If you don’t know about Jordan Peterson then it’s a name that you should be aware of. His book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has sold more than 3 million copies. His YouTube channel has nearly 2 million subscribers. He is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto. He is quickly becoming one of the most influential voices in the world. Whether directly or indirectly, the masses of popular culture are being influenced and challenged by what he says.
In light of this, Bruce Ashford wrote a helpful reflection on how evangelicals should view the influence of Peterson. Should we look out for him or look up to him? Should we draw away from his writings or draw near? These questions and more are answered in the blog post. Here is a brief excerpt:
In our secular age, Peterson’s status as a social scientist gives him the effectual status of a high priest. As religious authority has been diminished and decentered, social science has moved to the center. Economists, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists—each uses “hard data” to draw their conclusions about human beings, personal identity, and social order. As a clinical psychologist, therefore, Peterson’s life-coaching combines the cultural authority of the social sciences with the spiritual appeal of vague religious intimations.
Peterson’s disposition adds to this mystique. He is a deep reader who is able to penetrate to the essence of ideologies such as Marxist intersectional identity politics or alt-right ethno-nationalism. But he is also a deep listener; his interviews and Q&A sessions reveal him as one who listens, sympathizes, and communicates in a way that often fosters genuine respect and dialogue. Indeed, commentators often note Peterson’s resemblance to a religious prophet, priest, or pastor.
Thus, it’s unsurprising to learn of Peterson’s popularity among 20-something males and other disaffected castaways of secular modernity. These are the people who hunger for the security of meaning and significance. And they seem to sense that Peterson has found it.
The irony in all this, however, is that unless Peterson buys wholesale into the Christian faith, his solution is insubstantial; metaphysically, it is little more than a banquet of crushed ice and vapor. Indeed, even though Peterson wisely taps into the power of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West, he guts it of any real power when he treats it as functionally helpful rather than transcendentally true.
For the full article, click here.