Danny Lovett, president of Tennessee Temple University, resigns

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JohnBrian's picture

It was his resignation from Liberty Seminary when he went to Temple, that opened the position at Liberty for Caner.

Full Disclosure: My undergrad degree is from TTU

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Jonathan Charles's picture

I was at TTU from 1989-1997 (college and seminary). The school got rid of J. Don Jennings and declined; it got rid of Buddy Nichols and declined. When Bouler had the whole ministry, the decline just continued. The oft repeated saying of Lee Roberson was, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." How does that apply to the leadership of TTU for the last 20 years? And, if Lovett doesn't have the integrity to lead the university, how does he still have the integrity to pastor the church?

RPittman's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
I was at TTU from 1989-1997 (college and seminary). The school got rid of J. Don Jennings and declined; it got rid of Buddy Nichols and declined. When Bouler had the whole ministry, the decline just continued. The oft repeated saying of Lee Roberson was, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." How does that apply to the leadership of TTU for the last 20 years? And, if Lovett doesn't have the integrity to lead the university, how does he still have the integrity to pastor the church?
Is it a matter of integrity or carelessness? Either way, Lovett is to be blamed but the charges are vastly different. If Lovett is to be believed, and I see no reason why he shouldn't be, he acted with integrity in facing his error and trying to do what was right. Although I disagree with Lovett on various issues, there is no reason to vilify him over this. This response, I think, speaks of integrity. We all have feet of clay but we expect perfection of others.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Lovett said:

"I didn't know copyright laws at the time, and I should have checked more thoroughly."

Now, Lovett has an undergraduate degree, I suppose a M.Div. and D.Min from Reformed Theological Seminary, yet when his book was published in 1998, he was unsure if copyright laws let him lift a chapter from a book by a man that he supposed was dead? Do you only credit the works of those who are living?

SBashoor's picture

Agreed, Jonathan. Whether the source book was copyrighted or not, or whether the quoted author was alive or not isn't the root issue. It's nore an issue of integrity in composition and attribution. That's just basic writing standards.

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

RPittman's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
Lovett said:

"I didn't know copyright laws at the time, and I should have checked more thoroughly."

Now, Lovett has an undergraduate degree, I suppose a M.Div. and D.Min from Reformed Theological Seminary, yet when his book was published in 1998, he was unsure if copyright laws let him lift a chapter from a book by a man that he supposed was dead? Do you only credit the works of those who are living?

This does reflect poorly upon his professionalism and scholarship. Copyright laws have changed and are applicable even if the work is not registered; it is still considered copyrighted. Was the book or booklet self-published? If so, it may not have had the standard statement of copyright or even be a registered copyright. Also, a lot of material that is out-of-copyright is being copied and published in digital form on the Internet. This can give the wrong impression with people not familiar with copyright laws but Lovett should have known better. One simply does not present another's work as his own creation without giving credit. With the advent of the creative common license, the waters have been muddied and people wrongly assume they can use others' works without credit.

Lovett is not the first high-profile figure or academic to plagiarize; MLK did in his dissertation. With the pressure to publish, there is probably more of this than we know about. We may see more exposures because there many more ways of exposing plagiarism using digital media and more people are watching. Let this sound a warning to be knowledgeable and watch ourselves so that we don't fall into a snare. I teach a chapter on copyright laws and usage in my Instructional Technology course for undergraduates.

Charlie's picture

Surely, what he did was both wrong and unprofessional. It brings up a wider point, though. Neither the M Div nor the D Min is considered an academic degree. They are professional degrees, designed to prepare men to practice a certain vocation, not to research in a certain fields. So, graduates with these degrees are not scholars, just as people with the JD and MD are not scholars. They are well-educated professionals. The MA and the PhD are the corresponding academic degrees. Notice that his D Min thesis was a devotional entitled Jesus is Awesome. It's not exactly Life in the Spirit: Trinitarian Grammar and Pneumatic Community in Hegel and Augustine, the title of an in-progress PhD dissertation at Notre Dame.

Most seminary doctoral programs are less rigorous and have lower academic standards than their graduate school counterparts. A ThD from Duke Divinity school is nowhere near as prestigious as a PhD from Duke University. Many people who could easily complete doctoral work at Trinity or Dallas or Westminster wouldn't even be accepted into a top-tier doctoral program.

So, I'm not defending him, only expressing that I doubt his academic error was much worse than many of his colleagues in DMin programs across the nation.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jonathan Charles's picture

If he even did one research paper in his M.Div. or D.Min. program, he knows well enough to cite his sources.

RPittman's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
If he even did one research paper in his M.Div. or D.Min. program, he knows well enough to cite his sources.
Yes, Jonathan, even my undergraduates are taught copyright practices and citation. Every college or seminary graduate should know. Yet, I'm surprised at how many are still confused after years of college and seminary.

JobK's picture

Most states do - or at least did when Lovett was in school - require research papers from high school juniors and seniors. Also, even casual perusal of nonfiction books, let alone completing the requirements of practically any higher education program, would force one to be confronted with footnotes and other citations. Lovett himself stated that he felt that he could incorporate an entire chapter into his work because he thought that the work had gone out of print and was public domain. So, someone can be unaware of basic plagiarism rules on one hand knows of the concept of public domain on the other?

