Before they get carried away, the Christians now tuning into Jordan Peterson need to realize that this man is not the next C.S. Lewis. On the contrary, Jordan Peterson is the man C.S. Lewis warned them about. It’s not that I don’t understand why Christians are attracted to Peterson’s message of personal responsibility, especially as it is addressed to young men. For one thing, everything Alastair Roberts wrote in his recent essay is basically true. Peterson really is an effective communicator (though a better speaker than a writer), who could teach most pastors a thing or two about sermonizing. And Peterson has many admirable personal qualities, especially intellectual virtues but also compassion and a strong sense of justice.

More importantly, Peterson is addressing a real problem, one that the church is only starting to wake up to. We have all by now heard about the NEETs (“Not in Employment, Education, or Training”), the core of a growing massa damnata of poorly socialized young men whose anger and frustration make them ideal candidates for racist and misogynistic radicalization. These total dropouts are only the most extreme example of a larger “crisis of masculinity,” as more young men than ever seem mired in cycles of shame and self-gratification (whether through intoxication, pornography, or merely endless hours of video gaming). If it looks as though Peterson can help young men to become responsible, pro-social adults, no wonder many Christians are ready to embrace him.

It is too bad then that the backbone of his whole program is what C.S. Lewis called “the Great Sin.” Peterson is, in fact, precisely the character that Lewis describes in Mere Christianity, one of those teachers who,

“appeal to a boy’s Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity—that is, by Pride.”

For Lewis, “to beat down the simpler vices” by means of Pride is a cure far worse than the disease. And this is precisely Peterson’s strategy throughout 12 Rules for Life.

From the outset, Peterson’s advice revolves around status competition. In Rule 1 (“Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”), Peterson argues that human beings are just like lobsters in being hardwired for hierarchy:

If you slump around, with the same bearing that characterizes a defeated lobster, people will assign you a lower status, and the old counter that you share with crustaceans, sitting at the very base of your brain, will assign you a low dominance number.

So what does Peterson think you should do? You should act like a dominant, alpha lobster and assert yourself: “Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others.” As a man, you’ve won the game of life when you present yourself as “a successful lobster, and the most desirable females line up and vie for your attention.”

Peterson’s emphasis on status competition, reflects what Lewis says about Pride: “Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature… Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” For Peterson, all success is based on comparing favorably with others. And in fact, he has a whole Rule about social comparison—in which he scrambles to claw back some of his harsh words about beta lobsters. Because after all, most of us are beta lobsters compared to the Top-40 singer, the Pulitzer-winning novelist, the Olympic medalist, or the Fortune 500 CEO.

So in Rule 4 (“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”), we learn about the “internal critical voice.” This is the inner monologue that speaks for our lobster brain. According to Peterson, it says things like, “The winners don’t take all, but they take most, and the bottom is not a good place to be. People are unhappy at the bottom. They get sick there, and remain unknown and unloved. They waste their lives there. They die there.”

Peterson doesn’t want us to listen to this voice. Don’t compare yourself to others, he says, at least not in ways you won’t win. Instead, he gives us a master class in envy, how to discount the status of others to make ourselves feel better. For example,

“Your colleague outperforms you at work. His wife, however, is having an affair, while your marriage is stable and happy. Who has it better? The celebrity you admire is a chronic drunk driver and bigot. Is his life truly preferable to yours?”1

When Peterson looks at the world through this lens of Pride, competition, and envy, he sees “every man for himself.” So if his “moral advice” sounds like he’s advocating for self-centeredness, it’s because he is:

What do you need and want from your friends and business partners? This is not a mere matter of what you should want. I’m not talking about what other people require of you, or your duties to them. I’m talking about determining the nature of your moral obligation, to yourself.

For Peterson, the foundation of moral judgment is the individual will: what is moral is reducible to what will most efficiently fulfill the individual’s desires.2 Any social dimension of morality is contractual and incidental.

This self-centered moral vision can take Peterson to dark places. Consider this modest proposal:

If you allowed your dark and unspoken desires for your partner, for example, to manifest themselves—if you were even willing to consider them—you might discover that they were not so dark, given the light of day. You might discover, instead, that you were just afraid and, so, pretending to be moral. You might find that getting what you actually desire would stop you from being tempted and straying.

