Jordan Peterson: surrogate Christian philosopher and interloper?

Jordan Peterson’s meteoric rise to internet sponsored stardom illustrates what could happen if western churches were to adopt the NGC strategy and re-enter the public square at local and national levels.  Peterson’s rise from obscurity as a Toronto University academic begun with his public opposition, using You Tube as his vehicle, to Canadian trans-gender legislation that essentially forces people to use trans-gender pro-nouns. Risking an avalanche of politically correct opposition that could have destroyed his character, his family and his career Jordan spoke out come hell or high water and won the day. His opposition to mandated speech went viral protecting him from the backlash that came.  He cleverly leveraged off his notoriety to push his clinical psychological insights about living a fulfilled life.  Now he has a huge world-wide following, allowing him to challenge multiculturalism, radical feminism and the myth of white male patriarchy, amongst other issues.

Jordan’s success makes my point concerning the NGC strategy:

·         Pressing the right buttons can yield huge benefits in our connected internet driven age.

·         If one man can wield so much influence in such a short time, how much more clout might churches muster.

·         Stand up against the PC wall and it soon crumbles.

·         People are hungry for new ideas that resonate with their needs, fears and hopes.

For Christians there is a dark side to Jordan’s message and success.  He has entered the public square speaking vicariously for Christianity.  He does that by drawing on the Bible, but not as a Christian.  Instead he reduces ‘God’s word’ to Man’s word.  You can watch his lectures on Bible ‘stories’.  For him the Bible is a compilation of profoundly important stories that do no more than capture the evolving lessons of Man’s societal experience.  He equivocates on the actual existence of God, claiming one should live “as if he exists”.  He uses Christianity as a foil for his psychological research.  Spirit and truth around the fundamentals of the faith are missing completely.  But it gets even more annoying because all his insights are obvious from the biblical text and did not need his decades of research and clinical practice to identify – although having behavioural science vindication is not a bad thing.  All it needed was a Church active in their promulgation. He concludes that hierarchies, and malevolence are endemic. If individuals and societies do not follow ‘constructive’ paths that lead to purpose, progress and fulfilment life will get harder than it already is, hierarchies will manifest the will to power and malevolence, expressed ultimately in murder, evil and genocide is inevitable.

Christian can be excused for raising their eyebrows and saying; “so what, we know that, it’s the central idea in the Bible, it’s the fall, its sin, its covetousness, sloth, greed – the seven deadly sins.  The fact that so many people have embraced Jordan’s ideas as something fresh and vital bear’s testimony to how far the western Church has slipped into a pietistic, monastic and irrelevant wilderness.  A clinical psychologist has to enter the public square like a secular Jeramiah to highlight all that lies behind the Next Generation Church Strategy.  Look at the parallels with Jordan’s creed. The five core Christian world view principles upon which the strategy rests recognise and counter (in their application) all that he recognises as evil and dangerous in human society.  They are the antidote because they maximise being made in God’s image. I point to this principle and say that we need to structure societies, past the will to power of the two giants (corporatism and liberalism) to maximise individual opportunities to maximise their potential.  Jordan rightly sees the liberal emphasis on social outcomes not individual opportunity as pernicious and deadly.  It is the dogma upon which 20th century Marxism and Fascism festered its genocidal addictions.   

Many in the West may thirst after Jordan’s creed, but it is only because the Church has been AWOL for the last 40 years.  It’s time to come in from the cold, re-cross the Jordan, put the wilderness behind us and confront the giants using the 12 Reforms as the spear thrust into the hearts of the two giants.  Then the Church regains its relevance and respect.  Most importantly it builds a powerful platform for evangelism – the Great Commission and loving our neighbour as we love our God – the Great Command.  Jordan, in his own way would agree.  All he needs to do now is accept God really does exist and gave his people all the tools of knowledge and wisdom they need to build healthy societies about three millennia before Jordan Peterson began his career in psychology.   

Michael SaxonBlogComment