12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos | Jordan Peterson

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2019: Book #16

I finished it. The book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos by Jordan Peterson is…interesting. Allow me to set the stage before I offer my review.

Peterson is part of a popular “rat pack” of authors. There’s Peterson, Ryan Holiday, and Mark Manson. All three offer a way to live without the backdrop of Jesus and redemption. In other words, all three believe life is about being a good moral person, working hard at some cause, and being honest with yourself. That’s all there is to life…according to the rat pack.

Peterson has a popular podcast where he presents himself as a wise father figure who dispenses educated wisdom. In the book, Peterson redefines the Bible, biblical terms, stories and purpose. He quotes the Bible extensively in his book.

The word sin is used extensively, but to Peterson, sin isn’t missing the mark with God; rather, it’s living outside of your values. Hell isn’t a place of eternal damnation. To Peterson, Hell is living in the destruction of your bad choices. In contrast to Hell, Paradise is embracing who you are, being honest, and living within your values. Peterson uses the Bible to make these points.

Peterson is a moralist. He’s explicit in the book that the stories of the Bible are the results of myth and tales told over time and that the God of the Bible can’t be real. However, he contends that the Bible can be used as a guide to live an honest life. Therein lies the danger. Peterson is using the Bible to create a way of life that the story of the Bible reveals is impossible and the very reason we need a Savior.

Peterson is smart…very smart. There is wisdom in the pages of the book—but it’s empty wisdom. It rings hollow. His education and years of working with patients as a therapist gives him a keen insight into the human character, but there’s no answer.

Essentially, Peterson looks into a mirror and simply sees a man who needs to be better. There is no looking in the mirror and seeing hopelessness, which leads to the need of a redeemer.

Here’s the kicker: the book is full of hopelessness. For Peterson, this life is all there is. Being a good person, owning your truth, living within your values, being kind to others and improving yourself is the stuff of life. Put bluntly, Peterson is presenting a secular gospel—one in which we can cure our own “sin” and “redeem” ourselves by progressing in our wisdom.

Here a few key quotes from the book:

“Perhaps Heaven is something you must build and immortality something you must earn.”

“If you allowed your dark and unspoken desires for your partner, for example, to manifest themselves – if you were even willing to consider them – you might discover that they were not so dark, given the light of day.”

“If things are not going well for you – well, that might be because, as the most cynical aphorisms has it, life sucks, and then you die.”

“Religion is instead about proper behavior.”

Take this to heart: Peterson, Holiday and Manson are all dangerous…very dangerous. They offer a world view that doesn’t need a Savior. I will caution you, Peterson’s stuff is not for the faint of heart. It has the potential to wreck your faith and make you doubt. For the unbeliever, it could help convince them there is no sin, no God, that Jesus was just a good teacher, and that there is no need for an atonement.

Hear me well…we should all strive to be better people, but that isn’t the purpose of life. Life is about making much of Him.

I give the book 1 out of 5 stars.

That’s book #16 for 2019.

36 more to go.

Remember, all leaders are readers.

If you want to be a better leader…be a reader.


Interested in purchasing this book?


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