The idea that undisciplined eros can be a guide to true moral behavior may be attractive, but it is not one that Christians can countenance. Peterson’s advice is often underwritten by the callousness towards others that this proposal suggests. This is to be expected. As Pride elevates the self, it “leads to every other vice”; it teaches you to treat others as objects and subject them to your will.

For example, as long as you don’t damage yourself3 or commit any overt violence in the process, Peterson will grant you unlimited license to manipulate others.4 In Rule 5 (“Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.”), Peterson suggests we learn from B.F. Skinner’s famous experiments in training pigeons. Peterson writes,

Skinner observed the animals he was training to perform such acts with exceptional care. Any actions that approximated what he was aiming at were immediately followed by a reward… You can teach virtually anyone anything with such an approach. First, figure out what you want. Then, watch the people around you like a hawk. Finally, whenever you see anything a bit more like what you want, swoop in (hawk, remember) and deliver a reward.

This advice is representative of how many of Peterson’s rules are really just “life hacks” masquerading as morals. Because in Peterson’s worldview, morality is about getting what you want.

Now it’s true that Peterson wills you to want “the right things.” He believes that a certain shape of character is best adapted to fulfill certain more attainable desires, the world being what it is. But here again, the pillar of the whole edifice is Pride. One sees preserved in Peterson a sub-Christian Stoicism, the kind Walker Percy observed in the Christ-haunted but functionally pagan South: “the stern inner summons to man’s full estate, to duty, to honor, to generosity toward his fellow men… the wintry kingdom of the self.” As Percy saw then and as we should remember now, there ultimately can be no compromise between Christianity and Stoicism5, “the good pagan’s answer is no longer good enough.” The Stoic worships himself and is generous to others only “because to do them an injustice would be to defile himself.” How different this attitude is from the Christian’s love for God that spills over in service to everyone made in God’s image. As Percy said, no society (and no individual) can “afford the luxury of maintaining the Stoa beside the Christian edifice.”6

We now see why Lewis called Pride “the complete anti-God state of mind.” He wrote, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God… you cannot see something that is above you.” Theologically, the expression of Pride is Pelagianism, the belief that you can save yourself without relying on God’s grace. This is precisely what we find in Peterson’s work. Consider what Peterson says Rule 2 (“Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.”):

Heaven, after all, will not arrive of its own accord. We will have to work to bring it about, and strengthen ourselves, so that we can withstand the deadly angels and flaming sword of judgment that God used to bar its entrance…. Once having understood Hell, researched it, so to speak—particularly your own individual Hell—you could decide against going there or creating that. You could aim elsewhere. You could, in fact, devote your life to this…. That would justify your miserable existence. That would atone for your sinful nature, and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who has learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.

Of course, Peterson, not being a Christian (nor perhaps even a theist), does not intend any of these statements in their theological sense. Nevertheless, the posture he is advocating excludes grace. As Peterson would have it, no one has come to rescue you and no help is on the way.

Just as theological and social conservatives have too often compromised with sub-Christian political movements to prop up the illusion of a Christian nation, they would now put their hope in Peterson—at best, a good pagan—to teach their sons morals. This is an enthusiasm born of desperation.7 But to make his Pelagian error is to put our faith in ourselves rather than in Christ. The righteousness that Jordan Peterson preaches is self-righteousness and it is not saving. The Pride it nurtures will prove spiritually fatal. The church owes young men better guidance than this.

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  1. This is where we learn that Peterson is a big Mel Gibson fan. Make of that what you will.
  2. In After Virtue, Alaisdair MacIntyre termed this perspective on morality “emotivism.”
  3. For example, by lying, which Peterson sees as a self-falsifying and, therefore, self-destructive act. (Credit where credit is due: Peterson is right about this.) See Rule 8 (“Tell the truth—or, at least, don’t lie.”).
  4. MacIntyre observed that the emotivist theory of morality abolishes the distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations.
  5. This is not to say that there is nothing Christians can learn from the Stoics. They have “a narrow, insufficient truth” to offer. But there are better Stoics to learn from than Peterson.
  6. Or if you prefer, as Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24)
  7. After all, what could make American evangelicals cheer on someone who wrote, “The Bible has been thrown up, out of the deep, by the collective human imagination”?

