The men and I that have cooperated in the research of the current series by Mr. Jim Johnson are not pleased to be issuing a series with such disconcerting findings. However, Johnson’s series was produced to discredit men like Pastor Tom Stegall because of his series, The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel published at the Grace Family Journal. Furthermore, and in reality, Mr. Johnson’s series discredits the Gospel! He did these things we are about to examine publicly and he promoted his series as if it would be a theological breakthrough.
I intended to open this new multi-part series addressing the already well-publicized case of Mr. Jim Johnson violating federal copyright law and extreme example of plagiarism. That incident occurred in Part 5 of his series Destroying Free Grace Theology. That article has been reschedule because a new example of copyright infringement and blatant plagiarism has been uncovered in Mr. Johnson’s series.
Once the mass plagiarism was discovered in Part 5 of his series it seemed to me that there may likely be more examples of plagiarism to be found in other installments of his series, and there were. In this article I will drawing your attention to *Part 2 of Johnson’s series, which is where this new episode of plagiarism is found.
With the revelation of the latest ethical lapse about to unfold below Mr. Johnson is now compelled to delete Part 2 from his blog series for copyright infringement and plagarism, just like he had to pull Part 5. He must do so not only for this blatant, pre-meditated plagiarism, but because it is the second violation of federal copyright law in his series.
Unlike the way Mr. Johnson has been trying to deflect scrutiny away from the plagiarism in Part 5, in this case he will not be able to appeal to any organzation or author for permisson to reprint. There is a significant difference between this episode of plagiarism and the previous with Part 5. What is that difference?
In Part 5 he buried a very obscure reference to the 1946 Bibliotheca Sacra article he edited and plagiarized. In this episode, from Part 2 of his series, Mr. Johnson never references the author, article or source that he plagiarized at any point in the body of his article or in the footnotes. He found an article, lifted a major section and then began his process of editing various portions through revision, deletions and additions. Mr. Johnson knew he was methodically editing another man’s work and did so for the sole purpose of presenting it as his own to bolster his Crossless interpretation of the Gospel. In academic circles there is no more reprehensible act than plagiarism. In the series Destroying Free Grace Theology, we are reporting a second irrefutable example of plagiarism by Mr. Johnson.
For future verification of Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism I (and three other men) have archived Johnson’s Part 2 with date and time stamp from his blog of April 15, 2008. The examples of plagiarism that follow were taken from his article as it appeared at his blog on April 15, 2008. Why did we archive this article? Because if Johnson follows his pattern from the plagiarism of Ralph R. Hawthorne’s 1946 Bibliotheca Sacra article in Part 5 of his series, he will be deleting Part 2 of his series. In our opinion, if he ever has the nerve to repost it, it will be sanitzied to remove any trace of his unethical behavior.
With the Introduction complete let’s begin the review of Jim Johnson’s copyright infringement and blatant plagiarism.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM?
The location from which Mr. Johnson found the article that he plagiarized is Bible.org At Bible.org Mario Cerda wrote and published an 11 part series titled, Subject Determination Involving Proper Articuler Nouns in Equative Clauses.
Article 11 by Cerda is titled, Appendix 6: Exegesis of John 20:31. It is from this article that Mr. Johnson plagiarized Mario Cerda's work.
EXAMPLES OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM
If you go to Mario Cerda’s Appendix 6 (see link above) you can find the place at which Johnson’s plagiarism begins. Under the header EXEGESIS, Cerda writes,
“Up to this point in the gospel, John has highlighted that believing upon hearing is better than believing because of seeing. Now in…”Following that statement above Johnson begins his plagiarism of Cerda. Cerda’s paragraph continues with,
“Now in John 20:30-31 he effectively says, Now on the one hand there are many signs which the apostles witnessed and, for some, these led to their belief; but on the other hand only some of those signs are told here so that by hearing of them you may believe the truth about Jesus and truly live.’ The first half (v. 30) of the concluding remark sets up a ‘on the one hand A, but on the other hand B’ relationship which provides a nice transition from the example of Thomas to the purpose statement in v. 31.”When you view Part 2 of Johnson’s series you will find the plagiarism in the section titled, The Doctrine of Progressive Revelation. Scroll down to paragraph 22, which follows the paragraph that begins and then ends this way,
“Finally, since publishing this and the other articles… here is an extended exegetical discussion of John 20:30-31.”At varying degrees Johnson revised virtually every paragraph from Cerda’s material. Following I will provide selected examples from Cerda’s plagiarzed article to demonstrate how Johnson manipulated the author’s article to disguise his (Johnson’s) plagiarism and disarm it of anything that would be be counter productive to his own theological position. Please note that I will post examples Johnson’s revisions of Cerda’s plagiarized work in red. Cerda’s original work will remain in blue. I will insert comments about what Johnson did in these plagiarism examples.
