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Jordan Peterson, the (Gradual) “Return” of God’s Law in the West, and the Future as a Saving Father

01 Oct

“If you were better, the people around you would be less worse than they are.” — Jordan Peterson

 

Sometimes the unbelievers put Christians to shame.

In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul chastises a congregation: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife…”

To the young pastor Timothy, he states: “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

In the second chapter of the book of Romans, he thunders:

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

The message? Again, unbelievers put the people of God to shame. That, in part, is what I think when I watch something like this (yes, the pictures and music play on the emotions, but the message itself is powerful):

.

Indeed, the world needs righteousness.[i] For those involved in the atrocities noted in the videos, there is no doubt that what Peterson says elsewhere about the consequences of our behavior is true:

“The future is a judgmental father.”

Peterson’s answer is that if we believe the world is good we can have hope that we can make it better. We can become the kind of people for whom these kinds of things are unthinkable – people of truth. Is this an articulation of what the fulfillment of the law looks like – without Christ – if that were possible?

I have no doubt that a person like Jordan Peterson brings with him a spiritual awakening of sorts. In many ways, he provides an articulate defense for the importance of God’s law to those who have abandoned it.

Of course, I need to qualify my statement here. In truth, knowledge of God’s law is in all of us. It never left.

It has, of course, been buried deep within. Given the increasing lack of reinforcement in society and the church, very deep within…

  • Some have done much picking and choosing regarding God’s laws – they have chosen some that they like, while leaving others behind. Hence, they now call good evil and evil good.
  • Others have not only picked the laws they like while leaving others behind. They have created many of their own laws. The laws one must follow in society to be a “good person” have multiplied. Hence, as Jesus says “why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”
  • Others go so far as to even doubt the existence of God. The natural result is that they tempt themselves to think about good and evil as being something subjective. They will “flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”
  • Finally, others even have  the nerve to assert that there is no God. There are laws to be sure, but we are the “gods” who make them up as we go along.

Again, I repeat: in truth, knowledge of God’s law is in all of us. It never left. Peterson’s message – delivered with his peculiar passion and gravitas — puts this in stark relief. He reminds us of what we once were and what we are meant to be again. One hears the divine echo.

What should we as Christians think about all of this? What do we have to add? I submit we should look more intently at the 10 commandments.

What does God’s law demand? How does the Bible describe the fulfillment of the 10 commandments? It says love fulfills them. And how do we see them fulfilled? We see this in those who love God and neighbor.

And the one who loves God, we are told, will love one’s brother, one’s neighbor.

So what does the fulfillment of the law really look like?

In one sense, only Jesus Christ. His perfect life and innocent death for us — taking away our sin.

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again! That is love, the supreme love. Our salvation!

But, being human beings created for a purpose, we nevertheless go on to say more: the fulfillment of the law also manifests itself in love for one’s neighbor (Romans 8:1-4 and Romans 13) – and not apart from a concern to give the neighbor the great message of God, culminating in news of the Great Deeds God has done to save His people.

For the love of God is not only external, but internal as well. Love – the fulfillment of the law – desires to be united with one’s neighbor on the other side of the grave. In, with, and through Jesus Christ!

  • “Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your husbands, so that even if they refuse to believe the word, they will be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” – I Peter 3:1
  • “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” – I Cor. 7:16
  • “With many other words [Peter] warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” – Acts 2:40
  • “…even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” — I Cor. 10:33)
  • “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” — I Cor. 9:22)
  • “…in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them” – Rom 11:14

And here we might ask: Who do Peter and Paul think they are? God? Who saves? Has Paul already forgotten who the Savior is? The doctrine of election? Or is this kind of thing just preliminary to it (remember, Romans 9-11 is where he discusses it at length):

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Profound. In my mind, that it what a very strong and jarring articulation of the fulfillment of the law looks like in truth. The future is a saving Father. He chooses to use us to communicate his love to the world.

It sounds a bit like Jordan Peterson.

It’s not though. The first table of God’s Law – which would encompass the command to proclaim the Great Deeds of God for the life of the world, culminating in the Word made flesh – is a critical component of the commandments’ fulfillment. Even the Golden Rule is empty without it. We cannot live – the life that is “truly life” that is – without the certainty that Christ’s work for us frees us from sin, death, and the devil and gives us the peace which passes all understanding.

In any case, this piece is a great tribute to Jordan Peterson. I encourage you to check it out and reflect. I plan to mention it again in a future post.

FIN 

 

 

[i] A good friend who watched the video said to me:

“…a question for Peterson would be: But there were those who did resist and resisted immediately, and were imprisoned or executed. So why did they see what was going on and act in such a way? What drove them?

But what Peterson comes up with as a solution (“We need to be better people!”) is, oddly enough, nothing really new, but oddly similar to what–as I mentioned last night–Confucius proposed, living as he did in incredibly tumultuous times in China. So take a look at this brief description of Confucius’ ideal man, the Junzi.

Perhaps the question to pose to Peterson would be to what extent his ideal person is like that of the Junzi.”

 

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Posted by on October 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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