Feb 18, 2018


Links

WELCOME

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

Blog Menu

Life At The Beach
(Home)
Journal
Odeum
My Designs


^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

Pray Shorter Prayers

by David Mathis

For most of my life, two of the Bible’s most important verses on prayer have been lost on me. I must have been distracted by the more famous verses on prayer that immediately followed.

How many of us know “The Lord’s Prayer” by heart, in the King James Version of Matthew 6:9–13, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . . ”? But before Jesus models prayer for us, he teaches us to pray in the two previous verses. And two thousand years of accumulated tradition and repetition may have clouded Christ’s expressed principles at work in his now-famous example prayer.

Ironically, at least for me, what Jesus says immediately before was long drowned out by the same mindless repetition he so clearly disavows in the preamble:

“When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7–8)

Against Our Gentile Instincts

As fallen humans, we can understand why Jesus would need to steer us away from heaping up empty phrases. We are prone to this. Apart from God’s special revelation to us, this is our Gentile-instinct in seeking to petition the divine. Like the prophets of Baal at Carmel, we expect that calling on the deity “from morning until noon” and limping around the altar (1 Kings 18:26), even cutting ourselves in our own ways (1 Kings 18:28), might win us an ear in heaven. And apart from God’s special work in us, we’re liable to turn the Lord’s Prayer itself into the very thing Jesus warns against in the same breath.

One aspect, among others, that’s so amazing about Jesus’s model prayer in Matthew 6:9–13 (and Luke 11:2–4) is its simplicity and terseness. Jesus manifestly does not “heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do.” He does not pretend to be heard for his many words.

Arts, Thys, and Trespasses?

In our English, Jesus’s sample prayer is a mere fifty words, and only four sentences. Can you remember the last time, if ever, you heard a public prayer so simple, unpretentious, and to the point? And this straight from the mouth of our Savior himself.

Maybe it’s the arts, thys, and trespasses of old English that allow us to think such a manifestly simple prayer could be a kind of pagan incantation offered bead after bead on a rosary, or on bended knee before a football game. We could memorize a more contemporary version to guard us against the wrong impression. But most likely, the issue is deeper, and we haven’t yet really owned the remarkable freedom into which Jesus invites us — or deeply known the gracious Father to whom he sends us.

Free to Pray Simply

Liberty from heaping up worn and empty phrases, and from many words, is the glorious freedom in which we walk as children of the Father. When we pray — note Jesus’s when, not if — we come to a God who already has initiated toward us. We never introduce ourselves to his highness for the first time, or reintroduce ourselves suspecting he’s too important and busy to remember our name. Prayer is not a conversation we start, but a response to the God who speaks first, calls first, and claims us as his own, even before we return interest in faith and prayer.

\We are free to abandon our empty, evangelical stock-phrases, and free from needing many words, extending our requests to a certain length to impress, because in Christ, we already are known, loved, cherished, and secure. We are not unknown citizens approaching a distant dignitary, but children drawing near to “our Father.”

Reverent and Spiritual

This doesn’t mean we approach with anything less than reverence. He is, after all, our Father in heaven. And if children should respect their earthly fathers, how much more we our heavenly Father? Simple, childlike language doesn’t mean flippancy, frivolity, or nonchalance.

And simple language doesn’t mean carnal petitions. What a jarring aspect of Jesus’s prayer! While his model prayer is manifestly and liberatingly simple, the content is not. At least it’s not natural. Instead of starting with daily bread, Jesus begins with the hallowing of God’s name, not ours, and the coming of God’s kingdom, not man’s. These are the longings and expressions of born-again hearts, not the whispers of the worldly.

Without the new birth, we will pray, if we pray, with pretense (and unholy length), and with the same carnal desires as anyone else in the world. But with the new birth, we will pray — not if, but when — with simplicity and profundity, with new desires for God and his honor.

Our God Loves to Give

Jesus doesn’t just warn us of empty phrases and many words, but he tells us why: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). God’s foreknowledge is no reason to keep silent. That’s not Jesus’s logic but exactly the opposite. Our Father already knowing what we need is an impetus to pray — and to use simple, direct language — because he doesn’t only know our needs, but he is our Father, who loves his children, and wants to meet our needs.

In the end, how we pray says a lot about how we view our God. Do we already have his attention, or suspect we need to flag him down? Do we assume he is suspicious of our needs, or that he is pressured to meet them from a limited supply in the midst of increasing demand? Is he distant or near? Is he sovereign and good? Is he just and merciful?

Even Better Than We Ask

When Christians pray, we pray as those who have been freed from praying like the world. We pray as those who first have heard from our God in his word, who have embraced his gift of unsurpassed grace in the person of his Son, and who have no need to earn his favor with our repetition, posturing, and pretense.

Rather, we can ask simply, as children. We can ask profoundly, with new hearts trained on him, not just the things of earth. And we can ask with humble confidence knowing that our Father already knows our needs, and knows them even better than we do, and is even more committed than we are to meeting them in the deepest and most enduring ways. –Desiring God

America Is Not A Christian Nation

by Erin Kelly

The text of the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God, Jesus Christ, or Christianity.

The founding fathers’ religion wasn’t always worn on their sleeves. Looking back, it’s quite difficult to tell where some of our nation’s great leaders fell on the religious scale. Deism was popular at the time – the belief in God as the creator of all things, but not as a miracle worker or one that answers to prayer.

Sure, there are the books written and speeches given. But often personal letters and eyewitnesses are a more accurate gauge of belief. As with any time period, there are sometimes those who aren’t what they seem or claim to be on the surface.

These are the men that fought for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In fact, God, Jesus Christ, and Christianity are not stated once in all of the Constitution, and it is clearly done so on purpose.

The Constitution even bars all laws from “respecting an establishment of religion,” while also protecting “the free exercise thereof.”

Remember, the founding fathers understood their history. They’d seen how the Christian governments of Europe took advantage of the individual freedom of its citizens. They’d seen they constant internal bickering and wars amongst Christian factions.

Even though the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” today some of these very men would be deemed unfit to lead on their respective platforms. To hold them up as a Pinnacle of Christianity is likely as false as George Washington’s teeth. Here are some of the surprising faiths of our founding fathers.

Thomas Jefferson

The man that composed the Declaration of Independence was more interested in protecting religious freedom than imposing religion upon anyone else. It was this very freedom that allowed Thomas Jefferson to cut up his bible and take out anything he didn’t like. Mainly, that included any mention of miracles or things that were “contrary to reason.” This aligned his beliefs more with Deism than Christianity – of which he was baptized into at birth.

Jefferson’s custom assemblage of bible passages was never meant to be published; it was strictly for his own use. However, it acquired a name; The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Almost 70 years after he died, Jefferson’s great-granddaughter sold the book to the Smithsonian Institution.
“I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know,” Jefferson once said. This stance caused a slight ruckus in the Presidential election of 1800 when the Federalists attacked him as being atheist. Nevertheless, Jefferson won that election running under the Democratic-Republican party.

In 1823, Jefferson wrote to John Adams, famously remarking:

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. … But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding…. “

John Adams

“The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

These words, placed in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli by founding father and first vice-president John Adams, are often used as a springboard for debate.

