April 25, 2008

Plagiarism Final: Whither Shall I Go?

Dear Guests:

At the conclusion of the previous article in this series I wrote,

By his (Jim Johnson’s) own hand, Destroying Free Grace Theology, the part that is his own work, is utterly discredited. More examples of Johnson’s plagiarism, and there are many, can’t discredit his series any further.”
There are numerous examples of additional acts of plagiarism committed by Mr. Johnson, not just in his Destroying… series, but at other web sites and blogs. Earlier in the week I decided that I would not generate any new articles such as the previous ones that fully detail how Mr. Johnson plagiarized various writers. I will, however, simply mention that it can be irrefutably demonstrated Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Johnson’s Destroying… series contains massive amounts of plagiarism, for which he continues to deny, or dismiss as a mistake, and reamins unrepentant.

Following the revelation of his mass plagiarism, even in the face of overwhelming incontrovertible evidence, Mr. Jim Johnson reacted with denial, combativeness, scoffing, and refuses to acknowledge what is so painfully obvious to any objective reader. He has, furthermore, essentially gone into hiding on this issue. With that said I want to bring closure to this difficult series with a sermon in writing.

Probably every one of us has had a Garden of Eden experience in our lives, I know I have. We have attempted to run and hide from the Lord’s call to duty, or from His presence when we have sinned. Jim Johnson is in that unenviable position right now. He has sinned, and did so publicly through the Internet. Like Adam, Jim Johnson is in a sense trying to hide himself and his guilt from God.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself,” (Genesis 3:8-10).
What Jim did is out in the open for the world to see. Many across a broad spectrum of evangelical Christianity are aware of what he did and his reaction. Jim is doing all he can to deflect scrutiny, fight and deny that anything he has done is out of bounds. He is trying to hide and distance himself from what he did.

Jim Johnson, just like Adam, is certainly under intense conviction. Somewhat like God called to Adam as he (Adam) hid in the garden, the Holy Spirit is doing His convicting work in the heart and mind of Jim. It is impossible to escape the presence of the Lord.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
God loves Jim and wants to forgive and restore fellowship with him. In the first article of this series I mention David’s issues after the events with Bathsheba.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long,” (Psalm 32:3).
David was miserable, but “roaring,” while he hung on to his sin, just like Jim is “roaring” now. One commentator wrote,
“He (David) learned that unconfessed sin is a festering sore.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 273.)
I believe God loved David so much that He sent Nathan to help David break free of the pride that had enslaved him, and kept him from confessing his sin. I am hopeful that God will send a Nathan to visit Jim in the near future and help him to confess, repent, be forgiven and restored to a sweet fellowship with God.

Scriptural Appeals to Jim Johnson
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” (Ps. 66:18).

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption,” (Eph. 4:30).

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).
Jim, as long as you continue to deny what you did, and resist the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire to forgive you, your prayers and fellowship with God are hindered. Is covering up what you did worth that level expense?



  1. Is covering up what you did worth that level expense?

    Great question.


  2. Lou,

    I've just posted a new article in which a special guest summarizes the issues involved:

    FGA Affiliate Speaks Out On Plagiarism Problem


  3. Men:

    Thanks for the notes and link. I am not able to participate much today, but I am reading.


  4. Of course, in the Bible, there was more than just the sin, there is too often the "cover up." In some cases, the cover-up is so idiotic that the only one who believes it is the one doing the cover up. In Gen 3:12 we read:

    12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

    There are two possible culprits . . . her . . . or You, God. But it wasn't I!

    Of course, sometimes the cover up leads to sins far worse than the original sin. We read of such an attempted cover up in 2nd Samuel 11.

