I’ve been following Jordan Peterson with great interest since his videos on Bill C-16 went viral in the fall of 2016. From the beginning I have been fascinated by the spiritual truth that permeates his interviews, talks, and lectures. I often wonder what it would have been like to hear him in conversation with Dallas Willard. And I continuously hope that someday I will hear someone share the wisdom and work of Dallas with Dr. Peterson.
In the meantime, I have two reasons to highly recommend 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos to everyone in the body of Christ who is seriously interested in spiritual formation. The first reason is because the book lays out practical directions for transformation by human effort alone. This makes it a perfect resource to highlight and contrast the difference between living in the flesh and living by the Spirit. Dr. Peterson’s psychological insights will help his readers to understand the same principles that Dallas unfolds for his students. This can be seen (apart from the book) in Peterson’s Self-Authoring Program which is an elaborate (and of course, secular) version of Dallas’s VIM (vision-intention-means) guide for transformation.
In 12 Rules Peterson touches on many themes that Dallas weaves throughout his teaching: the preeminence of truth, the nature of humanity, the necessity of purpose, the importance of personal responsibility, the power of discipline, the reality of evil. Comparing 12 Rules to The Divine Conspiracy, Renovation of the Heart, or Life Without Lack will help the apprentice of Jesus see the difference between striving in the flesh to be a good person and learning to live in the Spirit.
The second reason I highly recommend the book to Christians is that I believe it is a prophetic rebuke to the Church as a whole. Read it with Peterson’s massive international audience in mind. Read it knowing that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are eager to learn how to be better people and are grateful for the hard truth that Peterson lays before them. Read it to discover that a vast global field white for harvest has been largely overlooked by those who know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Read it knowing that God is already using Jordan Peterson to change lives.
It would be rather naive to assume that everyone who responds to Peterson’s call to lift a heavy burden and look for meaning in life would automatically surrender to Christ. However, around the world Peterson has renewed interest in the Bible, he has magnified respect for Jesus Christ, and he has challenged the materialistic worldview that dominates academia. He has given the church an opportunity to follow the example of Paul: 12 Rules for Life can serve us in the 21st Century West just as the altar to the unknown god served the apostle in ancient Athens.