While those words are printed in black and white, there is some underlying context to consider. The treaty goes on to say that “it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” Which gives the context of religious opinions as an invalid excuse to go against the treaty.

So, perhaps that snippet of one document doesn’t prove Adams’ reluctance to full-heartedly embrace Christianity, but later he recognized the “rise of sects and schisms, heresies and bigotries, which have abounded in the Christian world,” and reportedly used deist language in his speeches.

Whatever religion John Adams identified himself as throughout his life, a letter to his wife says quite the mouthful on Catholicism. “This afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful and affecting,” he wrote. “The poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood…”

George Washington

Another founding father with an unclear belief system was none other than our very first President, George Washington. To say his religion is unclear simply brings notice that there are many books written about Washington, and all of them put him anywhere in the spectrum between Orthodox Christian and strict Deist.

Washington used terms such as “Providence” or “supreme architect” when making speeches or writings. These are Deist terms – but not exclusively so. Washington did not use the names “Jesus” or “Christ” in public appearances; but again, many at the time did not.

Born unto Protestants, Washington certainly frequented church as a child, but reportedly did not attend regularly as an adult, or participate in religious rites. He often left services before communion – and when called out on it, stopped attending that church on communion days.

At any rate, Washington was a staunch advocate for religious freedom. Perhaps the most telltale indication of how religious Washington was came at the end of his life. On his deathbed no priest was called; no minister summoned.

In life, he’d imparted to his children the importance of honesty and character, but no mention of religion.

Thomas Paine

A proponent of free thought and reason, Paine had one of the more defined belief systems. He lamented institutionalized religion – and Christianity in particular. In his younger days, some of the hardships he endured would sway others to the comforting arms of the church. Paine’s wife died in childbirth, and his child died as well.

But Thomas Paine made no qualms about his radical Deism; calling the bible the “pretended word of God”. And we know he’s read it because he tears it a new one book by book in his writing The Age of Reason.

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God,” he writes.

Paine may have never held public office but is deemed a founding father nonetheless. There weren’t many American Revolutionary rebels who didn’t read Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense which shaped the demand for independence from Great Britain. Without Paine, The United States might still be under British rule. –All That’s Interesting

"Home Depot/Dealing With An Atheist" Comedy By Mark Lowry

World Is Going To End On June 24, 2018

By Jeremy Hon

Throughout history, people have long believed and remarked on a day where everything will come to an end. While some may call it an apocalypse or doomsday or an Armageddon, all of these words just point at an idea which means ‘an end to the world.’ Last year, David Meade incorrectly predicted that a planet named Nibiru would hurl itself into Earth and kill everybody.

Then in 2012, the Mayan calendar was supposed to predict the end of the world since the calendar stopped on December 21. And back in the year 2000, people feared the end of the world with the advent of Y2K. Now almost a month into 2018, a new theory has popped up.

A conspiracy theorist by the name of Mathieu Jean-Marc Joseph Rodrigue has pointed to the Bible to support his theory that the world will end on June 24, 2018. He points to a passage in the bible that is supposed to indicate the end of days. The passage read: ‘he was given authority to act for 42 months.’

During an interview with the Daily Star, the theorist said: ‘I heard a voice in the middle of the four living beings. This is wisdom. He who has intelligence can interpret the figure of the beast. It represents the name of a man. His figure is 666.’ Supposedly by adding the number of crop harvests along with the price hike, it should produce the date of the last day on Earth.

He says that in order to find the exact date, he needs to take the number ‘666’ and add it to his previous calculations which include the 42 months as prescribed by the bible.

Mathieu then said that when these numbers are all added together it points at the date, June 24, 2018, as the end of the world. However, despite giving such an exact date he does not state how the world will come to an end.

This is not the first time that a bold theorist has come forth with a prediction of impending doom. David Meade did it last year and then backtracked by saying that seven years of disaster will begin on his original date of September 23, 2017. –Provider

Labels Fail Me: Am I still an Evangelical?

by Dana Hall McCain

Christianity has more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. It's a testament to our capacity to find things to disagree about, and to disagree about them heartily. Having grown up in the Southern Baptist Church and other theologically conservative congregations, Evangelicalism has always been my world.

To be clear, I'm still one hundred percent okay with the theological basis and essential doctrines of Evangelicalism, based upon my own examination of the scriptures.

So why the discomfort with the label?

It's because I have awakened in mid-life to find the label as frequently associated with the political as the spiritual. It started with a seemingly innocent commingling of the two in the 1980s. The idea was to mobilize conservative Christians in order to have our values better heard and represented in Washington.

After all, shouldn't we influence our culture for good? And can't government be a part of that from time to time?

Of course we should. And indeed, a faithful witness would include voting for individuals and initiatives that align with God's brand of mercy, justice and righteousness. But two distinct problems have arisen from an over-investment in politics as a vehicle for good.

When we believe that government--rather than our own submission to Christ and evangelism--is the whole ballgame, or even the most important facet of it, we become vulnerable to all sorts of compromises needed to win and maintain power. Truth is no longer what we pursue at all costs--power is, because we believe we can't live without it. (First century Christians would LOL at the thought.)

The second problem is that when we come to associate one political party, wholly and without exception, with the cause of Christ, but we don't do the hard work of bringing that party to heel regarding the values of Christ, we're no longer leading. We are being led. Such is the relationship between Evangelicals and the GOP. We don't bring our weight to bear in the party for causes like DACA, because we're prone to embrace and hold up as immutable truth the party talking points on immigration, even when they are at odds with the words of Christ.

Call me dogmatic, but I'll go with the words in red over what the Steven Millers of the world espouse when the two disagree. And I won't tell you that hateful speech, or arrogance, or trite dishonesty from any president is a good thing, even if some of his policy positions align with my own. We've lost the guts needed to take our own people to the woodshed, because we've believed that our primary job is to beat Democrats instead of the Devil.

The Devil is delighted by this misunderstanding.

One current problem is that Evangelicals are a large, loosely assembled collection of independent denominations and churches, and lack any sort of real governance. So who gets to speak for us? If you only watch conservative media sources, you'd think it was people like Robert Jeffress of FBC Dallas, or Liberty University's Jerry Falwell, Jr., who've both decided that God's standard is whatever it takes to advance and protect this president.

But there's a whole other contingent of us who know better, and shudder.

But I am not without hope. In the past year, key voices have arisen to call us back toward a kind of faithfulness in the public square that becomes the sacrifice of Christ. Leaders like Russell Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC, noted bible teacher Beth Moore, and reformed pastor John Piper, just to name a few, have echoed the observations that God has driven daily into my own heart.

Additionally, it seems much of the problematic thinking is generational. Many younger Evangelical pastors and teachers are pushing for Christians to rethink our political engagement to be more fully aligned with a vibrant gospel that values the sanctity of life from the "womb to the tomb," that cares for the vulnerable, that understands the need for racial reconciliation in the church, and that is willing to call sin what it is, no matter how politically inconvenient.

So I'm not casting off my Evangelical name tag just yet. I'm more of a mind to dig my heels in the dirt and try to make it what I think it ought to be. –AL

Bible Can’t Be Credibly Used As An Argument Against Same-Sex Relationships

by Cindy Landrum

The Bible tells me so.

