Mark Driscoll spoke at a leadership conference recently. He began with the sad story of his family’s experience during and after the events that led to his ministry at Mars Hill ending in shame and the closure of the church. This story is sad and my heart goes out to him and especially his children. No one should be treated that way!
His topic was forgiveness, and he focused on the need for “struck shepherds” to forgive those who have hurt them. So the introduction telling of his family’s experience was strong. The talk is a powerful reminder of the centrality and importance of forgiving to Christian living. It is made more real by Driscoll’s desire to forgive those who hurt his children.
Several people have already commented on the strange fact that Driscoll never asks for forgiveness or acknowledges his fault in all this experience (apart from a rather trite aside about “struck shepherds” sometimes hitting themselves in the head). That despite his experiences and his desire to forgive Driscoll’s talk is still self-centered is sad, but sadly not untypical of Western Christians in the early 21st century.
What I have not seen commented on is Driscoll’s use of Scripture. The phrase “struck shepherds” runs like a refrain through the talk. The refers to a verse from the Old Testament that Jesus quotes in which he reads “Strike thou the shepherd and the sheep scatter.” The passages are Zechariah 13:7 and Mark 14:27 || Matt 26:31. I am not sure which passage Driscoll read nor which translation, because he seems to misquote. For the original verse in Zechariah all the translations I looked at had something like:
“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
I will turn my hand against the little ones.
While the gospels read something like:
Mark 14:27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'”
Matthew 26:31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “`I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
Far from offering comfort to a “struck shepherd”, as Driscoll seems to think, what I notice in both the prophet and in Jesus quoting of the prophet is that the agency of the striking is God.
In these Bible passages the shepherd is struck by God.
And, unless Driscoll thinks he is Jesus struck by God and crucified he presumably ought to identify himself with the struck human shepherd/leader(s) of Zech 13. This is not at all comforting for Driscoll, for this chapter proclaims God’s action against the false leaders who led his people into idolatry!
Beware lest your misuse of Scripture cause the weapon to turn in your hand and bite you. For the words of the Word of God as like a sharp double-edged sword!
Revelation 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.