Jordan Peterson and the Progressives is not a new rock band. Rather it is a look on the one hand at the question of newly developing faith in the life of Jordan as he progresses toward Jesus – and on the other hand, it looks at young “Christian” Progressives who, although raised in the church and ostensibly believers, are progressing away from Jesus and right out of the faith. Jordan Peterson:
is a Canadian professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist, and YouTube personality. He began to receive widespread attention in the late 2010s for his conservative views on cultural and political issues1Jordan Peterson, Wikipedia
Jordan became popular among Evangelical conservatives due to his teaching on morality and anti-political correctness. He sometimes teaches through books of the Old Testament, although not as history or for the theological content. Instead “he analyzes archetypal narratives in Book of Genesis as patterns of behavior ostensibly vital for personal, social and cultural stability.”2Jordan Peterson, Wikipedia When asked if he believed in God he is quoted as saying, “I think the proper response to that is No, but I’m afraid He might exist.”3Blatchford, Christie; 19 January 2018. “Christie Blatchford sits down with ‘warrior for common sense’ Jordan Peterson”. National Post. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2018. It seems that Jordan Peterson is coming face to face with a Jesus which is Too Good to be False (as author Tom Gilson titles his book), and seems to be progressing towards real faith in Jesus Christ. Watching a recent 2 ½ minute video clip (part of a 1 hour 45 minute webcast from March 2021) we see Jordan Peterson struggling with an issue of eternal consequence:
there’s a historical story and what you have in the figure of Christ is an actual person who actually lived plus a myth and in some sense, Christ is the union of those two things. The problem is, is, I probably believe that, but I don’t know, I don’t, I’m amazed at my own belief and I don’t understand it. Like, because,
At this point Peterson chokes up emotionally. We are drawn in as he tries to sort through what he is experiencing. He continues:
Sometimes the objective world and the narrative world touch. You know, that’s union synchronicity. And I’ve seen that many times in my own life. And so, in some sense, I believe it’s undeniable. You know, we have a narrative sense of the world. For me, that’s been the world of morality. That’s the world that tells us how to act. It’s real, like we treat it like it’s real. It’s not the objective world. But the narrative and the objective world touch and the ultimate example of that in principle is supposed to be Christ…and that seems to me oddly plausible. Yeah, but I still don’t know what to make of it…partly because it’s too terrifying a reality to fully believe. I don’t even know what would happen to you if you fully believed it. If you believed in the story of Christ or if you believe that history and, and let’s say the narrative[s] meet…when you believe you buy both stories. You believe that the narrative and the objective can actually touch…
“I don’t even know what would happen to you if you fully believed it.” We have an idea. Jordan Peterson would be born again. We do not know what will happen in the life of Jordan Peterson but part of the life of faith is the mind. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) As he is dealing with the issues of morality and the meaning of life, it all comes back to Jesus the Christ. And, if you are not redeemed, the reality of Christ would be “too terrifying a reality to fully believe” – at least until the struggling person makes their peace with the fact of His existence, His life, His death, His physical resurrection and perhaps especially, their need for a savior.
Meanwhile, as Jordan Peterson seems to be progressing toward the faith, some within the evangelical church are “deconstructing” and progressing out of the faith. We have examples like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Josh Harris, Jennifer Hatmaker, and others. These people were even seen as Christian leaders – celebrities even – but unlike Jordan Peterson, they didn’t engage the life of the mind in their faith. Sure, they perhaps memorized doctrine and mimicked certain “Christian” behavior but had not been taught how to wrestle through difficult questions. And make no mistake – honest Christians do wrestle with some difficult questions.
But today, with so many churches working ever harder to fit in and mimic the culture around them, it doesn’t take long before people in those churches begin thinking like culture. And the more that Christians capitulate to the culture’s siren song, the further the culture seems to drift towards absolute madness. In “Conservative Christian Beliefs May Be Unexpected, But Progressive Christian Beliefs Are Weird” Tom Gilson explains the progression:
Christian compromise with culture isn’t just wrong. It’s very, very strange. So-called “progressive Christianity” is eager, as Wikipedia spins it, to “question tradition” through “acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth.” This isn’t “questioning tradition.” It’s adopting today’s cultural norms without question.