    1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when
    kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with
    him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and
    besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
    2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his
    bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he
    saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look
    3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this
    Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
    4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and
    he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she
    returned unto her house.
    5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with
    6 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab
    sent Uriah to David.
    7 And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did,
    and how the people did, and how the war prospered.
    8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And
    Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of
    meat from the king.
    9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants
    of his lord, and went not down to his house.
    10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his
    house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then
    didst thou not go down unto thine house?
    11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in
    tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in
    the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink,
    and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will
    not do this thing.
    12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here today also, and tomorrow I will
    let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.
    13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and
    he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the
    servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.
    14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to
    Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
    15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of
    the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and

    Sadly, our brother Jim Johnson is not the only one who has tried to cover his sins in public. In fact, in a blog with this number of readers, there are at most, only about one or two people who have never tried such a cover-up . . . you, and me. Because you know that you have never done something as idiotic as Adam, or as treacherous as David. I know I have never done such a thing. But we both know that these other sinners out there do it all the time!

    Please do not misunderstand what I am about to say. I am not here to defend Jim Johnson. His theology is rotten, and his ethics are too. Even if he confesses, he will never have credibility in the academic field again.

    Nevertheless, there is a question we must ask ourselves. What role did we play in this? In 1st Corinthians 12, we read about a charismatic madhouse where everyone wants attention. To get attention and recognition, many were faking spiritual gifts. They wanted to be important in the church. And in 1st Corinthians 13, we read Paul's solution . . . that we should honor the lesser gifts, and have LOVE toward them. They should be made to feel important with whatever gifts God has given them.

    It is clear that Mr. Johnson does not even respect his own scholarship. And if he is incapable of writing a scholarly article without plagiarizing it from someone else, he is obviously no scholar. Nevertheless, being a "scholar" is not the be-all and end-all of the Christian life. The last command of our Lord was not to be a scholar, but to make disciples. How many disciple makers to you know? How many whose feet are shod with the gospel?

    I know a fellow believer of very modest intellectual skills. In the times I interacted with him in seminary, he also exhibited an absolute lack of any sense of self. He was a pathological narcissist who needed to compare himself to others, and to make himself important. I was not surprised when he continued in theological education after I had finished. He had spent a large part of his life memorizing the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, and notwithstanding a total lack of any capacity for critical thought, or the people skills to teach, he was pursuing more degrees to justify his value.

    Nothing he has ever written demonstrates an iota of critical or original thought. He is rather dull by academic standards. But now a "scholar" . . . at least he is credentialed as one, and perhaps regarded as one in very limited circles.

    But I knew him in seminary. He was not only self-absorbed, and almost schizotypal in his socialization skills, but I also I doubt he has ever sat down to share the gospel with an unbeliever in his life. Why did someone with such modest gifts pursue the route of becoming a "scholar?"

    I don't know. Perhaps being rather unsocial, this was the only job in which he could function within the church. But perhaps it was the charismatic syndrome of 1st Corinthians 12-13. He was, and remains, a man in search of an identity. And he labors daily to affirm and validate his identity as a "scholar." And those with lesser gifts felt compelled to fake more "exotic" gifts at Corinth to get the attention they deeply coveted.

    Why don’t we give more honor to the soul winners? When was the last time your church invited a soul winner to give a five minute story of his experience in sharing the gospel? Or true disciple makers? How much honor does your church give to them? It would set a marvelous example, that soul winning and disciple making is the normal Christian life, not the exception. And it would set an example for the church members of the things for which they can strive for honor.

    Perhaps soul winning is Mr. Johnson's gift. (Or, at least it would have been before he abandoned the cross as his message). And perhaps, if we put a greater emphasis on it in church, rather than praising self styled "scholars," Mr. Johnson would not have fallen into the "charismatic" trap . . . having to fake gifts that he doesn't have to gain attention in the church.

    Even if we have never failed Mr. Johnson personally in this way, each of us has failed a thousand times in the life of someone else. In our own church, and in our own life. As I said, this is not to justify Mr. Johnson. He deserves the public opprobrium he has suffered. But I have noticed that when I point my index finger at someone, the three bottom fingers are pointing to me.

    Let's take pause in our discussion of Mr. Johnson to also look into our own eye. How do we honor the lesser gifts? Do churches need to go "seeker friendly" to give attention to people . . . where every one has there moment in the sun on the rock band (er, excuse me, "worship team") or the "drama team"? Or can we give people the attention and praise that is due someone created in the image of God, and baptized by the Holy Spirit into the church with unique gifts by which they might serve God. Jim Johnson may not have the gift of the word of knowledge, but I know he has some gift. We should be blowing on that ember to kindle that gift.

