Jordan Peterson is a man clearly in process. We are all in process, but not clearly so. This fact is unmistakably clear for Dr. Peterson. It will certainly be interesting to see where God leads this man.
Even though Peterson has publicly denied his atheism and philosophical materialism, he has not declared kinship with any traditional faith, be it Christian or otherwise. But he has certainly shown an inordinate interest in some of the deepest things Christian and that is certainly worth watching. Professor Peterson has done this very recently with a new video message he intentionally recorded giving advice to the Christian church. You can watch his 10-plus minute offering here.
Peterson is one of the rare individuals who sits outside the church, but has remarkably deep regard for what goes on inside its walls. That concern and esteem is what he is communicating in this video.
Anyone who knows anything about his work, knows he has a deep passion for the males of the human species and the unique struggles they are presently facing from many factions in society. Today’s male faces great pressure to become anything other than what he is. And that is male. The male, with his unique energy, boldness, strength, and his motivating desire to fight good fights, break what needs breaking, and put right what needs putting right, is a pariah to liberal sensibilities. Today’s male is told he is inherently toxic and largely unwelcome.
But Dr. Peterson knows where the male belongs.
Today’s man belongs in Church and this video is a powerful and passionate call for all churches in every community to put out a man-sized welcome mat to each and every one. In fact, Jordan Peterson says every church should put out a billboard (literally) in their community welcoming every man to find a home there.
“Invite the young men back” Peterson tells all pastors with his trademark moral gusto. He adds, “Say literally, to those young men, ‘You are welcome here. If no one else wants what you have to offer, we do.’”
And it is curious that Peterson clearly thinks the Church is exactly where men belong. When is the last time you heard a secular academic say such a thing about the Church, indicating that She uniquely has the answer to one of the world’s greatest needs? Dr. Peterson must believe something very special about what the Church has to offer and what it alone can do for men.
Does the Church itself possess such a conviction? It should!
What is the message Dr. Peterson is encouraging the Church to proclaim to all men? He is very clear on that matter and it has to do with men’s role as husbands and fathers. Peterson exhorts,
We want to call you to the highest purpose of your life. We want your time and energy, your effort and your will … and your good will. We want to work with you to make things better, to produce life more abundant for you, for your wife and children, for your community and for your country and the world.”
Peterson is encouraging church leadership to be honest with these men. Don’t make it easy for them. Churches should explain exactly what will be expected of them when they come, how to behave, who to contact, how to dress, what not to do. Call men up into something bigger than themselves, something that will demand something of them. Service to others and self-denial. It is what men are yearning for. Peterson puts it bluntly,
Most importantly, tell the young men what they can do! Ask more, not less, of those you are inviting. Ask more of them than anyone ever has. Remind them who they are in the deepest sense and help them become that.
You’re churches for God’s sake. Stop fighting for social justice. Quit saving the bloody planet. Attend to some souls. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s your holy duty. Do it. Now. Before it’s too late. The hour is nye.
This begs another question. Is a Dr. Peterson indeed Christian? He has made no proclamation that he is. So, should the Church listen to him? Of course we should. God speaks through many curious means.
What is clear is that Peterson has a very special regard for the Christian Church and what it can do for men. And Peterson is a man who is deeply familiar with the biblical texts, even though he approaches them as an outsider. He possesses a very interesting and imaginative take on the kind of story the Church can call men into. He references Genesis.
The Christian Church is there to remind people, young men included, perhaps even first and foremost, that…
They have a woman to find.
A garden to walk in.
A family to nurture.
An ark to build.
A land to conquer.
A ladder to heaven to build.
And the utter, terrible catastrophe of life to face, stalwartly, in truth, devoted to love and without fear.
This from a man who claims no biblical orthodoxy. But he is certainly not heterodox. His message is simply not as full-orbed as one would expect from a mature believer. But it is certainly a good start. At least it takes the biblical text seriously and applies it to the real world today.
Peterson admits the church that is calling men is not perfect.
Peterson encourages Her to proclaim with humility, “We have our problems in the Christian Church. We are moribund and sometimes, far too often, corrupt, and sometimes deeply so. We are outdated, as are all institutions with their roots in the dead, but still often wise, past.”
But She does have a hopeful and purposeful call to men, “So join us! We’ll help fix you up and you can help fix us up. And together, we’ll aim up.”
Professor Peterson also encourages the Church to bluntly and truthfully speak to the young men skeptical about such things:
What else do you have, man? You can abandon the Churches in your cynicism and disbelief. You can say to yourself narcissistically and solipsistically, ‘The Church does not express what I believe properly!’
Who cares what you believe? Why is this about you? Do you even want it to be about you? What if it was about others? What if it was about your duty to the past and the broader community that surrounds you in the present?
Why Should Anyone Go to Church?
But that is not all from Dr. Peterson.
He also released an additional video this week explaining precisely why people should go to church. It is an important message on the leavening yeast that the Church is to current culture.
Yes, the Church, Christ’s very bride, is up to something big and what is happening there is very important. This is TRUE … even if many Christians don’t believe it.
Sometimes it takes someone outside of the community of faith to tell us of this fact. And presently, that person is Dr. Jordan Peterson. He is certainly worth listening to. Deeply and carefully.