each other. And let’s stop promoting public figures who enjoy being offensive. As Anne says, they’re like crazy folk going around “sticking pins and needles into people.” We wouldn’t stand for that, why should we promote, support, or excuse offensive behavior in others, especially those in authority.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. … be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:4, 18b-21, ESV)

The Very Definition of Plagiarism

Since I wrote my response to Canon Press’s investigation into the plagiarism in A Justice Primer, there has been a continued discussion of what constitutes plagiarism. I thought it might be useful to go over some basics. There is a very comprehensive article from Harvard University on “What Constitutes Plagiarism.” It has many helpful explanations, especially as it explains how to integrate the use of source material into your own work without plagiarizing.

Let’s start with the basic definition of plagiarism from the Harvard paper:

In academic writing, it is considered plagiarism to draw any idea or any language from someone else without adequately crediting that source in your paper. It doesn’t matter whether the source is a published author, another student, a Web site without clear authorship, a Web site that sells academic papers, or any other person: Taking credit for anyone else’s work is stealing, and it is unacceptable in all academic situations, whether you do it intentionally or by accident. (emphasis added)

That’s right, folks. Plagiarism is plagiarism whether or not it was intentional. No matter how many times people repeat the claim that the plagiarism in A Justice Primer was unintentional, it doesn’t matter.

One type of plagiarism is Verbatim Plagiarism. This would be when an author copies source material word for word without giving a proper citation. Notice that whether you put the source material in quotation marks or paraphrase it, you still have to provide “a clear citation.” Good examples of verbatim plagiarism would be the two examples of copying from Creation.com that I gave in my last article. (As a side note, it appears that Randy Booth has since taken down those two posts from his blog.)

Another interesting form of plagiarism is Mosaic Plagiarism. This would be when an author quotes or paraphrases from one or more source and doesn’t adequately cite the original material. Mosaic plagiarism would be like the chapter in A Justice Primer on Shimei that weaved material together from two sources with original material.

The Harvard article on plagiarism also covers Inadequate and Uncited Paraphrase. These would be when an author changes words somewhat but either doesn’t change them enough (inadequate paraphrase) or doesn’t cite the source material of the paraphrase (uncited paraphrase.) An example of these from A Justice Primer would be the section taken from Gary North. The original material has been paraphrased some, but a portion is still word for word, and none of it is cited.

One final type of plagiarism that I want to consider today is Uncited Quotation. The Harvard article defines it this way:

When you put source material in quotation marks in your essay, you are telling your reader that you have drawn that material from somewhere else. But it’s not enough to indicate that the material in quotation marks is not the product of your own thinking or experimentation: You must also credit the author of that material and provide a trail for your reader to follow back to the original document.

This particular type of plagiarism is very interesting to me. In my last article on the Canon Press investigation, I included an instance of this kind of plagiarism by Doug Wilson from his book, Fidelity:

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After my article ran, I read various explanations for why this was not an example of plagiarism. One said that it wasn’t plagiarism, it was simply a similarly worded translation. But last week, someone asked Doug Wilson about it on Facebook. He replied that it was not plagiarism because he put it in quotation marks. He later clarified and called it an “amplified uncited quote.”

plagiarism wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not exactly sure what an “amplified uncited quote” is. I’ve never heard the term before, but uncited quotation is the very definition of plagiarism. Carl Trueman commented that my last article was “a combined lesson on Basic Research Methods and Plagiarism 101.” After what I’ve read this last week, I think maybe there are many who would benefit from more instruction on research and plagiarism.

Doug Wilson: “The beauty of biblical courtship is that it never leaves women unprotected.”

One of the comments that Doug Wilson has made regarding Jamin Wight and the abuse Wight inflicted on Natalie Greenfield is that Jamin and Natalie were in a “secret courtship.” The existence of this “secret courtship” is supposed to be a mitigating factor in the abuse. For the record, Natalie, and her father Gary Greenfield, both deny the existence of a courtship, secret or otherwise. Having read a good bit of literature on courtship, I wondered how what Natalie experienced could be called a “courtship.”

