Very few secular books have gained such popularity recently in the evangelical world as has Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 rules for life: An antidote to chaos. Initially, Peterson simply offered advice online about how people ought to live. The posts were shared widely and eventually spawned the book.
One reason for the popularity is the common wisdom that he shares. Peterson is quite happy to talk straight and give clear direction about how life is best lived. A good example in the book is the chapter, Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. It’s a brilliant corrective to certain lacking parenting trends today. That’s a chapter I’d suggest every parent should read.
Perhaps the main reason he has gained such popularity with evangelicals is his ethical stance on many topics. For example, he talks a lot about gender and about the roles of men and women, which lines up well with what conservative complementarians believe. As society is increasingly anti-Christian in its ethics and morality and the Christian perspective is seen as ridiculous, it’s nice to have a popular and well thought out ally.
But we also need to be discerning with Peterson. Though he uses the Bible a lot in explaining his rules, he does so from the perspective of classical liberal theology. For example, he sees the Bible as a source of ancient wisdom rather than divine revelation and doesn’t have an orthodox view of God.
Peterson’s ultimate perspective is that although humans are capable of great evil, we can push ourselves to be better people. This is obviously counter to the gospel truth that we are utterly broken and in need of divine redemption.
Overall, it’s a very interesting book. It’s not a quick, easy read, but it is very engaging, though I would advise a level of caution and discernment.