Paul L. Caron

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Jordan Peterson, God, And Christianity

Religion News Service, Jordan Peterson Wrestles With God:

We Who Wrestle Book CoverIn a new lecture tour to support a forthcoming book, the psychologist and public intellectual hews ever closer to Christianity, tantalizing fans who take their cues on converting from his secular but religiously curious thought.

Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian psychologist, bestselling author and champion of manhood, strode back and forth across the stage at the historic Providence Performing Arts Center in early February, matching the theater’s ornate decoration with one of his characteristically flamboyant suits — a color-blocked navy, white and orange number with yellow lining.

As he paced, his speech sometimes resembled an altar call, other times borrowed the intellectual heft of a Catholic college lecture, and at one point offered a secular, pop psychological argument for the existence of God:

Nonbelievers, he told the crowd in Providence, wrestle with God as believers do: when they’re morally outraged at suffering in the world. “That’s an emotional argument,” he said. “And it’s the kind of emotional argument that you would mount against someone that you are in relationship with.”

Peterson was in town to kick off his 51-city “We Who Wrestle With God” tour, in advance of his new book of the same name. The “we” in the tour’s title is the closest the former University of Toronto psychology professor and YouTube star has come to admitting his own belief in the God of the Bible.

The question of his faith is an important one to many of his fans. In 2018 the Canadian magazine Maclean’s called them “self-help junkies searching for meaning and order in a rapidly evolving age,” but many are traditionally religious, while others have been inspired by his vacillating but consistent affinity for Christianity.

Several commentators have even identified the Jordan Peterson Effect: a path of religiously unaffiliated people listening to Peterson lectures, then seeking a church to attend and converting. ...

Since resuming his public life after a bout of addiction to an anxiety drug in 2021, Peterson has hewed closer to the church, advising young people to attend church and criticizing atheism’s influence on society. His stances on gender identity, his insistence that humans are tasked with creating order in a chaotic universe and his concern for young men’s character have also endeared him to conservative Christians.

Catholic Bishop Robert Barron, himself an internet heavyweight thanks to his Word on Fire ministry, has called Peterson “a sign of hope” for the church and “one of the most influential figures on the cultural scene today.” 

We Who Wrestle Book CoverJordan Peterson, We Who Wrestle With God (2024):

In We Who Wrestle with God, Dr. Peterson guides us through the ancient, foundational stories of the Western world. In riveting detail, he analyzes the Biblical accounts of rebellion, sacrifice, suffering, and triumph that stabilize, inspire, and unite us culturally and psychologically. Adam and Eve and the eternal fall of mankind; the resentful and ultimately murderous war of Cain and Abel; the cataclysmic flood of Noah; the spectacular collapse of the Tower of Babel; Abraham’s terrible adventure; and the epic of Moses and the Israelites. What could such stories possibly mean? What force wrote and assembled them over the long centuries? How did they bring our spirits and the world together, and point us in the same direction?

It is time for us to understand such things, scientifically and spiritually; to become conscious of the structure of our souls and our societies; and to see ourselves and others as if for the first time.

Join Elijah as he discovers the Voice of God in the dictates of his own conscience and Jonah confronting hell itself in the belly of the whale because he failed to listen and act. Set yourself straight in intent, aim, and purpose as you begin to more deeply understand the structure of your society and your soul. Journey with Dr. Peterson through the greatest stories ever told.

Dare to wrestle with God.

Christopher Kaczor (Loyola Marymount) & Matthew Petrusek (Word on Fire Institute), Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity: The Search for a Meaningful Life (2021):

Jordan Peterson GodThe person most responsible for reintroducing God and the Bible into mainstream secular culture today is not a pastor, a Scripture scholar, or a bishop, but a psychology professor with no church membership. Jordan Peterson’s lectures and writings on psychology, philosophy, and religion have been a cultural phenomenon, attracting tens of thousands to arenas and millions to his social media sites, and prompting many to leave behind secularism and reconsider Christianity.

Yet Peterson’s own thought is marked by a tensive suspension between archetype and reality—between the ideal of Christ and the God who acts in history. When asked if he himself is a believer, Peterson responds, “I try to live as if God exists.” More recently, in the wake of great personal suffering, Peterson’s wrestling with the figure of Christ and, in his own wording, the profoundly “sane” quality of Catholicism, has reached a kind of crescendo in both his life and work.

Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity: The Search for a Meaningful Life is the first systematic analysis, from a Christian perspective, of both Peterson’s biblical series on YouTube and his bestselling book 12 Rules for Life, with an epilogue examining its sequel, Beyond Order.

Christopher Kaczor and Matthew R. Petrusek draw readers into the depths of Peterson’s thought on Scripture, suffering, and meaning, exploring both the points of contact with Christianity and the ways in which faith fulfills Peterson’s project. Taking the “mere Christianity” of C.S. Lewis as its point of departure, Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity is an indispensable analysis, not only for Christians hoping to better understand the significance of the Peterson phenomenon, but also for Peterson fans who are, perhaps for the first time in their lives, thinking seriously about what it might mean to believe.

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