This article is essentially "Part 2" of the article from the Jan/Feb Servants’ News, page 17. Writing these two articles has been sad and difficult. Jim Rector has been an encouragement to both myself and many other independent Sabbatarians. We need more men dedicated to teaching and encouraging. But we need more men who will speak what God has given them, or who will tell us when they are reading someone else’s books. We need people who are willing to tell the truth when confronted with potential problems, rather than cover it up.
At this writing, at least 27 of Jim Rector’s tapes are known to be plagiarized from other works. He is not simply making use of facts or outlines, but reading word-for-word from books for 50% to 90% of a single tape. Many brethren have confronted Jim on these and related issues for several years (Bill Dankenbring, John Davis, Pam Dewey, Mindy Diller, Norman Edwards, Richard Fox, Malcolm Heap, Mildred Kaping, Myron Martin, Jon Pike, Jurjen Kuipers Postema and likely others unknown to us). Even though he began "searching his library" for plagiarized tapes several months ago, he only told his readers about 6 wilderness tapes and 9 other much older tapes that were plagiarized. Either he has completely forgotten about several of the books he has read onto tape in the last two years, or he is deliberately trying to deceive his listeners.
The exchange of letters between Jim Rector and Norman Edwards is reprinted below. They tell the story. —NSE
May 25, 1999 Letter from Rector to Edwards About Advance Copy of Jan/Feb Servants’ News Article
The attachment [article] you sent with your last e-mail post apparently did not work, because all I could retrieve was the title. The rest was completely blank. I know those things happen, but would you be kind enough to re-send it so I can at least read what I presume you have already printed and mailed out to your mailing list.
I have no doubt that you are well-intentioned and feel compelled to do what you must do in this situation. Since I am the guilty party, I do not intend to complain too much about your approach in the matter or offer excuses for any of my own behavior. I do wish that I wasn’t being held to a deadline of your determination in all of this, but that is something you control, not me.
It goes without saying that I have been quite devastated by what has transpired, and have been trying to spend the kind of time and focus necessary to deal with these matters before God in my life, all the while being pressured by you to come forth with more public admissions. I wish that you could trust that I am diligently seeking concert with God in all of this, and that it cannot be done overnight, neither is the process aided by the constant pressure to also deal with things publicly according to how you feel it ought to be handled.
I am sure that you believe the steps you have taken fall into a Matthew 18 format, but I rather doubt that they have. If your intent was on "winning your brother," you should be pleased that I have been greatly impacted by this matter, have entered into a deep period of repentance, have publicly apologized (even if it wasn’t everything you wished it had been), have withdrawn from public ministry, and have suffered the ultimate in embarrassment, humiliation, and have been on the receiving end of the taunts, sneers, and rejection from others over it all. Whether you like it or not, these are very positive steps that have occurred, and there will be others that derive from these as well.
Has every appropriate step been taken yet? No, but I challenge you to experience something like this and see just how responsive and effective you would be in not just coming to grips with things before God, but with also having to satisfy the personal demands and expectations of someone else who essentially was threatening to take matters even more public than they had already been if you did not meet his requirements and do it according to his timetable.
Of course, my prime consideration is my relationship with God, and in coming to terms with Him and pleasing Him. It is certainly not in pleasing you or Pam or simply in maintaining some kind of hold on this ministry, which I have basically just had to let go of and place in God’s hands for His will to be done. Of course, you will do what you will do, and apparently you indeed have already done it, if I read your last post correctly. In spite of the public nature of this whole matter and the hoopla that has been generated, what really counts is how God views it, and what He chooses to do about it. Eventually everyone will be able to see the answers to those issues for themselves, and they won’t come through the pages of SN.
I know that this response will probably be meaningless to you, and if true, then so be it. I have my hands more than full just attempting to deal with the aftermath of what has happened. The chips must fall where they will, and life must go on. I hold nothing against you and wish you the best, and may God’s will be done.
