I’m at the tail end of Peterson’s newest book 12 Rules for life. He is all the rage on the internet, on TV, and in every bookstore. It is unbelievable how quickly someone in our world today can go from obscurity to household name. Dr. Peterson is a professor who gained fame by his refusal to refer to a person’s professed gender and instead said that he would refer to them by their biological gender. His brand of logic and no-nonsense is rare in today’s world and surprising because he is Canadian. (Just saying Canadians are really nice how do I know? I’m Canadian and so is my wife. :)) Here is a now-famous lively exchange he had with a Canadian New Anchor. I found it refreshing.
Here is how Jordan Peterson can help you:
- He is logical and because he is so ruthlessly logical he exposes the illogical ideologies on both the left and the right. We live in a world that forces you to pick a side. Logic doesn’t pick sides but relentlessly seeks what is right what is true and what makes sense.
- He pushes people to stand up and be virtuous. He talks about the value of effort and truth-telling. Things that are sadly missing in so many of our institutions in our country.
- He understands the power and importance of suffering. That suffering is not to be sought but also not to be ignored. We live in a world that medicates their pain like no other generation before us. His message that pain is telling us something that pain can teach us something is powerful.
Here is where Jordan Peterson is off:
- His focus is very much on the reader improving themselves. This isn’t different from the self-help section of most bookstores. So if he were a self-help guru no problem. The problem comes is that many people say he is a Christian if that is true I have no idea if it is. His approach to making yourself better by pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is the very opposite of both the philosophy and the logos of the Bible.
- He speaks of Christianity as the best philosophy but doesn’t seem to indicate that it is more than a philosophy. Many people say C. S. Lewis came to Christ through reason this isn’t true he became a Deist by reason and a Christian by faith. The impression Peterson gives is that he believes that of all the philosophies out there Christianity is the most consistent and coherent. I agree. The problem comes in thinking that you can reason to Christ, you can’t. Plato reasoned to God but from what we know he never believed in Him. Christianity is the greatest philosophy but it isn’t a philosophy it’s a faith. If you reason to God you will be undone by the foolishness of the Cross and the simplicity of the gospel.
- He does see the continuity of the Old and New Testament. He sees them as disjointed and often misrepresents the God of the Old Testament because he doesn’t see God as Paul describes him in Romans 3 as both Just and Justifier of our sins. God sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin to show God’s righteousness at the present time so that He might be both Just and Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. In the Old Testament we see God as Just and in the New Testament through Christ, we are able to see God’s righteousness and Mercy that he is the Justifier of our sin by sending Christ. The Old and New are not disconnected but speak of Christ point to Christ and are united by mankind’s need and God’s gracious supply.
- His worldview is more Darwinian that it is Christian. He references most things from the idea of us evolving toward a better version of ourselves in that we are still experiencing in the present evolutionary changes. The worldview of scripture is not an upward path where every change is a good one. It is perfection followed by brokenness then redemption and ultimately restoration. The Christian worldview isn’t moralistic evolution it’s “irruption” the kingdom of God breaking into the brokenness of our world to redeem us and make everything the way it was always supposed to be by His grace alone for His glory alone.
Should you read Jordan Peterson? Yes as long as you read him as a self-help author lots of stuff he says is helpful and should be implemented. Dr. Peterson is very intelligent though he seems to embrace Christianity as a philosophy he doesn’t seem to embrace it as a worldview and although he is well aware of the fallenness of mankind he doesn’t seem to understand how God solves that problem through the propitiation of Christ on our behalf.