Jordan Peterson: A 21st Century Prophet

JP Clean Your Room

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.

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Ultimate Obedience

Black and White Hands

After two years of avoidance, I have returned to blogging. My impetus is the result of a CT scan which shows the metastatic breast cancer that I have been battling for 14 years has expanded in my liver and started its deadly assault on my lungs.  This wasn’t a surprise, but it’s a long story that I don’t plan to tell now. I am writing again simply to capture the vision that invaded my dreams decades ago and refuses to die. I don’t have that option:  I am going to die, (probably sooner rather than later), so I will spend the last days of my life writing about a vision that existed long before me and will live on long after my body decomposes in the earth.

The vision at its foundation is simply John 17, and the Lord’s repeated statement that we may be one as the Father and Son are one.  He doesn’t ask God to make us one; He simply states that they may be made one as if it is the assured outcome and the purpose of everything He does ask.  The first time I seriously considered those words nearly forty years ago, I believed that Christ’s prayer had been answered in the affirmative. No other option made sense to me, and it still doesn’t.  When the Son asked the Father to keep the disciples through His name, to keep them from the evil one, and to sanctify them in truth, did the Father say “no”?  Of course not! And being kept and sanctified means that we may be one. So what’s the problem?  Obviously, it’s us!  Obviously, we have chosen for one reason or another not to enter a spiritual reality that Christ provided as His final blessing on the disciples during His last hours in mortal flesh.

The church was born in the heart of that reality.  On the day of Pentecost they were all gathered in one place and in one accord and we know what happened.  Through the early days the believers broke bread daily and had all things in common.  We know from the New Testament, that it didn’t take long for the newly converted to take their eyes off of Christ and begin to focus on other things like the law, or their leaders, or who wasn’t getting their fair share of food distributions. Tragically, history tells us that the Lord’s plan for His disciples to be one as the Father and the Son are one has often been lost in bickering, battles, and bloodshed among believers.

The experience of universal Christian unity was lost within a relatively short period of time. Segregation by doctrine, denomination, and different cultures became normal in a body of believers called to be one as the Father and the Son are one. Knowledge of universal Christian unity faded from the church.  Many if not most Christians believe that John 17 is a promise for life after death.  But that just doesn’t make sense.  Read the prayer.  The purpose of our perfect unity in Christ serves to protect us from the evil one as we are sent into the world.  It provides evidence to the world that the Father sent the Son, and that He loves us as He loves His Son.  Neither will be necessary in the world to come.

We have lost the precious knowledge of Christ’s plan, provision, and power in unity.  But lost knowledge can be rediscovered. In my lifetime, in my small circle of experience, I have seen God bring down walls between Catholic and Protestant, between Methodist, Baptist, and Brethren.  And whatever He is doing around me, He is doing throughout the world. The burden I have carried nearly four decades convinces me that the time has come for the knowledge of Christ’s provision for unity among His disciples to be rediscovered and experienced once more.

Just read John 17 carefully. Think about the cross looming just ahead. Think about Christ’s last minutes with His disciples. Think of Him praying for the work they have been given. Think what might happen if all who claim His name actually believed that His repeated statement is spiritual reality.

Dr. Jason Lisle cracked my young earth foundation

Young earth alternatives to the big bang

I started writing my sci-fi novel in 2009 believing that the earth is young. I never doubted the dimensions in the description of the universe I got from Alex Filippenko in his Introduction to Astronomy, but Jason Lisle’s DVD–Distant Starlight: Not a Problem for a Young Universe–had given me the impression that most astrophysicists just ignore any evidence that doesn’t fit a big bang scenario.  Three years ago when I listened to Dr. Lisle talking about Gravitational Time Dilation (GTD), Speed of Light Decay (CDK), and Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC), I  believed that he offered legitimate alternatives to Big Bang Cosmology.

Although I know much more about outer space now than I did the first time I heard Dr. Lisle, I’m still not prepared to critique the science of an astrophysicist.  (You can find that here, here, and here if you are interested.)  And besides, Dr. Lisle’s science is not what cracked the foundation of my young earth view.

After weeks of using the resources of Reasons To Believe, I again watched Distant Starlight: Not a Problem for a Young Universe.  I immediately realized that Dr. Lisle does not  present Old Earth Creationism honestly because he never examines the scripture that supports it.  After listening to podcasts and reading books and articles from RTB, this omission seemed glaring to me because, in contrast, all Reason To Believe scholars take every opportunity to openly engage the arguments, discuss the evidence, and examine the biblical interpretation of YEC.  As a result, I have actually learned more about the history and development of Young Earth Creationism through RTB than through YEC resources.

In Distant Starlight, Dr.Lisle builds a case against evolution and a godless big bang theory, but he dismisses out of hand any alternative biblical interpretation.  He talks extensively about the science (that many of us will never understand completely), but he takes no time to evaluate the case for an old earth made directly from the word of God (that every believer can understand with the light of God’s Spirit).