    I do not apologize for my criticism of Mr. Johnson. But now that I have pointed my finger at him, I see three more pointing back at me.

    Whom have I failed to honor in their work for the Lord? Men and women who are not in the limelight as "scholars," but in the trenches, doing the Lord's work with little praise or encouragement? The true servants.

    The truth is, I am responsible for the charismatic movement. I am responsible for the Jim Johnsons of the world. I have, time and again, failed to honor those truly worthy of honor. And because of me . . . because of my sin, men and women, time and again, feel compelled to fake some gift they do not have in order to be "important."

    I can not change Jim Johnson's life. I can only change my own life. So it is time to sign off, repent of my own failings, and seek out the true servants within the church, men and woman who labor without honor, that I might bestow on them a small portion of the honor properly due them.

    I fear I have several e-mails to write this night to servants of the Most High God.


  5. Dear Guests:

    I trust you will take the time to read Elijah’s comment above in its entirety. It brought a number of things to my mind. First of all, our personal privilege and responsibility to preach the Gospel to every creature.

    Second I was reminded of our missionaries. The missionaries who are tonight doing all they can to fulfill the Lord's Great Commission to the uttermost parts of the Earth.

    This challenge from Elijah inspires me to begin posting a regular series highlighting missionary efforts both contemporary and from years gone by. I will look into this.


  6. Elijah,

    I don't want to detract from the importance of the Great Commission, but sound scholarship and giving the gospel aren't mutually exclusive, nor should they be. Without sound scholarship, giving the gospel becomes garbled and gutted. Without giving the gospel, sound scholarship isn't much good.

    I'd just like to balance your thoughts with these truths:

    "Now these [brethren] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11)

    "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation [i.e. sanctification] both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1 Tim. 4:12-16)

    "And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2)

    "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15)

    "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in truth." (3 Jn. 4)


  7. Elijah,

    Please keep in mind that an integral part of our Lord's command to "make disciples" (Matt. 28:19-20) is "teaching them" (didaskontes autous, Matt. 28:20).


  8. Hi Jonathan:

    Your comments are well said. Sometimes when I ramble on, I fear I obscure my own point. I certainly did not mean to diminish the need for genuine scholarship in my statements. I note that "those who labor in doctrine are worthy of double honor." (I don't feel like looking up the reference, but I'm sure it is in 1st or second Timothy).

    There is no question that the church today has gone off track by seeking an experience rather than the truth. We need teachers, and good ones to be sure.

    My point was that, by not praising the less "significant" gifts, we throw fuel on the Corinthian disaster. If someone is cluster B in their personality type, and they want attention, they will fake miraculous gifts to get attention. And if someone is more introverted in their personality type, and they seek attention, they will seek to be a teacher to get attention, even if they are unskilled in the Word of God. As James said, "let not many of you be teachers, knowing that you will incur a stricter judgment."

    There is something that gnawed at Jim Johnson so badly that he needed his fifteen minutes in the "limelight." He need attention so badly that he had to pretend to be a scholar. By his own actions, he has virtually admitted that he has no skills as a scholar. He had to fake it. It wasn't about the crossless gospel. It was about his need for validation.

    I want sound scholarship in the church. (God knows, we need it! just look at the sophistries that have been advanced to expound the crossless gospel! They are barely worth the paper to refute them, were they not misleading the simple minded.)

    But I guess what I was trying to say is that I don't want the Jim Johnsons of the world to feel compelled to fake the gift of the word of knowledge any more than I want some emotionally disturbed simpleton to fake the gift of tongues by ecstatic babbling.

    Paul's solution to keep people from faking some spiritual gift they don't have is to honor them for the gifts they do have . . . to honor the less seemly gifts. That's really all I was trying to say.

    When someone is presented as a scholar I want to listen to someone with the gift of the word of knowledge, who has also labored to hone that gift by serious study in the subject at hand . . . not some wanna-be. And when I hear teaching, I want to listen to someone with the gift of teaching. I don't want to listen to some emotionally disturbed wanna-be jumping on the stage and grabbing the microphone so he can have his fifteen minutes of attention.