Those who are against homosexuality often quote Bible verses — Leviticus 18:22, Deuteronomy 22:5, and Genesis 18-19, among others — to “prove” that it is a sin. But Dr. Jim Dant, senior minister at Greenville First Baptist Church, says there is no valid, Christian, biblical argument against same-sex relationships between consenting adults.

“People may argue against homosexuality and LGBTQ identities, relationships, and rights on political, economic, or personal morals, but the Bible cannot credibly be used as a weapon in these fights,” he said. “The minute you bring the Bible into it, there’s no valid argument.”

The impetus for Dant’s recently released book, “This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians,” was that some members of Greenville First Baptist Church, which generated headlines in 2015 for how it addressed the LGBTQ community within its walls, asked for a simple-to-understand defense against those Bible verses that had become weapons against them.

“I wrote it for the 22-year-old lesbian girl sitting in the church pew and the grandmother whose grandson is gay,” Dant said. “It’s important to reconcile who they are with the Bible they read and the God they worship.”

One church

Well before Dant became Greenville First Baptist’s pastor in 2014 and before a split U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a right nationwide, Greenville First Baptist was talking about how it would relate to the LGBTQ community.

Like many churches, Greenville First Baptist had members of the LGBTQ community worshipping in the church alongside its heterosexual members.

Through a six-month long discernment process that included small-circle discussions, the church came up with a consensus statement: “In all facets of the life and ministry of our church, including but not limited to membership, baptism, ordination, marriage, teaching, and committee/organizational leadership, First Baptist Greenville will not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

When the congregation was invited to stand to affirm the consensus statement during a Sunday morning service in May 2015, only a dozen of the 800 people in attendance couldn’t stand. After the affirmation, Dant said one of the church’s many gay members said he and others simply wanted to be a part of congregational life. One of its most conservative members said the discernment process was “the proudest he’d ever been of the church” because it didn’t force him to give up his view.

“Within our congregation, 75 to 80 percent are welcoming and affirming to the LGBTQ community,” Dant said.

“Twenty percent still struggle.”

The first couple of months after word of the consensus statement got out were not easy.

Talk radio vitriol caused the church to add security, something it retains today. The church was flooded with phone calls and emails, some of which said the church would die or would be struck by lightning. “They were brutal,” Dant said.

But instead of the death of the church those critics predicted, the church has flourished. It has added more than 200 new members. The majority are not gay, but instead people looking for a church that did not discriminate against those who are. In October, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performed in the church sanctuary as a part of its 2017 Lavender Pen Tour that attracted a crowd of about 1,400. The church was swept for bombs not because of a threat but to ensure the church was safe and secure.

“We’re not trying to make ourselves the flagship,” Dant said. “But obviously, it has gotten bigger than first imagined.”

Making an argument

Dant’s book is meant as a quick reference for LGBTQ Christians who struggle against the biblical attacks hurled at them, for people of faith who struggle to understand how LGBTQ Christians can be welcomed in light of Bible verses that seem to exclude them, and for people who believe that God requires them to love and welcome all people but they can’t explain that biblically.

Dant, who took three days off to write the book, wanted to keep it simple.

“There are books out there that delve deeply into the theology and language of the biblical verses used to condemn homosexuality, but they are thick and scholarly,” he said. “What I heard from people is they needed something short and simple. The book is not intended to be a thorough theological discussion of sexuality in the biblical text. It is a survival manual for those on the firing line.”

Deuteronomy 22:5, which says it is abhorrent to God for a man to wear a woman’s clothing or a woman to wear man’s clothing, is often used against transgender individuals. But Dant said abomination has a moral connotation today that was not part of its original meaning.

Dant said Old Testament laws were meant to keep a person, primarily a man, ritually clean so he could enter the temple for worship. Anything that made that person unclean, such as being sick, touching a dead person, wearing mixed-fiber clothing, or not washing one’s hands according to a specified ritual was labeled an abomination, Dant said. Men would never wear a woman’s clothing or vice versa because she was likely “ritually unclean” by nature of biology and her role.

Dant said the command of the Bible verse had nothing to do with cross-dressing.

“Everyone ‘cross-dressed’ then,” he said. “Garments of men and women were primarily the same style,” Dant said.

“Everyone wore dresses in the Middle East.”

Leviticus 18:22, the verse that says, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female,” had nothing to do with sexuality, Dant said. Rather, it had to do with property laws.

Dant doesn’t expect the book to change the beliefs of those who use the Bible as a weapon against LGBTQ Christians. “Information alone rarely changes anyone’s heart,” he said. –Greenville Journal

Selah - Hope Of The Broken World

GOP Education Bill Would Radically Rewrite Religious Freedom

Consider for a moment this chilling hypothetical. Imagine that the day after last summer’s white nationalist rally at the University of Virginia, the leaders of the group that marched through the Charlottesville campus shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans take themselves instead to the university’s student activities office. There, they seek to register themselves as a recognized student club, the White Christian Alliance. They submit a proposed constitution for their organization that contains, explicitly framed as a matter of religious conviction, the requirement that all members be white Christians.

If this happened today, university authorities would undoubtedly respond by citing Virginia’s “Contracted Independent Organizations” policy, which makes ineligible for official recognition any student group that “restricts its membership, programs, or activities” on the basis of any of a wide range of protected identities, including race and religion.

So far, so good. But now imagine that a bill that Congress is currently considering to reauthorize the Higher Education Act has become law. Under the terms of the bill, Virginia would no longer be able to bar the White Christian Alliance from campus. That’s because the bill prohibits public institutions of higher education that receive federal funding—which is to say, all (or nearly all) public two- and four-year colleges and universities—from denying “to a religious student organization any right, benefit, or privilege… because of the religious beliefs, practices, speech, membership standards, or standards of conduct of the religious student organization.”

In short, the bill, which goes under the name of the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act,” or “PROSPER Act,” seeks to enact a particular, and historically peculiar, conception of religious freedom that has in recent decades become a staple of conservative Christian political activism. (The bill itself is primarily concerned with federal financial aid programs, but in addition to what it says about religion, it also contains controversial provisions about campus free speech zones and sexual assault reporting requirements.)

As The New York Times reported last Friday, buried deep within the bill’s more than five hundred pages are provisions that carve out broad exceptions for religious actors within the higher education landscape. Beyond the requirement that public institutions recognize religious student organizations notwithstanding the content of their beliefs or practices, the bill grants exceptionally wide latitude to religious colleges and universities as well. The bill prohibits any “government entity,” whether the Department of Education or an accrediting body that receives federal funds, from taking action against a religious institution of higher education if that action “has the effect of prohibiting or penalizing the institution for acts or omissions by the institution that are in furtherance of its religious mission or are related to the religious affiliation of the institution.”

What sorts of “acts or omissions” might the bill’s drafters have in mind? To take one of history’s more extreme examples, in 1970 the Internal Revenue Service revoked the tax-exempt status of South Carolina’s Bob Jones University because it had barred from admission first black applicants and, later, anyone who supported interracial marriage. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the IRS’s decision in an 8-1 ruling, on the grounds that the agency had acted to further the government’s compelling interest in minimizing racial discrimination. But under the PROSPER Act, so long as Bob Jones could explain how its admissions policies reflect its Christian identity, the IRS could not have penalized it in the first place.

As Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis noted, the PROSPER Act would likewise shield a religious institution from federal penalties if, in the face of some statutory requirement, it barred students from engaging in same-sex relationships, or if it violated Department of Education regulations about the handling of sexual assault allegations, so long as the institution could justify its actions in terms of its religious mission. The bill defines “religious mission” very broadly, saying that the term “includes an institution of higher education’s religious tenets, beliefs, or teachings, and any policies or decisions related to such tenets, beliefs, or teachings.” (A later section of the bill specifically shields religious institutions from the effects of losing accreditation for reasons related to mission.)

The drafters of the PROSPER Act appear to be embracing a theory of religious freedom that seeks to exempt religious individuals and institutions from generally applicable laws and regulations. It is a theory of recent pedigree.

Beginning in the 1990s, Christian advocates began to seek in the religion clauses of the First Amendment, which historically had been employed to shield less popular religious groups from discriminatory treatment, protections for their own beliefs and practices. Cases on subjects ranging from school prayer to Ten Commandments monuments to public support for parochial schools have produced a messy and sometimes inconsistent jurisprudence. But in the past decade, as conservative believers have become increasingly inclined to view major public institutions as opponents rather than allies, the most fraught clashes have had to do with the advisability, and the constitutionality, of religious exemptions.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has tended to hold that religious convictions, however sincere, cannot be used as a shield against reasonable actions by government that are not specifically targeted at believers. In 2010, the Court upheld a policy at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law that barred from official recognition a religious student group, the Christian Legal Society, because the society excluded from membership anyone who would not sign a statement of faith and live in accordance with moral guidelines that included a prohibition on “unrepentant homosexual conduct.” Under the proposed PROSPER Act, of course, Hastings could not require a religious student organization like the Christian Legal Society to meet its “all comers” standard for achieving official recognition, even though it could continue to enforce that standard with regard to non-religious groups.

Related issues have arisen outside the higher education context. The Supreme Court is currently considering a widely publicized challenge to Colorado’s antidiscrimination law by a baker who on religious grounds refused to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Previous arguments of this sort, whether raised by bakers, photographers, or florists, have not gained traction in lower courts, although the justices seemed sharply divided at December’s oral arguments in the Colorado cake shop case. However the Court rules, it is clear that religious exemptions will remain a matter of legal and political controversy for years to come.

It’s unclear whether every component of the PROSPER Act’s radically reimagined conception of religious freedom will ever become law, since they, along with other controversial provisions, will likely be tempered by moderates in the Senate. Nevertheless, such sweeping religious exemptions are reckless. They disregard the potentially disastrous consequences of forcing public institutions to accept all religious organizations and of permitting religious institutions to avoid government scrutiny merely by invoking their mission. And by casting such a wide net, the bill forecloses in a thoughtless way one of the most important debates that a religiously pluralistic society can have.

If the PROSPER Act were to become law and the University of Virginia forced to recognized the White Christian Alliance as a student group, how could there still be room for legitimate and nuanced disagreement about the rights of religious believers and their institutions when they come into conflict with our constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under law? -Religion Dispatches

America’s Biggest Hypocrites: Evangelical Christians

by Francis Maxwell

Ahhh, Christianity in America. Or should I say, the single greatest cause of atheism today. You know who I’m talking about, right? The type of people who acknowledge Jesus with their words, and deny him through their lifestyle. The ones who preach the importance of traditional family values, all while holding a rally and offering standing ovations for a man who preyed on 14-year-old girls. The ones who look to excuse the despicable allegations directed at Roy Moore by literally quoting the bible, comparing his molestation to Joseph and Mary. I give you the most hypocritical religious group in America, Evangelical Christians.

First of all, for the record, I grew up Catholic in Scotland. I went to church, and greatly respected the community in which I was raised. I truly believe that religion can help instill wisdom, guidance and a sense of belief when all else seems hopeless. So I get it... to an extent. But what I have never understood is why someone feels the need to impose their beliefs on another. Especially in America. Especially with regard to evangelical Christians. Aside from preaching anti-LGBT rhetoric and abstinence to the world, evangelical Christians have proudly touted themselves as righteous do-gooders doing the Lord’s work. Until you insert politics into the mix. Then “the Lords’” work means about as much to them as consent means to Donald Trump.

In 2016, 72 percent of evangelicals reported that immoral leaders could still govern ethically, which was validated when 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted last year cast their ballot for Donald Trump. They were happy to shelve their morality in order to justify electing a thrice-married, casino mogul who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy and rarely goes to church ― but yeah, thanks Jesus. And now they’re ratcheting up the hypocrisy even further with the stern defense of alleged child molester Roy Moore.

The everyday filth that has become the support of Roy Moore has shone further light on this selective morality. Moore has long been an icon for the evangelical Christian community, from his defiance of a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building, to his staunch opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. All of which, I guess, grant you refuge when several detailed allegations of child molestation become public, as long as you are part of the right political party.

Take Alabama pastor David Floyd, for example. Back in 1999, Floyd was so appalled that a president of the United States had the gall to embark on a sexual relationship with a woman less than half his age that he told his Alabama flock that Bill Clinton had crossed the line and had to go. And now, fast forward nearly 20 years, with four women and 30 sources confirming allegations against Roy Moore, what does our righteous evangelical pastor have to say? He calls Moore “an upright man” who should be forgiven for his sins and elected to office. Because, of course he did. And don’t worry, he elaborates as to why Moore’s case is different than other cases of sexual assault, saying “You have to look at the totality of the man. I’ve prayed with him. I know his heart.” Translation: It’s okay to prey as long as you pray. These views were echoed around evangelical TV sets by televangelist Pat Robertson when he said Bill Clinton turned the oval office playpen into the sexual freedom of the 1960s, but then championed Trump as an inspiration and explained that his sexual predatory past was him just “acting macho.”

These are just examples of the overarching, undeniable hypocrisy in conservative fundamentalist and evangelical circles, where they qualm their goody-two-shoed outlook whenever the political price is right and give masculinity the freedom to run rampant. Evangelicals preach about maintaining gender roles and American family values whilst deliberately ignoring that the values they uphold on gender is part of the reason someone like Roy Moore is able to wander through life grooming minors and come out unscathed. The gender construct of evangelicals is the problem, not society’s willingness to accept different gender identities. The LGBT community is not the one who prides itself on male dominance, allowing for the normalization of child sexual abuse ― that’s evangelicals.

Take a look at one of the most influential and popular evangelical books on family values for instance, Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. In it, he famously wrote that God created men to long for “a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” With the role of women as passive: the assumption is they yearn to be fought for, to be saved, if you will. When you attest to a 36 year old pursuing a 14 year old, to the evangelical community he is just a strong male who is able to save a young woman and provide for her. Something despicable right wing talk show host Wayne Allyn Root referred to when he suggested that Roy Moore did nothing wrong; he was just a “32 year old district attorney, swashbuckling and handsome, hitting on some young girls who were very pretty.” And yet, people still question why, despite there being numerous accounts of suspicion involving the creepy older man hanging around malls and high school football games, people ignored him.