    Elsewhere Peterson describes the Sermon on the Mount as “the attempt of the Spirit of Mankind to transform the understanding of ethics from the initial, necessary Thou Shalt Not of the child and the Ten Commandments into the fully articulated, positive vision of the true individual.” Not since a presidential candidate cited “Two Corinthians” has evangelicalism shown such tolerance for biblical illiteracy. Ressentiment is a hell of a drug.

Posted by Charlie Clark

Charlie Clark lives in his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee with his wife Sarah. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2011 with a degree in Classics, he earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee. He now works in his family’s fourth-generation scrap metal recycling business. Charlie is a founding editor of Fare Forward and chairman of its board of directors. He has a homepage at

  • Chris Holt

    Many of the ideas in this here are poorly informed. When you say – pride elevates the self…and teaches you to treat others as objects… – you don’t realize that Jordan Peterson discussed exactly that in a Q&A posted yesterday. Also when you quote Lewis – “as long as you are proud… you cannot see something that is above you” – you seem not to recognize that this is the idea underlying much of Jordan Peterson’s work. He is, in part, attempting to get people on the right path when they are blinded by their own narrow self interest. To tell people to put their shoulders back and to stop fearing to engage in the experience of life is directed at clearing their vision. It is the same as to say- the Kingdom of God is within you – if only you can stop seeing yourself, and start seeing it. You shouldn’t be so quick to point out sin in other people. your own certainty is blinding you

    • Whitney

      I think one of the things Peterson is doing that is so important it is he is giving the biblical stories validity again. They have been scorned and rejected by the mainstream culture for 50 years now and he is introducing them to young people again and pointing out why these ancient stories have tremendous value. I just think that is so important.

  • Anthony Bradley

    This entire “article” is complete rubbish. I might use in class an example of what thinking Christians should never do. Terrible.

    • Any actual critique you want to offer?

    • Daniel Howe

      Here I was, thinking how refreshing to not find a gushing appreciation of Peterson, for once in a way. I had just read your article. You spend quite a bit of time trashing Acts 29, YRR, Piper, and Evangelicals of pretty much every stripe for tearing down young men, and then this is your sole comment: a quick sneer. Goodness.

      My criticism of this article: no room left for legitimate self-love, as Augustine talked about and Oliver O’Donovan has explored deeply. I don’t think that Peterson is teaching Satanic pride as the basis for morality at all. He’s steering people away from self-destruction, which is a requisite part of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

      • You are correct. Self-love (not in a narcissistic way but in a healthy way) is what Peterson is trying to get across in rule 2. I suspect the main reason for the tone of the review has more to do with Peterson’s rejection (and sometimes ridicule) of Biblical literalism. This is unthinkable for many Christians (especially evangelicals). There’s also probably a bit of Jealousy involved, since Peterson’s preaching is drawing more crowds on a Monday night (at $100 a ticket) than most preachers are getting Sunday morning (which doesn’t cost anything). .

        The ironic thing is that Peterson’s Christianity is probably the best chance for Christianity to survive in the West.

  • Ian

    I don’t think that Peterson is advocating that “undisciplined eros can be a guide to true moral behavior.” What he is doing is suggesting admitting full-stop to yourself what your desires are. I don’t read an advocacy for unhinged desire here but a plea to not repress. As Lewis himself has said, repression is not the same as suppression, so I cannot believe Peterson is approving of anything Clive himself was not. I see a few similar instances of misinterpretation like this in this piece and I want to ask you to reread with someone else to see if you aren’t overinterpreting what Peterson does in fact suggest.

    • Cal P

      His friends called him Jack, not Clive.

      • Ian

        Man, there is no way to win here: if I had called him Jack someone would’ve asked who I was talking about, and if I use his birth name I’m blasted for not using his familiar name. I’ll just say I was being honest because we never had the chance to become acquaintances.