June 7, 1999 Letter from Edwards to Rector
I hope the Eternal is strengthening you at this time. All of us who are teachers are aware that we incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1). Nearly all of the judgment scriptures talk about what we personally do—only a little is said about the value of righteousness that we teach others.
I do not want to rush you. I pray that you will have time to "do it right". I am not mentioning your name or tapes in the next [March/April] Servants’ News issue. But my understanding of the Bible and the mind of the Eternal is that people do not find forgiveness from sins until they confess it to those affected. In your case, that is your mailing list.
Through a variety of means, I keep learning of more examples of your plagiarism. What do you think the Eternal wants me to do with this information? Do you think He wants me to keep it hidden? Do you think He wants people to continue to believe that all of these tapes are your own work, when they are not? Do you believe it is the Eternal’s will that your plagiarism remain hidden from your mailing list? If so, then why do you think He is allowing me to know about it? Is there some spiritual reason why people should know about the plagiarism of Herbert Armstrong but not about Jim Rector?
Jim, if you have answers to these questions, I would like to hear them. The Bible teaches that a person who steals should restore double (Ex 22:4). I think the least the Eternal wants you to do is to restore the works you have published to their rightful owners—to let your mailing list know each one of the authors whom you have copied. I think you should do this rather than me. However if you do not, I think the Eternal has given us this information so others can know.
If the Eternal has given you some other understanding of these issues, will you please explain it to me?
—Norman S. Edwards
June 9, 1999 Letter from
Rector to Edwards
Thank you for your latest post. I trust that things are well with you and your family. We are weathering this storm as well as can be expected, I suppose. It certainly has changed my life! Just to keep you up to speed, I have written a letter in which I document a number of instances where I utilized material without citing the source. I give both the tape in question, as well as the source and author. It is probable that I have overlooked something, and I’m sure that someone will come forward to remind me. I will be sending the letter out next week. Due to the drastic reduction in contributions, I simply cannot financially afford to send out another letter to the mailing list, so this one is probably going to have to suffice, at least I am hopeful that it will.
At this point, my life is totally on hold and in a spin. I know that God is working with me and will see me through this ordeal. He is far more interested in seeing someone truly learn profound spiritual lessons from his or her mistakes, than he is in the fact that they made the mistakes in the first place. I know that God will bring me out of this a stronger spiritual person.
May God be with you and bless you in the work you’ve been given to do.
Please keep in touch.
June 10, 1999 Letter from Edwards to Rector
Thank you so much for your letter. I feel the only way this issue can be brought to rest is by your admitting all of it, and then going on from there—never repeating the problem again. It is very hard to do this. It takes a lot of courage. You can even have the courage to say that "I copied from" or "read word for word from", rather than just saying "I utilized material without citing the source".
I would think that the books you read from during the last few years would be easy to remember. The ones that are more than five years ago might be harder, but if you think back "where was I and how did I make this tape", it will probably come to mind.
Twenty years ago, I had a single female friend, who told me that she was being "stalked" by a troubled employee where she worked. Everyone treated him badly while she tried to treat him neutrally, which caused him to conclude that she loved him. She had expensive medical bills at the time, he found out, and he began to make payments for her. After a while, he had paid several hundred dollars. His stalking continued—he would wait outside her house, and that sort of thing. She realized this situation was serious, but had no money to move away or do much else about it. I told her that once a poor person like he is invested in such a big way in someone like her, that he will not let go easily and leave his money there. She realized that accepting the money was a mistake. I wrote her a check for all that he had paid on her doctor bills and she wrote him a letter indicating that she never wanted anything to do with him again. She never had any trouble with him again. (Eventually, she repaid me.)
What does this have to do with you? There are times, when doing something for another can make a big difference in their life. If your additional research or other’s reminders help you compile a significantly more complete list of tapes and the works from which they were copied, I will pay the cost for you to send another letter. I believe that can be done for around $1000 bulk mail. I will not expect to be repaid. I am not interested in your mailing list, I am simply interested in first seeing that the letter does what we have discussed, then sending a check for the mailing cost to whoever mails for you.