I discovered that Wilson has written a book on courtship, Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World. I decided to read the book and consider the following questions. First, how does Wilson define courtship? What is it, and why is it preferable traditional dating? Second, would what happened to Natalie fit under that definition of courtship? And, lastly, if there had been a “secret courtship,” so what? What difference would it make?

So first, what is courtship? According to the various advocates of courtship, such as Gothard’s ATI and Phillips’ Vision Forum, courtship is a way for a young couple to determine if they are suited for marriage. Unlike traditional dating, the couple does not get to know each other through going out on unsupervised dates. Typically, the process is for a young man to approach the father of the young woman he’s interested in and ask for permission to start courting her. The end goal is marriage.

This means that a man who is initiating in a relationship must take quite a risk in talking to her father. But God has designed it so that the man is the one who is to take such a risk. He initiates, and, if she has received her father’s blessing, she responds. This is biblical courtship. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 99-101)

Throughout the courtship, the couple will be expected to follow some strict guidelines regarding physical interaction. In general, no kissing, hugging, or hand holding.

The logic of unbelieving dating resembles a “test run” more than the courtship of a Christian virgin. Because of this test run mentality, it is not surprising that immorality is so prevalent. If a man needs to know a woman before he makes a commitment, then why should he be denied the privilege of getting to know what she is like in bed?

In God’s pattern, wisdom is exercised as public information about a suitor, or about a young woman, is carefully gathered. All intimacy follows the commitment; in the biblical pattern no intimacy precedes the commitment. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 1001-1004, emphasis added)

This process is designed to protect young couples from becoming emotionally and intimately attached to each other before marriage. The idea is that if their emotions are kept in check, they will be able to make a more rational decision about marriage. And they will be protected from the dangers of sexual activity outside of marriage.

We must reject the pattern of abdication, disobedience, and sexual immorality which we see all around us; hence, our rejection of recreational dating, or the modern dating system. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 124-125)

Fathers are key in this process. They act as gatekeepers and guardians. No one can court their daughters without their permission and all of the courting activities take place under their supervision.

In biblical courtship, the practical, involved authority of the father over the process is fully recognized and appreciated. With recreational dating, the authority of the father is treated as a vestige of another era, or as a joke. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage Kindle (Locations 315-317)

Doug Wilson explains the protection of courtship:

Apart from biblical dating or courting, there are many destructive consequences-emotional, sexual, and spiritual. But if a young man seeks to initiate a relationship, and takes full responsibility for the relationship under the woman’s father, there is scriptural accountability and protection. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 40-41)

The beauty of biblical courtship is that it never leaves women unprotected. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Location 93)

In courtship, a woman’s fundamental protection is provided by her father. But this does not mean that her suitor has no responsibility to act like a gentleman. Suppose the father has given his permission for a young man to court his daughter. As a godly man approaches a woman, he should assume all the risk. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 437-439)

Wilson also explains the way courtship should work. By its nature, courtship is very public:

With biblical courtship, the courting activity is publicly connected to the life of the family, most likely the family of the young daughter. With recreational dating, the privacy of the couple is paramount. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 322-323, emphasis added)

When a young man is given permission to court a young woman, he is limited in his access to her. He has permission to get to know her while spending time with her family:

If the daughter is interested in the suitor, then the father should come back to him, and say, “No, you cannot take my daughter out, but you may take us out.” Because there is interest, the young man is given permission to spend time with the family. If that goes well, he may begin to spend time alone with the daughter under the watchful oversight of the father. The young man is being invited to spend time with the family. (Kindle Locations 856-859, emphasis added)

If at any point the father (or the daughter) decide that the courtship shouldn’t continue, the father can revoke the permission:

If it becomes obvious during the courtship that the young man is not suitable, then it is the father’s duty to explain to him that he is not free to continue to come around in the same way. He no longer has the father’s permission to single his daughter out in the way he has been doing. (Kindle Locations 867-868)

To summarize, courtship is an alternative to traditional dating that allows young couples to determine if they should get married while seeking and honoring a father’s role as protector of his daughters. It is designed to provide emotional and physical protection for young men and women. It is openly acknowledged, public, and has strict boundaries. There is no physical intimacy.