Evangelicals will make the world think embracing a progressive outlook on gender identity will be the beginning of the end for society and American values. When really it is their medieval ideology that has to change. –Huffington Post

Is Jordan Peterson Our New Aryan Christ?

by Dr. Joel McDurmon

Christians, it’s time to think a bit more deeply about the Jordan Peterson moment.1

Unless you’ve been asleep and on a different planet for the past several weeks, you’ve probably seen a video clip of the increasingly popular social commentator Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Most recently, Peterson was rocketed to the precarious and perhaps not-what-one-bargained-for, but nevertheless real, spotlight of internet stardom by brilliantly handling an aggressive feminist interviewer with raw logic, facts, and truth. She was literally speechless. Scores of memes followed. Dr. North wrote up the exchange under the heading, “Bambi vs. Godzilla,” which it surely was.

Peterson is popular for a real reason, too. He’s speaking the hard truth about personal responsibility, and right into the teeth of the beast of leftist safe spaces, spin machines, blizzards of snowflakes, and the like. That stand on that issue alone, wdimension. He’s leveling liberal academics from within their own fortress—the sacred groves of academia. Even better, he’s doing it from within one of the more rabidly liberal of disciplines. He’s a psychologist.

Conservatives everywhere are lining up to hear him. He puts his class lectures online and also posts several more casual and intimate Q&A style videos. His audience is overwhelmingly made up of young men, most of whom are hearing a positive, challenging, and inspiring message for young men for the first time. The war on boys ends here, and millions of viewers and students are lining up for something that sounds manlier than what they get anywhere else—certainly any of their other liberal arts classes. Each video he posts gets tens or hundreds of thousands of views, and he, smartly, is receiving donations to a reported tune of something like $60k per month.

If his liberal colleagues didn’t hate him enough for repeat-blasting feminism and the LGBT political agenda like an intellectual jackhammer, they could hate him for just being such a greedy capitalist alone.

Meanwhile, conservatives have found a new hero. He’s brilliant, fairly well-read, and even better, he spends a ton of time explaining Bible stories from Genesis and the like in profound, engaging ways. Conservatives are cheering a new champion, young men are in love with the father they never had, and Christians are mesmerized by what seems like a new prophet of international proportions. At least one conservative Reformed conference ushered Dr. Peterson past any number of theologians to the front of the keynote speaker line.

The more I listen to Dr. Peterson, the more I like him and think maybe some genuine progress could be made with him from a biblical Christian perspective. He often exegetes material that most pastors don’t get, and applies it in helpful ways that I sense most pastors would be afraid, even if they recognized the application.

And that kind of gets us to the “but” in this article, and it’s a “but” that every Christians needs to consider next to everything Jordan Peterson says and does, because it’s a very big “but.” In a nutshell, it is this:

For all of his toppling of great idols of humanism in our day, Dr. Peterson’s thought, from their presuppositions right through many of his conclusions, is as thoroughly humanist, autonomous, and thus ultimately dangerous, as anything any leftist every said. Christians need to be aware of the depths of this problem in Peterson’s thought, and the implications it has for their discernment of his teachings.

Our happy blindness

Conservatives and Christians in general, however, don’t see it, due, I think, to a very regular historical occurrence. They have never really developed and taught their own thoroughly biblical psychology and social theory. They have a few snippets of beliefs from the Bible, and a few beliefs from Bible stories, and enough of an idea of Christ to have a lot of well-developed theories about individual salvation—at least, in the sense of answering “how do I get to heaven”? But social theory? Social dynamics? Personality, vocation, self-improvement, discipline, meaning, power versus authority, law, justice? We’re not only virtually empty here, but when even a few of us have tried, they are usually pilloried by the rest for daring to say the Bible speaks to such issues that are outside of individual ticket sales to heaven.

No wonder there’s a market for strong words about personal responsibility to young men today.

As I said, this has often been true in history. Christians have consistently failed to develop a distinctly biblical social theory. So, they wander like sheep with no shepherd; and when the next major social, moral, or intellectual crisis hits, they have usually found themselves sidling up to the strong, unifying voice of some secular moralist who is saying some of what the church should have been saying all along.

More often than not, too, the Christian intellectuals cannot line up fast enough to parrot the new hero and present mildly-baptized versions of his thought. Only, in the process, they end up carrying water for paganism, and bringing it right into the baptismal fonts of their sanctuaries. Christianity, and especially Christian social theory, suffers for a generation until the next crisis hits.

To prevent this problem, it would of course behoove us just to go ahead a develop a biblical social theory from the hen executed well (and it is), is enough to win you a nice fan base. But Peterson adds yet another bottom up (there’s a good start on it already, by the way). It would also help to quit fawning over every bright and engaging pagan that momentarily captures our hearts in the meantime.

Even if we were to take a “chew the meat and spit the bones” approach (not out of the picture), it would certainly be incumbent upon us to learn, to know, and to know what the bones are—to understand the paganism of the particular unbelievers we invite to dinner, and to make sure the other guests are aware just how deep that rabbit hole goes.

Now, Jordan B. Peterson is the latest of such pagan heroes. Even if we were to decide he has a good benefit to offer to those with a biblical Christian worldview, when analyzed from that perspective, we need at least to talk about the presuppositions from which he is working, and what that means for us, and some of the things they, so to speak, don’t tell you in the brochure.

The depths of depth psychology

Jordan B. Peterson is sometimes called a Christian, and some have said he calls himself a Christian. But from any orthodox or historical definition of that term, nothing could be further from the truth—his interesting grasps of Bible stories notwithstanding. Peterson is a clinical psychologist by trade and by academic profession, but in terms of worldview, he is a full-blown, unapologetic, enthusiastic Jungian humanist, with a twist of Nietzsche in there, too.

This means, first, you need to know a little bit about Carl G. Jung.

Jung early on was a parallel figure to Sigmund Freud, but eventually developed certain ideas into something more complex and fantastical than Freud, by wedding forms of ancient pagan, mystic, occult, and other esoteric philosophies into his theories of the primitive drives and instincts, sexual and otherwise, of the human libido which make up the core of our unconscious being. Jung was a strong disciple also of Friedrich Nietzsche, and many Nietzschean themes such as the Übermensch (“super-man”), death of God, and the transvaluation of all values find new expression in Jung’s theories. To this Jung further added völkish religion, Aryanism, UFOs, alchemy, and virtually all forms of occultism (emphasis on all).

There was a tremendous push and enthusiasm in Germany at the time for all such things, and one popular understanding of it all was that Germans, in order to become truly all they were destined to be (whether naturally, through evolution, or mystically through some kind of cosmic evolution), needed to push beyond all the impediments Christianity had forced upon German civilization and engage the true roots of ancient German folk religion, which predated Christianity and had within it all the secrets, mysteries, and savage power in a sort of mystical, cultural DNA that would make Germans be all Germans were ever intended to be—fulfilled, transcendent, powerful.

And if you sniff a bit of Hitler and Nazism in that, that’s because it’s all the stuff they were made of. But there is even more to it.

This also came on the heels of two generations of developed higher criticism of the Bible (much of it led by German scholars)—the kind that far surpassed merely denying inspiration, and said the Bible must be treated like any other book, then proceeded to deconstruct it into fine slices with razors of all kinds of criticism, historical, literary, philological, textual, linguistic, etc. The result was a near-total denuding of the faith of the German people, and many more besides. In this milieu grew up the likes of Nietzsche (not to mention Marx), but also a whole new denigration of traditional Christianity, and on top of that, a whole new appreciation for all things pre-Christian and not-Christian. Into the void flooded, among other things, a great interest in the ancient mystery religions—especially those which were supposed to have the deepest, purest of Persian/Aryan roots, for these were the ancient roots of the Germans.

