Popular philosopher Jordan Peterson has captured the imagination of Western world.
For some, Peterson represents all that is wrong with patriarchal culture; for others, he is the Canadian academic prophet who has come to save civilization from dizzying confusion. Regardless of how one feels about him, his influence in North America—and beyond—is difficult to deny.
While the “Peterson phenomenon” has motivated numerous articles and responses, much of what has been written is either excessively fawning or overly critical. Little has been produced that explores Peterson’s thought—especially his immensely popular 12 Rules for Life—within the context of his overall context and scholarly output. How is one to understand the ascendency of Jordan Peterson and why he’s become so popular? Does his earlier Maps of Meaning shed light on how one might understand his worldwide bestseller, 12 Rules for Life?
In Myth and Meaning in Jordan Peterson, scholars across various disciplines explore various aspects of Jordan Peterson’s thought from a Christian perspective. Both critical and charitable, sober-minded and generous, this collection of ten essays is a key resource for those looking to faithfully engage with Jordan Peterson’s thought.
When you are finished with this book, you will not only be more informed about one of the world's leading philosophers but, more importantly, you will be drawn to the ultimate source of wisdom and life: Jesus Christ.
—Daniel Darling, Vice President for Communications, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
Jordan Peterson is one of the outstanding thinkers of our generation. He sees clearly that without a return to the Bible, there is no future for the Western nations. But can traditionalist Christians make peace with Peterson’s theology? Ron Dart’s collection of essays by Christian scholars masterfully grapples with the promise and the challenge of Peterson’s thought.
–Yoram Hazony, President of the Herzl Institute, author of The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture and The Virtue of Nationalism
For those interested in a more balanced and reflective interpretation of Jordan Peterson, this is the anthology for you. It avoids the easy extremes of either deifying or demonizing Peterson while also performing the needed task of trying to get clear about his relation to Christianity. This is an important text for those who want to understand Peterson as opposed to merely following him.
—John Vervaeke, lecturer at the University of Toronto in the departments of psychology, cognitive science and Buddhist psychology
What is behind the phenomenon of Jordan Peterson? The essays in this book not only offer sound analysis from a variety of cultural and spiritual angles but also point to areas where Christians could (and should) be making strong gospel connections.
–John Stonestreet, President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“But Peterson’s Christianity is not of the historic and orthodox variety. It is a Christianity revised for our modern secular age.” (Page 23)
“In the Reformed tradition, the way to approach the Bible was in a literal, historical, grammatical way that lost the contemplative, mystical elements that were used by patristic exegetes. Peterson, by contrast, recognizes the limits of science and understands how myth can speak to people. He takes biblical stories in a mythical sense, not getting hung up on the historicity of them, and will ask almost what a spiritual director would ask: ‘What does this story mean for you on your journey?’ All of a sudden, people realize that the text can speak to them.” (Pages 2–3)
“At the heart of Derrida’s program is the belief that there cannot be any fixed meaning. A written text cannot, he argues, communicate a specific meaning. Texts can produce all sorts of meanings—even meanings that were not intended by the author—because it is the nature of a text to be full of contradictions and ambiguities. In other words, each text contains the seeds of its own destruction and, ultimately, the destruction of the author.” (Pages 11–12)
“However, there is also a danger in this, as individuals can easily place their faith in the power of civil religion itself, and never move beyond to personal belief in God himself, which provides the transcendent meaning and which alone grounds social order.” (Page 28)
“The Marxist theory partakes of Cain’s envy and ends with a willingness to sanction murder (even on a mass scale) in order to right the wrongs it perceives.” (Page 35)
Ron Dart teaches in the Department of Political Science, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He has authored or coauthored thirty-five books that deal with the interface between literature, spirituality, and politics, including The North American High Tory Tradition (American Anglican Press, 2016) and Christianity and Pluralism (Lexham Press, 2019).