    • Alastair J Roberts

      Peterson is most definitely NOT advocating that “undisciplined eros can be a guide to true moral behavior.” That interpretation is way off.

      The avoidance of repression is precisely the issue with which Peterson is concerned here (‘befriending the shadow’, in Jungian terminology). Rather than simply repressing our libidos, we should face them openly and learn to channel them. Much that we fear within them may not be bad at all. Carefully integrating such aspects of our libidos we naturally fear into our personalities could do us a lot of good in some cases.

      • cornofear

        It’s a bit more than just admitting and integrating, isn’t it? There’s a clear suggestion that fulfilling your ‘authentic’ desires with your sexual partner will prevent you from cheating: “You might find that getting what you actually desire would stop you from being tempted and straying.”

        This is potentially true, but at the same time, entirely self-centred, given the lack of reference to other people and how _they_ might be served by you learning how to moderate your desires. Put another way, it skips the step of reshaping and re-ordering desire that should take place after acknowledging it.

        • Ian

          To be clear, I’m not being antagonistic in replying again. If anything, I feel like this is going somewhere!

          Anyway, to clarify: it *could* be self-centered, but it is not necessarily so. The central idea is admitting what your desires are and there is a definite subjunctive air to the “could” he writes. He has more to say about ordering desire so he is definitely not advocating simply bringing desires into the light to then implement them as they stand. So your concern about moderating desires is well-placed but is shared by Peterson himself. Given that, another of the article’s author’s missteps is construing Peterson’s advice here as reducing persons to ends and that simply doesn’t bear out in Peterson’s work.

        • Jean Bruno Martin

          I dont think he suggests fulfilling all your desires as much as removing them from a dark place where they grow and become dangerous. Exposing them to the to light and admitting them. It’s not so much about the eros but rather about accepting yourself, not projecting a fake version of yourself and therefore having a split personality with a dark part and a public version of yourself.

  • Diana Armstrong

    Don’t be so eager to criticizes someone who is giving important and needed guidance to so many people young and old. Can you do better? Have you? Where’s you book of advice? I would like to compare and critique it.

    • Alastair J Roberts

      Part of the reason why Peterson is so popular is because he is filling a glaring gap left by figures such as fathers and pastors. This is why a number of us are so stressing the importance of Christians listening to him.

  • Leroy

    As a Christian, I find myself absolutely enamoured with the man’s ability to explain biblical concepts from the view point of his profession as a psycho analyst, to draw in a wider audience who wouldn’t otherwise have any interest in what the Bible has to say. His “little heresies” are due to ignorance IMO. JP is himself searching and I’m praying that he will have an encounter with the true living God so that God can put him to work for the cause of the gospel.

  • phsasser

    Thanks for this Charlie. A good, needed, slap in the face.

  • Brian Smith

    If the church owes much more to lost young men clinging to Peterso’n’s guidance in desperation then why do not offer it instead of only offering a critique!! As someone with a Christian worldview I just watched many hours of Peterson’s teachings I have been able to sift out beneficial elements of Peterson’s while being wary of the pitfalls. I found some very practical wisdom that aligns with living to glorify God even if some of his presuppositions are flawed. This is a perfect example of how the body of Christ it’s often so irrelevant, unhelpful and why we’ve been losing the youth and the culture War. What good is light under a basket or salt that has lost its saltiness?! Don’t just curse the darkness, build a lighthouse!!

    • These underemployed white men with poor social skills have not been let down by Christianity. Rather, they are put off by Christian teachings of compassion, humility, meekness, and modesty. We do not change our teachings to suit a bunch of angry, cruel, brutal non-achievers. They submit themselves, and if they won’t, that’s too bad but we keep going.

      • GregoryR

        Peterson’s writing are the antithesis of Christianity and are a gateway drug to the alt-right/kite who revel in pride, alpha this and that, and embracing things that they believe make them better than others.

  • Bob
  • Bob

    Why I am listening to Jordan Peterson

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Wow, I really wonder if we read the same book.

    • Ian

      Yeah, wow. The author badly misunderstands the thrust of Rule 4 by recasting it as resentful self-delusion when it seems pretty clear that what it really is is a defusing of Law that crushes the ego without gospel. Peterson may not frame it in theological vocabulary but that is the underlying diagnosis all the same.