To reiterate- the blue portions are authentic Cerda material. The red portions are how Johnson tweaked and manipulated Cerda’s writing to disguise the plagiarism.
Ταῦτα, a nominative neuter plural demonstrative pronoun rendered “these things” is standard. There is nothing special about γέγραπται. It is a very common word but that is no reason to ignore it. First, it is singular while the demonstrative pronoun is plural. This might suggest that the subject is “this book” and that the pronoun is actually the direct object. However, the passive voice of the verb suggests a breach of grammatical concord where a singular verb uses a plural subject. This is not uncommon. Second, many translations (ASV, ESV, KJV, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT, RSV) choose to translate the verb as a present rather than as a perfect (ISV, NASB). The intensive perfect makes better sense of the context because it emphasizes result or present state. In Scripture the use of the perfect for “written” is often found.This last sentence is actually a Johnson rephrase of a Craig Keener quote at this point in Cerda’s article.
Johnson’s plagiarism, “In summary, the external evidence lines up pretty evenly and the internal evidence is equally inconclusive. Consequently, Metzger and Committee assign the text a C rating. The significance of the text critical question is that an aorist subjunctive allows for a translation of “might come to believe,” which implies John addresses an unbelieving audience.”Why is Johnson’s version shorter than Cerda’s original? It is plain see that Johnson deleted the final three sentences from Cerda’s paragraph. Why did Johnson delete this section? The reason is that the deleted sentences claim support for the Lordship/perseverance of the saints view.
Cerda wrote, “In summary, the external evidence lines up pretty evenly and the internal evidence is equally inconclusive. Consequently, Metzger and Committee assign the text a C rating.3 The significance of the TC question is that an aorist subjunctive allows for a translation of ‘might come to believe,’ which implies John addresses an unbelieving audience. On the other hand, the present normally means ‘might continue to…,’ implying John addresses a believing audience. However, Carson contends that John uses theseἵνα-clause combinations interchangeably for both senses.4 Admittedly, this interchangeability renders the TC question immaterial to the debate regarding purpose of the Gospel.”
In the next section of the sentence we read ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε. The second ἵνα introduces what Wallace’s grammar calls a ἵνα + subjunctive purpose/result clause. The translation would be, “in order that…so that…”While Johson references Wallace’s grammar for this point, it is Certa’s point that Johnson is rephrasing and then referring to Wallace to avoid the connection to Certa!
“Wallace says that this stems from the writers theology based on rather than from grammar, though the grammar allows it.”Johnson omits at this point the following quote from Certa, “It attempts to convey that John’s gospel closely associates true believing, that is sustained belief, with divine activity.” Another Lordship/perseverance omission.
The argument from Wallace’s grammar attempts to convey that John’s gospel closely associates true believing, that is saving belief, with divine activity. Wallace says, “what God purposes is what happens, so a ἵνα + subjunctive can be used to express both divine purpose and result”. I find this incredible to say that John had a fully developed Biblical Theology. In addition, to draw this conclusion from Moule’s Idioms is a short reading of his reasoning of the section on the ἵνα, Moule goes on to state that, “…whatever is done about the ἵνα; and personally I find the radical view which interprets the who phrase…as strictly final, so that parables are told to prevent any who are not predestined for salvation from hearing, to incongruous with any part of the N.T. period to be plausible. It is far more reasonable to take both the ἵνα and …[a subjunctive] as instances of Semitic blurring if purpose and result,…”EXAMPLE #4
The term ζωήν is in the accusative case which indicates that it is the direct object of the subjunctive. It occurs 135 times in the New Testament. BDAG classifies them within two broad categories, physical life and transcendent life, which are broken down into seven sub-categories. John uses it 49 times, 35 in the gospel. Context clearly suggests that John has life as a primary theme of his gospel. Given the association to belief as a saving faith, he has eternal life in view (which may explain the textual variant, αἰώνιον). For John, this includes more than life after death.Johnson inserted “saving,” but Cerda has here the word, “persevering.”