This is an important issue, it is about the repentance and recovery of Jim Rector, the spiritual understanding of those who listen to your tapes and need to know what sources they are listening to, and about the reputation of the independent Sabbatarian movement. I would like to see all prosper in the eyes of the Eternal.
Please contact me if you need to send another letter.
May the the Eternal bless and provide for you in this recovery and healing process.
—Norman S. Edwards
June 14, 1999 Letter from Rector to His Entire Mailing List
Greetings to everyone. As you know, some weeks ago I wrote a letter of confession and apology for utilizing someone else’s material in making some of the wilderness series of tapes. I also withdrew from public ministry for a while to fully deal with this situation and regain my spiritual focus. This incident has caused me to search the tapes we have produced over the years in order to determine what other uncited material might have been used. Based upon my research, I wish to make the following disclosure to you:
Who is the Greatest? Used material from God’s Church - Whose Authority? by Malcolm Heap. A copy of this publication can be obtained for $5.00 from Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL. UK. I want to especially apologize to Mr. Heap for not giving him credit for some of the information on this particular tape, and publicly ask for his forgiveness (we have already settled matters privately).
Entering God’s Presence—Used material from How to Enter God’s Presence by Terry Law.
The Pathway to Greatness—Used material from Descending into Greatness by Bill Hybels.
Hearing From God—Used material from How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley.
What God Wants to Know—Used material from What God Wants to Know by Bruce Larson.
Quenching the Spirit—Used material from The Open Church by James Rutz.
Unlocking Your Faith—Used material from Hardness of Heart by Andrew Womack.
The Kinsman-Redeemer—Used material by Chuck Missler, the name of which I do not recall.
Breaking Wild Horses—Used material from Broken in the Right Place by Alan E. Nelson.
In each and every case I was wrong not to have cited the references used. In whatever way I have deceived anyone, I am deeply repentant before God. Yes, it is correct that by far the vast majority of material we have produced over the years is free from this problem, but obviously not in every instance. If I have overlooked an unnamed source, please let me know. Though I definitely do not wish to downplay this situation, I do want to put it behind me. I do not want to protect my image. I do not with to enhance my own personal status. I simply want to serve God, warts and all. My supreme motive was to reach out and give people hope and encourage them to look to God. This will always be my objective.
Once again my deepest apologies to all of you for any hurt or disappointment I have caused. This situation has certainly produced a major change in my own life, for which I am eternally grateful to God. I am not interested in furthering my work, but only in using whatever talents God has given me to serve and glorify Him. I hope that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me, and that we can continue to work together in serving one another. May God’s richest blessings be upon you always.
June 30, 1999 Letter from Edwards to Rector
I received your June 14, 1999 letter yesterday, June 29. I was saddened very much to read it. I must encourage myself by remembering that the Eternal will judge all things with perfect righteousness as well as mercy (1Sam 16:7; Is 11:3-4; James 5:11).
Nevertheless, I must decide whether I will continue to support or recommend your ministry. You certainly are aware of Revelation 2:2: "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars." I realize that you do not claim to be an apostle, but you certainly are a teacher and the principle certainly applies. The Ephesians (in Rev 2:2) must have learned some truth from these false apostles to have called them apostles at all—but they also tested them and found them to be lying about significant things. They had to dismiss those teachers.
I have learned a lot of things from you, and so have many other people. but I cannot understand your letter. This was not a spur-of-the-moment accident. Several times you have told me that you have withdrawn from your ministry in order to repent and get closer to God. Several times, you have said that you are examining your tape library to see if there are other tapes where "uncited material might have been used."
Was your intent to really inform your readers about the material you have copied, or was it simply an attempt to "pacify" the people who have suggested that you should do this? I cannot believe that it was anything but the latter. You did not mention tapes and articles that you know have been copied.
