Like all of us, Peterson is on a journey:
We are all different and we are all on different journeys. While the journey itself is important, even more so is the destination or goal of your journey. As a Christian I of course believe the ultimate and quintessential end of all our lives is to be reconciled to God through Christ. Any other telos or end point does not really mean beans in the long run.
It is quite clear that the world-famous Canadian behavioural psychologist, professor, and public intellectual Jordan Peterson is on a journey. He has made this perfectly clear so many times and in so many ways. Because he is so very well known – and so often so controversial – his journey is there for the whole world to watch, examine and assess.
I must confess however that I am at something of a disadvantage here in discussing all this. While Jordan Peterson has written a lot of material (and I have his two most recent books), he mainly communicates via the spoken word in public lectures and the like, most of which ends up as videos, podcasts, webinars and so on. So if you love videos, Peterson is your man. And he is now a regular on the Daily Wire as well: https://www.dailywire.com (for a subscription fee).
But I am a reading kinda guy, not a video watcher. While I may have seen, all up, perhaps 20 or 25 hours of Peterson, he must have tens of thousands of hours of online material. So I am a bit limited in terms of what I know about the guy. I have of course written about him a number of times before, with my first piece on him appearing nearly six years ago: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/11/05/pronoun-police-political-correctness-death-freedom/
And a year later I said he deserves a Rahab award. That is, just as the pagan prostitute Rahab in the Bible is praised as a hero of the faith (see Hebrews 11:31), so too should folks like Peterson be recognised and celebrated: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/12/01/time-rahab-awards/
So I have been following his journey, as have so many others, including so many other Christians. Is he now a Christian? That is a good question. By his own admission he seems to certainly have renounced any residual atheism that may have characterised him.
Let me briefly point you to just three recent videos on or by him. The first is from January 30, 2022. It is an 18-minute discussion of Peterson on faith with this title: “Jordan Peterson’s INCREDIBLE Journey To GOD | Heartbreaking Moments on His FAITH.” It already has 4.5 million views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6_ESSfyiYE
More recently we have a 4-minute video on why he has abandoned atheism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr1l41gkY78
And then we have a brand-new 11-minute talk released just yesterday (already with over 600,000 views), called: “Message to the Christian Churches.” It really is a message to young men, telling them that even though the culture around them is warring against them, the Christian churches of all places should be supporting them, affirming them, and celebrating them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7ytLpO7mj0
There would be more recent videos like this, but they do give you a flavour for where he is at. It will be noted in the three videos I mention above that we nowhere seem to hear Peterson using the regular Christian jargon about being “born-again,” “repenting of his sin,” and so on. This might disappoint some Christians.
So what can we say about all this? Just where is Peterson at in his spiritual pilgrimage? Is he now an actual Christian? I cannot say for sure, and I am sure that Peterson would answer those questions in the same way. But one thing I do know: it would be foolish in the extreme – and quite unChristian – to simply dismiss him and write him off and claim he is not a Christian so we should pay no attention to him.
First of all we are all works in progress. If he is not now a Christian, that does not mean he will not be tomorrow, or the next day. Also, even if, tragically, he never does come to a full saving relationship with Jesus Christ, he still has a lot to offer us, especially to struggling young men who he has helped in the hundreds of thousands.
Sure, I want him to keep up his terrific work AND be part of the household of God. But as I say, we are all on differing journeys. I just wrote about this a few days ago: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/07/10/cookie-cutters-and-differing-journeys/
In that piece I spoke mostly about how all Christians are on differing journeys. But I could have also written about how those who do come to Christ can do so in so many different ways. The billions of people who have become Christians over the centuries would be able to provide billions of different conversion stories, and quite different accounts of how they came to faith, what led up to it, and so on.
So we must forget about cookie cutter Christianity, and we must resist the temptation to think that if a person did not come to faith in the exact same way that we did, that he is not a real deal believer. God has made us all different. Sure, there are some common core features we would expect, such as some sort of repentance and some sort of faith. The thief on the cross praised by Jesus had basically no time for much of either however.
What has been the point of me writing this piece? If you thought it was for me to inform you that Peterson has definitely become a Christian, well, I am sorry to disappoint you. I do not know, and I take it Peterson does not really know – at least not yet.
But clearly he is on some sort of spiritual pilgrimage, and the main reason I write this is to get you to do the most important thing you can for the guy: pray for him. I pray daily for Peterson. I hope you can find time to pray for him as well, even if now and then.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see him become a true blue Christian, on fire for Christ and sharing the gospel? Sure, anyone who gets saved – even a lowly ditch-digger – is an amazing trophy of God’s grace. But sometimes to see such very public figures come to saving faith can be a real blessing as well.
I am sure that when Saul of Tarsus was going around with all his great zeal, learning, passion, and dedication persecuting the early Christians, many of the believers thought something like this: ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if Saul gets converted and lives the rest of his life for Christ?’
Well that is just what happened as we all know. I am praying the same for Peterson. Please join me in praying for him. And if you are the sort of Christian who has simply been complaining about him and saying he is a no-hoper and a fake believer, why not just pray for him instead of all the armchair criticisms?