How can we wisely engage with Jordan Peterson's thought?


(Arthur Tepichin) #1

Jordan Peterson has over a milllon YouTube followers and is offering the 12 rules for life in his new book. Below is a bit I wrote on it. I would be interested with any thoughts on his new book or advice on the piece below.

I agree with most if not all of the life advice Jordan Peterson has to offer in his new book 12 Rules for Life , such as being honest, eating breakfast, and sitting up straight. I especially appreciate his motivational talk on focusing on what you can do to improve today. In reading his book and learning about some of the stories from his profession, I can see how he must be an amazing psychologist and really improve the lives of those who see him. However, while he offers great advice, the worldview that he presents and that drives his thinking is Taoism. Jordan wraps this Taoism in distorted Christian stories to make it palatable for his western audience to consume this eastern philosophy. Jordan’s worldview is built on the Taoist notion of chaos and order. As Jordon puts it, “reality—itself is composed of two opposing principles….” He presents a world of good and evil—a yin and yang—order and chaos—as opposing eternal truths that coexist with each needing the other. As Jordan writes, “Hell is eternal. It has always existed.” C.S. Lewis responded brilliantly to this dualistic worldview in Chapter 7 of Mere Christianity which is worth reading in its entirety, “I personally think that next to Christianity Dualism is the manliest and most sensible creed on the market. But it has a catch in it.” This catch is found when you try to distinguish between good and evil, “But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule….” Jordan has made the individual the final arbiter of these rules as he states, “Each human being understands, a priori perhaps not what is good, but certainly what is not.” This standard of morality works well when you are sitting around with those you agree with, however it does not work so well when ISIS is beheading you. To quote Ravi Zacharias, this subjective morality fails us because, “In some countries you love your neighbors, and in others you eat them.” Jordon leaves morality to be defined by the individual, but this temptation was proposed once before as I quote Ravi Zacharias expanding on Genesis: “God gave only one law in the Garden of Eden, “Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” But Satan twisted that by telling Adam and Eve they would become God and could define their own good and evil.” In Jordan’s book it states, “At the beginning of time the Word of God transformed,” however Genesis 1:1 reads differently, “In the beginning God created….” I am sure Jordan was precise in his speech—notice that his rendition of the beginning is quite different from the Bible as he changes the scripture to fit his Taoism of god that transforms chaos into order. Jordan tells us “your truth is something only you can tell” and gives us 12 rules to live by. Jesus said, “I am and the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and gave us this to live by, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Michael Martin) #2

I enjoyed listening to JP initially because he was able to implode the arguments of the Left with dexterity and logical poise that helped others recognize the inconsistency of their positions. However, realizing that he is not grounded theologically, I have not listened to him recently.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #3

This is a good topic to talk about @Tepichin. I consider Jordan Peterson personally as a father, since his influence has helped me in sorting my life out. I praise God for common grace. Aside from that, he has some good insight regarding politics, which I consider top notch. I don’t agree with everything he says, and since he’s looking, for example, in his theological discussions with secular lens, as Christians, we need to take caution and check if what was said is in accordance with God’s word.

I was not able to read 12 Rules for Life Yet, so I’m not sure if what I’m going to say could help. But on your piece, I think maybe you need to re-check your judgment on Jordan Peterson since you said that he leaves morality to be defined by the individual. Morality for him is not relative. For him, it’s not something which is constructed, but is something discovered. That’s where Jordan Peterson and William Lane Craig agreed about on their dialogue with Rebecca Goldstein about the meaning of life.

I do agree that dualism is problematic as a worldview. The Bible shows us that evil is not a thing in itself, which is not eternal like the good. Evil is only a privation. But we have to agree that there is a chaos in our world today, and it should be brought back into order. Like Jordan Peterson, we agree that the change starts with the individual, but we go much further than that, since making people good is not the main reason Jesus came, rather, it is to make dead people alive. So I believe the gospel could help us best in recuperating what the book has to say about life. The gospel reminds us that everything God created is good, and the good was immensely corrupted because of sin. Then God Himself will make perfect those who had trusted in Him, and also the world that was corrupted with them. This could help us see truth wherever it comes from, and help recuperate it if it’s mixed with lies or destructive ideologies. But we need to immerse ourselves to the word and depend on the Holy Spirit to sort this through.