In Servants’ News, we mentioned that large sections of your article The Heart of the Matter were copied from Spiritual Burnout by Malcolm Smith. We even printed a picture of the cover of this book. Yet your letter to your mailing list said nothing about your two tapes titled Spiritual Burnout (12/18/93 & 12/25/93), where you read from the same book. Am I supposed to believe that in searching your library you overlooked the fact that the titles of your tape and the book were the same? The Servants’ News article also mentioned your reading from the book, Beyond Radical, by Gene Edwards [a radical charismatic author] in your lecture entitled Radical Departure at the Footsteps of the Messiah conference in December of 1998. Were you also unable to remember that you made a tape for your mailing list called Why We Do What We Do? (1/16/99) where you used the same book?
Jim, this is only six months ago!
Have you also forgotten that your friend and long-time supporter, Richard Fox, mentioned his concerns to you about the similarity of your Launching into the Deep (1/24/98) tape and a TV sermon he saw by Rod Parsley? Did not that remind you that your tape Raise High the Banner (9/5/98) contained a lot of reading from chapter 2, Raise High God’s Standard of Rod Parsley’s book No Dry Season (1996)? [Rod Parsley is a radical charismatic preacher and author—see following article.] This was also less than a year ago. If you had somehow forgotten which books you had read from, you could have called Richard Fox (or me) to remind you, but you did not.
Also, do you remember the talk you gave last year at the Sabbath Camper’s fellowship in Tennessee? You later made it into a tape called Conditions of the Heart (6/13/98). It was from Chapter 20, Heart Hermeneutics of the book The Journey Begins by Rick Joyner (1992) [a radical charismatic author mentioned in the following article].
If, after months of time to research, you either cannot remember these many examples of plagiarism (or knowingly intend to conceal them from your readership), how can you expect me to believe that any future work is your own? How can you expect anyone to believe you?
A couple of people have written us claiming that there is nothing wrong with plagiarism as long as the words are true. My understanding from the Bible is that plagiarism is both lying and stealing. You must believe this also, because you have apologized and admitted guilt to everyone I know of who has confronted you about the problem. Yet you seem to try to continue to hide it or minimize it to those on your mailing list who do not know.
In your mailing list letters, you continue to talk about being "wrong not to have cited the references used." This sounds like merely a technical error. You have still not admitted that large portions of your messages consist of reading from other author’s books.This leads me to the conclusion that you are attempting to minimize this problem so as to retain as much of your mailing list as possible. This is further confirmed by the fact that (as of 6/30/99) these known, plagiarized tapes are still being offered on your Website: Spiritual Burnout (2 tapes), Entering God’s Presence (3 tapes), What God Wants to Know and Unlocking Your Faith. Also, The Heart of the Matter article is still being offered.
I am not accusing you of doing this for money, personal status or power. I think you realize that your ministry has helped people in the past and because you want to continue to help people, you are humanly trying to represent this problem as much less than it really is to your mailing list.
The WCG experience taught me the dangers of ignoring the problems of religious leaders because they otherwise seemed to be doing a "work of God". Jim, I think you have taught and encouraged many people. But, so have thousands of other religious teachers who founded organizations on less than righteous and true principles. I am especially concerned that your time of "seeking God" away from your ministry has not led you to fully acknowledge your error, but has led you to become more like the "charismatic" religious authors that you have so frequently plagiarized. You wrote "I have found a way into God’s mind that I never knew before" on the InterAct public forum (May 30, 1999). I am very concerned for both you and any who may listen to this kind of message. This is typical talk for "charismatic" religionists. But does the Bible talk about little known ways into the mind of God? The Bible is very clear on these things. Sin separates us from God and the sacrifice of Christ reconciles us (Col 1:21-23). The formula for having God nearer to us is found in James 4:7-8: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
I am not your judge, but I must decide whether I will personally listen to your speaking and read your writings. I also must decide whether I will promote it to others. The scripture is clear that teachers receive a greater judgment (Jam 3:1). I can no longer in good conscience promote your tapes, literature, feasts, or ministry in any way.