    I agree whole heartedly with your take on the need for scholarship, and sound teachers. To the extent that I was unclear, that is my fault for being too circuitous.

    I do that occasionally.


  9. Even if he confesses, he will never have credibility in the academic field again.

    This is very sad. The world sets people up to fail and then mocks them when they do.

    I for one will pray against this. If Mr. Johnson repents he OUGHT to be treated like the prodigal son and be given complete restoration.


  10. Hi Elijah,

    Thanks for the clarification. You have reminded me of the need for love (1 Cor. 13) when instructing certain men not to teach strange doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3,5).

    I also agree that if Mr. Johnson repents of his plagiarism (and of course his views on the gospel) he could be mightily used by the Lord (Prov. 28:13). Remember that God used David to write some of our most beloved Scriptures after his horrible sins (Ps. 32, 51), and turn many to righteousness (Ps. 51:13; cf. Dan. 12:3).

    "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Heb. 12:11)


  11. Men:

    I agree that if Jim confesses, repents and is recovered from his false interpretation of the Gospel he can be used of the Lord.

    In regard to, “Even if he confesses, he will never have credibility in the academic field again.”

    Although that appears harsh we must be honest with ourselves. Repent or not, he is going to be long remembered for plagiarism. Men can be quick to forgive, but tend to be long on memory.

    I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit we are going to view with suspicion anything new Jim might publish.


  12. Hello Elijah, you mentioned that something must have gnawed at Jim Johnson so badly that he felt he needed to do some thing to get his 15 minutes in the limelight.

    While it is true that unsung heroes of the faith in this lifetime will never get their full recognition, they need not worry, as eternity will reveal their faithfulness for all to see.

    Therefore, one must not feel compelled to take on unnecessary guilt in what Jim Johnson did.

    What was so bad about the early Church that Ananias and Saphira felt compelled to make themselves look important in the eyes of others to the point that they would lie to the Holy Spirit?

    It was a sin common to us all - pride. Also, it was the fact that they were not eternally minded enough to know that all unsung service will be fully rewarded by our Lord.

    Jim was not a new inexperienced believer when he did what he did. He is of age. I for one share zero guilt in what motivated him. If someone failed before to disciple him properly when he was a new believer, he cannot use that as an excuse now, for he has received much teaching and has done much study.

    His plagiarism is only a small symptom of his larger problem of straying from the truth of the Gospel.

    There are teenage Christians and younger who could not conceive of compromising the Gospel message and who never will. I believe that Jim can be recovered, and hope that he will be. If so, he could still be used of the Lord for much good work.


  13. I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit we are going to view with suspicion anything new Jim might publish.



  14. Hi Philip,

    Yes, I agree with you. I actually thought of writing a post regarding the similarities between the recent actions of Jim Johnson and those of Ananias and Saphira. Although Johnson and others of his persuasion are minimizing and even denying his recent wrongdoing, these concerns are actually quite serious.


  15. This is what should be a final update on the plagiarism fiasco of Mr. Jim Johnson.

    On May 31, 2008 Jim Johnson posted at his blog what he claims will be his final article. He also indicated that he is closing his blog. Both of these reports are welcome, and not unexpected news. The latter portion of his article contains the same kind of arrogance, vitriol and unrepentant defiance he has become infamous for.

    His mass plagiarism followed by his combative and unrepentant attitude effectively disgraced and discredited him. His plagiarism and arrogance has rendered him permanently irrelevant and that is where he will remain.

    He promised to, but we knew he never could repost his plagiarized series. It would have been very foolish for him to have done so.

    The Crossless/Deityless interpretation of what the lost must believe to be born again is a blight and open sore on the Free Grace movement.

    Mr. Johnson’s departure removes another dangerous voice that may have caused of an unsuspecting believer to fall into the trap of the heretical Crossless gospel.

    What we must do from here is to continue praying for Jim and others in the GES faction of the Free Grace community. Pray they will one day be recovered from the egregious errors that Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin have introduced into Free Grace circles.