There has been and continues to be a great deal of speculation and confusion in the media and on the web generally regarding my religious status. I have worked extensively with Christians over the past two years or so and this has led to confusion regarding my religious status. I have thus decided to write a brief clarification for the benefit of both the curious and the confused.
Those that have followed me for some time will know that I have said repeatedly that I do not like Jordan Peterson, for many reasons — but one of the main reasons has to do with what I believe to be his deliberate deception and manipulation of Christians. (to understand this I recommend watching this video). I am not deliberately dishonest like Peterson, so I will not tell you or lead you to believe I am something I am not just to increase my support in the Christian community, so for the record:
I have never claimed to be a Christian. I was raised in Christian homes and consider myself a friend of Christians and their right to believe as they like and raise their children as they like. I have chosen to stand on the frontlines with Christians to fight for that right, but I have never sought to misrepresent my beliefs, because my knowledge of God is too all-consuming and important to allow me to misrepresent any aspect of it.
The reader here will note that I use the term “knowledge of God” instead of “belief in God,” and this is a distinction with a very significant difference. Jordan Peterson was asked at a public talk, “if all humans ceased to exist would God still exist?” Peterson refused to answer the question because it would force him to admit he is actually an atheist, and this would decimate the numbers of Christians that currently worship him as a saint or (in Peterson’s words) “a prophet.” I, on the other hand, would answer the question quickly and with assurance, “yes.” This is because I do not “believe” God exists, I know God exists, and I understand that I exist because God exists, whereas Peterson inverts this and essentially puts forth (without actually saying it) a notion that God exists because humans exist (hence his refusal to say God would exist if no humans existed). But, one might ask, how can you claim to “know” God exists? This question, for me, was answered by something Carl Jung said, who, unlike Peterson, was very honest, forthright, and unambiguous when talking about his views on God and religion.
During an interview late in his life Carl Jung was asked if he believed in God. Jung was silent for a moment, contemplated the question while chewing on his pipe, then said (I am paraphrasing from memory), “this is difficult to answer … no, I would say I do not believe in God… I KNOW God exists, because you do not need to believe in something you have a relationship with.” This is exactly how I view my understanding of God, and this knowledge is predicated on that relationship existing.
A relationship with God begins by learning to understand how God interacts with the world. Once you have learned this you will see God at work in the world and in your life, and it will be undeniable. My personal position is that God does not call out to man from burning bushes (although I am not prepared to discount the possibility), or etch commands in tablets of blue sapphire stone, God is more akin to a breeze blowing through a field of grass — invisible in form but Whose presence can be seen with eyes attuned to the process. God speaks, but God speaks in symbols, metaphors, dreams, and what Jung and Wolfgang Pauli called “synchronicity.” Just as you are an invisible ghost inside the machine of your body, so is God a ghost in the machine (or as Sir Isaac newton phrased it, the Sensorium Dei) of this world, with some significant differences that I won’t get into because it would necessitate a descent into the much misunderstood and very complicated epiphanies of Bishop Berkeley.
All this (including the reference to Bishop Berkeley) brings us back to the original question: am I a Christian? The answer is an unequivocal no. Bertrand Russell would no doubt concur that somebody like Peterson (who compares Jesus to Harry Potter and Ironman) can identify on a whim as Christian only by recourse to the loosest and most dishonest definition of “Christian.” Peterson regards Christ as a symbol, “Christ is the potential of man and woman,” and that to be a Christian is “not to believe in Christ but to act Him out.” This is what many Christians call “salvation by works,” but with Peterson “salvation” is not in any way connected to immortality, it is connected to saving yourself from the chaos of a metaphorical hell in this world (not the next). In this sense Christ is nothing more than a symbol in a metaphorical psychological substrate that Peterson has borrowed and I would argue emasculated from Jung and others. Even Russell, a notorious and unapologetic atheist, said that he too could identify as a Christian if it merely meant a “kind of mortality” and living by the moral code of the Bible and “making yourself like Christ,” but he ultimately admitted this was a dishonest interpretation of how Christianity is understood.
Again, I am not prepared to emasculate and degrade the traditional (and most common) meaning of “Christian” in order to increase my Christian following. I share many beliefs and values with Christians, but lack some of the key beliefs that make somebody a true Christian. I have an emotional and spiritual bond with Christians the strongest being our mutual knowledge of God’s existence, but my views on Jesus are what prevent me from identifying as Christian.
I believe that Jesus is a manifestation of God in this world, but I do not understand Jesus in a typically Christian way. I believe God walks through and pervades everything in this world, and that Jesus is in our world because God ordained it. Whether or not the details of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are literally true is almost immaterial from my perspective because they are effectively true and are so by the Will of the Divine. I cannot say I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, although I do not exclude the possibility. Jordan Peterson thinks that if you do not exclude it this means you are “agnostic,” but as Bob Dylan once wrote, “you either have faith or you have unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground.” What that means is if you do not believe Jesus rose from the dead, then you are not a Christian because as the Bible says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.”
As a final note let me just comment on the insinuation by some that I am a Deist, I am not. I am a Theist, but I not only see God in charity and mercy, I see God in the eyes of the lion. God has a long view, we have a short view, and God will allow any single one of us to be chewed up in the jaws of the lion if it serves the long view. I have often compared God to the words of a mob boss that I once heard interviewed. The mobster described himself as a benevolent man of the community, and the reporter asked him, “but you are involved in assaults and murder, how can you call yourself benevolent?” The mob boss responded by saying, “your view of my position in the community is too limited — I cannot allow any individual act to obscure my vision of the big picture.” This then is how I see God. God is active, but God allows what we would call tragedy and evil to exist in order to serve a Divine plan, the scope of which us mere human beings could never presume to see or understand. God is real, God is active, but God’s ways can seem brutal, but only when viewed as individual incidents, which is not how God sees things. I believe in God, and I have ultimate faith in God, to the point that I am willing to suffer from birth until the grave in order to serve God’s will. Prosperity Christians I think offer the weakest kind of faith or what the East Indians would call “Bhakti.” Faith predicated on rewards is the faith of weaklings. True faith is seen in faith without rewards. The faith of the pauper is greater than the faith of the Pope. It is, for instance, my belief that the greatest triumph I could achieve is to live in misery and poverty until I expel my last breath, and that my continued faith in God will be my ultimate triumph. I do not expect rewards for my faith, at least not in this world. I do not expect riches, I do not expect victories, I expect to do the right thing. This is the character of my faith.