Jordan Peterson’s Message to Christian Churches

Good day TRC and Friends! This week I came across a video produced by Jordan Peterson with his audience being the Christian Church. 

I found it particularly intriguing for two reasons. The first reason is that I referenced Peterson in a sermon Sunday as having a clearer understanding of the place of hardship for people based on his study of the Bible than people who claim to believe all the claims of the Bible. 

From what I can gather, Peterson is not a Christian, and I still admire his work and conclusions. 

Here is the video I am referencing.

The second reason I find it intriguing is that Peterson, from reading a Bible and observing his world, has come to practical conclusions that many who call themselves Christians (and yet don’t actually read their Bibles) either refuse to come to or simply are ignoring the conclusions all together or some other horrible reasons. 

Doug Wilson responded similarly to Peterson as I did, but he had a better-articulated way of marveling than me. He said, “…he came to true conclusions from a crooked foundation.”

I’ll let you watch Jordan for yourself. I shared this video with many of my friends and family and took some time to unpack it with a group of young men I’m investing in, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing that with those guys. 

I want to be clear: I love Peterson’s conclusions, and I’m in no way being critical of anything he says in the video. I commend him for it and am thankful he did it. 

I am unimpressed with the general state of Christianity. We need a non-Christian imploring us to do what the Bible calls us to do. I’m more unimpressed that we can’t read our Bibles and come to conclusions a man without the Holy Spirit comes to, and he does so rather accurately. 

How does a non-Christian understand how to read the Bible properly in genre and instruction from God on how to live in the world?

How does a non-Christian come to the conclusion that young men should be leaders sought out? 

How does a non-Christian come up with such solid counsel to not lighten the challenge to young men, but make it more challenging? 

Here is what I kept hearing in my spiritual ears as I thought on Peterson’s words to the church: Luke 11:31-32 (CSB) 31 The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and look—something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching, and look—something greater than Jonah is here.

Not that Peterson has repented and believed, but he’s telling us what to do from our own book because he does not see us doing it (which doesn’t mean it’s not being done in some places), and in a strange way, it’s God’s discipline that we are being goaded into action from our own book while we claim to know God, have his Spirit, and claim the book is true, accurate and without error. Yet….a non-Christian is having to goad us into actions gleaned from our own book. 

What should we do?

  1. Show up to the church. Peterson recognizes from the Bible that being present at church is vital. We have to stop treating gathered worship as though it is the last in the line of important tasks. We are losing a generation because we are not valuing the gathering of the saints unless we have a list of luxuries to meet our needs. This is spiritual suicide disguised as rest or some other foolishness. 
  2. Read your Bible. No more excuses about time….yada, yada, yada. We do what we want to do. If you want to read your Bible you will. Just stop claiming God’s salvation with no desire to know what God says so we can obey it. 
  3. Learn how to read and make sense of words. The excuse of not knowing how to read words and put them together in coherent meaning is awful. Either we have failed at educating at the basic level as a culture or our kids are failing to engage and learn the basics. Why can’t we read and make sense of the words? Other more spiritually impoverished places get Bibles and have no problem knowing what is literal, figurative, historical, and the like. What can’t we? Is it a function of desire? I’m inclined to think so. 
  4. Men, embrace your role. Just do it. God made you to set the pace in a thousand different ways. It does not have to be as a pastor, CEO, or some other role considered to be something special by people. You do need to reject passivity, lead courageously, accept responsibility, and then you can expect God’s reward. 
  5. We have to stop making excuses for not doing the basics. 
  6. Maybe not everyone who says “Lord, Lord”, is actually in a place where Jesus is really Lord. Maybe there are a bunch of us who may think we are Christians and are not. I need to evaluate whether I’m in the faith. This Scripture comes to mind for me: 

2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (CSB) 5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test. 6 And I hope you will recognize that we ourselves do not fail the test.

I hope my post does not come off as harsh. I am a little weary of the weak commitment and excuse-making nature of cultural Christianity while we have non-Christians seeing the value in what we take for granted and instructing us on actually doing what we say we believe. 

Let’s lean into the powerful grace of God to give us a holy desire to know God, know his word, and obey everything he has given us to obey. 

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