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Doug Wilson & Serial Plagiarism

Rachel Miller presents a lot of evidence that the controversial Calvinist pastor Doug Wilson has engaged in serious plagiarism in his new book.  I looked at the side-by-side comparisons of pages from Wilson’s book, co-written with Randy Booth, and pages from the works of other writers. It’s astonishing. She’s nailed them.

Canon Press, the publisher, has withdrawn the book, and put out the following statements:


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.



“This is a mea culpa for the citation omissions in A Justice Primer. A few years ago I approached Doug Wilson about a combined effort to produce a book on justice. He had begun to write some on the subject as had I. The idea was to blend the writing, and I was in charge of accomplishing this. As best I can tell, all the problems are mine and not Doug’s. As a pastor I was drawing on a wide range of materials and notes that I had collected over a number of years to use in sermons or lessons with no intention of publishing that material, thus citations were often missing in my old notes. Concerning the ‘definitions,’ I didn’t see the need to cite those sources. I have also been a student of Dr. Greg Bahnsen for over twenty-five years, and undoubtedly some of his material has found its way into sermons and Bible studies over the years, which were cut-and-pasted as I prepared for this book.  Regarding the material taken from Paul Rose (2003) and Wayne Blank, I freely acknowledge that I originally collected their material but did not have it cited in my notes from years ago. This is a serious mistake on my part (not differentiating my own material from others in my research and study). While this was not intentional plagiarism on my part, nevertheless I clearly did use their words without proper citation and for this I publicly confess.”



“I was disappointed to find out today that there are serious citation problems in A Justice Primer. In light of this, I am completely supportive of Canon Press withdrawing the book from circulation. For further details on what happened and how, I would refer you to the statements by Canon Press and Randy Booth.”

In 2004, Wilson and a different co-author were busted in another plagiarism scandal, in which Canon Press (which is owned by Wilson’s church son) had to withdraw the book.

Randy Booth, the co-author of A Justice Primer, is the man Wilson appointed to investigate the way he and his church handled accusations of sexual abuse within the church. Credibility? None left. Not a shred of it, if ever there was.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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