Dr. Lisle states “The big bang cannot be harmonized with the Bible.  It doesn’t work.  They are mutually incompatible.  You can’t make them mix.”  Thanks to Reasons To Believe, I know that statement is simply false.  I don’t understand all the scientific data, but I have no problem understanding RTB’s literal interpretation of the creation account that can harmonize the big bang with the Bible.  I see how it does work. I see how the two are completely compatible.  I see how the big bang and the Bible can be made to mix quite easily.

Does that prove that the big bang is true?  No, it doesn’t.  But God calls us to test all things and hold fast to the good (1Thessalonians 5:21), and He promises to generously give us wisdom whenever we ask (James 1:5,6).   Like the Bereans, those of us who love the Lord and want to obey all He says are obligated to search His word and allow the Spirit to lead us in all truth rather than to blindly accept the teaching of men.

It was not science that first caused me to doubt the Young Earth position.  It was the failure of Young Earth leaders like Jason Lisle and Ken Ham to honestly discuss the scriptural case for an Old Earth.  I still wonder why people who love the Lord, honor His word, and trust His Spirit refuse to encourage all creationists to search the scriptures together regardless of what they believe about the age of the earth.

Because I know the Lord blesses us whenever we seek Him in His word, that’s what I’m inviting you to do with me in Grammas’ Guide to the Universe.

Seeking truth seekers

Beverly Wheeler

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Before I proceed with a discussion about the age of the earth controversy in the church, I want to describe my target audience. Although I welcome everyone to read this blog, I am writing specifically to people who share a common set of values with me.

  • I believe that we can know the truth and that the truth will set us free.
  • I purpose to follow truth wherever it leads and accept truth wherever I find it.
  • I want anything false in my thinking to be exposed and corrected.
  • I think that honest, courteous discussion can be a path toward truth.

Those four values might fit into any worldview, and anyone who shares them may find it worthwhile to read Grammas’ Guide.  However, I begin this discussion on a foundation of two solid convictions forged in a sixty-year journey toward truth:

  • Jesus Christ is the Creator and Savior of mankind.
  • The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is truth in its entirety.

In the future, I will probably discuss the reasons for my absolute belief in these two premises. However, in Grammas’ Guide, I always write with assurance that Jesus is Lord and His word is true.

Now you can decide whether or not you want to follow or join this discussion.

TIF but I didn’t LOL

I suppose this post could be categorized under “Gramma’s Guide to Textese,” since I want to address two terms commonly used in texting that make me uncomfortable.

The first term is LOL. So far I’ve never actually had an occasion to use it.  While I am frequently amused by things I read in email, in a chat, or on Twitter, they never make me laugh out loud, and it just seems dishonest to acknowledge the humor with LOL.  Whenever I read that familiar trio of letters in response to something I have posted, I am tempted to reply, “Really? It didn’t seem that funny to me.”

I would genuinely like to know how often LOL expresses a literal truth.  Through my intimate acquaintance with Lynette, Kelly, Bob, and others, I have learned that there are many people who do indeed LOL over almost anything.  Those are the people who stand-up comics want in the audience.  I, on the other hand, identify with the scowling curmudgeon I saw years ago in a New Yorker cartoon.  He answered two bewildered people with the caption, “Just because I’m not laughing, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get it!”  And in my case, a failure to laugh doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not amused.  I just don’t LOL easily, and I never do so when I am alone reading–whether from a book, magazine, or computer screen.

In solitude I might smile, perhaps even broadly.  In company the degree of my amusement is directly proportional to the depth of the curve in my smile, but more often than not that amusement is silent.  For me, laughing out loud is a special communal experience that requires two elements: excessive amusement and someone I trust.  In the company of the beloved, the silliest joke can suddenly explode into an irresistible wave of laughter that grows and crests and finally breaks, leaving in its wake helpless victims holding sides and wiping eyes. Then with just a look or a word the flow can start all over again.

That is LOL to me.  I can’t use it lightly. Still, I need some way to communicate via social media that I appreciate humor whenever I see it.  So I have decided to introduce my own acronym: TIF for That Is Funny.  Sometimes I may even think “very” and make it TIVF.

It is important to respond appropriately because behind every email, behind every line in a chat, and behind every tweet is a real person with feelings.  And the relationships we develop with other people have eternal value and eternal consequences. The ability to form relationships and share humor is part of the image of God that all humans carry whether they recognize it or not.

It is because I do recognize that I bear God’s image, and because He has made it possible for me to have a relationship with Him that I am uncomfortable with the second texting term.  Each time I see OMG, I am compelled to mentally add ITIT to relieve my distress. But that is the subject for another post.