He is correct. Too many modern Christians were not taught how to wrestle with the big questions in the safety of their church, under the guidance of their pastors, elders, and mentors in the faith. So, in seeking to free themselves from the indoctrination of one faith, they simply capitulate to the indoctrination of another faith. Is there anything in Christianity which is opposed to “human diversity”? No, not at all. Consider,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
However, if by diversity they mean accepting that God looks approvingly at sexual immorality, that would not be Christianity. That is another Jesus, another gospel, and another religion entirely. (1Corinthians 4) And as far as justice is concerned, they have traded biblical justice for Marxism’s “social justice.”4For a book length treatment of this see Voddie’s Baucham’s, Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, Salem Books, 2021 Those embracing culture’s view of “Social Justice” seem completely unaware of the massive work Christians have done down through the centuries to care for the poor and oppressed of all races and ethnicities, often living dangerously in very oppressive nations with despotic rulers. These mostly young evangelical Progressives have bought into a completely false narrative which doesn’t touch “the objective world,” as Jordan Peterson put it, and perhaps do not even realize just what an amazing heritage they are throwing away.
Some of these young progressives seem to feel as though they are escaping abuse and brainwashing in leaving their faith. In an article titled, “Can Religion Give You PTSD?” a number of young adults who were raised in the church are saying:
“We’re talking about brainwashing. Doctrines taught over and over and over with consequences that are eternal and terrifying.”… I spoke to more than a dozen former evangelicals for this story, each of them sharing unique stories of abuse and disillusionment with their church. A few asked that I keep their names confidential because they feared retaliation from family members (some of whom are involved in pro-Trump militia movements). But their stories shared one factor: despite no longer believing in hell, or purity culture, or the imminent rapture, they all struggled to overcome the toll those ideologies had taken on their minds and bodies.
In all honesty, people who leave genuine cult groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, or even what we call abusive and/or cultish churches, very often do in fact lose family members or face social repercussions for leaving their group. It is always wrong, of course, and is abusive. People do not become true Christians just because they were raised by Christians, or because they attended a Christian church. People raised in Christian families must at some point seek out and come to terms with the faith themselves. We all have the God-given freedom to choose. We have never been a part of a church that practices heavy-handed shunning behavior, but we do of course recognize that there is such a thing as “spiritual abuse.”
On the other hand, there are many parents and family members that have been completely or partially cut off from their adult children or other family members by newly “woke” individuals. The parent or the family member has not changed – he or she is the same person and holds the same spiritual beliefs they have held for perhaps decades, yet they are dismissed or downgraded to a lesser standing in the family, because they refuse to “evolve” into a new progressive understanding of, well, pretty much everything. They must completely change who they are – or else! In cases like these, and they are so very common right now, who is the cult member? Who is abusing who? A person will not, and certainly cannot, change their deeply held faith as they might change their underwear, and the standards are shifting so rapidly, that even many of the old liberals and progressives must often run to keep up with the new “dogma of the woke.” We have heard from so many parents who are grieving lost relationship with their grown children right now, and who too often lose contact with dearly beloved grandchildren as well.
Jesus said there would come a time when this would happen, that family relationships, even between people and their own parents or children, would suffer greatly because of unwavering belief in Him. (Matthew 10:21-23)
But it is not Christians who should betray, downgrade, or even cut off family relationships entirely. If someone is going to break up the family, far better it be the one who is not following Christ. The Christian holds onto their faith and trusts Him with the situation and does not cease to love and pray for their separated loved ones.
But to get back to the main thrust of this article, we return to the incredibly sad issue of once faithful churches that are falling away from the faith in an effort to be loved by the world – by following its ever-changing (and not for the better) cultural norms. Tom Gilson hit the nail on the head:
The church that teaches conformity with the world isn’t just wrong, it’s wrong in a very weird way, one that rejects some of the most obvious truths about who God is. Christianity isn’t meant to look like the world looks, believe what the world believes, or act as the world acts. He’s a God of love, so we must love; He’s also a God of truth, so we must live in His truth. That’s His truth, though. Not the world’s. We shouldn’t expect to look like the world. The church that doesn’t look different is no church at all.Ω
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|↑1, ↑2||Jordan Peterson, Wikipedia|
|↑3||Blatchford, Christie; 19 January 2018. “Christie Blatchford sits down with ‘warrior for common sense’ Jordan Peterson”. National Post. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2018.|
|↑4||For a book length treatment of this see Voddie’s Baucham’s, Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, Salem Books, 2021|