Grace School of Plagiarism

micahcoate Dec 19, 2023


A few weeks ago, I released my first article highlighting problems with Micah Coate’s A Cultish Side of Calvinism. My research has continued, though I’m still dealing with the issues that I had originally highlighted on my profile. So I’m still not done with those, and after those, I have a whole pile in my backlog that I want to process, though they will require a bit more research. As I said before, though, I am willing to stand down if Micah repents.

The summary so far: Micah needs to repent of spreading division, overt double standards and dishonesty, and plagiarism. In this article, I’ll only be covering one specific issue, but it’s almost as bad as the overt plagiarism I highlighted in my first article.

Before we dive in, I want to highlight something: Micah published this book a year before graduating from seminary. So, he already had seemingly 5 years of academic experience and then published this book. Of course, he probably didn’t write it in a few weeks, but it seems he didn't attempt to edit it before publishing, regardless of when he did the writing.

He also had support from several educational leaders, among whom are Drs Fred Chay and Dave Anderson from Grace School of Theology in The Woodlands, Texas. So while they certainly aren’t liable for what Micah wrote, they are implicated in endorsing plagiarism. With Dave being listed as the president both in Micah’s book and currently, this does not reflect well on the school.

I also want to update you on the response from Micah’s community: only one actually tried speaking with me. Well, he didn’t. He went after one of my friends who shared my article. I saw it and jumped in. Then he talked with me. He outright admitted that he wouldn’t look at the evidence I presented in the article until I had provided evidence for the claims I made in the article…. which the evidence in the article substantiated. No one else has replied. No one else has commented.

This is extremely ironic because a refusal to question one’s leader is actually one of the biggest signs of being a cult. Let the ironies abound.

On those notes, let’s dive in.

Did Calvin really say that?

Kindle location 3803, Micah wrote the following:

  • “1 Timothy 2:1–4, Calvin wrote that the modifier “all” men “doesn’t mean all men but all kinds and races of men.”[5] Dave Hunt writes, “Calvin’s audacity in changing the meaning of Scripture is breathtaking.”[6] He also writes, “For turning all men into all kinds and races of men and ‘princes and foreign nations’ in order to accommodate their system of theology, Calvinists will answer to God.”[7]”

With the following footnotes:

Footnotes 6 and 7 check out exactly.

Footnote 5, however, is a little interesting. Let’s review the source.

  • The website is still active, so we can check it.
  • And, I did. And the quote doesn’t exist there. I’ve checked several forms of the quote, too, just in case there’s a typo in Micah’s citation.
  • So, I searched my Logos. For those who don’t know me, let me explain.

I currently have almost 15k resources in my Logos library, of which ~2k are in my Logos Print Library. For this project, I went ahead and just added every Calvin and Eerdman’s book available in Logos to my Print Library, so that if a search turns up positive, I can buy that book and review the contents.

I added Eerdman’s too, because the website Micah cited, the-highway, had this citation: “This sermon is from a Wm. B. Eerdmans' volume which was a reprint of the only sizable collection of John Calvin's sermons translated into the English language since the Sixteenth Century and the only volume ever published in America up to that time (1949). The collection was originally published in a limited edition in 1830 by John Forbes of New York.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the particular Eerdman’s volume is available on Logos.

And, specifically, my Logos library currently has 30 owned Calvin texts and an additional 90 Calvin texts in the Print Library, including Calvin’s commentary on 1 Timothy.

In light of that, I did NOT limit my search to only books with Calvin as the author. Instead, I searched my entire Logos library, to catch every instance possible to see if Calvin said this or if anyone else attributed it to Calvin.

drum roll please

It doesn’t exist in my library.

When I searched for ["mean all men but all kinds”], I found this:

  • “The points of chief interest are that Fulgentius denied that the Virgin was conceived immaculate, and also that when speaking of the eternal generation of the Son, he used the audacious expression, ex utero Patris. In this work he laid the strongest emphasis on the Monergistic hypothesis of regeneration, and he weakened the universalism of numerous expressions of God’s love by declaring that “all” does not mean “all men,” but “all kinds of men.” The reconciliation of all things to Himself, necessitates a limitation of the all, or else lands one in the admission of the ultimate reconciliation of the devil and his angels. Fulgentius made a belief in predestination to be necessary to salvation. Unless a man believes it, he cannot belong to the elect.”
  • Reynolds, Henry Robert. 1877–1887. “Fulgentius (3), Fabius Claudius Gordianus.” In A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines, edited by William Smith and Henry Wace, 2:582. London: John Murray.