    • cornofear

      This review does have the significant feature of discussing actual quotes from Peterson’s writing, which none of the other linked articles on Peterson do.

      • Ian

        Sure, but many of the quotations do not have the thrust the author of this piece is attributing to them. There are a few instances where it seems like the author is indulging in illegitimate totality transfer when he sees certain keywords.

        • cornofear

          Can you provide other quotations from the book that challenge the interpretations given in the article?

          • Ian

            It’s unnecessary to go beyond what the author of the article already has here: for instance, the “undisciplined eros” paragraph he writes is manifestly a misunderstanding of the preceding passage it is meant to expound. Peterson’s words simply do not convey what the article’s author construes them as conveying, per Alastair’s comment.

  • DJ Low

    The article seems to describe Peterson as appealing to losers to engage in pride and dominate like a lobster. That is not the understanding of this persons work that anyone I know heard. None of the people I know that have listened to him are Neets, plus they heard nothing encouraging pride, but rather an expounding of responsibility that can lead to dignity. Regarding envy, it is basically the opposite and calls envy to be exposed in the light of understanding. I would suggest trying it again, from scratch.

  • The church isn’t giving young men pretty much anything at all at the moment, which is one reason among many that Peterson has such a large audience. The church, I think, has either stopped caring about young men, or stopped understanding young men, or both, but since that has happened, we can’t be surprised when they turn to other sources that are actually addressing them in the present tense.

    • Wrong. Dead wrong.
      More like young men are can’t handle the Church’s teachings on humility, meekness, modesty, and compassion. Those are all basic Christian virtues.
      But the cool kids have decided that “virtue signalling” is bad, so no virtues of any sort. Young men are too chicken of being called “cuck” or “beta”, which is what will happen if they embrace basic Christian virtues.

      No. We don’t change our teachings to suit trends. If young men turn their backs on us, we pray for them, but do not compromise because of some fad of masculinity.

  • Mark

    I’d advise the author to reread their Maslow. The audience that Peterson is addressing are those who are low on the being hierarchy. Don’t begrudge those who can’t yet navigate more nuanced or higher manifestations of truth. They’ll get there, but not without the kind of remediation that Peterson offers.

  • Christopher Leigh

    “This is where we learn that Peterson is a big Mel Gibson fan. Make of that what you will.”

    Really? So…now we’ll traffic in painting a subject of criticism on the guilt of association – for merely being a “fan” of someone who, presumably, we all agree is…?

    It seems to me that Mere-O is falling prey to the tendency of lazy social shaming, rather than it’s former standard of thoughtful criticism and charitable reflection. The song of the SJW is too strong to resist, I suppose.

    • Ian

      If anyone dares to posture and claim The Road Warrior doesn’t get their hearts thumping like sneakers in the dryer I’ll call that person a liar and a fiend.

  • joe_chip

    Count me in as a Peterson defender. In a land where young men are routinely derided as useless, video-game addicted snowflakes, someone who preaches self-worth and self-discipline is a veritable Oasis.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that the American Evangelical Church voted, en masse, for an ignorant adulterer who personifies the Seven Deadly Sins. I’ll take Peterson’s flawed yet useful and humane advice ten times out of ten before I consider what the leaders the Church voted for have to say.

    • Avery

      It’s a pitiful world where the “men without chests” are rare, valuable, and actually far superior to the President.

    • Jean Bruno Martin

      I’m with you but just to be clear, video gales are just a modern version of games and sports, and fantasy books. they’re nothing new.

  • Matt

    I applaud the author of this article for trying to talk about Peterson, but it seems to be an example of a poor analysis of Peterson’s ideas. Lewis does say that pride is essentially competitive, but inverting that statement is not true – namely all competition is pride. For Peterson to speak of competition is not necessarily for him to speak of pride.

    I think there are other problems with this article, but I do think that we should be talking about Jordan Peterson. I have some concerns about JP, but those concerns are not expressed in the above article.