Given that understanding of what courtship is, let’s consider what happened to Natalie. I will warn you that the details are graphic and disturbing. Natalie explains how things began:

Jamin expressed an interest in me to my parents when I was 14 years old, months after he’d begun grooming me and had already instigated a physical relationship with me. To say I had a crush on him would be an understatement – I was completely infatuated with him, as is very common for abuse victims,  and had been since shortly after I met him at a church event when I was 13 years old. (No one knew the depth of my affection for him, of course, I think told my parents I thought he was pretty cool.) My parents told Jamin he could wait for me if he wanted to and they’d  reassess the situation when I was 18 years old. It was made exceedingly clear that in the meantime there was to be no ‘relationship’ whatsoever. As far as my parents knew there was no relationship … . My parents were naive and foolish, yes. They trusted him to respect the house rules regarding their daughter, partly because he’d been vetted by their own pastor as a seminary student. He didn’t follow the rules.

As a side note, it is common practice in Moscow for students at New Saint Andrews and Greyfriars to board with families. Students and families are encouraged to participate in this housing arrangement.

So, Jamin approached Natalie’s father and expressed interest in courtship. At that time, Natalie was 14, and Jamin was 24. Jamin was told that he could wait until Natalie was 18, and if he was still interested, then a courtship might be considered. Based on Wilson’s guidelines for courtship, that should have been the end of Jamin seeking out Natalie. But it wasn’t. You can read the timeline of events that Natalie put together here.

Here are some excerpts from Natalie describing what did happen over the next few years.

The beginning:

Jamin moved into our mansion on B Street and lived there along with 4-5 other boarders. At some point during this process Jamin expressed an interest in getting to know me. My parents discussed what they should do and ultimately my father told him he could wait around for me until I was older, if he wanted, and strictly forbade any development of a physical or romantic relationship. We were allowed to be friends. Two weeks later Jamin kissed me for the first time.

Later:

Let me describe a scene to you, one scene of many, many more just like it. It’s late afternoon in an old house on B Street in Moscow. A 14 year old girl goes bounces down the stairs of her family’s 8-bedroom mansion to get her favorite pair of jeans from the laundry hamper. A 24 year old man follows her down the stairs and enters the laundry room behind her. He sneaks up behind her and grabs her by the shoulders, she shrieks, then giggles. “Shhhhh! C’mere!” He says. He pulls her by the hand into the dungeon-like bathroom adjacent to the laundry room. “Jamin, stop! My mom will hear us!” the girl protests. “Then be quiet” he says, pushing down firmly on the top of her head until she buckles to her knees. She knows what he wants, it’s what he always wants and she hates it. She begins giving it to him and a minute later they hear footsteps coming down the long basement stairs. The man shoves the girl away from him, she falls backward into the laundry room and he closes the bathroom door to finish the job himself. The girl jumps to her feet, wipes her mouth and runs up the basement stairs, shaking nervously as she passes her mother on way. A close call.

The abuse continues:

Jamin began more serious abuse, this included sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse. He was wildly jealous of me, he spied on me, he gave me a strict set of rules to follow regarding my behavior, dress, and social life, he forced me to perform oral sex on him on a regular basis, he oiled the hinges of the doors in our home and frequently snuck into my room in the middle of the night, he limited when I was allowed to leave the house and where I was allowed to go (he did this by privately bullying me, as far as anyone else knew the decisions were my own), he demeaned me constantly and convinced me never to tell anyone about what was happening because he said they’d all know I was a slut and no one else would ever love me, he told me I should not go to college or develop any career or interests because I was to be his wife and the mother of his children someday and would have no need for continued education or a career path, he lectured me constantly on my flirtatious, sinful, tempting ways and convinced me I was an abhorrent girl with few redeemable qualities.

After Natalie’s father kicked Jamin out of the house:

Jamin no longer lived with us but still occasionally stopped by to grab belongings he’d left, and during these brief visits would rendezvous with me in the basement or in a car for sex favors. One time, I stopped him on the front porch and quietly asked him if I was still a virgin because I didn’t know if fisting constituted penetration. He laughed at me, then walked inside. This was one of the last times we ever spoke.