(Arthur Tepichin) #4

Thank you @omnarchy for such thoughtful commentary to my post. You have added lots of solid stuff! I am a fan of Jordoan Peterson which is why I was a little disappointed after reading his new book. I still appreciate all of his great thinking and arguments on various topics. So many have embraced Jordan Peterson as paternal authority figure with great advice on how we can get our lives together. But no amount of self help will work, we need our Heavenly Father. Jordon Peterson states in his new book, “Your truth is something only you can tell, based as it is on the unique circumstances of your life. Apprehend your personal truth.”

When humans try to define their own truth I will quote Ravi Zacharias again,”In some countries you love your neighbors, and in others you eat them.” The answer to discovering truth is not trying to “apprehend” our own personal truth, we need to discover the person who is the Truth, Jesus Christ.

I couldn’t agree more with you about:

Jesus Christ did not come to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive. - Ravi Zacharias

Thank you again for the great post!

(Arthur Tepichin) #5

How should we wisely respond to Jordon Peterson’s interpretation of Adam and Eve?

As Jordon Peterson states, “The original Man and Woman, existing in unbroken unity with their Creator, did not appear conscious (and certainly not self-conscious). Their eyes were not open. But, in their perfection, they were also less, not more, than their post-Fall counterparts. Their goodness was something bestowed, rather than deserved or earned. They exercised no choice.”

Ravi Zacharias recently stated on Michael Coren Live, "“Go back to the Garden of Eden, that Adam and Eve were created up right, with the possibly of serving God with the fullest of their wills. Everything around them, their was astatic beauty, moral uprightness, there was relationship in its pristine form, there was God walking as it were with them. But in the possibility that God gave to us of loving him there had to be the instinct necessity of will also.”

(Andrew Bulin) #6

Maybe God gave them one choice: to follow Him in everything of their little, perfect world, or not. Then, once sin entered the world because of choosing to rebel, now we are like God and we can see so many choices and have limitless choices for sin. Perhaps that is the world of “free will” the we live in that makes it hard to appreciate what is at the core of all sin: to follow Him in everything (now in our over complicated world) or not.

I’ve been binge-watching Jordan Peterson and find what he says fascinating. I frequently agree given the scope of his conversation. One video I found fascinating but sad was on the question if he believed in God:

He seems like he can sense the right choice and is just struggling to fully comprehend God without faith. I hope he does not become as lost as Carl Jung, knowing he is an influence on Jordan.

(Arthur Tepichin) #7

@andrew.bulin Thank you for your thought insight. Thank you for sharing this video! I had not seen it.

(SeanO) #8

@andrew.bulin That is a very interesting video - just had a chance to watch it.

Peterson suggests that there are two people - Jesus and maybe Buddha - who may have ‘mastered’ life. He seems to hold an almost eastern view that has some similarities with the idea that we can achieve ‘enlightenment’ and that perhaps a few ‘gurus’ who are further down that path can help us.

I do not think he would ever want to say he believed in enlightenment or gurus - he appears to not want to be ‘boxed in’, as he calls it. On one level, that helps him appeal to a wider audience with his work - he seems to want to give everyone in his audience room to disagree with him and yet agree with him - if you take my meaning.

In terms of engaging with people who like Peterson, I feel like Peterson gives us a good launching board. He points to Jesus as someone unique in history in his wisdom - so the next step is to perhaps pose questions in line with what someone who likes Peterson may be open to or seeking:

What do you think was the source of Jesus’ wisdom? What did Jesus say was the source of His wisdom?

Would you like to read through the teachings of Christ with me and discuss?

How can we truly master ourselves? Let’s take a look at Romans 6-8 and see what Paul has to say about the flesh, the mind and the Spirit?

Can you guys think of any other questions? I would be curious on your thoughts of my current understanding of Jordan and how to engage with those who follow him.