  • cassiolalola

    “…he gives us a master class in envy, how to discount the status of others to make ourselves feel better. For example,
    “Your colleague outperforms you at work. His wife, however, is having an affair, while your marriage is stable and happy. Who has it better? The celebrity you admire is a chronic drunk driver and bigot. Is his life truly preferable to yours?”
    this, I believe, is a misrepresentation. I fail to see how this can be construed as a ‘master class in envy’. What he is saying that comparing yourself to others is useless, because behind our facades, we are all much more complex than the image we present to the world. What may look like worldly success, could in reality, be so much sad brokenness behind the scenes. Therefore, DON’T compare yourself to others. Envy is a useless thing, he is saying here.
    What the author of this article refers to as ‘pride’, I believe could be more accurately construed as ‘self-respect’ (as in rule #9: treat yourself like somebody you are responsible for helping). Head up, shoulders straight, are instructions I’ve given to my own children. There’s humility, and then there’s deliberate self-debasement. Having self-respect is not an anti-christian sentiment.
    So these two instances, at least, make me reluctant to even bother addressing the others. He seems intent on obfuscating and misconstruing. (and the comment about being a Mel Gibson fan? total non-sequitur. how does it make him an MG fan and what does that have to do with anything? Because MG’s life and career have gone off the rails? Because he’s a ‘failed catholic’? what exactly are you saying here author? or are you simply being snarky? In any case, it adds nothing but in fact, damages the credibility of your argument.)
    I’m not interested in making JP acolytes. Suffice it to say that I know personally of at least one person who was led out of atheism into Orthodox Christianity through listening and incorporating some of the precepts prescribed by JP. I know how I have benefitted from many of his words. I really value the book and cannot recommend it highly enough.
    Many have accused him of gnosticism, and perhaps this is true, but I suppose he can only be held responsible for as much as he has claimed to be, and of course, it must all be taken in this light. He’s never claimed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, but if his teaching is leading some to themselves become Christian, how is that a bad thing? He’s been called the gateway drug to orthodox christianity.
    I encourage anyone to actually watch and read him before pronouncing judgement. Don’t simply take my word for it, or anybody else’s for that matter. Youtube is his preferred medium of communication, and so anybody wanting a better ‘read’ on his ideas should be encouraged to avail themselves to actually listening to him. After having watched many hours, I cannot see that what he recommends is harmful or dangerous. If he is a non-christian, teaching other non-christians to stand up straight and blood-well stop blaming everything and everybody else for the sorry state of their lives, and to start taking personal responsibility, then kudos to him!

  • Mark Royster

    Some good cautions. But I think there is a little more going on with Peterson than has met the author’s insightful eye. Pride is a sneaky fellow. Also — and this is a small point — evangelicals who get upset about Trump’s articulation of British form “Two Corinthians” instead the American form “Second Corinthians” risk embarrassing themselves, unless they want to label such lights as John Stott “biblically illiterate.”

  • mkt

    “poorly socialized young men whose anger and frustration makes them ideal candidates for racist and misogynistic radicalization.”

    Or, much more commonly, candidates for SJW-ism who think the world owes them something. I wasn’t too surprised the rest of the article went downhill after this part.

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  • William Loh
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  • Jean Bruno Martin

    And here we face the core problem of christian values: self devaluation. Pride and competition are bad and you should kee your head under the water and never try to be better. You should apologize for your thoughts and treat your partner as sope kind of deity.
    I’m sorry i don’t agree with verything peterson wrote or says, but what i see here is less a critique than an attempt to rewrite the book undrr the lens of christian self contempt style value. What peterson writes are advice designed to keep your head out of the water, be a better person and accept yourself with your dark parts too. What tye article suggest is be a virtuous person and erase everything about you than merely come close to lust or envy and be ashamed of it. This is exactly the type of interpretatiok of the. Ible that drive people nuts because they deny their humanity.

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  • Femghazi

    You ‘tards are so scared of men growing a backbone. Goooooood! It shall be done!

    • solitairecat64

      They can keep their backbone but give us their whipping sticks.

  • Puddleglum’s Wager

    Peterson does not serve Pride. He loves, trusts, seeks and serves the truth, no matter the cost.