When I searched for ["all kinds and races of men”], I found nothing.

In fact, when I google ["doesn’t mean all men but all kinds and races of men”], it only shows up in two places: Micah’s book, and Debating Calvinism, the very next book Micah provides in his footnotes, in a chapter written by Dave Hunt. In light of his previous plagiarism of Dave Hunt, it very much appears that Micah took these words and attributed them to John Calvin. Let’s investigate by digging into Debating Calvinism:

  • “Calvin claims that “[God] will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4) doesn’t mean all men but all kinds and races of men24.… He is speaking of classes.… [Paul’s] only concern is to include princes and foreign nations in this number.”25 Calvin’s audacity in changing the meaning of Scripture is breathtaking! “Foreign nations” aren’t even mentioned. Paul exhorts that “prayers be made for all men.” He emphasizes that prayers be made “for kings, and for all that are in authority” and specifies why: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” He then adds, “[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” For turning “all men” into “all kinds and races of men” and “princes and foreign nations” in order to accommodate their system of theology, Calvinists will answer to God.”

With the following footnotes:

  1. John Calvin, cited in White, Potter’s Freedom, 141.
  2. John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans., 1994), 10: 209.

Now we have something to go on, and I’ve confirmed the “princes and foreign nations” citation:

  • “It is interesting to note that conversely Calvin does occasionally state that “all” refers to some parts of the race rather than the whole of mankind.
    • No nation of the earth and no rank of society is excluded from salvation, since God wills to offer the Gospel to all without exception.… He is speaking of classes and not of individuals, and his only concern is to include princes and foreign nations in this number.[104]

Nicole, Roger. 1985. “John Calvin’s View of the Extent of the Atonement.” Westminster Theological Journal 47, no. 2: 219.

And Roger provides the following footnote:

  • 104 Comm., 1 Tim 2:4 (pp. 208–9).
    • 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
    • 1 Timothy 2:4

So, I tracked that down. Roger Nicole references specifically the 1964 Eerdman’s translation of Calvin’s Commentary, which I was able to preview online here:

I’m not able to get that particular copy, that particular translation, of Calvin’s commentary at this time, but I was able to confirm it here:

  • “But I say nothing on that subject, because it has nothing to do with this passage; for the Apostle simply means, that there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation; because God wishes that the gospel should be proclaimed to all without exception. Now the preaching of the gospel gives life; and hence he justly concludes that God invites all equally to partake salvation. But the present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons; for his sole object is, to include in this number princes and foreign nations. That God wishes the doctrine of salvation to be enjoyed by them as well as others, is evident from the passages already quoted, and from other passages of a similar nature. Not without good reason was it said, “Now, kings, understand,” and again, in the same Psalm, “I will give thee the Gentiles for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth for a possession.” (Ps. 2:8, 10.)” [Emphasis mine.]

Calvin, John, and William Pringle. 2010. Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

So let’s review: Micah provides three footnotes, the second two of which match his source: Dave Hunt. Just like I highlighted in the first article.

But his first footnote, in the same paragraph, matches, word for word, Dave’s own words, and for some reason can’t be found elsewhere. I’ll provide the specific sections here:


  • “1 Timothy 2:1–4, Calvin wrote that the modifier “all” men “doesn’t mean all men but all kinds and races of men.”[5]”

Emphasis added, and supposedly from Calvin.


  • “Calvin claims that “[God] will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4) doesn’t mean all men but all kinds and races of men24.… He is speaking of classes.…”

Emphasis mine.

Let’s go ahead and check what James White said for Dave’s footnote 24:

  • “Of course, Paul would not think that these words meant that he would witness of Christ to every single individual human being on the planet. Instead, he would have surely understood this to mean all kinds and races of men. Likewise, the allegation against Paul was that he preached “to all men everywhere” against the Jews and the Law and the Temple (Acts 21:28).”

