Darrow Miller and Friends

The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Jordan Peterson

Many of us have been encouraged by the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson. Over the last couple of years he has suffered from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome leaving him weak and largely out of the public eye. Many of us have prayed for the restoration of his health (and he reports doing much better recently) and that of his wife, who is struggling with cancer.

Besides these health struggles, Peterson has been on a spiritual journey as well. Over the years we have watched him move from atheism to theism, and now his pursuit of truth is leading him to the foot of the cross. Because of what he has been learning from Scripture and leaning about Christ, he is approaching what he calls a “terrifying” conclusion.

 Peterson describes his struggle

In a recent discussion, Peterson spoke with profound emotion of his most personal thoughts.

So what you have in the figure of Christ is an actual person who actually lived plus a myth and in some sense Christ is the union of those two things. The problem is I probably believe that … but I’m amazed at my own belief and I don’t understand it; like because I have seen sometimes the objective world and the narrative world touch. You know that’s union synchronicity,[1] and I have seen that many times in my own life; and so in some sense I believe it’s undeniable you know. We have a narrative sense of the world. For me that’s been the world of morality, that’s the world that tells us how to act. It’s real; we treat it like it’s real. It’s not the objective world. But the narrative and the objective world touch. And the ultimate example of that in principle is supposed to be Christ. But I don’t know what to — that seems to me oddly plausible. But I still don’t know what to make of it … partly because it’s too terrifying a reality to fully believe. I don’t even know what would happen to you if you fully believed it [that history and narrative meet] … … because when you believe that, you buy both those stories, you believe that the narrative and the objective can actually touch.

To view this in all its intimacy and power, watch this two-and-a-half minute video.

Is Peterson a modern-day C.S. Lewis?

Jordan Peterson has an intellect that enables him to wrestle with the implications of belief at a level most people never recognize, or else simply take for granted. He is discovering the transcendence of the gospel. His story is a sort of 21st-century equivalent of the conversion of C.S. Lewis, recorded in Surprised by Joy.

Jordan Peterson story parallels C.S. LewisAmiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about “man’s search for God.” To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat. …

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalene, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.

When we recognize our own brokenness, we long for a Redeemer. Every unsullied human heart longs for a redeemer who will restore his life, even restore all things. J.R.R. Tolkien points to the cross and the resurrection as that story. The gospel is the fantasy that is true.

May Jordan Peterson come to find the truth of Tolkien’s words that the historical reality of the cross and the resurrection are indeed the fulfillment of all human longings, that the greatest “mythology”—the gospel—is true. I pray that his great trembling before the cross will bring him to great joy.

  • Darrow Miller

[1] The experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner.

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