What Natalie describes is troubling and clearly abusive behavior on the part of Jamin. He groomed her, he abused her, and he did it all secretly and privately, hiding his actions from her family. There is nothing about what Jamin did to Natalie that remotely fits Wilson’s description of courtship.

The last question that I want to consider is: even if Natalie’s parents had agreed to a courtship between Jamin and Natalie, would that change anything? No, and here’s why. If Jamin had been allowed to court Natalie, he would have been given permission to get to know Natalie and her family in an open, public, and respectable fashion. He would not have had permission to have any physical intimacy or private dates with her.

So even if there had been a courtship, that would not have given Jamin the right to treat Natalie the ways in which he did. It would not explain or excuse any of his behavior. And it should not have been used to minimize the sentence Jamin received.

Jamin’s abuse of Natalie was not in any way a courtship. I’ve written before about the abusive tendencies of patriarchal systems, but I sincerely hope that emotional, physical, and sexual violation are not common behavior in Wilsonian courtships.

When a man initiates and a woman responds with her father’s approval, everything is wonderful. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Location 1008)

A Justice Primer: The Investigation

Late last week, Canon Press released a statement with the findings from their investigation into the plagiarism in A Justice Primer. To refresh our memories, the original statement they released back in December was:

Canon Press has investigated the charges of plagiarism and improper citation in A Justice Primer, and it is abundantly clear that the editor and co-author, Randy Booth, plagiarized material in multiple instances from a number of different sources. Such negligence and editorial incompetence is a gross breach of contract and obviously does not meet Canon Press’s publishing standards. As such, we have discontinued the book, effective immediately. Refer to the author statements below for more information. We would like to specifically thank Rachel Miller for bringing this to our attention so we could take the necessary steps to immediately correct such a serious error.

Apparently they have now changed their minds about portions of this statement. There are three main points that they make in the new statement. First, they claim I had help with my original article that I didn’t cite. Second, they claim that my colleague and I have a personal animosity towards Doug Wilson and that bias negatively affected the research. And third, they claim the plagiarism wasn’t intentional, was mostly citation errors, and was really not such a big deal after all. I would like to address each of these points in turn.

First, Canon Press has “discovered” that Valerie Hobbs helped me with my research. Valerie and I have worked and published together in the past, and I did ask her to help me.  I did all of my own research, and the material I published in my article was my own work and my own findings. Valerie had a small, but much appreciated role in my research.

Here’s how the research process went. While preparing to write a review of the book, I discovered some passages that seemed odd. I decided to check if they were original to the book or from some other source. Because the book is only available as a hard copy book, and not electronically, I had to type up the quotes I wanted to search. Then I ran various quotes from the book through a commercially available plagiarism software. When I discovered plagiarized material in A Justice Primer, I wanted to be careful that my research was accurate.

Because large portions of the book were taken from Wilson and Booth’s blog posts, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t missing something. I didn’t want to say it was plagiarism by Wilson or Booth and have it actually be that someone had plagiarized their work. So, I discussed my findings with Valerie. She offered to run the quotes through the academic/research software she has access to as a professor and researcher. She did not turn up any additional plagiarism. What she found was consistent with what I had already discovered.

So there’s the big secret. Valerie double checked my work for accuracy. Since the findings were truly mine, I didn’t see any need to cite her assistance. But I am very grateful for her help. If Canon Press had bothered to ask me during their investigation, I would have happily supplied that information to them.

Second, Canon Press now seems to believe that because I have a history of writing things critical to Doug Wilson my findings are suspect. Doug Wilson himself addressed that very issue when he publicly thanked me back in December. He noted that while we have had our disagreements, he was thankful for my work in this matter.

It was no secret that I read A Justice Primer with the intention of critiquing it. I said so in my original post. It is absolutely true that I disagree with Doug Wilson on many theological matters. That doesn’t change the facts that I presented in my article. I was very careful in my discussion of the plagiarism not to speculate who had done the plagiarizing. Canon seems to think that I knew Booth was responsible and didn’t say so so that I could implicate Wilson. That is not true.

