March 9, 2018 Matthew

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson ★★★

I picked up a copy of the currently best selling book in Canada and America (the #2 best selling book on Amazon right now) because there is an entire treatise on the male-female paradigm within Peterson’s mind.

Right now he has captured the hearts and minds of millions of men as the cultural rug of sexuality has been swiped from beneath our feet, leaving tens of millions in an abysmal panic at the resultant chaos.

Peterson’s rules come right on time. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11) describes it well. But it is more like a hasty retreat from abstract postmodernism into the comfort of rules. What is glaringly absent from the pages is anything regarding the practice of wisdom. Life circumstances and experiences cannot be judged by mere rules. God wants us to judge and decide based on wisdom which only comes from him.

The sabbath is for man, not man for the sabbath. He was made to (as is redeemed by Christ to) learn wisdom, judgement discernment, and discretion.

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” (Proverbs 4:7)

I really wanted to know what Peterson meant by saying he was a Christian (on a Steven Crowder interview) and this book really brings it out. Peterson mates ancient Taoist ideas (the yin-yang) with evolutionary biology and mates that with psychology and then mates that with Genesis 2 and 3. The resulting mix is bizarre for any orthodox Christian.

12 Rules for Life actually reads like a commentary on Genesis 2 and 3 and other scriptures including sayings of Christ. As a “commentary” though you will find no resemblance to any of the known and time-tested commentaries of the Church over the last two millennia.

As intelligent as Peterson is and as close as he seems to be to the right track, within a span of a few pages of this book I am left with a piecemeal of sweeping speculations and assumptions that are impossible to make sense of:

  1. The universe is a yin-yang of chaos and order. Order represents masculine and chaos represents feminine.
  2. We ought to have one foot in each in order achieve balance, i.e. the middle path (very similar to Buddhist teaching)
  3. The serpent (Satan) in the garden is symbolic of chaos

This is obviously in contrast to the orthodox Christian understanding that sin does not have anything to do with the feminine but has everything to do with rebellion to God’s will which includes the masculine and feminine. Reality does not consist of two opposing, abstract, nameless forces. This is abstract thinking and the Hebrew language is concrete, based on the five senses of the physical body. In Genesis 13:9 we learn of the first uses in scripture of “left” vs. “right” which are abstract Greek and English words.

Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”  (Genesis 13:9)

Here the Hebrew is yamin which means “right hand” and semol which means “left hand“.

The first mention of “love”, an abstract English word, in the Bible is in Genesis 22:2:

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love… (Genesis 22:2)

The word for love is ahav. It stems from a two-letter root word (h-v) meaning “give” or “gift.” In Ancient Hebrew pictograph it conveys a concrete image of providing for one’s family:

Ancient Hebrew: The pictograph represents one who is looking at a great sight with his hands raised as when saying behold. The is a representation of the tent or house. Combined, these pictures mean “look toward the house” or “provide for the family.” (Hebrew Lexicon of the Torah)

This understanding is what gave Hebrews (and modern day Jews) solid definition of what it means to “love your neighbor”. Treat them like family. No one ever questioned Jesus on what that meant. What they did question Jesus on was who the neighbor was. Hebrew communication was 100% concrete.

The universe is a cosmic dance between a Builder and his building material. All material is his. All of it is good and the more developed it is, the more work that goes into it, the better it gets –“very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Peterson sees order as being “surrounded” by chaos. God is not surrounded by evil, although Jesus does speak of an “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). Evil is not a self-existent thing. Evil exists only in our minds, hence, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was and is no Star Wars tree of the forces of good and evil. Peterson is stuck in a linear, Western mode of thinking in which there is no beginning and no end. For him chaos and order are open-ended things.

Truth, Jesus, says there is a beginning and there is an end. He is that beginning and end. Hebrew thought is circuitous. Jesus as the way, truth, and life means the path of truth and life is circuitous, a closed circuit (Revelation 1:8, 22:13). Psalm 139:24 calls it The Everlasting Way (Hebrew derek olam).





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