    Truth is God by another name. Peterson encourages us to bow the knee to truth in all humility, to die daily to all the lies that bind and blind us, and to wait in hope for new life to rise from the ashes.

  • Ross Byrd

    I regret needing to add another negative comment, but…Charlie, it really is unfortunate that you chose Lewis as your contrasting figure to Peterson. If anything, Peterson–as a non-Christian–is a better apologist of Lewis’ theology, epistemology, and ethics than most of Lewis’ orthodox defenders. In fact, the two men are so uncannily similar in so many respects (even given the difference in faith) that it’s hard to understand what exactly led you to draw this particular distinction so sharply. Semantic confusion may have played a role. Both men are quite complex and nuanced in their views, so it’s understandable. But that’s also precisely the reason that such a broad brush shouldn’t have been used with regard to either man’s thoughts.

  • The reality of the matter is that Peterson’s views do not reconcile with Christianity. That all these disaffected angry young men are not let down by Christianity. Rather, they do not like Christian virtues like humility, meekness, or modesty.
    And that’s all there is to it.

    • Lynn

      Hmm, I don’t think you’ve read chapter 8.

  • Meanwhile, from a secular point of view, someone should tell Peterson that standard biology has human beings evolving from apes, not lobsters.

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  • Jo Sou

    I don’t think Jordan Peterson is primarily appealing to a man’s pride in order to get him to improve. In the famous Cathy Newman interview, he says that men should realize that they have something to offer and so that’s the proper motivation for improving oneself. If a man hear’s Peterson speaking about personal responsibility and he starts to try to behave more virtuously, there is no doubt that a temptation is to think how he’s such a great person for trying to be better. I imagine that’s a temptation of just about everyone including the author of this article. That’s a result of the eating of the apple in the garden I think. Instead of attributing all good things to God, we try to take the glory for ourselves. God might tolerate that for a little while, but eventually the rich will become poor and the poor rich.

  • Lynn

    The C.S. Lewis reference is apples and oranges here. Self-respect is not Pride. JP throws up much that is useful for grappling with, and he sees what is wrong more than most, articulating it pretty well. The chapter on truth alone is well worth the price of the book. C.S. Lewis he is not (JP is not even a christian–merely sympathetic to Western tradition–allowing me to overlook his many small heresies), but fresh thinking is what is necessary in our time anyway.

  • Conrad Dobler

    How to climb a dominance hierarchy using the parts of the the bible you like while dispensing with those parts you do not believe in.

    Sorry Mr. Peterson I’ve seen this movie before our world leadership is already infested with this kind of thinking.

    The bible is a complete ideology/theology that can’t really be treated in that fashion if you want to maintain ideological honesty in my opinion.

    Love is the only redeeming quality we possess and love is the only real answer to the world. I myself am not a Christian although I do believe in God. You can’t use a bible predicated on the belief in God and God’s grace, mercy and love as your ONLY salvation as a secular lifehack that’s been tried by almost everyone and it always ends in failure.

    The world is messed up precisely because that’s how most people are trying to use it.

    See the above.

    JBP in my opinion is dancing around the fact that only a belief and submission to God can save you, he himself dances around the question of his belief in God.

  • Steven Schromm

    Frankly, as a Christian, I’m glad that he is not (a Christian).

    He brings a lot to the table about life and living and is very thorough in making sure that there is some deep, insightful reasons for people to act like they do (or want to do) by making a case through mythology (in a very deep sense of the word) and neurophysiology and philosophy.

    Sure, he is not, “preaching Christ” as the historically true Son of God and Messiah, but he is not purporting to (unlike many popular ministries do that try do use law as gospel).

    I am not reading/listening to him as a pastor. But I am learning about thought, thinking and premises that actions spring forth from. And about how to corral those emotions and thoughts and hopefully act a bit more kindly and purposely in the world (which he says should be the goal; not just for ourselves but also for those around us including our enemies).

    I find this review to be a bit shallow and seems like someone just read some highlighted sentences to comment on and because he is not, “one of ours”, should simply be dismissed as having nothing of value to say.

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  • Doug

    Remarkable thinking and writing, well done! 👍

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