As I’ve said before, much of the book was taken from blog posts that Wilson and Booth had written over the last 10 years. However, there were large portions of the book that did not seem to come from either blog. The book itself gives no indication who wrote which portions or that Booth was the editor. When Canon released their first statement that Booth took full responsibility for the plagiarism, I agreed that Booth was likely the one responsible. But, because I could not know for certain who wrote what at the time of my post, I refrained from speculating. It would have been unfair to either author to do otherwise.  And ultimately, as Doug Wilson has said regarding plagiarism:

But with all said and done, the person whose name is on the cover of the book is responsible to put things completely right if a problem surfaces. He may not be guilty, but he is always responsible — as basic covenant theology teaches us.

Lastly, the recent statement by Canon Press appears to say that the problems in A Justice Primer aren’t really that bad. It was unintentional. There were “citation errors.”

Let’s consider that for a moment. Before I published my article on the plagiarism, I presented my findings to 5 seminary and university professors. I wanted to know what they thought of the significance of what I’d found. All of them said it was plagiarism. They said that if they had done it, they would have been in trouble with their university/seminary/academic community. They also said that if one of their students had done the same the student would face disciplinary action including expulsion. Plagiarism is serious business.

What do universities say about plagiarism? Here are a few university statements. I’ll start with the one from Greyfriars’ Hall, the ministerial program in Moscow. New Saint Andrew’s uses a very similar statement:

Students must avoid plagiarism, misrepresentation, misappropriation of the work of others, or any other form of academic dishonesty, whether intentional or the result of reckless disregard for academic integrity (see “Plagiarism” in Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers, sixth edition, p. 74 [5.2]). Such academic dishonesty may be grounds for disciplinary action by the instructor and Greyfriars’ Hall administration up to and including dismissal from Greyfriars’ Hall. (emphasis added)

This one is from the University of Sheffield:

Plagiarism(either intentional or unintentional) is the using of ideas or work of another person (including experts and fellow or former students) and submitting them as your own. It is considered dishonest and unprofessional. Plagiarism may take the form of cutting and pasting, taking or closely paraphrasing ideas, passages, sections, sentences, paragraphs, drawings, graphs and other graphical material from books, articles, internet sites or any other source and submitting them for assessment without appropriate acknowledgement. (emphasis added)

Here’s one from Duke University on what constitutes “unintentional plagiarism“:

Unintentional plagiarism is plagiarism that results from the disregard for proper scholarly procedures.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism:
Failure to cite a source that is not common knowledge.
Failure to “quote” or block quote author’s exact words, even if documented.
Failure to put a paraphrase in your own words, even if documented.
Failure to put a summary in your own words, even if documented.
Failure to be loyal to a source.

Or this one from Baker College on the difference between intentional and unintentional plagiarism:

Intentional plagiarism is copying someone’s words or ideas without citing them, in order to pass them off as your own (in other words, cheating).

Unintentional plagiarism is accidentally leaving off the required citation(s) because you don’t understand the rules of citation and plagiarism.

Going back to Canon’s statement, I didn’t speculate in my article as to whether or not the plagiarism was intentional. It’s certainly possible that Booth unintentionally plagiarized in places. In his own statement, he said he wasn’t aware that he had to cite dictionary definitions. And failure to put Tim Challies’ words in quotation marks or as a blockquote could also fall under this category, since there was some attempt at citation near that passage.

However, the chapter on Shimei is still hard to explain. Whole sentences and paragraphs were taken from the two sources and weaved together without any indication where the material came from. It’s hard to understand how that happens accidentally. But either way, intentionally or unintentionally, all of these are still plagiarism, by definition.

According to the academic statements above, if a student commits plagiarism, he or she will face discipline whether the plagiarism was intentional or unintentional. No one but Randy Booth knows if he intended to commit plagiarism or not. And in the end, it doesn’t matter. Either way the material was plagiarized.