By the time Jung arrives, there is a developed body of scholarly literature on all of this. One of the mystery religions which most captivated Jung, for various reasons, was the Roman cult, allegedly of Persian origin, of Mithraism. This was a blood-sacrifice cult centered on a Sun god named Mithras and featuring also a lion-headed god.

These things were not fringe or side interests to Jung. They were the core of his very being and of the psychology, philosophy, and methods he developed. It was around 1913 that Jung, through dabbling in spiritualism and psychic trances (which he called “active imagination”), achieved his own personal version of Nietzsche’s Übermensch. He had a vision in which he met Elijah and “Salome” in a “Druidic sacred place.” Salome approached Jung and began to worship him. When he asked her why, she said, “You are Christ.” A snake approached him and coiled around him. Soon, he could feel that his face had transformed into that of a lion.

Jung explained to an audience in 1925 that through this experience, he had been mystically initiated into the Mithraic mysteries, and had undergone “deification”—personally transformed into the very lion headed God, named “Aion” by Jung, featured in the ancient cult. Jung believed he had been deified, identified with Aion the Persian.

Aryan sun God, and immortal.

The one thing on which all of this was built, and with which all the major players were consistent, was the need to find something to replace the razed religious foundations and superstructure of traditional Christianity.

Jung himself embodied this critique. He agreed with that vast critics of Christianity at the time and saw Christianity as a great historical distraction to the true development of the human race. If history had only gone differently, we would have not had this sad affair, but been more thoroughly enlightened by Mithraism and the mysteries instead of impeded by Christianity. Instead, he said, “In the past two thousand years Christianity has done its work and has erected barriers of repression, which protect us from the sight of our own ‘sinfulness.’ The elementary emotions of the libido have come to be unknown to us, for they are carried on in the unconscious; therefore, the belief which combats them [i.e., Christianity] has become hollow and empty.”

A couple paragraphs from one popular Jung scholar will tie this all together, explaining Jung’s worldview and teachings:

Within each native European there was a living pre-Christian layer of the unconscious psyche that produced religious images from the Hellenistic pagan mystery cults or even the more archaic nature religions of the ancient Aryans. The phylogenetic unconscious does not produce purely Christian symbols but instead offers pagan images, such as that of the sun as god. If the sediment of two thousand years of Judeo-Christian culture could be disturbed (as in psychotic mental diseases with a psychological component, such as dementia praecox), then this Semitic “mask” might be removed, and the biologically true images of the original “god within” could be revealed: a natural god, perhaps of the sun or stars like Mithras, or matriarchal goddesses of the moon or blood, or phallic or chthonic gods from within Mother Earth. . . .

To Jung, the mystery cults of antiquity kept alive the ancient natural religion of human prehistory and were a corrective antidote to the poison of religions—like Judaism and Christianity—that had been forged by civilization. . . .

Jung regarded Christianity as a Jewish religion that was cruelly imposed on the pagan peoples of Europe. . . . Semitic cultures, cut off from the primordial source of life, did not have mysteries in which a direct experience of the gods could be attained through initiation rituals. They were, therefore, cut off from the renewal and rebirth that such mysteries offered the Aryans. . . .

Jung often referred to the ancient mysteries as the “secret” or “hidden” or “underground” religions and their social organizations as the secret or hidden churches that kept alive the divine spark from the dawn of creation. This leads us to an obvious conclusion. When Jung became one with Aion in his visionary initiation experience, in his imagination he was not only becoming a full participant in the mysteries of Mithras; he was experiencing a direct initiation into the most ancient of the mysteries of his Aryan ancestors. . . .

Here’s the part that is the most crucial summary for our purposes:

His new science of psychoanalysis became the twentieth century vehicle of those mysteries. Most important, as his initiation experience also entailed assuming the stance of the crucified Jesus as he metamorphosed into Aion, Jung thereby became the figure that fueled the fantasies of thousands of Volkish Germans and European and American anti-Semites at the turn of the century: the Aryan Christ.

Much more could be added to this, and in fact is in the books from which these paragraphs came, The Jung Cult and The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (see esp. pp. 121–147), both by award-winning author and clinical psychologist Richard Noll.2

I want to be clear here: while there are obviously strains of antisemitism in all of this, and Jung did briefly give a favorable glimpse to Nazism, the point here is not to play the anti-Semite card and try to discredit Jung in that way. The point here is to show the radical break with all things Christian, the reinterpretation of even Jesus himself in terms of mystical, occult mysteries, and the projection of such occult practices into a thoroughly scientific-sounding method of “psychoanalysis” as a way of, among other things, transforming the collective imagination of the West from Christianity to a new paganism (same as the old).

All of this was Jung’s answer to Nietzsche’s “death of God” proclamation. Nietzsche was not just dancing on the grave, he was alerting the world to a need for something to fill the void left behind, because “God” had been performing some pretty important services in regard to meaning and morality and all, so those who killed him had to pick up the slack. Nietzsche’s answer to this, in a nutshell, was that we had to become powerful autonomous actors who from now own determined our own values for ourselves. Or as Peterson has put it in his lectures, men must become creatures who can autonomously create their own values. But this looked like trouble. So what Jung added to that answer was to examine people’s fantasies to determine their drives and motives, and supply some kind of collective unity that could tie these many autonomous actors to something common. He added the dimension of mythology across history as a guide to interpretation and meaning. These last few explanations are notes directly from Peterson’s own lectures.

In short, Jung mainstreamed the most famous doctrines of the atheist Friedrich Nietzsche, and also mainstreamed virtually every kind of ancient paganism and occultism right into the heart of twentieth century secular humanism, and it makes a huge core of what makes modern humanism what it is.

This is what Christians should consider when they listen to Jordan Peterson, because this is precisely, and quite squarely I would add, where he is coming from when he says what he says, even when it seems to comport with Christianity.

Peterson’s Jungian worldview

Some will be quick to object that I am merely poisoning the well. All of this, I admit, could indeed be seen as one big genetic fallacy, or series thereof. We could understand Peterson’s association with Jungian psychology as little more than incidental, like a kind of professional vestige, long since watered down and papered over with many layers of more modern, scientific clinical theories—

Except, Peterson says things like this: “Jung, I would say, was the most serious thing for the twentieth century.” And he says such things with passionate verve. And he lectures with enthusiasm on how great Jung was and he weaves Jung’s theories and ideas into his own. He speaks openly of Jung (and Nietzsche, too), his admiration for him, and quite often will drop phrases and ideas from Jung’s methodology that show Peterson follows the same path: for example, the interpretation of people’s “archetypal dreams” and “the mythological underpinning of them” in his psychological practice.

Consider teachings like this:

For Jung, not only are the substructures of your thought biological, and so therefore based in your body, but your body was also cultural and historical. . . . You’re an evolved creature, so God only knows what’s in there—3.5 billion years worth of weirdness that you can draw on, or that can move you where it wants to move you. . . . But also, you’re being shaped by cultural dynamics all the time. . . . Part of what every single person is constantly broadcasting to every other person is how to behave. . . .

