Why Jordan Peterson Matters

Jan 1, 2018 by

by Paul VanderKlay, Leadingchurch.com:

We are possibly seeing the beginnings of a religious revival that would be unexpected and different from the kinds we’ve seen previously in the history of the church. I think the spark of this revival is being set off by someone who isn’t a preacher or even a professing Christian in the way we’ve defined the category. It is too early to tell but the phenomena bears watching and exploring. I think it is significant not only because of who he is attracting but also because of the new kinds of challenges and answers he’s presenting. I’ve spent the last few months trying to get my head around this and I feel that I’m just as the beginning of figuring some of these things out.

The Phenomena

Jordan Peterson has been packing out a lecture hall in Toronto this past spring and summer on a weekly basis to paying patrons of his movement at up to 25 dollars a seat. There have been pictures of lines of waiting people that would be expected for early IPhone launches or movie lines for a new Star Wars opening. Everyone in the line also knows the video will be quickly available on YouTube for free not long after the presentation yet they want a chance to be a part of the event. Some are traveling around the world to be at these events. Something is happening.

Jordan Peterson’s YouTube channel now has well over 400,000 subscribers. I expect this number to grow far larger. I don’t think he’s anywhere close to peaking yet. The releases of his Bible lectures gains tens of thousands of views within minutes of the release and they are continuing to climb. I compared this to the video numbers of other celebrity pastors and most of them don’t even come close to these numbers for their weekly sermons. While you might get similar and larger numbers of other viral videos or pop star music releases bear in mind that these videos are of a psychologist offering his amateur ramblings on the Bible that go for over 2 hours. Something is happening.

Peterson’s audience by his own reckoning is 90% male and mostly young. His enthusiastic disciples come from across the religious spectrum, many of them being professed atheists. Many of the young men who comment, discuss or reach out to him with questions are strugglng terribly in “putting their lives together”. Many are part of the cohort of young men today who are failing to launch into adulthood getting lost in drinking, drugs, porn, video games and just general dissipation. This is a group of men that the church has been failing to reach generally except by is more crunchy segments led either by some of its most hard-core leaders such as hard core Calvinists, ex-gang-member or ex-con preachers, or signs and wonders Pentecostals.

Peterson is reaching this crowd with his combination of rather esoteric psychological theory and pragmatic admonitions. A number of themes and catchphrases have emerged like “clean up your room” or “sort yourself out”. He’s got a rather charming Canadian accent and a punchy, shoot-from-the-hip manner that many, including myself, find amusing and engaging. He rambles but I, and obviously many others find his ramblings are fun to listen to.

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