For example, it’s plagiarism if an author takes information from another website and publishes it on his own blog without linking or attributing the original source:

Booth-Creation

Left column: Randy Booth Right column: Creation.com

And again, material taken from another website without attribution is plagiarism:

Booth--Creation

Left column: Randy Booth Right column: Creation.com

It’s also plagiarism to take words from another source, change them slightly, and use them as your own without citation:

mag-1

The left-hand side of the image below comes from page 130 of Doug Wilson’s book, Fidelity, published in 1999. The right-hand side comes from page 777 of the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III and published in 1998.

 

I hope that Canon Press and the authors involved will be more careful in the future with their citations. I also think it would have been wise for Canon to have kept to their original statement on the plagiarism in A Justice Primer. It was clear and concise. I don’t believe their current statement has done them any favors.

A Justice Primer: Discontinued as of December 10, 2015

Canon Press, publisher of A Justice Primer, has discontinued the book due to the plagiarism cited in my other post:

CANON PRESS STATEMENT:

Canon Press has investigated the charges of plagiarism and improper citation in A Justice Primer, and it is abundantly clear that the editor and co-author, Randy Booth, plagiarized material in multiple instances from a number of different sources. Such negligence and editorial incompetence is a gross breach of contract and obviously does not meet Canon Press’s publishing standards. As such, we have discontinued the book, effective immediately. Refer to the author statements below for more information. We would like to specifically thank Rachel Miller for bringing this to our attention so we could take the necessary steps to immediately correct such a serious error.

You can read the full statement here.

Justice, Character, and Plagiarism

UPDATE: Canon Press, publisher of A Justice Primer, has discontinued the book

Plagiarism

noun
1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author

In the process of writing my review of A Justice Primer, I ran across a sentence that seemed familiar. I searched and discovered that it was one of those quotes that has a million versions and no one knows where exactly it originated. While searching, I ran several excerpts from the book in a plagiarism checker and had unexpected results. I expected that many quotes would have links to Doug Wilson’s or Randy Booth’s websites, and they did, However, some quotes had links to other sites.

The images that follow are comparisons. Each image has a page from A Justice Primer on the left and a page from another source on the right. The verbatim (word for word) text is highlighted, generally in yellow. The paraphrased (similar) wording is highlighted in tan. None of the highlighted sections were attributed in the book to the original authors or sources.

Four of the instances are definitions: Bulverism, jurisdiction, poetic justice, weasel words (“Weasel words” requires three images because its definition spans two pages in A Justice Primer and two different sections of Wikipedia). Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

Four are excerpts from other known authors: Tim Challies, Iain MurrayGreg Bahnsen, and Ellen G. White. Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

The largest and most significant example comes from a chapter in A Justice Primer entitled, “Justice and Character.” In these images there are both yellow and blue highlighting to illustrate that the material comes from two separate sources. The yellow text is from an article by Paul Rose, and the blue text is from a devotional by Wayne Blank. The Bible verses are highlighted in tan because a different translation of the Bible was used, although the verses are grouped and used in the same manner as the Wayne Blank devotional.

The first group of images shows the side by side comparison of the book chapter pages and each source. Because of the way the two sources were woven together in the book chapter, the images may seem repetitive, but each image has pertinent details. Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

These next images show the text of the book chapter with all of the copied text highlighted, along with the full text of the Paul Rose article and Wayne Blank devotional. This is to illustrate the amount of material taken from each source. Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

Paul Rose
Paul Rose

Wayne Blank
Wayne Blank

This is a significant amount of unoriginal work, and it’s not the first time that Doug Wilson has had a book with plagiarized material. Southern Slavery: As It Was was written by Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins. When the plagiarism was uncovered, the book was pulled by Canon Press and later revised and republished as Black and Tan without Steve Wilkins as co-author. Wilson wrote regarding the charges of plagiarism:

And this is the reason the issue of intentionality is so important to us (and to them). Both Steve and I are ministers of the gospel. If either of us intentionally stole the intellectual property of Fogel and Engerman, then we should resign from the ministry. We would be disqualified from our office, having disgraced it. That is the difference between intentional and unintentional in this, and it is not a trifle. It does not matter — if we have been out stealing stereos, automobiles, or ideas — we need to figure out another way to feed our families.