Page 141; emphasis mine.

I have the 2009 Kindle Edition. The 2000 edition that Dave used is only available physically; I’ll be ordering the physical copy eventually, but in the meantime, I checked with someone who has it and confirmed that the above paragraph is the same, unchanged.

Do you want to know what the most interesting part about that citation is? It’s not from Calvin. James never says it is; he provides no footnote and makes no indication that Calvin is even involved. In fact, doing a Kindle search for Calvin, which also returned Calvinism, James uses the word on pages 134 and 153…. But nowhere in between!

At the end of chapter 5, James provides this footnote (number 14):

  • “Edwin Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Baker Book House, 1986), p. 26.”

The next time Calvin is used, either directly or in Calvinism, is in the header of chapter 7:

  • “Jesus Teaches “Extreme Calvinism””

Actually, here are the footnotes James provides for chapter 6, which has the quote in question:

  • 1 For example, pp. 79, 95, 199-200, 233.
  • 2 Chosen But Free, p. 60.
  • 3 Ibid., p. 95.
  • 4 Ibid., p. 200.
  • 5 John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1992), p. 29.
  • 6 Chosen But Free, p. 201.
  • 7 Ibid., p. 202.
  • 8 Ibid., pp. 202-203.
  • 9 Ibid., p. 199.
  • 10 Ibid., pp. 199-200.
  • 11 We do not here refer to the revealed will of God found in His law which commands all men everywhere to repent: we speak of His saving will that all the elect come to repentance, and His ability to perform that will.

Do you see John Calvin in there? Because I don’t. In fact, footnote 5 is on page 138, BEFORE the 1 Timothy 2:4 section, and footnote 6 is page 142, several paragraphs after the quote in question.

So, I haven’t been able to read Potter’s Freedom yet, cover to cover, but from skimming this section and doing the double checks (like the locations of the footnotes)…. I’m confident that James did NOT quote Calvin in this passage, either in my Kindle edition or in the 2000 edition.

Part of my reason is that I was able to track down the other quote in a few locations, but this particular quote I can’t.

Now, I do want to be clear: Dave’s punctuation appears messed up. He has a closing quotation mark at footnote 25, but doesn’t have an opening quotation mark for footnote 24. Actually, his use of ellipses confuses me because Dave quotes James for footnote 24 but Calvin directly for 25, even though the ellipses seems to indicate one ongoing quote.

If we take that quotation mark out, though, and just read the beginning of the sentence to footnote 24, then it sounds like Dave is offering a loose paraphrase of his footnote 24. This is still problematic, because while James does say something like that in Potter’s Freedom, he doesn’t claim it comes from Calvin, like Dave says both in the paragraph and in his own footnote.

In either case, though, what is plainly obvious is that Micah is plagiarizing again. He might not be stealing Dave’s words as his own (if we assume a particular interpretation of Dave’s writing), but he is passing off Dave’s research as his research.

All three quotes that Micah provides in this paragraph appear in the same paragraph in Dave’s work. So we know that Micah knew about Dave’s footnote 24 in writing this. And yet he didn’t say that he got the quote from Dave, despite quoting it verbatim. This is doubly ironic because Dave’s footnote specifies that he is claiming to be getting a Calvin quote from White, not from Calvin directly. So there’s already a model for Micah to use to say something like “quoting Dave who references James.” And yet Micah doesn’t.

Additionally, since it isn’t found anywhere else, combined with Micah’s vague and unreliable sources, it’s pretty clear that Micah never had an original, primary source. So the two choices are: Dave actually wrote this and Micah plagiarized it, then attributed it to Calvin, or Dave provided a faulty quote and citation which Micah merely repeated without checking.


So… Assuming the most charitable possible interpretation, this is merely an extremely low-quality book, poorly researched, with little to no critical oversight or guidance, and less fact-checking during the editing process. If we grant him the charity he grants to Calvinists, however… Well, then we have to question how representative this text is of Micah’s other work, from his undergrad, first seminary, and now in his time at DTS.

I’ll continue to research this book (and I have a physical copy now, just in case something happens with the Kindle edition) until Micah repents or I run out of problems.