Then he discusses the archetypal “savior figure” as the distillation of a thousand people’s ideals, and says if someone comes along who is close to one of these figures, you have a religion. So, the story of Horus and Isis kept Egypt civilized for millennia. Then that story “sort of transmuted into Judaism and then turned into Christianity, so it’s not like the ideas disappeared.” Peterson says

You’re just as possessed by those ideas as any ancient Egyptian, you’re just more fragmented, because what your conscious mind assumes and what your unconscious mind assumes are different things, and you’re always at war with yourself; that’s why you’re attracted to ideologies.

These ideologies he calls “idols” and destructive to your soul (I wondered if he would include the ideologies of Jung and Nietzsche in that. Don’t know.). He concluded the section by mentioning what is so terrifying about Jung: “there’s no escaping the realization of the nature of the forces that are behind the puppets that we are.” Scoffing at people who said Jung started a cult, Peterson says he is “so much more terrifying than a cult!” No, Jung was “trying to bring the primordial imagination back into the world and to make people conscious of it.”

And there’s more. If there’s any single thing Peterson’s become known for, it’s his emphasis on taking personal responsibility. Here, it would seem, there’s at least some overlap with the discipline, responsibility, and sanctification found in Christian teaching. But not really, this is Jungian too. Peterson himself teaches, “The thing that is instantiated in Jungian psychotherapy, the Jungian model, is, it requires personal responsibility above all else.”

It’s not Christian. It’s Jung’s answer to Nietzsche’s superman. It’s humanism, human autonomy, self-help, or in Peterson’s personal brand, “self-authoring.”

Peterson comes across as conservative, mainly because he takes such an uncompromising stance against “cultural Marxism” and “postmodernism” (which he says is just Marxism under a new name), but his own roots in Nietzsche and Jung not only conflict with that stance in theory (who, after all, is a greater granddaddy of postmodernism than Nietzsche?), but some of his own ethical wranglings show those roots in practice as well.

One lesser known, but certainly not surprising, aspect of Jung is his sexual immorality. He counseled some of his clients to have affairs, and himself had women in addition to his wife. Peterson is certainly more prudish personally (his assessment), yet himself from his worldview has a hard time addressing homosexual marriage. Yes, he would oppose such a law if it were only cultural Marxists using it to destroy western civilization, but he’s also supportive of it because “it’s a means whereby gay people can be more thoroughly integrated into standard society, and that’s probably a good thing.”

Likewise, on abortion. He has no problems calling it morally wrong, though on pragmatic and anecdotal grounds. But the question of its legality is a whole different thing. Some morally wrong things should still be legal. This discussion, he said, is nested inside a larger discussion, and in discussing it, Peterson reveals how he once counseled a 27-year old female virgin to address her personal timidity by going out and having some sexual “adventures.” After all, “You can’t just say to people in the modern world, ‘No sex until you’re married.’”

Even in his “self-authoring” theme, Peterson is Jungian-Nietzschean to the point of being postmodern himself. In speaking of self-improvement in metaphorical terms, he says this:

then if you create an ultimate judge, which is what the archetypal imagination of humankind has done, say, with the figure of Christ—because if Christ is nothing else he is at least the archetypal perfect man and therefore the judge—you have a judge that says get rid of everything about yourself that isn’t perfect.

The thing that’s interesting about this, I think, is you can do it more or less on your own terms. You have to have some collaboration from external people; but you don’t have to pick an external ideal. You can pick an ideal that fulfills the role of ideal for you; you can say, OK, if things could be set up for me the way I need them to be, and if I could be who I needed to be, what would that look like? You can figure that out for yourself, and then instantly you have a judge.

Maybe he would explain these points, or the context, a little more satisfactorily given the chance, but as it is, this is nothing less than the very moral relativism one would expect from his inspirations (yet which he himself decries).

Jung with a stiff upper lip

Somehow, however, this Jungian depth psychologist has adopted a conservative-ish streak along the way. But even these are humanistic. The following excerpts of Peterson quoted in David Brooks’s recent article are very interesting:

All of life is perched, Peterson continues, on the point between order and chaos. Chaos is the realm without norms and rules. Chaos, he writes, is “the impenetrable darkness of a cave and the accident by the side of the road. It’s the mother grizzly, all compassion to her cubs, who marks you as a potential predator and tears you to pieces. Chaos, the eternal feminine, is also the crushing force of sexual selection. Women are choosy maters. … Most men do not meet female human standards.”

Life is suffering, Peterson reiterates. Don’t be fooled by the naïve optimism of progressive ideology. Life is about remorseless struggle and pain. Your instinct is to whine, to play victim, to seek vengeance.

Peterson tells young men never to do that. Rise above the culture of victimization you see all around you. Stop whining. Don’t blame others or seek revenge. “The individual must conduct his or her life in a manner that requires the rejection of immediate gratification, or natural and perverse desires alike.”

When I hear “struggle” and “suffering,” I hear the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. When I hear the advice to rise above these and face them like a man, I hear classic stoicism (which churchmen of the era loved). The two are far more similar, by the way, than most histories of philosophies catch. These ideas connect historically also in Nietzsche, but also in classic British conservatism. In the face of calamity and chaos, keep a stiff upper lip. Don’t bend, don’t’ change. Edmund Burke could have written those paragraphs.

Above all, a Burkean Conservative would say, don’t touch the ancient institutions. Don’t mess with the fundamental foundations of society that have served us well for so many years. Don’t change anything. If you do, you don’t know what the consequences will be. This is exactly Peterson’s message, too. Don’t be fooled by naïve optimism. Accept traditions, etc., even if you have to embrace the pain.

Sure enough, what we are getting in the conservative and Christian flocking to Peterson is the same thing we saw with the classic conservativism centering on Edmund Burke. Never mind that he was every bit as much a humanist and natural law proponent on social theory as Robespierre himself. It was the Right Wing of the Enlightenment, and Christians loved it, mainly because it said some things Christians weren’t getting in a fully biblical form from their pulpits—weren’t getting at all, really.

Christians don’t realize that the Enlightenment had two wings, one right and one left. When we think humanism, we only think left wing humanism, but the right wing was every bit as humanist. One could go on to say, in fact, that the right wing of the enlightenment is even more dangerous than the left, because it teaches humanistic principles on humanistic foundations, but often with common conclusions Christians like to hear, and often in language that sounds amenable to Christianity. Here are the Isaac Newtons, Adam Smiths, Edmund Burkes—all guys Christians tend to love. It is often through these relationships and their influence that humanism enters the church to the detriment of all.

Analysis from a Biblical Worldview

The point with Peterson should not be to have to do something so obvious as to go through Peterson’s lectures on biblical narratives critiquing every point from the perspective of orthodox theology. Rather, it is to look deeper at the presuppositions that underlie his interpretations and methods, and what, while it may sound profound (and in a way, is), is little more than the same type of humanistic repurposing of the texts to which we would strenuously reject and decry if we heard a liberal doing it. But since this guys seems to be on our side, we give him a more passive treatment.

