Leaked contract shows Driscolls got $400k advance for controversial Real Marriage book

Former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll pictured in a video interview with Hillsong senior pastor Brian Houston.

Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace were paid an advance of $400,000 (£270,000) for their book Real Marriage, according to their contract with publishers Thomas Nelson.

A copy of the contract has been released online by blogger WenatcheeTheHatchet.

The book – now revealed to have had the original title A New Marriage with the Same Spouse – attracted controversy not just because of its frank discussion of sexual issues but because of Driscoll's use of a mechanism designed to boost its place in the New York Times best seller list.

The contract between Driscoll's Mars Hill church with the Result Source company provided for the church to buy 11,000 copies at an adjusted retail price so that the numbers would contribute to the newspaper's ratings list.

Analysis by blogger Warren Throckmorton, who covered the Driscoll case extensively, shows that according to the contract, royalties from the Mars Hill purchase went to the Driscolls.

The apparent attempt to manipulate the ratings was widely seen as unethical and contributed to Driscoll's departure from the church and its closure at the end of 2014.

Throckmorton also notes the contract requires the authors to pay for corrections to the book. Researchers found numerous examples of plagiarism in Real Marriage where material was taken from other authors without acknowledgment.

Driscoll was revealed last month to be on verge of launching a new congregation. He is listed as a director of The Trinity Church in Phoenix, Arizona, which was recently incorporated and uses the same correspondence address as his Mark Driscoll Ministries.

The incorporation document says that the church will be a "Bible based Christian Church".