The complete phrase occurs once in the Johannine writings. It occurs 12 times without αὐτοῦ and only in the gospel. He uses a similar prepositional phrase, εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, two times (John 1:12 and 2:23) and two more times without αὐτοῦ (John 3:18 and 1 John 5:13). The expression is more often used of the Son’s name (13 times) than of the Father’s (3 times; John 5:43; 10:25; 17:11-12). This makes an incredible statement about Jesus. John essentially claims that the Person of Jesus shares the same character and power as the person of Father. Looking at the text…
In the continuation of this sentence, the original Cerda article cites Raymond Brown’s commentary for the thought that follows on John 5:43, but Johnson makes it look like his own, and then changes the footnote from Brown’s comment to Gregory’s thesis to make it look like Johnson found this on his own!
...of John 5:43 suggests that when Jesus Christ uses it of himself, he probably had the famous instances of Jesus and the phrase “I Am” in mind. The assertion fits especially well with John 17:11-12.
Just prior to his plagiarism he posted this sentence, “I would like to share an example of what I am looking for; here is an extended exegetical discussion of John 20:30-31.” This line is deliberately and cleverly placed at the beginning of his plagiarism. Be assured he will attepmt to use it as an escape mechanism to claim he did not intentionally plagiarize Cerda. This is absurd, but we fully expect him to use this mechanism, claim he is being slandered and then make some ridiculous claim that his plagiarism was just another happenstance “human error.”
What was done here was no adaptation. Any interested person can cross-check and verify Johnson’s blantant plagiarism by reviewing Article 11 by Cerda is titled, Appendix 6: Exegesis of John 20:31. It is from this article that Mr. Johnson plagiarized Mario Cerda's work.
APPEAL TO JIM JOHNSON
Twice now you have been caught red-handed violating federal copyright law and plagiarizing another man’s work. Your blame shifting and excuses do not resonate with any objective reader of your tainted articles.
If you want to be right with God, have peace in your heart you need to confess and repent of this sin. You can’t escape this sin. You fell into sin as we all sometimes do. How we handle our sin and shortcomings can lead to resortation and future blessing, or to further unpleasant consequences.
None of who us reject the teachings of the Crossless gospel and ReDefined Free Grace Theology are delighted to confront and expose your plagiarism. You have blatantly committed this act twice with no remorse or sense of humility. Instead you react with anger, a combative spirit, vitriol and accusations. Frankly, it would be inappropriate to discover the level of plagiarism such as yours, coupled with an arrogant, unrepentant attitude behind it, and not report the issue.
When I read your response to having been caught plagiarizing Hawthorne my thoughts turned to King David. When having sinned against God, and trying to hide what he had done, the weight of conviction and the wheels of God’s judgment were grinding on him. It was that time in his life, which is what you are going through now, that David reflected on when he wrote, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long,” (Psalm 32:3). You have been “roaring,” but I am hopeful you will be sensitive to the Spirit of God, as He does His conviciting work, and that you will respond to Him in true biblical repentance.
One day like David, from you I hope to read some along these lines, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest,” (Psalm 51:3-4). And when you do the Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).
You can recover your reputation. This is difficult and we understand the inner turmoil you must be going through. If you will die to self, tighten your belt and make the decision to admit what you have done and repent of it, believers will forgive you. However, as long as you continue to dodge and try to deceive others about this blatant plagiarism your credibility and trustworthiness continues to decline exponentially. Is this what you want your testimony and legacy to be?
For several weeks prior to Mr. Johnson posting his series he often mentioned that his paper had been undergoing a “peer review” by various (un-named) “theologians.” I have some questions:
1) Why do these alleged reviewers not come forward either critically or in support of these articles?
2) Did Mr. Johnson receive any warning from these reviewers and decide not to heed their warning? Or did the reviewers note it and decide not to tell him that he would pay a price if he went ahead with these plagiarized articles?
3) Is it possible that one or more of his reviewers guided him to use the work of other men?
4) Did his paper ever actually get into the hands of a genuine theologian for review? I find it hard to believe that an astute theologian did not detect the obvious and drastic changes in writing style that permeate Johnson’s articles. These were signs that lead to the proof that he plagiarized several authors.
Young people, college students: It is not worth it! Rely on the brains God gave you. He delights to use the simple, the humble, those who have a keen sense of their need of Divine aid to do anything that will count for eternity and glorify Him.
I implore Mr. Johnson to settle with the Lord and receive His forgiveness. I kindly implore any man who might have some influence with Mr. Johnson: Encourage him to confess this plagiarism and biblically repent of it.
Please proceed to the second installment of Jim Johnson’s Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 2.
A third episode of plagiarism has been confirmed in Mr. Johnson’s series. That example will be posted in a subsequent article shortly. Frankly, I am still hopeful Mr. Johnson will respond, not to what has been revealed here, but instead to the Holy Spirit.