If anything, this chapter in our collective history shows why there is a need for Christians to be judged (Luke 12:45-48; 1Cor 3:15; 2Cor 5:10). Some have accused you of plagiarism and of trying to hide it from your mailing list. Others have accused me of "Lashon Hara" (Hebrew for "evil speech") or "dividing the church" because I exposed your writings in my newsletter. Are we both right? I do not see how that can be. One, possibly both of us are wrong.
I am doing what I sincerely believe to be right, so if I am wrong, I will be punished with few stripes (Luke 12:47). I hope you can say the same.
May the Eternal grant both of us understanding, and have mercy on us all.
Concluding Remarks by Edwards
Jim has not responded to the above letter. However, there is a note on his web-site indicating it is being refurbished. Since the above correspondence was written, we have discovered more tapes where Jim read from other works:
A Passion for Fulness! (three tapes: July 1, 8 & 15, 1995) was from A Passion for Fullness (1990) by Jack Hayford, a charismatic author.
Where Did Christ Die? (April 12, 1997) was copied from Secrets of Golgotha by Ernest Martin, a former-WCG minister, now independent scholarly author.
The Pathway of Spiritual Growth Part 1 (March 21, 1998) was copied from There Were Two Trees in the Garden (1993) by Rick Joyner, a radical charismatic author who claims to be a prophet of God (see following article).
After spending some time listening to Jim Rector’s tapes, a pattern became all too apparent. Many tapes begin with announcements, current events, or sometimes an introduction to the topic that would be delivered in conversational tones—with occasional pauses, sentence fragments, self-interruptions etc. But when the main part of the message began, Jim’s delivery would become very smooth, and quick—and in many places very powerful. Many of us once might have thought that this was the inspiration of God taking over, but was actually Jim’s switch from speaking to reading!
While it is possible that Jim was pausing from reading his own writing, other factors indicate that he was reading from other’s books. We noticed uncertainty in his rapid-fire delivery most often when he was covering a subject where "Church of God" doctrine differs from "charismatic" doctrine. When the books mentioned "heaven" or Easter or Christmas, Jim would slow down and adapt the sentences to "the Kingdom" or God’s Feasts. In a few rare cases, Jim actually read the doctrinally incorrect words, and then corrected himself.
Our point of this is not to say that Jim is a poor reader or speaker; he is very good at both! There are probably very few people who could do what he does. But is the purpose of Jim Rector’s ministry—to read books from radical charismatic authors and to "sanitize" them for Sabbatarians? By listening for these "signs of reading", we believe many more of Jim’s tapes are read from books—we just do not know which book. If anyone is skeptical, we encourage you to listen to some tapes with these things in mind. We have heard a few tapes where Jim does not appear to be reading at all. Also, he has given live messages with no notes.
It is not our purpose to judge Jim Rector’s motivation in all of this. Christ will do that. But each believer must decide for themselves which teachers they will listen to and which they will not. Also, each person must decide which teachers they will recommend to new believers.
Jim Rector and others who listen to him have expressed the desire to "put this issue behind them". We agree. It probably matters little whether someone proves that 30, 100, or 130 tapes were plagiarized. The real issue is that Jim has admitted that specific instances of his plagiarism are wrong, but will not admit how many there are nor clearly tell his mailing list that many of his messages are a reading from a book, not just a simple lack of citing a reference. The other issue is that Jim is not teaching "new truth", but is teaching the foundation of common charismatic theology without his listeners knowing it. Please read the following article to understand more about it.
Those of us who have been in the Worldwide Church of God should have learned what happens when leadership problems are suppressed for many years: congregations stay together in a false unity, and when the problems are brought to light, friends and families of many years are divided. The longer some people have trusted in a leader, the harder it is for them to give him up. While it is still difficult to deal with problems as they happen, it is usually better than suppressing them.
Even though this situation is sad and difficult for many, we can rejoice that this situation is in the best possible hands: "...And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth..." (Is 11:3-4). —NSE