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
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Shaynus's picture

"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." (James 3:1 ESV)

Yes, many who go through grad school may not understand plagarism rules, but it doesn't really matter. If you choose to write a book (or a blog post or comment, to be fair1*), you're going to be judged more strictly. That's just the way it is.

1* http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/marchweb-only/bloggers.html

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

JobK wrote:
Most states do - or at least did when Lovett was in school - require research papers from high school juniors and seniors. Also, even casual perusal of nonfiction books, let alone completing the requirements of practically any higher education program, would force one to be confronted with footnotes and other citations. Lovett himself stated that he felt that he could incorporate an entire chapter into his work because he thought that the work had gone out of print and was public domain. So, someone can be unaware of basic plagiarism rules on one hand knows of the concept of public domain on the other?

I can't imagine not knowing that you can't lift out entire sections of someone else's work and not credit it properly, public domain or no. Not citing sources allows people to assume that you are the source. It's a form of misdirection that is alarming.

My husband explained it to the kids like this- if someone walks into the house, and sees that our living room is lined with shelves full of books, they might (and usually do) ask "Have you read all these?" And my husband says "My wife has read some of them twice." it is a true statement, but it conveys a false notion, and is dishonest at its heart.

If we are truly to be blameless and harmless, we should be more than aboveboard in all our dealings. Plagiarism is a very basic concept covered by most teachers as soon as kids start writing reports for school... which is what- 4th grade? 6th grade?

You know, even if no one ever tells you that the red light means "Stop", it doesn't take long for a reasonably intelligent person to figure it out. Ditto plagiarism.

RPittman's picture

Susan R wrote:
JobK wrote:
Most states do - or at least did when Lovett was in school - require research papers from high school juniors and seniors. Also, even casual perusal of nonfiction books, let alone completing the requirements of practically any higher education program, would force one to be confronted with footnotes and other citations. Lovett himself stated that he felt that he could incorporate an entire chapter into his work because he thought that the work had gone out of print and was public domain. So, someone can be unaware of basic plagiarism rules on one hand knows of the concept of public domain on the other?

I can't imagine not knowing that you can't lift out entire sections of someone else's work and not credit it properly, public domain or no. Not citing sources allows people to assume that you are the source. It's a form of misdirection that is alarming.

My husband explained it to the kids like this- if someone walks into the house, and sees that our living room is lined with shelves full of books, they might (and usually do) ask "Have you read all these?" And my husband says "My wife has read some of them twice." it is a true statement, but it conveys a false notion, and is dishonest at its heart.

If we are truly to be blameless and harmless, we should be more than aboveboard in all our dealings. Plagiarism is a very basic concept covered by most teachers as soon as kids start writing reports for school... which is what- 4th grade? 6th grade?

You know, even if no one ever tells you that the red light means "Stop", it doesn't take long for a reasonably intelligent person to figure it out. Ditto plagiarism.

Susan, you are perfectly correct. This was the standard prevalent when I was growing up. Today, the landscape has changed and people have lost the meaning of integrity. The idea of ownership, property, ethical use, etc. are foreign concepts. Modern ethics seem to be existentially expressed in questions such as "Whom is it going to hurt?", or "What's the harm?" Couple high energy and high pressure lifestyles with the demand for publishing and the picture can get blurry and out of focus without a clear ethical standard of integrity. I've said all that to make this point: Every pastor, every evangelist, every professor, and every Christian leader has written books. Many, if not most, are self-published without benefit of a good editor. So, I wonder how much more plagiarizing is taking place in Christian circles? My gut feeling is that it is very common.

Shaynus's picture

Plagiarism is easier to catch these days. Teachers and publishers run papers and books through online tools that try to catch it. It may be that we're just hearing about it more because people are catching it.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Charlie wrote:
Surely, what he did was both wrong and unprofessional. It brings up a wider point, though. Neither the M Div nor the D Min is considered an academic degree. They are professional degrees, designed to prepare men to practice a certain vocation, not to research in a certain fields. So, graduates with these degrees are not scholars, just as people with the JD and MD are not scholars.
Charlie, I am not sure how this is relevant. I don't know of any MDiv or DMin program that would sanction this. The point of a DMin project is different since it doesn't generally require a unique contribution or some study that will move something forward in the academic/research world. It is generally some type of field research to analyze and solve a problem related to one's ministry. But the standards for plagiarism are the same.

I am bothered by some of the lightweight things that are done in the name of DMin projects. I am in a DMin (almost finished, and not sure I would do it again if I had it to do over) and have heard what some guys are doing in their projects, and have read others. I just don't find it significant, even in a ministry setting. Doing sermon series or writing a Bible study program just don't seem right to me. But not all of them are like that. I hope mine will not be.

But the problem here is not an MDiv or DMin problem.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Shaynus wrote:
If you choose to write a book (or a blog post or comment, to be fair1*), you're going to be judged more strictly. That's just the way it is.
I think popular writing such as blogs has a bit of a different standard. Even here at SI we don't hold a high standard of documentation.

