TGC’s Co-Belligerency and Jordan Peterson

I am not a “fan” of Jordan Peterson. I’ve only watched a handful of his videos. I did enjoy them. Peterson is very sharp, especially in high-pressure dialogue situations (I would not be surprised if he takes nootropics or other hacks to achieve that level of calm focus). I appreciate him calling out the facade of political correctness for what it is. But I don’t get excited about him. I get excited about the gospel and Peterson has nothing to do with the gospel. The rise in his popularity is not “good news.” So I agree with a recent post at The Gospel Coalition by Bruce Ashford when it says

[U]nless Peterson buys wholesale into the Christian faith, his solution is insubstantial; metaphysically, it is little more than a banquet of crushed ice and vapor. Indeed, even though Peterson wisely taps into the power of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West, he guts it of any real power when he treats it as functionally helpful rather than transcendentally true…

But, as Scripture insists, if Christ hasn’t really risen, then our “as if” is futile (1 Cor. 15:17). Which provides for Christians a golden opportunity to stand up straight with our shoulders back, extending to our neighbors the good news “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4). He is risen. And he is the high priest we so desperately need (Heb. 4:14–16). Let us hope and pray that Peterson is on the road toward recognizing this truth.

Jordan Peterson: High Priest for a Secular Age

Amen. I recommend reading Joel McDurmon’s longer analysis of the extent of Peterson’s foolishness. I appreciate Ashford’s desire to make the gospel central (TGC’s stated goal). However, this is not at all how TGC approaches other secular “high priests” with whom they agree politically. In those cases, TGC welcomes them to the gospel table by appealing to a (mistaken) idea of common grace co-belligerency to explain why it doesn’t matter that those whom they link arms with promote unbiblical worldviews. In response to criticism of their 2015 social justice panel made up of unbelievers, TGC said

Co-belligerence, then, is a way of working with others—even those with whom we radically disagree—against a common enemy. It allows otherwise questionable partnerships in order to further a particular social, political, economic, or cultural cause for the common good and human flourishing…

Common grace gives Christians the platform on which to engage culture. When we know that the fall didn’t completely annihilate God’s created order, we can work with people of different faith commitments toward good purposes.

Why Are Non-Christians TGC15 Panelists?

So why doesn’t Peterson get the co-belligerency green light? Because the immediate cause of Peterson’s popularity is his articulate rejection of Neo-Marxism – a way of thinking that has many similarities to TGC’s social justice agenda.

In short, if someone agrees with TGC politically, then their unbiblical worldview and rejection of Christ is irrelevant. But if they disagree with TGC politically, then the gospel becomes central again.

I would simply ask The Gospel Coalition to consistently make the gospel central.

(See my 2015 Gospel Co-Belligerency with Children of Wrath for more on this)