Liberal academia has long favored atheism, or at least agnosticism, where allegiance to Christianity is cause for ridicule or suspicion, because Christianity is falsely regarded as justifying oppression (colonialism, eurocentrism, exploitation). This is the great betrayal of the intellectual-class, who have built solid careers by championing hostility to the West.
Jordan Peterson embodies this betrayal, for in his two books, Maps of Meaning (1999) and 12 Rules for Life, he seeks to undermine Christianity. In the popular mind, he may be a conservative, ready to slay the doctrines of social justice warriors. But his books show the typical liberal university professor.
Both books argue that “life is suffering,” and existence is a “tragedy.” This denies Christianity, where life is noble, good and holy, because mankind is made in the image of God, and God’s creation of man looks forward to the Holy Incarnation. Suffering and pain occur, but they cannot define life – for how can life be that which destroys it?
But for Peterson, suffering brings chaos; both are caused by Christianity, in that Christianity promotes “wishful thinking,” by teaching people to wait for “the magical arrival of Godot” (i.e., the Second Coming). “Godot” is an Anglo-French pun, which means “little god, or godling,” and was coined by the playwright, Samuel Beckett.
Thus, Peterson urges everyone to “increase your resolve, buttress your character, and find the strength to go on.” Because “God, whatever or whoever He may be” is not interested in doing anything for you. Peterson wants this “truth” to awaken people from their “Christian dream.”
He goes on to assert that the Bible is not Scripture, but a code-book of archetypes, where everything stands for something hidden, and its message boils down to his Rule 4: “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” Peterson’s chief guru is Carl Jung.
God is not real, either, but an archetype that comes in two versions – the angry tyrant of the Old Testament, who mellows into the nice guy (like Gepetto in the film, Pinocchio) of the New Testament.
This God-archetype offers Peterson a life-lesson: “Ask, and ye shall receive. Knock, and the door will open. If you ask, as if you want, and knock, as if you want to enter, you may be offered the chance to improve your life, a little, a lot; completely…”
Jesus too is not real but an archetype, another dying-god (a fallacy long debunked), whose “archetypal story [is that] of the man who gives his all for the sake of the better.” And the banal life-lesson of the Jesus-archetype? If you give it your all, and try really hard, you too can be Jesus. That’s also the hidden meaning of the New Testament, for Peterson.
To drive home his point, Peterson gives a clunky interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount: “…[it] outlines the true nature of man, and the proper aim of mankind: concentrate on the day, so that you can live in the present, and attend completely and properly to what is right in front of you — but do that only after you have decided to let what is within shine forth, so it can justify Being and illuminate the world. Do that only after you have determined to sacrifice whatever it is that must be sacrificed so that you pursue the highest good.” In other words, according to Peterson, there is no eternal life. Enjoy the here-and-now, because that’s all there is.
All this sputtering is preparation for a three-fold rejection of Christianity — that Christianity devalues earthly life, promotes passivity to the point of inaction, and removes all moral burden, “because the Son of God had already done all the important work.”
Peterson is wrong, because all three are category mistakes (per Gilbert Ryle). All three are unraveled by theology. And all three are destroyed by Western history itself.
A category mistake confuses one set of categories for another. Thus, Peterson muddles theological concepts (purpose of life, pacifism and morality) with unproven assumptions. Both his books are riddled with category mistakes which invalidate his arguments.
Next, Christianity holds humans to be created in the image of God, which gives all people innate value and dignity. Nor can Christianity ever be passive (as Ephesians 4:22-24 makes perfectly clear). Christianity is about heroic action, enabled by God’s grace – which is why Jesus delivers the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Further, Christian morality includes repentance, which negates passivity. And, the Bible is filled with the actions of faithful men and women who changed the world. As for the specious assertion that Christians have no moral burden — just one little quotation destroys Peterson — “take up your cross, and follow me.”
Further, if what Peterson says is indeed correct, then Western civilization could never have happened, for the West is the by-product of Christian faith: “By their fruits you shall know them,” said Jesus.
To broaden his anti-Christian assault, Peterson says Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn agree with him. On the contrary! All three were devout Christians, and their work opposes everything Peterson stands for — because they show that a life without Christ is utter chaos.
Peterson, the man, self-identifies as Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl). Hence those masks that he’s photographed with. History reminds us that the Kwakiutl practiced cannibalism well into the 20th-century.
In Maps of Meaning (600 pages of Jungian, rambling self-talk, riddled with too many errors and fallacies to list, but it is the expansive, earlier version of 12 Rules), there are two disturbing details. One is a recurring dream in which Peterson sees his pretty cousin torn apart and her flesh served to him to eat. The second is his own painting, depicting “Jesus” as a grim demon, with a snake belted around his waist. Peterson’s guru, Carl Jung, did worship a demon named, Philemon.
Peterson, the liberal professor, is thoroughly anti-Christian, while Peterson the man struggles with demonic nightmares. So, why are Christians and conservatives elevating this man to prophet-status? Why do they want to join him in his hell, comprised of 12 Circles (his Rules)?
“Ideas have consequences,” Peterson warns, and he’s finally right. The consequences of his ideas are fear and self-loathing, which together create the very chaos that he rails against. Dr. Peterson has yet to implement his own Rule 6. Christ’s words may serve as a corrective: “Physician, heal thyself.”
Nirmal Dass is a former university professor specializing in the Early and High Middle Ages. His areas of research are philosophy, history and ancient languages. He has written several books and is actively engaged in literary translation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.