An evangelical perspective on Jordan Peterson – Part 1

Part 1 – Introduction

PetersonDr. Jordan Peterson is a “Messiah-cum-Surrogate Dad for Gormless Dimwits” who has held professorships at Harvard and the University of Toronto.  His writings are “comically befuddled, pompous, and ignorant” and have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. He is possibly “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now” mainly because of his YouTube videos.  So who exactly is Jordan Peterson and why do people have such radically different views of him?

Peterson’s rise to fame (or notoriety) began with his opposition to Bill C-16, a controversial piece of Canadian legislation which criminalized the misuse of gender pronouns.  Peterson argued that forcing anyone to use words like “ze” or “zir” in place of the traditional “he” or “him” is a form of compelled speech, which should be rejected.  His calm confrontation with angry protestors outside a lecture went viral. This stance attracted the attention of Joe Rogan, a popular podcaster whose interview with Peterson garnered 6 millions views on YouTube, and perhaps as many as 30 million downloads.  Since then, Peterson has become the epicenter of a growing movement recently dubbed the “Intellectual Dark Web,” whose members differ drastically in their political orientations, but who stand in conscious opposition to the tactics and ideology of what they term the ‘radical left.’

Dozens of think pieces and just as many hit pieces have puzzled over Peterson’s story.  What interests me is how Peterson’s views relate to Christianity.  What insights does he have? Where is his thought consistent with a Christian worldview and where is it inconsistent? In a departure from my usual focus on written sources, I haven’t read either of Peterson’s two books, but have instead listened to dozens of hours of the Internet videos and podcasts which propelled him into the limelight. I’ll divide my review into three sections: positives, negatives, and worldview considerations.

Next: Part 2 – Positives

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