To Whom Would You Rather Listen: A Shock Jock or a Shepherd?

According to that most reliable of all internet resources, Wikipedia,

A shock jock is a type of radio broadcaster or disc jockey who entertains listeners or attracts attention using humor and/or melodramatic exaggeration that a notable portion of the listening audience may find offensive.  The term is usually used pejoratively to describe provocative or irreverent broadcasters whose mannerisms, statements and actions are typically offensive to many members of the community.

Unfortunately, the shock jock mentality is an affliction that can also settle in on members of the religious community.  I am not alone in the opinion that, for example, Mark Driscoll is one person who suffers from this affliction.  My good friend and former student, Bob Stenhouse, called my attention recently to another individual who is similarly afflicted, a certain Heath “kick you in the nuts” Mooneyham, whom Bob cleverly described as “Mark Driscoll on steroids”!

Perhaps even more unfortunately, the shock jock mentality can even afflict those in the world of biblical scholarship.  A number of  individuals have acquired reputations over the last few years for wanting to rescue their readers from their misplaced trust in the Bible as a theologically trustworthy and authoritative document.  Some of them do so by writing articles with satirically humorous and clever, but also misleading, sensationalistic, and manipulative titles and taglines.  Despite their protestations to the contrary, the tone of these articles can be quite demeaning and condescending toward those apparently naïve persons who would not be in agreement with them.  Additionally, there is nothing in the articles which resembles the great reverence with which Christians over the centuries have cherished the Holy Scriptures.  Basically, the articles are very much characterized by “shock jock,” but very little characterized by edification, building the saints up in their most holy faith.

One morning earlier this week, I read one such article by one of these scholars on how we should read the Bible.  There were actually a lot of good points made in the article; but unfortunately, they were mixed with terribly un-nuanced statements which served to diminish the Bible’s authority, as well as the reverence which the Scriptures’ readers ought to have toward them.  Overall, it was, again, an article which was not really very edifying.

Later that morning, I had to go out to get some work done on my car.  Instead of leaving the car at the place that was doing the work, I decided I would just stay there, take a book with me, and read it while I was waiting.  I had been wondering what I should read, hadn’t made my decision yet, and as I was walking out the door, I finally hurriedly grabbed a book I had purchased at a local thrift store a few weeks earlier.  The book I grabbed was one by Jerry Bridges, entitled, The Joy of Fearing God.  What a wonderful hurried decision it was!

It was a completely different atmosphere.  It was a breath of fresh air.  The book was characterized by both reverence for God and for Scripture.  There was no attempt to forge an artificial dichotomy between God and his word.  The author spends a lot of time in the Old Testament as he describes what God is like and how he is to be feared, worshiped, revered, and regarded as most holy and most awesome.  And the author makes no attempt to suggest that one of the reasons why Jesus came was to deliver us from the Old Testament’s incorrect ideas about the character of God.  The few chapters I got to read that morning while sitting in the customer waiting area helped to salvage the morning for me.

There’s an interesting little anecdote related about Charles Spurgeon, often referred to as the “prince of preachers.”  A visitor to Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle later noted in a London newspaper that he did not find Spurgeon’s sermons all that striking.  Upon being made aware of this comment, Spurgeon’s response was, “It is not the work of a shepherd to strike his sheep, but to feed them.”

I would rather be fed by a faithful shepherd than struck by an annoying shock jock.

Jerry Shepherd
October 8, 2014

2 thoughts on “To Whom Would You Rather Listen: A Shock Jock or a Shepherd?

  1. Thanks for the reflection. You are very kind in leaving the scholars unnamed. This mornings reading, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Isaiah 33:6

    • Thanks for this, Ryan. Interestingly, and in line with the post, this verse comes in a chapter which is filled with talk about the Lord’s retributive violence. A major reason in the OT for fearing the Lord is the awesomeness of his execution of justice. And, just as interestingly, it is no less the case in the NT. Example: Rev 15:4 — “Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed,” those righteous acts being acts of vengeance which the Lord carried out on behalf of the saints.

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