Cornelius Van Til provided a very helpful multi-point review of the psychology of religion which not only nicely critiques humanistic attempts (which would subsume Jung), but also establishes biblical presuppositions from which to do so.3

A biblical worldview of souls (“psychology” is the study of the soul) must begin with the Creator-creation distinction. Man is not God, and man cannot become a god. Second, the fall of man is the source of all our brokenness.

All of them. We will not be saved by creating a distillation of archetypes from the collective imagination of fallen man, or any projection from that which is already broken. Nothing derived from us either horizontally with other men, or vertically up from ourselves, can save us. The cure of souls must come from without, not within fallen humanity.

Psychology, therefore, that proceeds on any other ground, certainly including Jung’s program, is a rival plan of salvation to that of the Bible and Christian tradition.

These basic ideas have severe implications.

First, as we have seen with Jung and Peterson above, the rival views are hardly neutral. This is because there is no neutrality. Our views of psychology and “Self-help” are either in covenant with God, or covenant breaking with Him.

Second, humanistic psychologies assume that man is his own autonomous being—autonomous from God, that is, because they will call him everything but subject to the God of the Bible, even going so far as to call him subject to the impersonal forces of the universe, or a collective consciousness of humanity. He is autonomous from God, nonetheless. But man is totally dependent upon his creator. For the Bible, man is created in the image of God. For the Jungians, God is created in the images of glorified men.

Third, since man is dependent upon the Creator for his being, and totally subject to Him, this means man is also dependent upon Him morally. The whole concept of establishing our own values, then, whether per Nietzsche, Jung, or Peterson, is unbiblical and humanistic. For the humanist, man must be saved on his own terms, setting his own values. For the Bible, man must return to the ethics God created for him.

When we follow the humanistic models, like Jung’s, but any of them, really, we can trace several steps of the destruction of the foundations of civilization. First, the intellect is dethroned in favor of irrational, forces—thus the emphasis on paganism, spiritualism, and all things occult.

Second, man is eventually reduced to little more than a holistic corpus and product of such forces.
Third, comes a focus on the psyche developed in childhood. The child becomes the most meaningful part of the psyche, and thus of the person. The adult is soon interpreted in terms of the child.

Fourth, emphasis is placed upon the unconscious and subconscious forces.

Fifth, emphasis is placed upon abnormal psychology. Since there is no fall in humanism, the abnormal and normal are both natural, and thus both normal in a way. Thus, for example, homosexuality is just as valid as hetero. In ethics, this means homosexual marriage must be given some space as valid in the mix.

Sixth, the emphasis next becomes primitive and primordial man. Jung obviously exemplifies this in reaching back to our earliest pagan roots for archetypal patterns and foundations.

Seventh, we go from primordial man to animals. The key to the human psyche will then lie somewhere deep in our evolutionary history. Not the men, not the abnormal man, not the child, not the subconscious, but the chimpanzee and the rat, will explain our woes and its cures.

And if you can recall Jung standing there, snake-wrapped, with his own face replaced by that of a lion, perhaps you can see that this is no joke.

In virtually every one of these areas, we can easily refute Freud and the humanistic traditions, whether Jungian, behaviorist, or whatever. But such refutations also just as earnestly critique the humanistic foundations from which Peterson works, as well as many of the points he would emphasize from them. We don’t need another lion-headed Aryan would-be Christ, or any other humanist stretch of the imagination. What we do need is to return to the God-man that our Creator sent to rescue us in our fallen condition. Here we can find true representation, manhood and womanhood, ethics, meaning, and a future outlook.

And in that outlook, we’ll be much better equipped to discern the problems that appear in even the good-speaking humanists.

Conclusion

When you boil it all down, the weightiest contributions coming from Peterson are actually quite limited and easily procurable from sources with less intellectual baggage and less-deceptive packages to truth-and-practice-hungry Christians. His weightiest contribution on social theory is a repeated historical lesson that communism lay behind the slaughter of millions of people, and we don’t want to return to that.

Ok, fine. But we’ve got plenty of help on that message already. We just need pressure on the teachers to teach it more. We need simply an effort to get the word out better on that.

His weightiest contribution on personal life is the emphasis on personal responsibility and self-discipline. Don’t buy into the lure of victimhood and entitlement.

Ok, fine, too. But that’s the message of the mind of Christ in the New Testament (Phil. 2), in which version it is far more meaningful and profound. It’s the most fundamental lesson of sanctification in the Bible. It’s where Christians should begin and never depart. So why don’t we begin with the Bible and not depart from it? It contains, Peter says, “all things pertaining to life and godliness.” No detour through Mithraism or the Übermensch is needed here.

So, why do we allow ourselves to become enamored with the pseudo-profundities of Jung and depth psychology, and with their fundamental deceit that the answer lies inside of ourselves, in humanity, in a collective unconscious, in humanity’s evolutionary being? What improvement is this over any other humanism?

Why, I ask you Christian, would we want to trade one humanism for another? I am speaking of intellectual presuppositions and foundations. Why does it matter if we try to build Christian-sounding ideas on top of Right Wing Humanism or Left Wing Humanism? Ultimately, beneath both, are the same ideas: we are evolved beings, the universe is impersonal, we are products of our environment, our instincts, drive, and urges rule us, etc., etc. The only good that exists in Peterson’s talks is when he departs from these basic presuppositions and happens to echo biblical ones, and that should tell us all we need to do next: go to the source of the good ideas Peterson has. That source is Scripture. Peterson denies the inspiration of it, the historicity of it, the God who is behind all of it, and the Christ who is the Son of that God and Savior of us in our condition.

Yet Peterson is commanding huge audiences of largely young men. While we obviously need a clear warning in the church that his foundations and teachings lack quite a bit, the nature of his appeal speaks volumes about what is missing in our own house. But for all of this problem, the main lesson Christian leaders need to take from this is to see where all the young men are flocking to gain wisdom and insight into practical living and every area of life while Christian leaders are missing the boat in virtually every way a boat can be missed: intellectually, spiritually, apologetically, culturally, as well as in terms of business, opportunity, community, dominion, etc. –American Vision

Notes:

1 The phrase “Jordan Peterson moment” was coined as the headline of a recent New York Times article by David Brooks.

2 Peterson, like much of the pro-Jung academic guild, has not been appreciative of Noll, and in a lecture called him a “crooked guy,” although when confronted later apologized.

3 The following points are taken from Rushdoony’s summary of Van Til in “Psychology,” in Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2001), 41-51. –01

From The Well Of Mercy...


by Dr. Lawrence Wilkes, Crystal Cathedral Pastor

"....In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years." -Isaiah 63:9

In scripture, we find Jesus talking with a woman of Samaria. A woman of ill repute. She had come during the day to draw water from the well. Jesus is there, and He begins to talk with her.

In that one conversation, the woman's life was totally changed and turned around. It was a miracle of a different sort - a miracle that healed her soul and her spirit, for she was never the same again. An awesome change occurred in her life and in the life, no doubt, of that village in Samaria.

God does the same for each one of us as we embrace his love and mercy in our own lives.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for using the troubles I've faced as a catalyst for change. Your love and mercy have repeatedly lifted me up and carried me through the dark times in life. Amen.

Reflection: If you came upon Jesus in your everyday life and he asked you about your life, how would that conversation go? -Hour of Power