When I quote something on my blog, I rarely give a full bibliographical citation. In fact, some of the stuff I don't even know exactly where it came from. It is a comment I pick up in reading something or hearing something, and I attribute it as much as I can. Sometimes a link; sometimes a title and page number; sometimes a "So and So said." I try not to post stuff that I don't have any idea where it came from. It is generally stuff I could find if I had to, or wanted to take the time to.

For instance, I could say something like, "Darrin Patrick said that he thinks a lot of young preachers are going to regret some of the language that they have used in the pulpit in the years to come." Now, I know roughly where that came from (A29 boot camp in 2006). I don't know exactly. In an article or a dissertation, I would have to go find it and give it proper documentation. But I doubt anyone here will question my integrity because I don't give the documentation here.

I don't think people expect blogs to have the kind of documentation that dissertations, books, and articles do. I do think we should have high levels of integrity. I don't think that requires equal kinds of documentation in all things. Perhaps you agree with me on this.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree, Bro. Larry, that there is a difference between the standards and expectations of formal vs casual communication. Many blogs fall under the category of casual conversation, but although in written form, I tend to think of blogs and forums as a form of public speaking.

Shaynus's picture

Larry wrote:
I think popular writing such as blogs has a bit of a different standard. Even here at SI we don't hold a high standard of documentation.

Larry,

I was just being a little cheeky there with my citation.

The point is that in general, those who publicly put forward their views are going to be judged more strictly than those who don't. The standard shouldn't be whether they're in an academic Ph. D. or a D. Min. program. If someone choose to write a book, they are also then choosing to open their book to the same standards of writing that everyone else does. So yes, by commonly accepted standards, blogs need less citation, I do think it would be a good practice that if any of us brings up a fact that could be controversial, we should do our best to (even informally) source it. I guess the tough part would be in figuring out which facts could be controversial.

Shayne

Charlie's picture

Larry, my point wasn't that this is acceptable, or less wrong, because it is a DMin project. Here's an analogy. Let's say you know two construction companies. In the first one, the management is very strict about policies and protocols, regularly maintains equipment, enforces safety regulations, and checks completed work. In the second, the management take a more laid-back approach to, well, managing. The "spirit" of the law is more important than the letter. Bending rules in order to save time and resources is overlooked. Which one do you think is going to have a track record of major accidents and sub-standard construction quality?

Evangelical (including fundamentalist) seminaries are notorious for their lack of academic rigor. DMin programs are known as being the worst of all. When sloppiness and minor errors are routine, can we really be surprised that major ones occur? Lovett was terribly wrong to do what he did, but we have a system in place that is bound to produce more Lovett's.

Also, I think the whole "doctor" of ministry is disingenuous. When people hear that someone has a doctoral degree, they assume a level of competence and scholarship that simply isn't required by the DMin program.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Which one do you think is going to have a track record of major accidents and sub-standard construction quality?
There's not enough information there to draw any sort of legitimate conclusion from. There are a lot of factors that are not included in your description. In a bit of irony, this question is a DMin type question. It requires field research. You have to go and observe and ask questions and analyze the data. It cannot be answered by original languages, reading and analyzing the views of past construction experts, or contributing something new to the field of construction.

Quote:
Evangelical (including fundamentalist) seminaries are notorious for their lack of academic rigor. DMin programs are known as being the worst of all.
I have not found the DMin to be academically challenging in the least. But "academic rigor" isn't really the goal of a DMin program. It is designed to help pastors be better pastors. Depending on the particular program you choose, it can be better or worse, and the particular classes you choose can make it better or worse.

Generally speaking, if you want to be a better pastor, a PhD is probably not the best way to go about it. It isn't designed for that purpose. If you want to be a better scholar/writer/teacher, a DMin is a poor way to go about that.

Quote:
... we have a system in place that is bound to produce more Lovett's.
Not sure who "we" is, nor what sort of "system" you speak of. In my DMin program, this would not be acceptable. I don't know of any where it would be.

Quote:
Also, I think the whole "doctor" of ministry is disingenuous. When people hear that someone has a doctoral degree, they assume a level of competence and scholarship that simply isn't required by the DMin program.
As you acknowledged above, the "Doctor of Ministry" is a professional degree, like the JD or the MD. Yes, some DMins are deficient, just like some PhDs are. But like PhDs, not all are equal, and they serve a different purpose than PhDs anyway. I am not a big fan of the DMin (and I don't think I would do it again), but "disingenuous" is overstated, I think.

But back to the point, this whole DMin/MDiv/PhD discussion is a red herring and irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I could point you to people with PhDs who are also guilty of plagiarism (a simple google search will give all sorts of data). Should we tar all PhD programs because of that? Of course not, you would argue. And that's my point. You can't tar the whole DMin degree because someone plagiarized or did faulty research or whatever.

Again, I am not a big fan of a DMin so don't confuse me with an ardent defender. I do think that (1) you are being a bit hard on the idea because you are expecting it to be something it isn't, and (2) you are misdirecting attention because this issue has nothing to do with what degree the guy has.

Don Johnson's picture

conjures up disturbing images (lik = lick?)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3