On outwitting the obstructionists
At a talk at Harvard in mid-April earlier this year Dr. Jordan Peterson shared advice on how we can bring back civility to our public debates.
The Bible says when we are seeking out the truth, it is important to hear both sides (Proverbs 18:17) but on many college campuses that isn’t possible. Disruption-minded protesters show up and shout down the speaker they don’t like with chants about how, “We respect free speech…but this is hate speech!” This make discussion impossible.
So how can we create room for discussion and debate on university campuses? Dr. Peterson outlined just how easy it would be.
“I will tell you how serious the protesters are…Some of you may know that I participated in a debate on free speech…that the University of Toronto hosted….But one of the things I did when I was talking with the university administration was to suggest how they might deal with the possibility of protesters. So I said, well that’s easy, I know how you can have absolutely zero protesters. Have it in the morning and they won’t get out of bed in time. So we had it at 9 o’clock in the morning and there was one MPP – Member of Parliament – who showed up to hand out some pamphlets, and not a single protester. So it’s like, if you want to have a controversial speech, just have it at 7 AM in the morning. You won’t get a protester within 50 yards of it because they’ll still be sleeping off last night’s pot and alcohol-induced hangover.”
On the tactics of the politically-correct Left
How do small fringe groups on the Left (like transgender activists) manage such a disproportionate influence in our culture? In an Oct. 5, 2016 video, on his “Jordan B Peterson” YouTube channel, Dr. Peterson outlined the tactics they use:
- Identify an area of human activity.
- Note a distribution of success. Identify winners and losers.
- Claim that the losers are losing only because they are oppressed by the winners.
- Claim allegiance with the losers.
- Feel secure in your comprehensive explanation of the world.
- Revel in your moral superiority.
- Target your resentment towards your newly discovered enemies.
- Repeat. Forever. Everywhere.
In the name of compassion, these social justice warriors are breaking the Tenth Commandment, coveting their neighbor’s success.
On the need for standing your ground
We can often make compromises. In fact when what’s at stake is an issue of preference, it’s important we be willing to compromise – that’s how we all get along, by doing to others what you would want them to do to (Luke 6:31), giving a little and meeting in the middle.
But when it is a matter of right vs. wrong, it’s vital we don’t give an inch. If it is a matter of truth vs. lies, then we cannot compromise, not even in the name of compassion, love or grace (Jesus showed that grace and truth need to be paired, not pitted against one another (John 1:14-17)). So we must hold our ground, and we can’t give it up, even if it only seems a little compromise at the time. Or as Dr. Peterson explained in an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience (Nov. 28, 2016):
“Things get to terrible places, one tiny step at a time. If I encroach on you, and I’m sophisticated about it, I’m going to encroach 2 millimeters. I’m going to encroach right to the point where you start to protest, then I’m going to stop. Then I’m going to wait. Then you’re going to calm down. Then I’m going to encroach again, right to the point where you protest, then I’m going to stop. Then I’m going to wait..and I’m just going to do that forever. And before you know it, you’re going to be back 3 miles from where you started and you’ll have done it one step at a time. And then you’ll go ‘Oh, how did I get here?’ And the answer was, ‘Well, I pushed you a little farther than you should have gone…and you agreed! And so then I pushed you a little farther than you should have gone again…and you agreed!”
On whether he is a Christian
Jordan Peterson is courageous, and when it comes to issues like gender, socialism, and resisting PC pressure, his stands have a lot in common with what we read in the Bible. And he also talks about the Bible a lot too, using phrases like “For all intents and purposes I believe that the Logos is Divine.” He also has a very popular video series devoted to delving into the Bible. And he has described himself as Christian.
So is he? Is Dr. Peterson a Christian?
When the question is asked, he has a hard time answering. The Spectator’s Tim Lott put it to him and wasn’t satisfied with Peterson’s initial and hesitant “let’s leave it at yes.” So Lott asked for clarification. The ellipses in the dialogue that follows indicate pauses of a few seconds each as Dr. Peterson considers the questions.
Lott: “Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Literally?”
Peterson: “…I find that I cannot answer that question. And the reason is because…okay, let me think about it for a minute and see if I can come up with a reasonable answer to that. The first answer is it depends on what you mean by Jesus?”
Lott: “A historical human being that existed in a body.”
Peterson: “It was a physical body, and it was on earth?”
Lott: “Yes, that it was on earth, and it was literally came back to life, after death.”
Peterson: “…I would say that at the moment I’m agnostic about that issue…which is a lot different from saying that I don’t believe it happened.”
Dr. Peterson is not a Christian – he doesn’t know if Christ rose, and he is not turning to Jesus to pay for his sins. He is not a Christian.
Is that important to know?
It may well be. Peterson’s courage has made him a hero to many. And because he often talks like a Christian, some might well be confused into thinking that Dr. Peterson has more wisdom than he really has. So it is important to note that, even as we appreciate his courage, and his common sense in matters of gender, that he does have feet of clay. He is not standing on the firm foundation of God’s Word.
Understanding that, we can also pray that God opens his eyes to the reality of the resurrection, and to his need for the Savior.