Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson: Pros and Cons

7 December 2022

2.7 MINS

I’m a big Jordan Peterson fan and have seen him live, which was an experience I’ll not soon forget. When I first watched him on YouTube, I was struck by his depth and breadth of knowledge. He’s not only a compelling public intellectual, he’s really a brilliant academic.

I also think he’s had an incalculably positive impact on both men and women, and I also have no doubt that he has: (a) been the gateway for many people to finding Jesus; (b) has brought many people closer to that gate. He was also one of the few top public intellectuals who saw the tyranny of the COVID-19 response for what it was — and he called it out.

I know there are a lot of serious-thinking conservatives who don’t like him at all, or don’t see what all the fuss is about, but I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Points to Ponder

Having said that, I’ve always recognised that there are aspects of his ideas that are not Christian. In this respect, I entirely concur with Martyn Iles’ recent analysis.

1. When discussing ultimate truth, too often he shies away from a Christian conception of truth that corresponds to reality and history, coming too close to subjectivist and (American) pragmatist notions of truth (ultimate truth as that which gives us meaning and makes sense of our practices). Obviously, the dominating influence on his thought is Jung. Having said this, he’s definitely not a postmodernist.

2. His understanding of ‘God’ seems more akin to a mid-20th century liberal Protestant ‘ground of all being (and meaning)’ than to a personal Creator. I was mesmerised by his discussion of God when I saw him live some years back, but I also thought there was something quietly atheistic about his position; much like the above-mentioned theology was entirely consistent with atheism. I actually walked away thinking he was really an atheist, as were (and are) many theologians.

His biblical exegesis, while very engaging and often illuminating, does not follow the Christian hermeneutic of finding Christ and His Gospel in the Old Testament.

His philosophy is essentially a revival of good old American “rugged individualism”, which definitely has its place in any social theory of worth, but is sub-Christian as a philosophy of life and existence.

Christians look to the “rugged cross”, not the “rugged individual”. Any person who thinks he can carry his own cross has severely misjudged exactly what they are supposed to be carrying — the consequences of their sin — and thus mistakenly thinks their cross is light enough for him to carry. It isn’t.

It was not Christ’s own cross that He was carrying — it was ours. We can’t carry our own cross, any more than we can pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, and it’s only sinful, prideful delusion that makes us think otherwise. Jordan Peterson doesn’t recognise this.

Responsibility doesn’t consist in our carrying our own cross, but in setting our prideful delusions aside and admitting that the burden of our sins can only be carried away by Christ. Personal responsibility is crucial, but there’s a difference between taking responsibility for our sin and thinking we can be responsible for their ultimate forgiveness/abrogation.

3. His discussions of political ideology are sometimes brilliant and true, but also not very well-read and lacking subtlety. I would not, for example, tell someone to read Jordan Peterson if they wanted a sharp understanding of conservatism, liberalism, or Marxism, for example.

Having said that, I’m always glad to hear that people are reading him as they’ll encounter ideas and concepts that will set them on a deeper track of social thinking. I do consider Jordan Peterson to be quite conservative in many ways, particularly in his views on revolution, change, and the fragility of social order. On all this, his thoughts are excellent.

I would like to see more people switched on to Jordan Peterson. I truly think Jordan Peterson is on the right track, and I sincerely urge readers to pray for his salvation, particularly over the next few days.


Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Jim Twelves 7 December 2022 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Stephen, many thanks for this take on Jordan Peterson. I would agree with you to large extent because, on reflection, he seems to stand ‘outside’ the Christian family while so strongly encouraging us to ‘inside’ to ‘wake up’. I concede, perhaps I have take too much weight on his ‘concern for the church’. I agree, lets pray, for a revelation of Jesus before he completes his new book next March.

  2. Mike Shellabear 7 December 2022 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Great article. He is a fascinatingly positive feature of the culture wars and has been an inspiration to me.

  3. Warwick Marsh 8 December 2022 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Great article Stephen. Let me say upfront that like you I am a big fan of Dr Jordan Peterson. I released a video called 7 reasons why I like Jordan Petersen in 2019. This is my article about Jordan Peterson in the Daily Declaration of the same name:

    My appreciation of Jordan Peterson is gaining ground as year by year he seems to be getting closer and closer to God. His daughter has professed faith in Christ . His wife the same. Jordan Peterson has yet to cross the line although only God really knows. It could be that he has crossed the line in his heart and his head still has to find out.

    Just as the law was a schoolmaster for Christ in that it pointed to Christ and laid a foundation for Christ Jordan Peterson is the same in his writings and lectures. I know many people who have either come to Christ or come back to Christ for the first time because of the wonderful work of Jordan Peterson.

    Jordan Peterson intellectual honesty about spiritual things and his personal honesty is staggering. Jordan Peterson is currently a one-man army against the forces of woke and the most well-known advocate for Judeo Christian Values in the world. For that he should be congratulated!

    Recently my wife and I heard Jordan Peterson speak in Adelaide Entertainment centre at the end of November 2022. He talked about the Hebrew meaning of the Hebrew name given to Jacob by God, ‘Israel’ which means, “he who wrestles with God.” Jordan was a the first to admit that he was following in Jacob’s footsteps

    The scripture in Ephesians 2:8-10, says that “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

    Let us pray for the necessary ingredient of childlike faith for Jordan Peterson. Pray that he allows God to win the wrestle just like Jacob. Soli Deo Gloria!!!

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