Chris Kaczor and Matthew PetrusekFeb 14, 2023
Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity
The Search for a Meaningful Life
Word on Fire Institute 2021
“The most influential biblical interpreter in the world today is not a pastor, a Scripture scholar, or a bishop. He’s a clinical psychologist with no formal training in biblical studies and no church membership.”
That is a quote from the 2021 book, Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity: The Search for a Meaningful Life by Christopher Kaczor and Matthew Petrusek. These two scholars examine the public intellectual Jordan Peterson’s discourse on particular stories in the Bible (such as that of Cain and Abel) and point to commonalities between Peterson’s approach to religious questions with that of the Catholic intellectual tradition. They note, for example, how Peterson’s online lectures and published work resemble aspects of the thinking of such figures as Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.
The authors also delve into how Peterson’s views on religious and philosophical matters resemble and differ from those of more modern figures, such as C.S. Lewis.
This is a provocative, thought-provoking book about an often controversial figure. Like him or loathe him, Peterson has been a prominent voice on the public stage on matters philosophical and, in the authors’ views, theological for some time. This book critiques him from a Catholic standpoint that illuminates both Peterson and the Catholic moral universe. Kaczor and Petrusek show how elusive Peterson can be when it comes to declaring himself one way or the other on his own religious leanings. Their book is valuable reading for those with no particular religious feeling at all but who are intrigued by and have benefited from Peterson’s commentary on Biblical texts and for those of strong religious feeling (not necessarily Catholic, either) who want a better understanding of where Peterson stands.
The book enhances our understanding of the appeal of Jordan Peterson for the spiritually questing among his audience and offers intelligent commentary on fundamental issues such as what is truth and the importance of free speech in the arrival at it, how to lead an upstanding life and how to face adversity courageously.
Let’s hear from Christopher Kaczor, one of the two authors of this book on a major cultural figure of our time.
Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.