Last September Jordan B. Peterson burst onto the internet stage with three short YouTube videos that he created to understand and articulate his visceral objection to Bill C-16, a proposed amendment to the Canadian Human Rights code. He became the instant darling of free speech advocates around the globe. And since I had already been following some of those advocates, I heard Dr. Peterson interviewed again, and again, and again.
The first time I heard him speak, I was attracted by a brilliant mind expressed through a humble soul. Great intelligence and deep humility are rare in the same person (especially on the internet). This uncommon combination of qualities may make Jordan B. Peterson the wisest man I have discovered while wandering through cyberspace. Unlike most dynamic speakers who make the rounds on YouTube and podcasts, he does not simply repeat one powerful message over and over again to different audiences. In every interview, every talk, every conversation he seeks to move closer to truth. Whenever he talks, he teaches; whenever he teaches he listens to learn.
I often play Dr. Peterson talks while I work around my home. In this way, I have managed to listen to all his lectures in the 2017 Maps of Meaning and Personality and its Transformations during the past year. I listened to each of his twelve talks on The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories as they become available from May to August. And because he does not have a canned speech, delivered repeatedly (and practically verbatim), each time I listen to him, I learn. His teachable spirit makes every talk his own learning experience, and gives him a continuous source of new things to freely share with his faithful YouTube subscribers and Facebook followers. And everything he shares is held together with many strong, carefully formed cords of wisdom that he weaves naturally throughout his powerful life message. Now I want to share three of those cords that convince me that Jordan B. Peterson is a prophetic voice for the church in the 21st century.
The first JBP cord of wisdom is expressed succinctly in the “Clean Your Room” meme. I heard that message in his first interview with Joe Rogan. After well over two hours of hashing out the events leading up to Peterson’s sudden fame and the rationale behind his opposition to Bill C-16, Rogan asked how people could support him in his bold fight for liberty. His answer: sort yourself out; put yourself in order. I realized immediately he was basically saying get the log out of your eye. Later in another talk I heard him elaborate the same point as he told his audience that you must work at being the best person you can be if you want to help others and contribute to the good of the world as a whole. I can’t pinpoint the message for you, but Jordan Peterson gives the most practical teaching I ever heard on Matthew 7:3-5. Eventually, I heard Peterson actually use the words of Christ when he told his audience yet again that to change the world, you must fix yourself up first.
The second JBP cord of wisdom is “Always tell the truth.” Perhaps it would be better stated “never lie.” Peterson’s long, intense study of the totalitarian regimes that murdered millions in the 20th century has convinced him that no matter what happens as an immediate consequence of telling the truth, it will not be as bad as the long range consequences of compromising, of going along to get along, of living contrary to what you believe is true. Peterson acknowledges that we don’t always know the truth. Often the best we can do is just say honestly how things look to us. There is a concise (and lovely) summary of his thoughts on love, truth, and free speech at the beginning and end of his talk at Linfield College. If you want to meet Jordan Peterson, start there for an introduction to the man and his message.
The third JBP cord of wisdom is the one I value most, and that is his unapologetic admiration of the man Jesus Christ. Some of my dear brothers and sisters in the faith might recoil if they hear the Son of God called “a meta hero” or “a mythical archetype.” Jordan B. Peterson will never fit an evangelical or orthodox Christian mold. And his speech is often seasoned (at times quite heavily) with profanity. But I am delighted that this man with an international audience of hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) is talking about Jesus. I am delighted to know that atheists, agnostics, and secularists are listening intently as Peterson proclaims that the one we know as King of Kings and Lord of Lords is also Hero of Heroes. I am delighted to know that Jordan B. Peterson is tunneling through centuries of legitimate criticisms of the Church to focus his audience on the light of Christ.
Jesus said “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to Myself.” Jordan Peterson is lifting up Jesus to audiences around the world, and that is why I believe he is God’s prophetic instrument.